Sunday 12 September 2021 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 12/9/2021

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday


Shell shock

It’s been a week full of handsome mags, plenty of trains and a run-in with some nasty clams. Let’s rewind, shall we?

Sunday. It’s Mom’s last day of her summer break in Switzerland and we all trot down to the little park at the end of our street for our ritual morning dip. We’re on a bit of a schedule as her flight’s in a little over three hours, I have a radio show to record and there’s also a cocktail to get to in Milan. I make my way to the ladder to do a shallow dive (no high dives as it takes a while for the lake floor to slope downwards), swim out to the buoy and come back. En route to the orange ball my right toes feel a bit funny. Must have strained them springing forward perhaps. I climb out of the water, dry off and notice an expanding pool of blood around my right foot. I dip my foot to clean it but the blood doesn’t stop. I rinse off on the swimming platform, put my shoes on and walk home. Shoes off and it’s still bleeding. Hmmmph? I take a peek underfoot and notice the underside of my toes have been neatly sliced open. But how? A small operation centre is set up and the foot is disinfected, then bandaged up. What happened? Why are they throbbing? I do our radio show and then take Mom to the airport. Since the sun has finally come out and it’s a stunning day, she’s not looking forward to Toronto but off she goes like a trooper.

Back at home, I put my foot up and am bothered by this violation. I decide to put my feet first and opt not to go to Milan but to launch an aquatic investigation. As the sun dips I head back to the lake to see who or what has turned my toes into tartare. I walk down the ladder slowly. Nothing sharp. I pad around the bottom of the lake – plenty of jagged stones but nothing I would have touched. I swim out to the buoy and back to the ladder. As I go up the ladder I run my hand along the submerged middle rungs. Aha! Hundreds of tiny clams and they’re sharper than a Victorinox knife. “You bunch of little buggers,” I murmur. Case solved. I wonder if there’s such a thing as a freshwater spaghetti vongole.

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Andrew has already told you everything you need to know about Milan (see his Saturday column here) but he did leave out one essential bit – the launch of a lovely new magazine. On Monday evening at Bar Basso our good friend and the editorial director of Zeit Magazin Christoph Amend unveiled his newest baby, Wochenmarkt. It’s a spin-off of the column that appears in the main magazine supplement of the newspaper and is a super tasty addition to German-speaking newsstands. For the moment it’s twice yearly but it’s definitely got quarterly potential. Wunderbar, team Zeit Mag!

Wednesday evening. For some reason I’m not looking forward to waking up at 04.30 Thursday morning to catch the AF from Milan to Paris. Funny that. Instead, I opt for the train back to Zürich with my colleague Nic ahead of an early start on the TGV the following morning. This is one of those journeys where an empty dining car, a few beers, some Swiss white and good conversation make the hours evaporate. The only thing missing was some moodier lighting. We both commented that rail operator SBB should find an evening setting.

Perhaps more people will get back onto public transport but not in the short term, and as Paris returns to the office, it feels more like Bangkok – sticky air included Thursday. Design Week continues in Paris and the TGV is packed – except for the little set of four seats at the very end of the carriage, lower deck. It’s like my own private lounge: spacious and perfect for catching up on weekend reading. I’m productive the whole way to Paris and then step off the train and into the heavy, hammam-like surrounds of the Gare de Lyon and beyond. It’s Paris at its end-of-summer stickiest. This hasn’t deterred people from running around to openings and launches, and crowding the pavement. Like Milan, Paris felt on its best, if slightly too moist, form. I was hoping to have time for a little wardrobe refresh but it wasn’t to be. I did manage a quick spin around the stationery and book departments at Le Bon Marché and I’m hoping you can answer this question: the French have such a wonderful tradition of graphic novels, why don’t we boast the same en anglais?

Friday. Here’s an easy question: has Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo improved traffic flow in the city? And no, I’m not only talking cars. It’s a proper mess. Perhaps more people will get back onto public transport but not in the short term, and as Paris returns to the office, it feels more like Bangkok – sticky air included. In short, I miss my train and have to head back via Strasbourg and a clackety countryside “express”. There’s a positive to this though. The tired old carriages are golden and glowing with the warmest, sexiest lighting.

Saturday. Summer is still here so it’s back in the lake; there are French graphic novels to decode and maybe that vongole for dinner. In this case, revenge is a dish best served picante.


