Sunday 17 October 2021 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 17/10/2021

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Home made

What’s better than your grandmother’s cooking? That would be 70 grandmothers’ collected culinary knowledge, which we’ve taken a look at this week. In Mexico City, Elena Reygadas shares her extensive list of pantry must-haves, before we dip a crust at a smart olive oil producer in the Mojave Desert and flick through a list of London’s best pubs. Plus: the Swedish entrepreneur who went from sleeping in his car to running an electric boat firm. First, Tyler Brûlé picks up the papers.


Title case

By the time you get to the end of this column, many of the world’s key players in the business of publishing and distributing international press will have arrived in Zürich for a jamboree called Distripress. It may not have the same instantly recognisable brand value as Sundance or MIPIM or Art Basel but, when it comes to assembling the people responsible for getting magazines, newspapers and increasingly daily essentials to your desk, front door and nearby kiosk, this the most important summit of its kind.

For over 20 years I’ve dipped in and out of these events as an editor, as a media owner and now, in the spirit of full disclosure, as the president of the organisation. It probably won’t come as much of a shock that this sector is not without its challenges as digital delivery puts pressure on the physical, free news replaces paid and many larger media houses are struggling with their identity. Should they be hoovers of content across multiple, segmented platforms? Trading sites masquerading as news brands? Or peddlers of cat stories, botched boob- and lip-jobs and maybe the very rare scoop?

While the past 18 months have seen many a title and newsstand shutter, this period has also seen publishers and retailers snap to attention and rally to the challenge with impressive launches, acquisitions and results. Let’s do a quick spin around the neighbourhood and the globe.

  1. Down the street from our HQ in Zürich the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ) has taken part of its ground-floor real estate and opened up a sprawling bar and restaurant space for morning coffees, early-evening drinks and late night spins around the tables. Not only has the paper created a living environment for its brand, it has also engineered a gathering place for Zürchers and visitors alike. While it might have a few too many screens and projectors for my liking, its opening hours (some days from 06.00 until 04.00) and branded events are a clever way to engage its audience and also give a jolt to its stretch of the city. For more on this see our November issue or keep your eyes peeled for our upcoming film.

  2. Step out of Le Bon Marché’s Grande Épicerie in Paris and you fall into one of my favourite newsstands in the world. During the pandemic, this St Germain institution took the time to renovate and in doing so created more display space for magazines. Rather than filling its space with more tourist tat and energy drinks, this is now one of the best homes in which to find a well-edited selection of the best titles from France and far, far beyond.

  3. Many might still be banging on about the positive, lasting effects of video calls et al but nothing beats being present. Proof of this is the power of Portugal’s kiosks and their role in getting papers, mags, scratchies and fags to their customers across the week. At Monocle we noticed our Portugal sales remain stable or even climb during the pandemic because it’s still very easy to find magazines and newspapers around the corner up and down the country. It might sound simple but it’s surprising how many in this industry have forgotten that if you don’t have sales outlets for magazines, people don’t purchase. Imagine!

  4. Staying in Portugal, Observador seems to be proving that you can do digital as a daily but you still need a print product to hook subscribers who have different habits. Likewise, Expresso has seen sales for its weekly title rise (the paper and its supplement come out on a Saturday) while in Hamburg, Die Zeit’s weekly sales have also jumped significantly in the past year. It also launched a spin-off food title under the keen eye of editorial director Christoph Amend.

  5. A bit further up the track in Copenhagen, the sharp management at Politiken recently bought design site Dezeen to not only internationalise its portfolio but also show that there’s muscle (and cash) to challenge the digital supremacy of the FAGs of the world – the kind found in a California valley, not those at the kiosk.

Eating out / Koya Ko, London

Hold your broth

Founded on Soho’s Frith Street in 2010, Koya is a beloved bolthole for Londoners seeking warming bowls of chubby udon noodles and Japanese sharing plates (writes Josh Fehnert). For their newest venture, co-founders Shuko Oda and John Devitt took inspiration from the fuss-free noodle bars in Japanese train stations for this space on East London’s Broadway market. As well as eight spaces in a tachi-gui (standing-counter) area, there’s room for a further 40 covers at which diners can enjoy scrummy Japanese breakfasts of natto (fermented soybeans), pickled seaweed, okra, onsen tamago (slow-cooked egg), udon with pickled plum and more.

