Sunday 18 July 2021 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 18/7/2021

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday


Fair play

I’ve spent the better part of the morning plotting out the rest of the summer, as the trip to Tokyo for the Olympics is officially off. (No matter how much I’m missing Japan the thought of being in a “bubble” that only allowed hotel/shuttle/venue sounded like the cruelest prison.) There were suddenly a run of free weeks that required some structure.

While it’s all subject to change, it now goes something like this. There’ll be a bit of Antiparos/Paros/Athens (more on the Greek capital in a moment) over the coming week and then a small Baltic tour featuring Tallinn, Pärnu, Helsinki, Stockholm and Copenhagen. After a few days back at base it’ll be on to Gstaad, St Moritz and Merano (yes, yes, there’ll be our usual summer party in Obermais) and perhaps there’ll be a few extra stops in Austria and Südtirol. By then it’ll be almost the end of August and I’m hoping that the UK will have put some of its key trading partners on its “green list”, or will be allowing people who’ve been vaccinated elsewhere to pass the border to do business.

Now that my schedule is sorted it’s time to look at your late summer plans, so please hit pause on whatever you might have been scheming up for your September sun escape and consider the following: how about joining all your favourite Monocle editors, contributors and fellow readers in Athens from 23 September for the sixth edition of our Quality of Life Conference? Here’s why.

1. For sure you deserve an extension to summer – particularly if you live in Germany, Switzerland, France or anywhere else in Europe that’s been doused for the past few weeks and is only starting to show signs of a normal July. Think warm Athenian evenings, superb food and a very fun crowd.

2. If you’re travelling from a bit further afield you could possibly fly through Zürich en route (there’s a special discount for delegates on Swiss) and join for a little pre-mingle. Or you could reverse that plan and catch the tail end of Art Basel.

3. It seems that Europe is the only place to be this September. Art Basel aside, there’s also Salone del Mobile in Milan, MIPIM in Cannes, 3 Days of Design in Copenhagen, the IAA in Munich and other design fairs in Helsinki and Vienna.

4. Our conference starts with a very warm welcome on the rooftop of city hall and carries on from there under perfect skies. Mayor Kostas Bakoyannis promised us that the weather will be flawless.

5. You’re going to get small masterclasses on life’s most pressing issues. Swiss neurosurgeon Philippe Schucht will tell you how you to make better use of your brain. London-based Greek fashion entrepreneur Maria Lemos will advise on building a better wardrobe.

6. The Benaki Museum building at Pireos 138 will serve as the backdrop for the main part of the conference. It will feature over 35 speakers and sessions, all touching on themes and currents to improve your quality of life – from urban planning to hospitality and cultural pursuits to architecture.

7. We’re pulling together a mini Greek market of the best in craft and design from around the country – think good sandals, tunics, jewellery and more.

8. As you’re reading this on a Sunday, it only makes sense to mention that one of the world’s best newspaper editors will be on stage to explain how to build better newsrooms. Emma Tucker, editor in chief of The Sunday Times, will be in conversation with me and Andrew Tuck.

9. We’re keen to deliver a more nuanced take on the topics driving global discussions and this means creating a forum for challenging ideas. Author Thomas Chatterton Williams will be discussing the evaporation of forgiveness and contemplating why it’s important to move forward.

10. The conference wraps on a Saturday sometime after lunch. From there you can extend your stay at the Four Seasons Astir Palace, head out to the islands or consider where you might by a well-positioned apartment in Kolonaki.

If you’d like to secure a ticket then please sign up here and if you have any specific questions please contact Hannah Grundy at We look forward to hosting you.


Making ice

Some good ideas are always good ideas. Founded more than 70 years ago by an Italian immigrant from Cortina with a shop in Estoril, Santini is now a fêted name in the gelato game. The company’s bright red-and-white branding catches the eye and its large selection of flavours is produced using Italian gelato machines at its facility just outside Lisbon.

Patrons at its 16 outposts in Portugal can sample traditional flavours such as pistachio, vanilla and strawberry along with newer concoctions, including a rather toothsome chocolate mousse. Overseen by third-generation owner Eduardo Santini Fuertes, the business has grown in recent years thanks to a boom in tourism and it has expanded the number of Lisbon-area gelato parlours and opened shops in Porto and Faro. This year? There are ice lollies in the pipeline.


