Sunday 10 July 2022 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 10/7/2022

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Summer breeze

This week we present an itinerary for pretty Pollença in Mallorca and wonder why Hong Kong’s beaches are so quiet. We also cool off at a gelato-maker in Comporta (with eyes on a new outpost in the Algarve) and rustle up a tried-and-tested pasta recipe with prawns and lemony butter. But first, a word from the head chef himself (and Monocle’s editorial director), Tyler Brûlé.

The Faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

On the move

It’s a sunny weekday, Lake Zürich is dazzling and bathers are swimming out to rafts and are stretched out in the sunshine. Me? I’m in a boardroom high above with a group of bankers, deep in a Q&A session about media, consumerism, branding and the ebb and flow of global trade. On the screen in front of me, a larger group of people have “dialled in” but they’re all on mute or not terribly interested as they’re not particularly engaged with the Q part of the format. It’s an interesting dynamic, since everyone in the room is, well, “in the room”. All are firing good questions my way and there’s a lovely rhythm. Those on-screen feel very far away, however, even though many of them have joined from their desks one floor below. To be clear, I don’t think that they’re lazy or are staging some sort of protest. It’s just that the boardroom is on the small side and it seems that there’s an unspoken, well-understood protocol when it comes to who gets a seat for such midday gatherings and who can dial in.

We’re about to wrap up when a hand fires up. “Yes, sir,” I say, nodding in his direction and noticing his footwear. He’s wearing a black John Lobb monk-strap brogue. So too are just over 30 per cent of his colleagues. Back to his question.

“Is it hard being a magazine that’s global when we hear that the world is going the other direction? Do you find it difficult in these times when there’s less interest in multilateralism?” he asks.

“Who’s saying this?” I ask. “Is it just an opinion that’s appeared in a daily newspaper? Or a set of ideas from a newsletter that landed on a few CEOs’ desks?” For a moment he winces slightly, worried that he’s about to be put on the spot in front of his colleagues, but I carry on.

“I see no evidence that companies or consumers want to function or remain within their own borders. Do you? Do your analysts?” The gentleman blinks and nods. “Remember how many embraced the idea that ‘the future is camper vans’ and we would all become Dutch suddenly – all travelling around our regions and never getting on planes?” I continue. “And now look, the scenes at Schiphol airport say it all. People want to be out in the world, to be together, and aren’t particularly bothered by the flight shamers. In fact, I reckon that much of the shaming squad from circa 2019 is the same people who are now queuing for four hours, desperate to fly anywhere.”

I wrapped up the Q&A session, distributed prizes for the best questions and walked back to the office. The sun was at full strength, the temperature gentle, and the city had already emptied for the weekend, maybe the summer. Is everyone summering in the mountains or nearby lakes?

“The Swiss might have saved domestic travel these past two summers – they had no choice,” a local hotelier told me recently. “But now they’re all over the world and we have Texans, New Yorkers and Angelenos to thank. Oh, and maybe a few families from the Gulf. The world is on the move.”

I settled into my sofa and already the assassination of Shinzo Abe was being edged off the screens by Rishi Sunak’s clunky candidacy video. Ukraine wasn’t anywhere in the first 15 minutes of the bulletins but there were already plenty of warnings about a possible heatwave heading for the UK with all of the accompanying public-health hysteria. Depressing.

I’m hoping that the balance of July and August will see enough leaders, policymakers and board members having moments of clarity and that in September there’ll be a proper reset and restoration of pragmatism, reasoned discussion and common sense – the era of anything goes hybrid workplaces, one-size-fits-all fashion ensembles, high-vis gilets for trips to the shops and cowardice about having a point of view because there might be a backlash needs to come to an end. If you want more sensible points of view, order our soon to be released summer paperback: The Monocle Companion.

New Opening / Salt & Silver am Meer, St Peter-Ording, Germany

High-water mark

On the pristine St Peter-Ording beach, about a two-hour drive north of Hamburg, is a beautiful, stilted house, hovering eight metres above the sand (writes Debbie Pappyn). When friends and business partners Johannes Riffelmacher and Thomas Kosikowski found the old fish tavern, they took on the challenge of restoring and injecting new life into it. “This place has been an institution in Eiderstedt for 44 years, serving down-to-earth North Sea cuisine,” says Riffelmacher. “We want to continue this legacy and preserve it.”