Gone fishing

At the tip of the Zürichhorn river delta on Zürichsee’s eastern shore is a new cluster of buildings that dip their architectural toes into the lake’s cool waters. But the vista will look familiar to long-time residents of the area: Zürich’s Fischerstube restaurant complex has been rebuilt in the style of the 1939 structure that was here before. Originally erected for an architecture exhibition, the pavilions were such a hit that they stayed.

Nicolas von Graffenried, the affable CEO of the Commercio Arthouse Group, is in charge of the new venture. The first building we stop to admire is a concrete kiosk topped with an undulating wooden roof that seems to mirror the shimmering lake beyond it. Next to it is the Fischerhütte, a smaller, 24-cover dining room with a private terrace that’s available for hire.

The restaurant can host 88 diners indoors under the shady fringe of its thatched roof and a further 133 on the Seeterrasse. We meet head chef Sven Binnemann-Muhr as he applies the final touches to a house favourite, Fischknusperli (fried and breaded fish fillets). He explains that the catch of the day is hauled in from Lake Zürich by a fisherman called Gerni; it is served alongside comforting dishes including steak tartare, Wiener schnitzel (with an endive canoe filled with cranberry compôte and a dash of horseradish) and seared trout – downed with plenty of refreshing Swiss wine and beer. That said, it takes a lot to look past a dish described as “racy”, as is the case with the stroganoff of Argentinian beef with fregola Sarda.


Setting the scene

As CEO of cinema chain, film distributor and streaming platform Curzon, Philip Knatchbull plays a key role in making arthouse films more accessible to a British audience (writes Carolina Abbott Galvão). Having joined the company in 2006, he now oversees 46 screens in 20 cinemas in the UK, as well as online platform Curzon Home Cinemas. Here he tells us about his dream dinner party, his French bulldogs and why a home-cooked meal beats eating out.

Where do we find you this weekend? Spending quality time with my family and three French bulldogs in London or at a Chelsea football match.

What’s the ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle start or a jolt? It’s always a gentle start for me. Ideally, I meditate in the morning. Then it’s coffee and the Sunday papers in bed.

Soundtrack of choice? Anything by Radiohead.

What’s for breakfast? Sourdough toast and a boiled egg.

Some exercise to get the blood pumping? I’m a big Pilates fan. But if I’m not doing that, I’m playing tennis with my son.

Lunch in or out? In. My wife’s cooking trumps any restaurant in London.

Larder essentials you can’t do without? Dairy Milk chocolate and marmalade.

Sunday culture must? A film. I love nothing more than a Sunday afternoon film on Curzon Home Cinema.

Walk the dog or downward dog? Walk the dog. Actually, my day always starts with a walk in Battersea Park with my wife and dogs.

A glass of something you’d recommend? Any rioja.

Ideal dinner venue? Amaya, off Motcomb street. It’s the best Indian in London in my opinion. Although I’m also very partial to a Bosphorus Kebab in South Kensington.

The ideal dinner menu? Smoked salmon to start, then steak and chips. And I top that all off with a chocolate soufflé.

Who’s joining? Martin Scorsese, Didier Drogba, Stanley Kubrick and Frank Gehry.

Sunday evening beauty or betterment routine? Betterment routine. Usually a massage.

Will you lay out your look for Monday, what will you be wearing? My uniform is jeans, shirt and trainers. And I ride an electric motorbike to work, so I always top it all off with a leather jacket.


Greek orange cake

“This is the ultimate orange cake recipe,” says Swiss chef Ralph Schelling. “It’s from a friend, the private chef Anastasis Kazos in Milos, Greece and is one of my all-time favourite desserts.” The strong citrus flavour comes courtesy of boiling the whole fruits but be careful to let them cool before cutting. The other big secret is using crumbled filo pastry instead of flour. Schelling also insists that the cake be refrigerated and eaten cold – this is a fairly sizeable one, so it will also help it to stay fresh for longer.

Serves 8 to 10 (or for fewer people over more sittings)Ingredients 3 large oranges 250g caster sugar 250g mild olive oil 250g milk 1 tsp baking powder 1 tsp baking soda 2 vanilla pods, seeds scraped out 3 eggs 450g filo pastry dried and coarsely crumbled 700g sugar 500ml water 300ml orange juice

Method 1. Boil the oranges, whole, just covered in water and leave to simmer for an hour. Remove from water, leave to cool a little then cut them in half and remove the seeds. Now puree them in a blender.

