Smell all - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 21/11/2021

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Dining out

From cubano sandwiches in Singapore to a brandy-soaked bread and butter pudding to make in the comfort of your own kitchen, there’s plenty on the menu for our Sunday briefing. Thirsty? Bao co-founder Erchen Chang suggests a whisky-tea double hitter to wind down with. Plus: how to open a hotel in Marrakech. Ready with an amuse-bouche – and a brain-teaser – is Tyler Brûlé.


Where on Earth?

We start this Sunday with some essential housekeeping before we get to the properly fun stuff. First, where are you next Saturday and Sunday? If you’re in London then hopefully we’ll be seeing you at Midori House for our Christmas Market. Santa is coming down from Rovaniemi, chanteuse Cecilia Stalin is back with all her festive Swedish hits, lovely Linda is flying in from Merano and there’ll be an amazing line-up of brands big and small to help you to stuff your stockings. And the following weekend (we’re talking 4 and 5 December), where are you? If you can’t make London then we look forward to hosting you at Dufourstrasse 90 for two days of Gluhwein and tasty bites, with our manager Raffi looking after a very Mitteleuropean selection of makers, publishers and milliners. You can find all the information on the Zürich and London markets here or by dropping Hannah a note at Now, onto edition one of our Christmas quiz.

The drill is simple: I’m going to give you five clues and you have to guess where in the world I’ve been. The first five readers to respond with the correct answer will get a signed copy of The Monocle Book of Entrepreneurs dispatched to them anywhere in the world. Ready?

  1. My flight routing has taken me north from Zürich with a connection in Helsinki. Yes, I could have chosen to go further north to check on Santa and make sure he’s all set for the Christmas market but I’m heading east on a gleaming Finnair A350.

  2. I touch down at a very large airport that, at first sight, looks almost normal but it’s soon quite clear that most of the aircraft have been parked for a very long time, given that their engines are covered with red tarpaulins. If it helps, this airport is the hub for two major airlines.

  3. Off the plane and onto the moving sidewalk, it looks like this will be a very easy touchdown. A bit further along however and my assessment swiftly shifts as I encounter staff in full, head-to-toe protective suits, special booties, face shields and masks. Along the concourse there are workers disinfecting window ledges with a fine mist and checkpoints at every turn, with digital fever-detecting devices and so much home-made laminated signage that it all starts to feel like a street market. Just when it seemed as though it would be an easy entry into a country that recently relaxed measures, I see a herd of stalled travellers in a Tensabarrier maze. Are there 400? 600? More? Anyway, the queue is barely moving as there are only four inspection windows open. I tell my colleague Guido this will take at least two hours of shuffling and sweating. Sadly, I’m right; 165 minutes after landing we’re in the car and heading toward the city. The country claims that it’s open for business but not quite.

  4. Though wearing masks outdoors is a thing of the past in Europe, it’s rather the opposite here. Then again, there’s also an issue with some dust blowing in from “abroad”. As we drive across town, the city seems very much as we left it – maybe even better. At a recently opened department store we’re floored by the scale of the ambition: the merchandising, the branding, the uniforms and more. For a moment I feel a bit depressed, sad that these past two years have forced us to miss so much. A few minutes later though I’m on a complete high, as the whole experience makes me feel that it’s time to take a fresh look at how I do things in my own business. I get back in the car and tell the driver we need to see as much as possible over the next 36 hours.

  5. Final clue. We pull up in front of a low-rise tower belonging to a financial services company. Men in uniforms with batons guide us into an underground car park, doormen descend around the vehicle, doors swing open and a phalanx of assistants greets us; we all exchange cards and are escorted to a secret elevator. The attendant presses a keypad and we head to the top floor. More assistants and security staff are on hand, there’s a stunning Thomas Demand on the wall and we’re shown into a spare white and woody room. The CEO strolls in looking like he’s just come for his lake house in Como – all olive corduroy, slouchy overshirt and good eyewear. We have a relaxed one-hour meeting, he explains he’s building yet another library to add to his portfolio of similar ventures and we plot some big ideas for the year ahead. Where in the world am I?

Drop your response, with a phone number, to me at We might inform you phone-in-style and call you during our ‘Monocle on Sunday’ broadcast, beginning at 10.00 CET. Be prepared.

Eating out / Onda, Singapore

Sub hero

Onda is a new quick-service joint serving Cuba-via-Miami favourites in Singapore’s Boat Quay area (writes Yvonne Xu). The hole-in-the-wall is an offshoot of the original Park Bench Deli, which is known for its hearty sandwiches.