Image: Thomas Kosikowski
Image: Thomas Kosikowski

As well as improving the restaurant’s ailing fortunes, the pair are also fulfilling their shared dream of living and working by the sea. Guests can enjoy a striking view from the restaurant’s panoramic windows and sundeck, and much of the original decor has been preserved, including benches made from old floorboards and restored chairs by Danish furniture manufacturer Farstrup. The wine list is dominated by German wines and regionally sourced food, such as North Sea fish and meat from animals that graze on the nearby salt marshes.

Food scoop / Gulato, Comporta

Keeping it cool

There’s plenty to recommend about the village of Comporta, including Pedro Machado and Gonçalo Diniz’s Italian-style gelato joint. The Portuguese pals swapped corporate careers in London for life here on this peerless stretch of coast about an hour’s drive south of Lisbon. The pair arrived by motorbike after travelling for a few months around Europe, having stopped off in Italy to study the art of gelato-making.

The seaside parlour has a breezy terrace and a line-up of about 30 flavours, from classics such as salted caramel and pistachio with fleur de sel to more adventurous varieties, including chai-cardamom, lemon grass and sesame brittle. It’s also the supplier of the charming Sublime Comporta retreat and a few choice hotels around the country. While the ice-cream lab will remain in Comporta, this summer Gulato is also opening a second parlour in Faro in the Algarve.

Sunday Roast / Felicity Cloake

New discoveries

Award-winning London-based journalist Felicity Cloake is best known for her acute observations on the relationship between food and society (writes Monica Lillis). In her recent book Red Sauce, Brown Sauce, she investigates the UK’s obsession with breakfast. Here she tells us about her love of ambling, niche museums and red wine.

What’s your ideal way to begin a Sunday – a gentle start or a jolt?
Gentle, please, preferably with a cup of malty, assam-heavy Irish breakfast tea in bed. Sunday is a day of rest.

What’s for breakfast?
Ideally a proper fry-up: eggs, thick-cut streaky bacon, black pudding, hog’s pudding, lorne sausage, roasted plum tomatoes and a hefty dollop of bubble and squeak, with fiery English mustard, toast and a vat of tea on the side. It all tastes much better if someone else has made it, naturally.

Lunch in or out?
After that breakfast a decent walk replaces lunch – though maybe we’ll stop off for a pint and bar snack on the way home if we’ve earned it (or if it’s the morning after a particularly good Saturday night).

What’s your Sunday soundtrack?
I love Cerys Matthews’s show on BBC Radio 6 Music. It has a wonderfully eclectic blend of music and contributors. I always end up jotting down a few new artists to explore, from Hungarian fiddlers to, most recently, Les Amazones d’Afrique, a female supergroup from Mali.

Your Sunday culture essentials
I’m a big fan of small museums and galleries, so wherever we happen to be I make a beeline for the most niche collection or exhibition – though it would take a lot to beat the Baked Bean Museum of Excellence in Port Talbot.

News or not?
I devour newspapers over breakfast but I try to listen to music rather than the news for the rest of the day. I don’t find our current politics very relaxing.

A glass of something?
A light but perfumed red, please. My current favourite is Jean-Pierre et Jean-François Quénard’s Les 2 Jean persan, made in the French Alps and bursting with sour cherries and spice.

What’s your Sunday-evening routine?
Something simple for supper – usually vegetable-based, if we’ve been to the farmers’ market over the weekend – followed by a complicated, preferably foreign-language film, so I focus on it rather than on my phone.

Are you preparing Monday’s outfit?
The first thing I do on most Monday mornings is take the dog for a walk on Hampstead Heath, which sadly does not demand a very glamorous outfit.

Illustration: Xihanation

Recipe / Aya Nishimura

Prawn and asparagus linguine

This simple but sumptuous pasta dish is given an Asian inflection by the addition of soy sauce and the use of saké instead of white wine (go with us on this). The lemon butter sauce is a silky, citrussy delight. Enjoy.

Serves 2

12 medium-sized prawns (deveined and shelled)
½ tsp sea salt
1 tbsp saké
200g linguine
50g unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
250g asparagus (snap off the hard bottom of the stem and discard)
30ml lemon juice
1 tsp light soy sauce
Black pepper and salt to taste
Pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional)


Place the prawns in a small bowl. Sprinkle with the sea salt and add the saké, then mix with your hands. Set aside while preparing the other ingredients.

