Sunday 19 September 2021 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 19/9/2021

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday


Trans-Iberian express

Bom dia! Bom dia! It wasn’t the plan to be at the other end of Europe the week before our Athens conference (you are joining us, aren’t you?) but somehow the attractions of new projects, a little real-estate tour and an invitation to check in to a hotel in the heart of Alentejo tempted me to the boarding gate flashing “final call: Lisbon” midday on Thursday.

Before I made my way to the airport, I managed to grab a coffee with the very clever author and commentator Jess Henderson. You might recall that I recommended her book Offline Matters a couple of weeks ago and if you haven’t picked up a copy yet, you must. At a time when many who are reading this column are planning their marketing and media plans for 2022, it’s an informative take on what works, what doesn’t and how you might want to stick to some tried-and-tested strategies rather than investing into multiple platforms you think you can measure in a KPI spreadsheet. Also, if you want to hear from Ms Henderson, CNN’s Clarissa Ward and a host of other clever minds then make sure to make your way to London on 14 October when we’ll be hosting the Monocle Media Summit at The Churchill. We’ll have much more on that over the coming weeks but first, it’s time to touch down in Lisbon and share a few observations from the continent’s western edge.

  1. It’s official: Lisbon boasts the most exciting approach of any major airport since they shuttered Hong Kong’s Kai Tak. And just like the aviation stories of yore about peering out the window of a Cathay Pacific 747 and watching families sitting around the dinner table slurping noodles, here you can peer into living rooms and see laundry being hung as your Airbus barrels down above the apartment blocks. From below, the steady stream of approaching aircraft over the city is a pleasant reminder that the wheels of the global economy are shifting back into gear.

  2. You know the French invasion of Portugal is continuing apace when the Lisbon branch of the Lycée is expanding, ‘F’ license plates rank number two after ‘P’ plates and there are Parisian couples drinking and clinking almost everywhere you turn. With question marks over the future of HK as a business hub, is this where all the French from Hollywood Road are establishing a new colony for commerce and cavorting? C’est possible.

  3. Somehow, I’ve missed some of the better modernist corners of Lisbon over the years as my trips tend to be business-focused and traditionally don’t extend much beyond 18 hours. Not this time. Thanks to colleagues Helena and José Luis I had the opportunity to gaze upwards on Friday and have been having decorating and landscaping fantasies ever since. I think a Monocle shop, café and bureau just might be on the cards. Better yet, atop some very graphic, Roberto Burle Marx-style pavement tiles.

  4. It’s not only the French who are piling in: the Belgians are also making an entrepreneurial appearance in the restaurant space. Java is worth a twirl for drinks and tacos with fine views across the city. Owner Pierre runs a tight ship and is a gracious, handsome host to boot.

  5. It’s Saturday morning and I find myself two hours southeast of Lisbon at the São Lourenço do Barrocal hotel. It’s a project that’s close to my heart as our agency worked on the branding for the project and I haven’t been since it opened. If you’re not familiar with this little corner of Europe, swing down and give it a try. It feels a bit like being up the coast and inland from Cape Town – vineyards forever but also cork trees and sprawling olive estates. Last night I dined on delicious barbecue pork and vegetables picked from the garden, tried a variety of wines from the estate’s vineyard and woke up this morning to the eeeee-awwwws of the most attractive, affectionate donkey. Perhaps a venue for a Monocle Weekender retreat next spring? Mais definitivamente!


Proving ground

The number of bakeries in Copenhagen is rising and it’s a challenge to buy a bad loaf. Residents are sticklers for pastries too and a boom in talented chefs has fuelled openings. In recent months there has been a wave of spots popping up in and around Nørrebro. Collective Bakery is a spin-off from roastery Coffee Collective, which opened its wood-clad space in spring 2021. Here, head baker Michael Craig (formerly of Hart Bageri) whips up croissants, rye and sourdough loaves, as well as citronbølge, a zesty, buttery wave-shaped pastry made from the trimmings of croissants and drizzled in lemon syrup.

At Rondo, a sunny neighbourhood joint, residents sit under a red awning, savouring hunks of naturally leavened bread topped with tomatoes, olive oil and anchovies. It’s run by the team behind the beloved Gaarden & Gaden natural-wine bar. Bageriet Benji also opened this year. This hole-in-the-wall spot from Noma alumnus Rasmus Kristensen serves treats from tarts with frangipane and rhubarb to ice-cream sandwiches and croissant-like spandauers filled with silky cream.;; Faelledvej 23


Soft spot

On Alentejo’s coast, 170km south of Lisbon, is the alluring fishing village of Porto Covo. In its main square, among whitewashed cottages and cobbled streets, Abranda (meaning “slow down”) allows visitors to take in the view with superb drinks and nibbles. Its menu focuses on small plates such as cod or clam pastries, ceviche, watermelon tataki and fresh salads. Pedro Martins, his partner Ines Madeira and brother Sandro Martins (pictured, left, with Ines and Pedro) run the show.

A small indoor area opens onto a terrace overlooking the square. Lisbon-based studio Lado remodelled the historic house, keeping the exposed timber and bamboo-clad ceilings, while injecting fresh touches including custom-designed cement tiles and terracotta pendant lamps from Muuto. “We wanted to create an intimate space where you could enjoy a glass of wine and a few plates of food, and ease in to the evening,” says Pedro.


Spinning plates

British DJ and restaurateur Layo Paskin is one of two people behind acclaimed London restaurants The Palomar and The Barbary (writes Carolina Abbott Galvão). Having founded both establishments with sister Zöe in 2014 and 2016, the Paskins are expanding: in October, they will open The Barbary Next Door, a relaxed neighbourhood restaurant and wine bar. Paskin tells us about swimming in London lidos, saké and his favourite weekend feast.

