Sunday 31 July 2022 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 31/7/2022

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Piece of the action

We always have our ears to the ground and it was the sound system at Paris bar Bambino that first caught our attention. We also turn over a new leaf at a Madrid magazine shop, meet the intern who became the general manager of one of Switzerland’s most storied hotels and wonder why Hong Kongers have a taste for Italian food (hint: it’s the closest that many can get to the Med this year). First, a word from Tyler Brûlé.

The Faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

Summer by numbers

Are you acquainted with the “5-2-5-3-5-3-3-2” summer work concept? If it’s not yet doing the rounds in your “talent and culture” department, then you might want to advise your “head of people” that it’s all the rage and that they should start selling it in as a programme to be embraced far and wide as swiftly as possible. Here’s how it works. Rather than blocking out a full two or three weeks to be spent parked in one or two places, you do two full weeks in the office and then mix the rest of summer with long weekends away or even midweek trips that allow you to top and tail the week by staying across things in the office.

I’m at the midway point of trialling this programme and so far, so good. It offers plenty of windows to meet clients and colleagues, attend presentations and stay flexible with Europe’s various summer work traditions – the Danes, Finns and Swedes all gone in July and the rest of Europe out from late July or early August. Not only does it allow for agility, this type of open schedule also catches diary keepers (and the lazy) off guard by leaving them little room to wiggle out of meetings or push things into late September. There’s nothing more off-putting for a personal assistant in search of an easy summer than coming up against another PA who’s armed with the line, “We’re flexible. We can work around you and do any week across July or August. What’s best for you?”

If you’re of the view that this type of approach isn’t in step with 21st-century work/life-balance thinking, you might be right but then you’re probably not running your own small business across multiple markets. If you only function within the borders of, say, Sweden or Italy, then it’s quite easy to check out for a few weeks and pick up where you left off. If you’re a bit more globalised and your workforce follows assorted holiday schedules across multiple markets, it all becomes more of a puzzle that needs a more nimble solution. If you’re also of the view that this doesn’t feel considerate of those who might want an extended break, it’s important for you to know that Monocle is an employer that also gives an extra two weeks over Christmas, where most operations (retail and radio aside) have a proper break. Still not convinced that ‘‘5-2-5-3-5-3-3-2” might be a solution for your company ops come summertime? This was my week:

Monday. A full day of meetings in Munich, including the most dazzling geopolitical briefing with one of Europe’s sharpest business minds, then a flight to Mykonos and late dinner at the Belvedere.

Tuesday. A boat to Paros, late lunch, a swim then cocktails and a long dinner under a perfect Aegean sky.

Wednesday. A day out on a boat with friends and dinner at the very tasty Thalassamou.

Thursday. A full day on Antiparos, lunch and dips at the Beach House, some good shopping at Leto and dinner back at the house.

Friday. An early flight to Thessaloniki on Olympic; a quick connection through Aegean’s smartly arranged and staffed lounge; and then Swiss back to Zürich. On touchdown I did a quick inspection of our new pop-up near the A gates (see below) and was back in the office in time for lunch.

Saturday. A large contingent from a Japanese retailer will be coming round for dinner at ours in Zürich.

Sunday. I’m hosting Monocle on Sunday and then it’s a photo shoot for a large Japanese retailer with the Swiss tennis star they work with. If you happen to be in or around Zürich, you just might spot us. If not, wait for it in the men’s special of our forthcoming October issue.

Let me know how you get on with implementing “5-2-5-3-5-3-3-2”. Cheers to a productive August!

Bottom’s up / Bambino, Paris

Mix and match

Think of a Paris bar and you’ll most likely picture bentwood Thonet chairs, zinc counters and brusque waiters in aprons. But you won’t find these at buzzing 11th arrondissement venue Bambino, whose owner, Fabien Lombardi, has brought a more international take on going out to the French capital. “We were inspired by the festivity of Tel Aviv, the clubs of London and the jazz cafés of Tokyo,” he says. The upshot? A space that feels jovial yet grown up, with a wood-and-mirror-panelled interior, dim lighting and plenty of vinyl from Lombardi’s impressive record collection.