2. Preheat the oven to 160C.

3. Mix the cooled orange puree with the sugar, olive oil, milk, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla seeds and eggs, and add the filo pastry to form a thick dough. Combine thoroughly but don’t work it too hard.

4. Pour into a lined baking tin and pop in the oven for an hour and 20 minutes. While it’s baking, boil the water, dissolve the sugar and orange juice in it and allow the liquid to cool completely. After baking, drizzle the hot cake with the liquid and repeat until absorbed, which can take some time.

5. Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve.


Heart of the island

Maison Bukana opened in May on the Philippine island of Siargao. “I can confidently say that we have taken tourism here to the next level,” says founder Christophe Bariou. The four-bedroom beachfront property is based in Malinao, a quiet stretch of the island’s main town, General Luna. The land that it’s built on, which backs onto a mangrove river, has been in Bariou’s half-French, half-Filipino family since his father arrived here in the 1980s. There are plenty of personal touches under the bamboo roof. A distinctive green hue runs through the property, from the walls to the website. “We’re a house, not a hotel, so it made sense to have a strong identity,” Bariou says. His sister Stephanie created the furniture and soft furnishings using traditional materials such as abacá fibre.

Though the pandemic has been difficult for the hospitality industry, the shared situation also helped to bring it together. Bariou says that the most important development has been the emergence of organic farms. Siargao used to rely on food shipped from the mainland but now you’ll find ingredients on the menu that were grown on the island. “We learned to work with each other and to be independent when it comes to food.”


New and notable

Much-loved Prague stationery shop Papelote has relocated to a new space across town in Letná. Designed by Václav Mlynář from Czech studio Monument Office, it contains a treasure trove of new and notable products.

“Paper and creativity go hand in hand because working with paper involves both the mind and the body,” says Kateřina Šachová, Papelote’s co-owner and creative director. “Our shop offers customers more than the opportunity to buy products. It is a place for inspiration, a living organism.” It’s great for pens and paper too.


In the driver’s seat

Those looking for a steer on what’s next for the fast-moving world of transport have today to see what’s on at the first IAA Mobility trade show in Munich (writes Josh Fehnert). Here’s a round-up of what our reporters saw on the ground ahead of the final day today.

1. Getting in gear Before the pandemic, many car brands were questioning the importance of industry get-togethers. IAA widened the autoshow remit to include e-bikes, shared-ownership schemes, electric-charging companies and mobility more broadly. This has revved up demand and helped car companies become part of the debate about where their products fit in cities.

2. U-turn ahead? Electric cars are here to stay but excitement about driverless vehicles has stalled. Most key manufacturers – especially German stalwarts BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz – are now covering ground by making handsome e-vehicles that work well but won’t cost the earth (in either sense). Good news on both fronts.

3. Mobility is political Why would the mayor of Munich, the president of Bavaria and Angela Merkel all speak at the opening on Tuesday? Perhaps because cars account for 30 per cent of Bavaria’s economy, remain Germany’s biggest export and are worth nearly about €500bn to the country. On a practical note and despite the talk of change, traffic is creeping back towards pre-pandemic levels and car ownership is increasing. Customers want to feel good, talk green and demand sustainability – but they want cars too.

4. Technology isn’t tactile The lion’s share of B2B exhibitors flogging hydrogen fuel cells, engine-coolant systems or that slightly sinister traffic-surveillance system missed a trick. People care about cars and how they make them feel – not dull proprietary bells and whistles under the bonnet. This excitement was lacking in some quarters. Huawei’s stand, for one, felt more autopsy than exhibition.

5. Cities in the driving seat Munich came out ahead in this event. Despite happening on the heels of a pandemic, IAA brought people and business to the city and sent them home happy. The Blue Lane, a road from the site to town that gave people space to test drive cars and visit the city, was a nice touch too.

For more on what’s around the corner and the companies in the fast lane, look out for our in-depth report on IAA Mobility in the forthcoming October issue of Monocle. Or subscribe today so that you never miss an issue. Have a super Sunday.


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