Where do we find you this weekend?
I’m working at Palomar on Saturday night so on Sunday mornings, you’ll find me in London. I’m not someone who goes to the countryside for the weekend. In my previous life as a DJ I had to travel around the world, so I cherish my time here now.

What’s the ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle start or a jolt?
I try to start my day with a swim at Parliament Hill Lido or London Fields Lido. I like to get that out of the way as early as possible – usually by 09.00.

Walk the dog or downward dog?
I have two cats and I think that they would find it weird if I tried to walk them.

What’s for breakfast?
I’m really into good bread: I love getting a loaf from somewhere like The Dusty Knuckle bakery and I tend to make avocado, poached eggs and loads of coffee to go with it. And, if I feel I’ve had a naughty week, maybe some green juice.

News or not?
I’m an avid reader of FT Weekend. I’ll read as much of it as I can.

Some exercise to get the blood pumping?
I might go for a run on Hampstead Heath or in Hyde Park. It depends. If I’ve had a drink the night before, it’ll be swimming; if I stayed in, I’ll run.

Lunch in or out?
Something quite classic: brunch at Bistroteque in Bethnal Green or the Royal China Club in Marylebone for dim sum. Or, if I can persuade my girlfriend, maybe a pub for a roast. For me, it’s not about going to the most interesting place, it’s about comfort. I like somewhere homely, like The Harwood Arms in Fulham.

Larder essentials you can’t do without
Really good olive oil, quality Cornish salt, Colman’s English mustard, Cambodian black pepper, tamari sauce and mirin.

A glass of something you’d recommend?
Recently, I’ve found myself drinking saké.

The ideal dinner menu?
Generally something Asian: a seaweed salad, maybe some salmon – something for the whole family to eat in an easy way. That’ll end the day gently.

Will you lay out your look for Monday?
I’m definitely not a “lay out my outfit” kind of guy but I tend to buy lots of blues and whites and wear them with trainers.


Rigatoni with nduja

This week Schelling shares a simple, salty and satisfying pasta dish with smoky nduja and a tart tomato sauce (using either a ready-made passata or tinned tomatoes). Feel free to riff on the ingredients too. “I recently had a similar dish made with sobrassada sausage with salted ricotta at my Swiss colleague Richard Kägi’s house,” says the chef. Enjoy.

Serves 4

6 tbsps olive oil
250g nduja, cut into thick slices
½ tsp chili flakes
1 tbsp capers, chopped
400ml passata
350g pasta, such as rigatoni
Parmesan, to taste (have plenty on hand)

1. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the nduja on a medium heat for about 5 minutes until crispy and oil is released.

  1. Add the chili flakes and sauté for 30 seconds, then add the tomato sauce and capers. Turn down the heat a little and leave to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  2. Now cook the pasta in salted water (according to packet instructions minus two minutes).

  3. Save 100ml or so of the starchy pasta water, drain the pasta and mix with the sauce. Now add the pasta water and continue to simmer for a minute or two until the sauce is combined.

  4. Divide equally between four bowls, top with parmesan cheese and serve warm.


Lay of the land

To help him to create the Runo hotel in a 1912 art nouveau building in Porvoo, owner Erkka Hirvonen hired interior designer Joanna Laajisto. “The objective was to design a hotel with a warm, modern and rustic feel,” says Laajisto. “Every detail was considered.” Natural materials such as wood, leather and stone lend the hotel a serene feel, while classic pieces from the likes of Nikari and Paavo Tynell are found throughout the 56-key property.

Hirvonen cut his teeth in the competitive hotel scene of Dubai and, after 12 years, relocated to his native Porvoo to launch Runo. “Porvoo is a rural town and I wanted Runo to reflect its country feel,” he says. “But it is also a modern hotel with first class service and attention to detail.”


In the fold

Bethge is a stationery shop with its own screen-printing studio, which was founded in Hamburg by Waltraud Bethge in 1977. The name has been an authority on accessories since then and its first shop in Munich, in the central Fünf Höfe shopping centre, is a great place for handmade cards, wrapping paper and other specialist papers.

“In our digital, fast-paced world, luxury lies in the analogue,” says managing director Max Stöcker. Besides its own line of high-end products, the shop also offers custom printing.


Home making

‘The Monocle Book of Entrepreneurs’ is out on Thursday and to celebrate we’re shining a spotlight on some of the inspiring stories under its covers. This week we meet the creative duo behind a Nigeria-based brand that’s making fetching apparel.

This Is Us takes “locally manufactured” to its limits. Based in Lagos, the clothing brand’s boxy, indigo-dyed uniform-wear is “100 per cent Nigerian end-to-end”, according to husband-and-wife owners Oroma Cookey-Gam and Osione Itegboje. The brand started when the pair undertook a cross-country trip in search of materials and ended up at the cotton farms of Funtua in Katsina State. Today, its cotton is grown, woven, dyed and sewn into clothing here. “We realised how much exists in our textile industry that’s under the radar,” says Cookey-Gam.

This Is Us also connects young makers with farmers and manufacturers. One business that has benefitted is the Kofar Mata dye pits. When the duo visited there was only one operating pit. This Is Us began dyeing its clothes there, using a process that hasn’t changed in 500 years, and now the facility is undergoing a resurgence. “We want to be in the middle of the talent, the resources, the craftsmanship,” says Cookey-Gam. “We want to create something for the industry.”

For more inspiring business stories and – who knows – maybe the nudge you need to start something for yourself, order a copy of ‘The Monocle Book of Entrepreneurs’ today. Have a super Sunday.

Images: Ben Quinton, Carl Bergman. Illustration: Xihanation


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