Image: Alex Crétey Systermans
Image: Alex Crétey Systermans

From 19.00 the open kitchen serves a selection of small plates for sharing: think tahini-drizzled grilled aubergine, octopus with nduja and roast-chicken sandwiches. And come late evening, the food becomes secondary and the dancing starts. If your moves need a little help, there are negronis and other cocktails, alongside craft beers, G&T and plenty of (genuinely nice) natural wine.

New Opening / Paperground, Madrid

Page turner

Paperground, an excellent new addition to Madrid’s independent retail scene, opened its doors in May. Inside the striking yellow-fronted magazine shop in the neighbourhood of Chamberí, shoppers can choose from global publications such as Turkish bathing-inspired Hamam or UK slow-news quarterly Delayed Gratification. There’s also a selection of books focusing on art and design that showcases young Spanish publishers, including Terranova and Dalpine.

Image: Víctor Garrido
Image: Víctor Garrido

The people behind the shop are Margherita Visentini, a journalist and editor of Polpettas on Paper magazine, and photographer Aiser Rua (pictured, with Visentini), who also runs publisher Rua Ediciones. “Spain’s independent publishing scene has really grown over the past few years,” says Rua. “Paperground is a way of celebrating that.”
Calle de Medellín 4

For more of our cultural summer itinerary, pick up a copy of Monocle’s July/August issue, which is out now. Or subscribe today so you don’t miss an issue.

House news / Zürich pop-up

Taking to the skies

Monocle’s latest pop-up shop has landed at Zürich Airport. Our newest retail space, which you’ll find on the way to the A departure gates, is packed with a full range of Monocle products and some limited-edition Swiss-made goodies.

Image: Marvin Zilm
Image: Marvin Zilm

Keep an eye out for our rosé, Badi totes and, of course, plenty of fine print to keep you informed and entertained on your travels. Head to for more.

Find us at Zürich Airport, airside, level 1, en route to the A departure gates.

Sunday Roast / Christian von Rechenberg

Made to last

Christian von Rechenberg joined Zürich’s Baur au Lac hotel as an intern more than 20 years ago. He has since risen up the ranks to become its general manager. Rechenberg hopes that his experience of working in several roles over the years will help him to steer the prestigious hotel towards a more sustainable future. Here he tells us about splashing out in the lake, cooking with fire and his penchant for pasta.

Where do we find you this weekend?
I’ll be at Baur au Lac because we’re in the final stages of our big renovation of the lobby and reception areas. The first guests experienced the new facilities last week.

What’s your ideal way to begin a Sunday – a gentle start or a jolt?
That depends on my two children. They’re three and six years old and don’t distinguish between weekdays and weekends. High energy is guaranteed.

Soundtrack of choice?
My all-time favourite song? “Otherside” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

What’s for breakfast?
A latte macchiato and super-fluffy pancakes (my wife’s recipe) with berries and maple syrup. Or fresh bread with home-made jam.

Any larder essentials that you can’t do without?
Pasta, in all shapes and sizes.

A Sunday culture must?
Reading more books is one of my goals for the near future. It’s the best form of digital detox.

Ideal dinner venue or menu?
A barbecue in the garden is always a winner. For special occasions, we like to do a tomahawk steak with courgettes and aubergines.

Who’s joining?
Family and friends, the more the merrier. I enjoy large tables.

A favourite sunny rosé?
Château Les Valentines’ Côtes des Provence rosé. We serve this on our beautifully refurbished Baur au Lac terrace, which overlooks the lake and Alps.

What will we not find on your Sunday table?
Sugary soft drinks. I prefer water or a nice glass of wine.

Favourite place to swim?
Davos Munts in Val Lumnezia. It’s a hidden gem in the mountains.

Your Sunday-evening routine?
It’s bubble-bath time – not for me but for the kids.

Recipe / Ralph Schelling

Feta with filo, thyme and honey

These tasty little bites are a perfect mix of salty and sweet. “For picnics, I recommend spreading a little honey with the butter on the pastry at the beginning,” says Swiss chef Ralph Schelling. “You can also do without the sesame or almonds, or use black sesame seeds. Don’t worry about the mess – you can always lick your fingers.”