Don’t call it a comeback

Atlantis Records in Hackney stocks selections from the sizeable record collection of Geoff Travis – founder of cult record shops Rough Trade – featuring music from every genre, in every format. This means dusty old seven-inches of disco sitting alongside hip-hop cassettes and hard-to-find CDs.

Step inside and you’ll find a simple, understated space that’s replete with rarities to keep crate-diggers occupied for an eternity. An excellent encore from the seasoned shop owner.

Subscribe to the Monocle 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 London guide.


Spice of life

Though it’s been just over a year since Swedish chef Tommy Myllymäki opened his stunning restaurant Aira on Stockholm’s Djurgården island, the spot already feels like a fixture of the city’s fine dining scene (writes Carolina Abbott Galvão). Here he tells us about family meals, post-run snacks and his favourite Swedish soundtrack.

Where do we find you this weekend?
In Smögen, an island on the west coast of Sweden. It’s rocky and close to the ocean, a typical Nordic landscape. A lot of people come here in the summer.

What’s the ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle start or a jolt?
I love running so on most Sundays, I go for a long run in the morning. I usually do between 20 and 30km.

Soundtrack of choice?
It depends. If I feel tired it’s a little more upbeat. But I listen to all kinds of music. I’ve made a few marathon playlists in the past couple of months. It’s a lot of skate punk, especially a Swedish band called Caesars, as well as some Teddybears.

What’s for breakfast?
Usually porridge with raspberry jam but on weekends I tend to go out and buy bread. I toast normal white bread and eat it with cheese and marmalade. I have that after I’ve eaten my porridge and gone on my run.

News or not on weekends?
A little, mostly culture and sports.

Larder essentials you can’t do without?
A high-quality bottle of olive oil. And I always have butter in my fridge.

Sunday culture must?
During the afternoon I usually have coffee and read some magazines: Runner’s World and Monocle. It’s weird but, though I’m a cook, I don’t read that many dedicated food magazines.

A glass of something you’d recommend?
In the summer, probably champagne or some white wine from Burgundy. Boring, but true. If it’s red, I go for nebbiolo or grenache.

The ideal dinner menu?
We have three children who are all different ages so we mostly just try to make food that everybody enjoys. If it’s Italian and we’re doing a Caprese salad, we do it so everyone can pick and choose what they like and don’t like. If someone doesn’t like mozzarella, they can have a tomato and so on.

Ideal dinner venue?
Staying at home. The delivery options have become so good recently, so we’ve really been enjoying ordering in and trying different restaurants’ menus. We’ve had some really great stuff.

Who’s joining?
My family. Sometimes we invite friends over but this year, that’s been harder.

Sunday evening beauty or betterment routine?
I’m pretty natural so it’s more of a betterment routine. I try to relax and set up a good plan for the week.

Will you lay out your look for Monday? What will you be wearing?
Usually a white T-shirt and black trousers.


Steamed clams and chorizo

This week our recipe writer and chef pairs chorizo and clams for a steamy treat. Making a meal of it? Pair this with crusty bread or pasta for a more fulsome dish. Enjoy.

Serves 2

600g clams
2 tbsps olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large banana shallot (or ½ small onion) finely chopped
1-2 tsps red pepper flakes (or chilli flakes)
125g chorizo, casing removed and cut into small 2cm cubes
125ml dry sherry
2 tsps sherry vinegar
10 cherry tomatoes
3 tbsps chopped parsley
A large pinch of ground black pepper
Juice of ¼ lemon


  1. Wash the clams carefully and discard any that are chipped or open. Put them in a sieve and place over a bowl so they’re covered with water up to three quarters of their height (not completely). Leave them for 30 minutes to an hour – this will help the clams to release any sand they have swallowed – then rinse them again with clean water.

  2. Put olive oil and cubed chorizo in a medium-sized pot on medium heat until the chorizo releases its oil and becomes crispy. Add garlic and cook until it releases the aroma (don’t let it burn), then add the shallot and cook for a few minutes until translucent.

  3. Add the red pepper flakes, dry sherry and sherry vinegar, turn the heat up to bring it to a boil. Once it has boiled, add the drained clams and cherry tomato.

  4. Put a lid on and leave to steam for 4 minutes, shaking the pan slightly once or twice so they cook evenly. Once most of the clams open up, they are ready – discard the unopened ones. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and crushed black pepper. Serve with crusty bread.


New wave

Dubai is famous for its beach clubs, which in the old days were where notorious “Dubai brunches” took place, with expats revelling (sometimes indecorously) throughout the day. Like everything else in the city, the concept has matured and the variety of coastal watering holes is impressive. You can expect to be pampered and primped as well as wined and dined. Here are the best of the bunch – go on, splash out.