Image: Anton Rodriquez
Image: Anton Rodriquez

Lunch and dinner specialities include classics from the original venue, including miso udon with pork and ginger soup and seasonal greens, and head chef Oda’s newer creations, such as curry-don rice with curry and soft boiled egg tempura. The best bit? There’s no need to book ahead as the strict no-reservations policy means that a short wait should see you slurping your udon in no time.

Food scoop / ‘Grand Dishes’ by Unbound

Nana from heaven

Here’s a culinary conundrum: does a nonna, babushka or yia yia really know best in the kitchen? And, while we’re at it, are those skills developed or passed down the generations? Well, Anastasia Miari and Iska Lupton’s new book, published by Unbound, seems to imply the latter. With stories and joyous portraiture, the 70-recipe-strong affair captures culinary know-how from grandmothers, who wield dishes from Iraqi-orange bundt cakes to Georgian chicken and pasta with Sicilian sardines.

Image: Tony Hay

There’s also input from the progenitors of notable chefs and food folk, including the grandmothers of Argentine chef Francis Mallmann, Polish food writer Zuza Zak and London-based restaurateur Erchen Chang. The result? Plenty of homely and heart-warming tips, tricks, soups, starters, mains and desserts. In fact, even the savoury bits are very sweet indeed.

Sunday Roast / Elena Reygadas, Mexico City

Home grown

Fusing Italian and French influences with Mexican ingredients, Elena Reygadas’ cooking has become a staple of Mexico City’s dining scene (writes Carolina Abbott Galvão). Since her restaurant Rosetta opened in the city’s Roma neighbourhood in 2010, it has drawn crowds seeking seasonal, vegetable-heavy dishes. She also operates a spin-off bakery, La Panadería, which supplies bread to many of the city’s restaurants, and Lardo, a casual Mexican restaurant. Here, she tells us about breakfast, a fermented favourite drink that dates back to pre-Hispanic times and the museums she admires.

Image: Lindsay Lauckner Gundlock

Where do we find you this weekend?
Tepoztlán, a beautiful town surrounded by mountains near Mexico City.

What’s the ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle start or a jolt?
A jolt. I like to wake up early, go to La Panadería and grab a cup of tea and a pan dulce. I’ll work a little and then go with my daughters to the flea market La Lagunilla or a museum. Afterwards, we’ll go to a restaurant: usually Lebanese food at Adonis, oysters at La Docena, sushi and noodles at Rokai, or pad thai at Galanga.

Soundtrack of choice?
Neil Young, Natanael Cano, Radiohead, PJ Harvey and Natalia Lafourcade.

What’s for breakfast?
Sourdough bread, olive oil, honey and tea.

News or not?
My partner gives me a news briefing every day.

Some exercise to get the blood pumping?

Larder essentials you can’t do without?
Tea, honey, olive oil, vinegar, salt, oatmeal, amaranth, farro, wheat flour, chia, almonds, raisins, oat milk, pasta, dried and smoked chilies, beans, lentils, turmeric, and ginger.

Sunday culture must?
I tend to go for museums. I love the Museo de Antropología, Anahuacalli, Templo Mayor, Museo Tamayo and MUAC.

A glass of something you’d recommend?
Pulque, a pre-Hispanic fermented drink that comes from the sap of certain types of maguey [agave].

Ideal dinner venue?
Pujol [in the Polanco neighbourhood of Mexico City]. Or home, with my family.

What’s on the menu?
Tamales and beans.

Sunday evening beauty or betterment routine?
Usually a bath, followed by a massage and a film. Then it’s popcorn with my family.

Will you lay out your look for Monday? What will you be wearing?
Jeans, a top from Collectiva Concepción and huaraches [sandals].

Recipe / Aya Nishimura

Korean-style spicy noodles

Our recipe writer recommends a noodle dish with plenty of heat (despite the fact that it’s served cool). The dish can be vastly improved with a few purchases that will serve your pantry well in the long-term too: gochujang (a red-chilli paste) is available in most Asian grocery shops while the popularity of kimchee means that it’s probably on the shelves in your regular supermarket at this point.

Serves 2

1 medium egg
Half a cucumber
6 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
4 tbsps kimchee
200g thin wheat noodles (ideally 1.5mm), such as somen
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

For the sauce:
2½ tbsps light brown sugar
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsps rice vinegar
2 tbsps gochujang


  1. Place the egg in boiling water and cook for 8 minutes. When it’s ready, drain and cool in cold water.

  2. While the egg is cooking, prepare the vegetables: slice the tomatoes in half and cut the cucumber into matchsticks.

  3. Mix all the sauce ingredients together in a large bowl until combined.

  4. Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions.