Serves 4

4 filo pastry sheets
4 tbsps melted butter
Thyme (fresh or dried), to taste
180g feta
Honey, a drizzle to taste
1 handful of roasted almonds or sesame seeds


Preheat the oven to 180C.

Unfold the filo pastry and spread with the melted butter and sprinkle with fresh or dried thyme.

Cut the feta into small triangles or 3cm cubes and wrap in the filo pastry, brushing it with a little butter so that it folds better and holds together.

Brush the parcels again and sprinkle with the almonds or sesame seeds. Bake the parcels for 15 minutes until they are golden brown and the kitchen smells of thyme. Drizzle a little honey over them before serving.

For the full selection of Schelling’s picnic suggestions, pick up the July/August issue of Monocle or subscribe to access our digital editions.

Weekend plans? / Belle Plage, Cannes

Nurturing nature

Across the road from sandy Suquet beach in the historic heart of Cannes, the city’s latest hotel opening feels far removed from the glitz of the Croisette. Behind the Bauhaus-inspired façade are 45 guest rooms that blur the lines between inside and out with sea views and an abundance of natural materials: oak, recycled leather, linen. “We wanted this to be a place where guests can truly feel good,” says interior designer Raphaël Navot, who spent three years working on the project. The dolce vita continues on the roof terrace, where Israeli chef Eyal Shani rustles up market-fresh meals from across the Mediterranean. A must-try dish? Hummus with shrimp, laced with beurre noisette.

Report / Italian delis in Hong Kong

Med and board

Summer holidays on the Med might still be off the menu for most Hong Kongers but a spate of new openings are offering a taste of what they’re missing (writes James Chambers). Italian delis have been popping up all over Hong Kong, with their shelves amply stocked with the kinds of imported meat, cheese and tins of spicy sardines that used to be smuggled into the city in suitcases. Several of these are offshoots of popular restaurants and have opened in tourist hot spots, from arts hub PMQ in Soho to The Peninsula Hong Kong hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui. The latter’s shopping arcade used to cater to wealthy Americans and mainland Chinese but, with overseas visitors still largely absent, the French luxury boutiques and Swiss watch shops now rub shoulders with a food market that sells fresh Sorrento lemons, Sardinian beer and gelato cones.

Illustration: Mathieu De Muizon

Mercato Gourmet has opened several outlets during the pandemic and its “Gran Selezione” at The Peninsula is a cut above. Locals drop in for some bresaola and leave with some serving suggestions from the friendly Italian chap at the checkout – a refreshing break from the usual supermarket questions about membership points and plastic bags. Though no amount of salami or prosciutto can cure Hong Kong’s appetite for international travel, fans of Italian food, at least, have little to grumble about.

Image: Matilde Viegas

Parting shot / Take care of your knees

Joint efforts

In the latest issue of Monocle we suggest 25 things to help you live a happier, healthier life and be a little gentler on yourself, each other and the planet. This week? We look at why some of us are feeling weak at the knees – and how to take care of them.

If it’s good for your knees, it’s good for you. Being able to meander for hours, head out for a run at dusk or dance until dawn is a beautiful thing, so do all that you can to move with grace and ease. What should you do to stay lithe? We asked Monocle’s (and our sister publication Konfekt’s) favourite medic, Dr Vera Stucki, for some advice. Here’s her verdict. “The good news first: even intensive sport does not harm the joints,” she says. “The process of degeneration is not simply a question of the quantity of the impact. On the contrary, regular exercise and physical activity have a positive effect on the knee joints.

“The secret to avoiding degenerative arthritis is simply mechanical: the hip, knee and ankle joints must be kept in their optimal axis. This is achieved through well-trained hip and femoral muscles, which stabilise and control the joints’ movements. Concave soft-shoe inner soles can exacerbate deviation of the axis; running shoes should balance out any deficits, so get some advice. A Mediterranean diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can have a positive effect on inflammatory processes and help to prevent obesity. So far, there is no evidence that any dietary supplements can regenerate the cartilage layer. Most importantly, invest in strengthening your muscles and never stop moving.” Thanks, Dr Stucki. Have a super Sunday, all.

For more tips and ideas on improving everything from vacations to vocations, subscribe to Monocle today.


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