Where to spend a day in the sun:

Summersalt. A catchy name, an easy, breezy atmosphere and a delicious menu.

Sal. A refined splurge and fantastic views in the grounds of the Burj Al Arab.

Twiggy. The new kid on the block for cocktails and people-watching at the Park Hyatt.

Nikki Beach. (pictured) An old favourite that doesn’t disappoint with access to calm Gulf shallows.

For our Dubai survey on everything from entrepreneurship to entertainment, pick up a copy of our July/August issue.


Slice of the action

It looks thoroughly nondescript and even a little bit touristy: a kiosk on the pavement next to Castello Sforzesco in the heart of Milan, with tables and chairs outside and a service window from which panini are pedalled. Aside from the fact that the sandwiches at Chiosco Al Politico are reliably excellent (and they serve cold beer) this spot has also eked out a particular niche for itself: sandwiches displayed on posters next to the service counter are named after members of Italy’s notoriously bickering and backstabbing political class.

Chiosco Al Politico has been going since 1991, a testament to sandwich combinations that work surprisingly well (the roast beef with grilled aubergine is a Monocle favourite). So what about those names? One wonders how many people boldly step up to order a Mussolini (a rather unctuous combo of salamella, scamorza, brie, mayonnaise and more aubergine). There’s also a Berlusconi (prosciutto crudo-dominant) and a Salvini (brie meets crudo). And what about former Democratic Party prime minister Matteo Renzi’s offering? Are there hidden messages among the prawns and cocktail sauce? The mind boggles. Thankfully the sandwiches, just like those pesky politicians, speak for themselves.
Piazza Castello 5, Milan


Ship shape

An outstanding ferry ride is a rare thing and, up until now, few shipbuilders or operators have come up with much in the way of ideas to make things better. There’s room for improvement on board and the noxious smoke that most ferries belch out is unlikely to impress those taking some air on the rear deck. Yet there are some signs of progress. Norway has dozens of electric ships in service, some made by Brødrene Aa, a family-owned business based in Vestland. Denmark is also making headway with its electric car ferries. When it comes to aesthetics, there’s much to be admired in the seemly interiors of Aurora Botnia, a new design that will sail between Vaasa in Finland and Umeå, Sweden. So, building on this momentum, we’re floating five proposals to make travelling by ferry more attractive to passengers and more profitable for operators. All aboard!

Natural finishes.
Forget the standard range of pitiful faux-pine panelling married to white plastics and iffy chromes. Instead, let’s riff on the seafarers of old with more real wood and natural hues. In sunnier spots, a splash of brighter colours could work if used sparingly. Spend a little more on the fit and finishes, and passengers will feel the difference. Teaming up with local interior designers to bring in regional materials and furniture made nearby will also help.

Show us your deck.
Too many trips confine passengers to stuffy cabins listening to the chunter of the engine. Not on our ideal ferry. If the sun’s out, then we’ll make the most of space to embrace the breeze on deck. Sturdy awnings and partitions can create spaces that are shielded from the elements. There are also loungers, tables for full service and a bar for drinks.v

Rethink the rations.
Fatty fast food and insipid coffee tend to be standard fare at sea. But why? Why not give passengers something that won’t turn their stomach if the swell kicks up? On shorter trips, install a well-turned-out kiosk with hot drinks, strong coffee and snacks made with fresh produce picked up daily at port. On longer runs or larger ferries, investing in a restaurant good enough to tempt guests who aren’t commuting could add another revenue stream. Design-wise, it’s a good idea to use non-slip crockery and ditch wobbly thin-stemmed drinking vessels.

Sell while you sail.
Many ferries have one shop selling the same unimaginative fare – novelty chocolates, alcohol and generic tourist tat. While acknowledging that booze is quite good business, some operators should partner with nearby shops, artisans and designers to offer products that passengers might be pleased to discover and tempted to take home.

Uniform decisions.
While those in charge of the ship tend to have the right idea (classic works best here and who isn’t a sucker for a sea captain?), the rest of a ferry’s crew are often lucky if they get a grubby polo shirt with a badly embroidered logo. We’d opt for a much sharper and more distinctive look that’s comfortable, fresh and hints at the headier days of travel. We’re not going the full tricorne, mind, but there’s certainly room for some striped jerseys from Saint James. Anyway, land ho! Have a good Sunday.


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