  5. Drain the noodles and rinse in cold running water to cool completely and wash off the excess starch. Drain again completely.

  6. Add the drained noodles to the bowl that you made the sauce in. Toss to dress the noodles.

  7. Peel the egg, cut it in half and place it on top.

  8. Divide noodles between 2 serving bowls. Arrange cucumber, tomatoes and kimchee in each bowl. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and enjoy.

Book club / ‘Public House’ by Open City

Pints of interest

At once meeting places and social levellers, an estimated 3,500 pubs are dotted around London (though many have sadly shuttered of late). Public House is a pretty volume by Open City, the canny souls behind those smart architectural walking tours of the same name.

Image: Tony Hay

The book takes in 120 pubs in 33 boroughs and examines their architecture, ambience and design in thoughtful essays, photographs and beautifully boozy biographies. Go on, join the inn crowd.

Weekend plans? / 25 Hours Hotel Piazza San Paolino

Divine inspiration

Hotel brand 25 Hours has become a Mitteleuropean mainstay for travellers zigzagging from Munich to Zürich or Vienna to Frankfurt, seeking a well-designed place to rest (with an unerringly generous breakfast buffet) that won’t cost the earth (writes Josh Fehnert). The Hamburg-based firm’s first Italian outing has plenty of the brand’s signature kookiness. Opened to coincide with the 700th anniversary of poet Dante Alighieri’s death, the Florence outpost was designed by Milanese designer Paola Navone and riffs on the writer’s preoccupations with divinity, death and paradise.

Image: Dario Garofalo

The 171 rooms are divided between two themes: Paradiso (ethereal blues and crisp white linen) and Inferno (darker tones and red finishes). There is also the usual mix of flea-market finds and vintage furniture, many sourced from the stalls in the surrounding Piazza Santa Maria Novella district. Running the show is GM Bart Spoorenberg, a Dutchman with an easy air, fluent Italian and a Tuscan pedigree, having worked at various hotels across the region over the past decade – a check-in to check out in the Tuscan capital.

Top of the shops / Wonder Valley, Joshua Tree

Extract expressionism

Owned by creative duo Jay and Alison Carroll (pictured), Wonder Valley’s name sets the tone for their shop, a pretty former petrol station in a tiny town in the middle of the Mojave desert (writes Sarah Rowland). Today, the 1940s space stocks oil of another kind: the sort made with olives. Its delicious product also finds its way into an array of face creams, body oils and handmade soaps, as well as homeware as well as cheeseboards and ceramics made by craftfolk who have also settled in this creative cluster.

“Great olive oil has the power to elevate the everyday,” says Alison, a former creative director who previously worked for the California Olive Oil Council before deciding to set up shop and make her own. “We believe that it’s the foundation for a healthy lifestyle.” And, it seems, a rather fetching shop.

Parting shot / X Shore, Stockholm

Smooth sailing

To celebrate the launch of ‘The Monocle Book of Entrepreneurs’, we’ve selected a smattering of inspiring upstarts and smart business folk to spotlight. This week: how a Stockholm-based businessman stayed buoyant in tough times – and is floating an idea to improve the environment.

Konrad Bergström is well acquainted with the highs and lows of being a business owner. He had huge success early in his career with a clothing-distribution business but the company folded and for a time Bergström was even sleeping in his car. Being the seasoned entrepreneur that he is, however, he dusted himself off and went on to enjoy further success producing headphones and speakers. His most recent venture is X Shore, an electric-boat company launched in 2016 from Stockholm.

“I sold my old company,” says Bergström. “At that point, I could have probably kicked back and gone surfing but I’ve always felt the responsibility to be part of a positive change. You need that kind of mentality to succeed with innovative projects.” The company of 60 staff makes fully modular pleasure craft equipped with electric motors that make for a quieter and more relaxed onboard experience, while also lessening the harmful effect that motorboats can have on their surroundings. “For me, it was important to provide a way for people to get out on the water without the noise and fumes that usually disturb wildlife and marine life,” says Bergström.

For more inspiring start-ups, tips, advice and provocations about making your passion your vocation, pick up a copy of ‘The Monocle Book of Entrepreneurs’. Have a super Sunday.


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