Image: Guo Jie Khoo

Onda is the first of a series of speciality shops planned by founder Andrei Soen. “We drew up a whole concept around the cubano sandwich,” says Soen, a Singaporean who grew up in San Francisco’s Bay Area. Customers tuck into their pork-filled sandwiches with sides such as chicharrón (fried pork rinds). Soen has also turned Park Bench Deli into a restaurant-bar with breakfast items. Now the CBD outlet has more seating, expanded hours and a new all-day menu.

Book Club / ‘Tools for Food’ by Corinne Mynatt

Top drawer

Of all the things that we own and surround ourselves with, cooking utensils often sit rather uncelebrated in kitchen drawers (writes Carolina Abbott Galvão). But that hasn’t stopped London-based design curator and writer Corinne Mynatt seeking them out to understand what peelers, pans and toffee hammers can betray about the way we live and what we eat.

Her new book, Tools for Food, is chock full of photos, illustrations and stories, plus Mynatt’s own observation. It is a tasteful thing indeed. The collection includes some 200 tools, from museum pieces to flea-market finds, including a 4th-century Korean fermenting crock, egg slicers, balloon whisks and that starkly modern juicer from Alessi. Perhaps most interesting is the simple supposition behind it all: that the tools we shape, shape us too.

Sunday Roast / Erchen Chang

Current bun

Originally founded as a market stall in an East London car park, the Bao restaurant group now includes permanent restaurants in Fitzrovia, Borough Market, King’s Cross and Shoreditch (writes Grace Charlton). Co-founder Erchen Chang’s cookery is a playful take on Taiwanese fare, from boiled cull yaw dumplings made with mutton to fried-Horlicks ice cream. Here, Chang shares her weekend plans in Paris, larder essentials and dream Sunday evening, complete with fluffy slippers and a surf-rock soundtrack.

Where do we find you this weekend?
Paris. I’m really looking forward to eating my way around the city, seeing the Ettore Sottsass show at the Pompidou, visiting the Bourse de Commerce and going to Ogata for a tea ceremony.

What’s your ideal start to a Sunday – gentle start or a jolt?
My ideal weekend involves a very lazy Saturday with a pumped Sunday. I like waking up early on a Sunday to get the most out of the day and then resting early to recuperate for the week ahead.

Soundtrack of choice?
Jacques Tati’s Sonorama! is a great way to begin a Sunday – so cheerful and romantic.

What’s for breakfast?
A glass of orange juice in a martini glass, lots of freshly made choux pastries, ham and cheese, and English breakfast tea with milk at a perfect drinking temperature.

News or no news?
None. Sundays are for zoning out.

Any larder essentials you can’t do without?
Fluffy, white steamed baos, aged white soy from Taiwan, Pacina olive oil, baozhong tea from Pinglin and Yakult [a probiotic drink].

A Sunday culture must?
Weirdly, I’ve been enjoying waking up early to go to our bakery to make bao sculptures. It’s a day of (almost) complete solitude, where I listen to music and work with dough. It’s my studio time, where my thoughts are led by my hands and the dough; it’s quite therapeutic and meditative.

Ideal dinner menu?
To get back to my cosy home where I’d be welcomed by the aromas of my husband’s cooking. The table would be laid out with a white linen tablecloth, wine would be poured and we would have a simple hearty stew with velvety mashed potato.

A glass of something you’d recommend?
I’d recommend making yourself comfortable on a leather lounge chair or chaise, pouring yourself a single malt whisky (straight) and pairing that with a pot of hot Taiwanese baozhong oolong tea. Dim the light and let that burning sensation wash away the Sunday sorrow.

What’s your Sunday evening routine?
Silk robes, fluffy slippers, facial mask, Buly 1803 essential oil, instrumental surf-rock playing in the background, laying on my side on my chaise and my husband feeding me grapes.

What are your favourite festive traditions?
Going to Monmouth Coffee and having a slice of Pasticceria Triestina Ulcigrai panettone with a filter coffee. When I finish, I’ll bring home another four to five whole panettones to eat throughout December.

Recipe / Aya Nishimura

Cherry and brandy bread pudding

Our recipe writer whips up a rather festive-feeling sweet treat with lashings of brandy plus almonds and a handful of cherries. Don’t forget the vanilla ice cream or double cream for serving.

