Sunday 13 June 2021 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 13/6/2021

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday


All aboard

After a couple of false starts, summer made its official debut on Saturday morning when a text arrived from a friend saying that if I walked out onto the balcony and squinted, I might see her husband water-skiing on the still waters of Lake Zürich. She signed off with, “Just let me know when you’re ready and we’ll pick you up.”

As I’ve fully subscribed to the concept that the only thing better than owning a boat is having a friend with one (or, many friends with many boats that call on multiple ports of personal convenience), I’ve learned to keep a go-tote on round-the-block standby for just such messages. Though not unlike the small duffel I used to keep under my desk in my correspondent days, this bag has a much more leisure-centric theme and wouldn’t be of too much use if I was summoned to the Sahel. Inside, there’s a towel, two bathing suits, shorts, a T-shirt, a tunic top from Liwan in Beirut (the best at-sea, on-deck garment ever invented), footwear and a hat or two from my favourite shop in Vienna. With a bit of gentle scrambling we were out the door in five minutes and, after a short stroll and a little zig-zag, we spotted our friends at the end of the jetty all prepped to cast off.

At this time of year, Zürich transforms itself into a more undressed, slightly bronzed (it’s the start of June, so there’s time for deeper tans) and more Italian version of its Germanic self. The pandemic has allowed restaurants to occupy more of the pavement and stretch out into streets, lanes and courtyards. Convertibles have come out of hibernation and bike traffic is way up. On weekday mornings and after work it’s standard to see cyclists with damp hair, a towel flapping around their necks and a big grin as they make their way to the office or gently pedal home.

It’s also the time of year when two makes of fine watercraft are lowered into the water and Lake Zürich starts to feel a bit Como, mixed with splashes of Amalfi and Portofino. In this part of the world, serious seafarers would never be seen at the wheel of a Riva or even a super-sustainable and rather handsome electric Frauscher. From a distance Zürich’s classic motorboats might look and even sound like a post-war Riva or Chris-Craft, but look a bit closer and the chrome brand plaque will either read “Boesch” in a chic scrawl or “Pedrazzini” in a more blocky, joined-up font.

Lake Zürich doesn’t instantly strike you as the home of boatbuilders and Switzerland is certainly not a nation of mariners, but let’s not forget that this landlocked country recently procured some new “naval” vessels from Finland to guard its southern and northern flanks from the menacing Italians, French, Germans and Austrians. The federal government also part-funds an oceangoing fleet of freighters to ensure that the country’s supply chains can remain intact in times of conflict. (A very nice gig I’m told, if you happen to be one of the shipping families that has one of the contracts.)

Out on the lake we zipped across to the Hotel Alex for coffees and juice, and after that made our way toward Badi Enge where the skipper cut the engine and lowered the ladder, and we dove into the clear, refreshingly crisp 18C water. With the city as the backdrop on one side and the snowy Alps waking up in the very light haze, it was about as perfect a Saturday morning as I can remember: good friends, sleek transport and a lake that’s so clean it’s supposed to be drinkable. Back on board I stretched out, looked skyward and took in a scene that used to be taken for granted: aircraft, at various flight levels, criss-crossing over Swiss airspace. A year ago the skies were empty but this Saturday morning it felt like the world was back on the move and summer had shifted into high gear. Enjoy it.


Mange tout

Tucked away on the second floor of a heritage shophouse on Bukit Pasoh Road, Clos Pasoh is a slice of French summer in the heart of Singapore.

It’s led by Louis Pacquelin (the former chef de cuisine at BBR by Alain Ducasse) and though it’s currently only open for takeaway, this colourful brasserie is the perfect spot for a tasty weekend brunch. To pair with your meal, pick a bottle of wine from the house’s 1,500-label cellar.

Subscribe to Monocle’s Digital Editions to read the latest issue of the magazine, our back catalogue and regularly updated tips for exploring key cities – such as this editor’s pick from our Singapore guide.


Home stretch

Only Londoners who fell foul of the law will be familiar with the imposing former magistrate’s court and police station in Covent Garden. Having been empty since 2006, the Grade-II listed Victorian building has now been given a new lease of life as the first Nomad hotel outside the US. New York-based Sydell Group (one of the firms behind The Ned) teamed up with interior design studio Roman and Williams to reimagine the complex of court rooms and holding cells (where the likes of Oscar Wilde and the Kray twins spent a few uneasy nights) while paying homage to its history. The end result is a 91-key affair that nods to Nomad’s New York roots without straying far from its London lodgings just off The Strand.