Boil salted water in a large pan and cook the linguine, according to the packet instructions.

Place the butter and garlic in a frying pan. Fry on a medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes until the butter is melted and the garlic starts to look golden. Discard the liquid from the bowl of prawns and then rinse them with cold water. Pat dry with a kitchen towel. Add the prawns to the pan with the garlic and cook until they begin to colour. Then add the asparagus, chopped into 5cm pieces, and fry for 2 to 3 minutes until its colour is bright green.

When the pasta is ready, add a tablespoon of cooking water to the frying pan, then drain the pasta.

Pour the lemon juice and soy sauce into the frying pan and bring to a simmer. Add the pasta and toss to coat with the sauce. Add salt, pepper and chilli flakes to taste. Divide between two bowls and serve immediately.

Illustration: Mathieu De Muizon

Tourism / Hong Kong

Directions of travel

As I set off for the beach last weekend, I thought that I’d made a rookie mistake by taking a taxi at midday in the blazing heat (writes James Chambers). Traffic on Hong Kong’s winding Shek O Road was bound to be slow and I didn’t fancy my chances of nabbing a parasol. I looked down at my young son clutching his fluorescent bucket and spade and wondered if we’d find enough space to build his first sandcastle. But as it turned out, I needn’t have worried. There were hardly any cars and, in no time at all, we’d built and destroyed an entire city out of turreted sand on the near-empty beach.

Indeed, there was so much space that it made me wonder where everyone was. After making a few enquiries among acquaintances, similar “missing people” reports started coming in from hiking trails and shopping centres around the city. Hong Kong doesn’t usually empty like Paris does in the summer but this year seems different. Residents might finally be fed up enough with the government’s travel restrictions to embark on their first holiday in more than two years.

The opening of Japan to certain types of tourism in June has tempted many to dip a toe in the waters of leisure travel again, even if meeting the rules requires joining a package tour and spending a big chunk of the time in a Hong Kong quarantine hotel. The first tour group to leave the city for seven days of shopping in Tokyo and eating melon in Hokkaido was mobbed by reporters at the airport and received a snazzy signed certificate from the consul general.

With shorter quarantine stays on the cards, trips to Japan, South Korea and Thailand are likely to increase. While this is good news and represents a step forward, what Hong Kong clearly needs right now – as much as a holiday – is to welcome back tourists too.

Image: Alamy

Weekend Plans? / Pollença, Mallorca

Timeless treasures

After landing in delightful Palma de Mallorca – a Monocle favourite – set sail past the bacchanalian crowds of Magaluf to the idyllic craggy landscapes in the north of the Balearic island. Once docked in Port de Pollença, head inland to the town’s ancient Roman quarter, where the Knights Templar once roamed. Here’s our itinerary for where’s best to drop anchor.

Son Brull Hotel & Spa
Just outside Pollença and at the foot of the Tramuntana mountains, this site was once a Jesuit monastery and dates back to the 18th century. The family-run hotel has 23 guestrooms and four villas with private pools and views of olive groves and gardens brimming with fragrant jasmine. Son Brull also has a spa, Mediterranean restaurant and casual bistro that serves tapas and cocktails in an old mill.

Q11 Restaurant
A joyous spot opened by two friends after a decade in the hospitality industry, this restaurant on the old town square, Plaça Major, offers a reliable menu of Mallorcan pa amb oli, lamb and octopus tapas. The cellar stocks plenty of local wine too.

Abco Pottery Studio
The pottery studio (and nearby shop) run by couple Apolonia and Bernat Colomar Oliver is a go-to for seemly ceramics. Here you’ll find all sorts of plates and platters adorned with lobsters or starfish.

Museu Dionís Bennàssar
This restored 17th-century home in the heart of town is an intimate affair by museum standards. This is where Pollença-born painter Dionís Bennàssar lived and worked for half of his life until his death in 1967. Today, the museum houses a large part of his artistic legacy, as well as personal objects, furniture and a charming garden.

Formentor beach
Head northeast from town towards the lighthouse of the Cap de Formentor and you’ll soon reach this white-sand beach (pictured), surrounded by pine trees and rugged mountains. After a long day relaxing in its clear waters and reading on the beach (which offers decent amenities), satisfy your Mediterranean food cravings at one of three charming restaurants: Platja Mar, La Veranda or L’Espigó.


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