Illustration: Xihanation

Serves 12

40g unsalted butter, softened
500g brioche loaf sliced into 16
6 medium eggs, beaten
7 tbsps maple syrup
500ml milk
100ml double cream
2 tsps vanilla bean paste or vanilla essence
3½ tbsps brandy
300g cherries, washed, cut into half and pitted
3 tbsps demerara sugar
2 tbsps flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Spread the butter on one side of the sliced brioche and lay the slices in the bottom of a 22cm by 30cm dish so that they overlap slightly.

Put beaten eggs, maple syrup, milk, cream, vanilla paste and brandy in a bowl, and whisk until combined. Pour the mixture over the bread. Leave it to soak a little bit.

Scatter the cherries, and demerara sugar over and place in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes then sprinkle flaked almonds over the pudding and bake for a further 15 minutes.

Remove the tin from the oven and rest for 5 minutes. Serve hot or cold; it’s lovely with vanilla ice cream.

Weekend plans? / Château Voltaire, Paris

Stealing the scene

In the former headquarters of entrepreneur Thierry Gillier’s fashion brand Zadig & Voltaire is his new venture, one of the French capital’s best new hotels (writes Daphné Hézard). The 32-key building on Rue Saint-Roch is the work of French interior design company Festen and art director Franck Durand. And it’s a real treat. The mood of the restaurant Brasserie Emil feels like a lively scene from a Claude Sautet movie, complete with French fries served on monogrammed silver platters. Yum.

Despite the classic feel, art deco lamps and dark marble finishes – touches of orange and the odd cork flourish – the hotel feels altogether new and exciting. “It is a contemporary place for the people of today,” says Gillier.

It’s this weaving together of past and present, the Paris of the silver screen and the city as it is now, that works so well here. “Château Voltaire expresses our idea of what luxury is today,” says Charlotte de Tonnac, who runs Festen with partner Hugo Sauzay and with whom she carefully considered the materials to use.

Cocktail bar La Coquille d’Or has shades of the Château Marmont in Los Angeles and the spa and small pool are great. But the most desirable part is on the top floor. There you’ll find a self-contained apartment, which unfolds around a dining room and terrace with a winter garden that’s been given form by landscape architect Louis Benech. This is one to reserve for parties and, looking around, there’s plenty to celebrate.

For more on Paris’s buzzing hotel scene, plus lots to look forward to for the year ahead, pick up your copy of ‘The Forecast’ now.

Uncommon scents / Stories Parfum

Smell all

It was after a trip to Grasse, the home of French perfume-making, that Tonya Kidd-Beggs decided to start her own range, which she called Stories (writes Nyasha Oliver). As the brand’s name suggests, Kidd-Beggs is interested in how scents can evoke ideas and narratives.

Image: Tony Hay

Since 2018 the Northern Irish firm has created a series of subtle fragrances, handwashes and body lotions. We like the bright and breezy notes of grapefruit and orange blossom that give way to vetiver in fragrance No 01 and the earthier hints of ginger and cardamom that give No 02 its wonderful woodiness. Not to be sniffed at.

Parting shot / ‘The Monocle Book of Entrepreneurs’

Flight path

To celebrate the launch of ‘The Monocle Book of Entrepreneurs’, we’ve selected a smattering of inspiring start-ups and smart business folk to spotlight. This week we hear about how hoteliers Cyrielle Rigot and Julien Tang of Riad Jardin Secret in Marrakech took the plunge.

“In 2015 on a flight back from Marrakech, we asked ourselves, ‘Why are we leaving?’ We both worked in fashion in Paris and had been travelling to and fro between the two cities for years. We’d always wanted a different life – one that was laidback and sustainable – and we’d fallen in love with the energy of Morocco. So we decided to leave our home city and set up a small hotel in Marrakech. Within two months we were back in Morocco. We had always wanted to host people who share our passion for art, architecture, travel and conversation. We wanted to create a place that represented our vision of hospitality, where creative souls could recharge and be inspired.

“When we arrived, it was challenging. But we were ready to adapt for our project. We started to visit properties and meet people, walking the streets and knocking on doors. When we came across our riad, it was everything we’d dreamed of. From that moment, everything happened very quickly. Of course, we had doubts when leaving our lives in Paris. But we had confidence in ourselves, our project and our ability to adapt to a new way of life. Today we rarely feel like we are working; we’ve never been happier. If you’re thinking about leaving it all behind in search of something better, our advice would be to believe in your first instincts. We did and we wouldn’t change a thing.”

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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