The best place at which to settle in and take in the scene is the downstairs bar Side Hustle. This used to be the police station, alluded to by several Martin Parr portraits depicting trusty British bobbies. Instead of harsh sentences, today it serves Los Angeles-style street-food, telling of chef Ashley Abodeely’s time spent on the US West Coast. The pièce de résistance is the main restaurant. The old courtyard, where carriages would once pull up bearing prisoners, is now an Edwardian-style orangery with rows of creepers and climbing plants, and porcelain-tiled walls. Taking over a former court takes some tact – the Nomad has done it justice.


Kale and hearty

Benjamin Pardo is design director of US furniture brand Knoll. Since joining the firm in 2005 he’s worked with the likes of David Adjaye and Piero Lissoni. Here, he tells us about weekends in Sag Harbor and where to find the best fruit and vegetables on Long Island, New York.

Where do we find you this weekend?
Last weekend, I was at my country home in Sag Harbor, New York, with my partner but now I’m at home in New York City.

What have you been working on lately?
Workwise we are finishing up a chair designed by Ini Archibong. Pre-production pieces are currently on view at the London Design Biennale’s African Diaspora pavilion.

What’s the ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle start or a jolt?
I’m up early every weekend morning and out for a bike ride. When I’m in Sag Harbor, notwithstanding the rain, I’m out at 06:30 every Sunday morning for a long ride to circumnavigate Shelter Island. At this time of year I get to check on the progress of the osprey chicks high in their nests along the coast – it’s a wonderful harbinger of summer.

Soundtrack of choice?
On arriving home, I make coffee – a Jamaican blend – to the music of Jean-Michel Jarre.

What’s for breakfast?
My partner David has breakfast ready: a dish of local strawberries with yoghurt and granola and heaps more coffee.

News or not?
Sunday morning papers, read online, are a ritual. The New York Times, the Financial Times and Corriere Della Sera. At 09.00 we watch Sunday Morning on CBS.

Walk the dog or downward dog?
After watching Sunday Morning, our new puppy Lucas – an 18-week old shar-pei – is out for what must be his third walk of the day.

Some exercise to get the blood pumping?
While I take Lucas out for his walk, David takes a yoga class.

What’s for lunch on Sundays?
A simple pasta with chickpeas, mussels and orecchiette. The second course is grilled veal chops, spring onions and a wonderful sauté of kale-flower greens. My favourite organic farmstand in Water Mill, New York, is called Green Thumb. They cut the kale back in winter, meaning in early spring the growth has tender leaves and beautiful yellow flowers – delicious.

A glass of something you’d recommend?
A glass of chianti from lunch, right before taking Lucas out for his next walk of the day.

A favourite dinner venue?
Elaia Estiatorio, our favourite Greek restaurant near Amangasett, New York.

Sunday evening beauty or betterment routine?
Taking Lucas out (again) for his evening constitutional, before sitting down to watch Danish TV series Seaside Hotel.

Will you lay out your look for Monday? What will you be wearing?
If I have the day off on Monday and I’m in Sag Harbor I’ll suit up in my bike gear and head out again for a ride to Bridgehampton along Bluff Road. I love the sound of the sea and the smell of salt.

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Reuben with pastrami and sauerkraut

Our Swiss chef Ralph Schelling’s take on this staple is inspired by memories of Katz’s Delicatessen in New York (the wartime motto of which remains the catchy “Send a salami to your boy in the army”). Schelling has been known to add fresh tomatoes, celery or leaves to make a meal of it. It’s great warm but can be enjoyed on the go too. Don’t skimp on the pastrami.

Serves 4

8 slices rye bread
3 tbsps salted butter
180g sauerkraut, squeezed
180g pastrami, cut wafer-thin
8-10 slices emmental, cut into 1mm slices
4 tbsps thousand island dressing

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

  1. Butter the bread and pan-fry until browned on both sides, in batches if necessary.

  2. Sieve the sauerkraut to remove excess moisture, then heat in a frying pan over a medium heat so that it dries out a little and warms through.

  3. Spread the dressing evenly between the four sandwiches.

  4. Warm the pastrami briefly in the pan and then distribute the pastrami and sauerkraut evenly between the four sandwiches, before adding the sliced cheese on top. Hold them in place with a toothpick if needed.

  5. Place the sandwiches in the oven for a few minutes until the cheese melts then remove, slice in half and enjoy.


Capital punishment

What’s London’s problem? Where do we start (writes Josh Fehnert)? As the city bounces back and enjoys some long-deferred summer heat, things are looking decidedly sunnier here than they have for a long time. But some problems persist, says lecturer and writer Jack Brown in his new book The London Problem: What Britain Gets Wrong About its Capital City published by Battersea-based Haus Publishing. Far from being a simple screed decrying the messy – and unquestionably imperfect – metropolis, the book carefully dissects the long feud between an aggrieved country and its much-maligned capital (described as long as 200 years ago, I think rather harshly, as a great cyst sucking the life out of the state).

His findings? In fewer than 100 pages (footnotes excluded), Brown lucidly and expertly unpicks the untruths, spin and bluster that make many in the ’burbs bemoan the Big Smoke. These myths include the idea that services elsewhere in the UK are cut to pay for privileged people in the capital (nope, it’s a net contributor and on that, many of the poor here are worse off than elsewhere in Blighty).

Brown also explains how generations of politicians have mistaken London’s wealth, zeal and attractiveness to newcomers as something that has held other parts of the country back – can’t London and Liverpool and Leeds succeed? He also sifts through data suggesting that views beyond the M25 and those within it are shockingly similar on most issues, with London skewing more conservative and more religious in ways many might not expect.

It’s exactly this diversity – of people, places, opinions, professions, priorities and politics – that is its strength but also the rod for which many reach to beat it. Brown also tackles the belief that London is a bastion of liberal, metropolitan elitism. To some extent it is (have we mentioned it’s a rather big city?) but it’s mainly the older, white, privately educated newspaper columnists and politicians who seem drawn to the dog-whistle to imply this difference. An uphelpful impulse, Brown suggests, particularly in the face of the overwhelming similarities and shared interests between the capital and elsewhere.

The UK does need levelling up and its second-tier cities could do with a long-overdue boost – that’s not in question. Whether this should involve bashing and bemoaning London, rather than learning from it, is quite another. London isn’t the bogeyman it’s cast as – it’s a buoyant and newly summery city that the rest of the UK can learn from. So what’s the problem with London? Well, maybe that’s the wrong question after all.


When in Rome

If all idiomatic roads lead to Rome, one wonders why it took the prolific Hoxton brand so long to reach the eternal city (writes Josh Fehnert). Nevertheless, many will be glad it made it. The interiors of the 1970s buildings nod to some quirks deployed in mid-century Italian design – nostalgic references to Rome’s cinematic past and Murano glass chandeliers for starters.

The fit-out was a joint effort from parent company Ennismore’s in-house team and UK firm Fettle Design, which took care of the alluring public spaces. Like its other outposts, the 192-key property has a generous lobby in which to linger, plus rentable spaces for remote workers in the form of L’Appartamento, a group of meeting rooms on the lower-ground floor. The pandemic has made mingling the enemy but this will change in time. Great hotels aren’t built in a day, remember.


Bearing fruit

Greece is one of the world’s oldest wine-making nations but its vintners are not stuck in the past (writes Aimee Hartley). Even retsina, the wine traditionally flavoured with pine resin, has been vastly improved by producers in the Peloponnese – and Greek wine has plenty more to offer.

Something that adds to the romance of Greek wine – and its struggle – is that most of its 200 ancient native grapes are both hard to pronounce and in such short supply that global recognition is elusive. Getting your head around Greek wine takes time and effort but it also rewards explorers with unique bottles that are impossible to imitate. Here are five with which to start your own odyssey. Or with which to celebrate a sunny Sunday. Enjoy.

Domaine de Kalathas: Vorias 2017
Made from the rozaki grape of Tinos, this natural wine has notes of lemon zest, grapefruit and peach.

Tetramythos: Agiorgitiko Natur 2018
This high-altitude organic red from the Peloponnese has a nose of violets and cherries, and balances boldness and refinement.

Papras Bio Wines: Oreads Rose 2019
This natural rosé is made at the base of Mount Olympus in Thessaly from black muscat, a rare and floral grape.

Thymiopoulos: Earth and Sky 2018
A fresh, elegant red made from xinomavro by one of Greece’s most respected wine-makers, in Macedonia.

Georgas Family: Retsina Black Label 2019
Biodynamic amber savatiano, fermented with pine resin in Central Greece. Uniquely herbaceous and citrusy.


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