Sunday 19 March 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 19/3/2023

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Taking flight

This week, Monocle takes an exclusive first look at a lakeside hotel just northeast of Amsterdam, examines Saudi Arabia’s sky-high airline ambitions and grills one of London’s best-loved chefs about his Sunday rituals. We also serve up a recipe for a comforting wonton soup. First, Tyler Brûlé has a spring in his step.

The Faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

Secret ingredient

Spring arrived in full force in Zürich this week as restaurant terraces were booked out for the lunch and after-work crowd, balconies started to bloom and leggings were swapped for shorts as runners hit the pathways along the forest and lake. The recent snowfall in the Alps has made it all the more dramatic as glittering white peaks and valleys in the distance make the city feel like one of those Swissair tourism posters from the start of the jet age. As I’ve been on the road almost since the start of the year, I decided that this should be a normal Saturday in the city, complete with a long walk through the forest, a visit to hidden farm-food shops, lunch on the terrace and some flavours of the season. Lace up your New Balances – let’s go for a gentle tour.

What’s that scent?
The cherry blossoms should be at their fullest in about two to three weeks but if you venture into the forest, the delicate smell of garlic suggests that it’s already time to harvest the Bärlauch that’s blanketing the forest floor. So attractive is the aroma that I’m not sure whether to pick a few handfuls for a pasta lunch or search for the green leaf in pesto form. As I’m not sure about the Swiss laws concerning the picking of said greenery, I decide that it makes more sense to visit one of the local purveyors of such specialities.

A date for the diary.
While we’re touring Zürich and looking up at the sakura, I have a little event to mark in the calendar. On 15 April we’ll be celebrating the fifth anniversary of our setup at Dufourstrasse 90 with a special “hanami market” featuring Japanese food stalls, drinks and a variety of designers and brands spread across both the Monocle and Trunk spaces. If you’re in Zürich, then please join us for curry, gyoza, pastries, saké and a few Suntory highballs.

One more date.
Before we carry on with the tour, the Monocle crew will also be in Dubai a week from today for a little cocktail and book signing for our new title, Spain: The Monocle Handbook. For more details and to RSVP, please contact Hannah Grundy at We look forward to saying hello to local and visiting readers alike. It’s been a while!

The time has come.
Or has it? Ever since Blackberry stopped producing handsets, I’ve been doing my best to preserve the physical integrity of my device as I know it’s come to the end of the line and there isn’t really a viable replacement on the market for those, like me, who prefer a physical Qwerty keyboard over a touchscreen. Unfortunately, my poor Blackberry has had so many hard falls on terrazzo floors and concrete surfaces that it now has chipped edges, and a cracked screen, and the keys are almost worn though. With an overnight charge, the battery is good for about an hour, so it’s always power-socket time wherever I go. I’ve been bothering our technology correspondent, David Phelan, for years about superior typing solutions for mobile devices but he never has great news for me. I get that touchscreens feel like progress but are they? If they are so great, why are all laptops and desktops fitted with physical keyboards? Moreover, a recent trip to Seoul revealed a boom in clackety keyboards that go almost over the top in delivering a clattering, active typing experience. I want the smartphone version of this and would like Samsung or another player to lead the charge. Punkt has been hinting at such a device but seems to have lost momentum. And, more importantly, what would I pay to have a functioning device that allows me to bash out this column, fire off long emails and be far more efficient than the person sitting next to me on the train? CHF3,000 (€3,030)? CHF5,000 (€5,060)? I’d be prepared to pay a lot. Maybe there are another half a million people out there who would do the same and create enough of a market to fire up a production line? Anyway, our walk has now taken us into the Swisscom shop and I’m going for the small-ish Samsung Galaxy S23. A few weeks ago, I bought their Galaxy Z Fold4 phone but that’s now collecting dust on my bedside table as it’s not great for typing and is simply too big to come along to dinner. Who knows, maybe someone reading this column has a boxfresh Blackberry for me to purchase…

About that lunch.
Sadly, none of the farm shops have any Bärlauch pesto in stock but it’s in production and should be in-store in two weeks. A poke around some other shops only offers up classic pesto of the Italian persuasion but I have a feeling that there might still be an unopened jar in the back of the fridge. Will check when I’m home shortly.

Convertible therapy.
As the sun’s out and there’s a generally good mood in the air, it’s also one of those weekends when tops come down on cabriolets. But who still makes a cabrio that you want to be seen driving around in on a gorgeous spring day? No one. The best looking convertibles pulling up in front of The Monocle Café are a moss-green Volkswagen Golf from the 1990s and a wonderful navy Saab of similar vintage.

Bingo and cheers!
I’m home and the Bärlauch pesto has been found. If you’ve never sampled a good linguine with a bit of wild garlic, parmesan, fresh pepper, olive oil and salt, then I’ve just sorted your Sunday lunch for you. It’s a hearty, Mitteleuropean test of spring that goes down particularly well with a perky Weissburgunder. Of course, it’s best consumed on a sunny balcony or in the garden with some cherry blossoms in bloom, accompanying birdsong and your nearest and dearest. Wishing you a good week.

House news / Monocle Asheville Weekender

Mountain high

There are only a few tickets left to join Tyler Brûlé, Andrew Tuck and the team for a special weekend event in Asheville, North Carolina. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the city is known for the individualism and inventive spirit of its inhabitants – a creative energy that is reflected in its booming creative and culinary scenes.

Image: Mike Belleme

Guests will enjoy two days of inspiring talks, fun drinks, outstanding restaurants and refreshing hikes in the mountain air. Don’t miss your chance to join us from Friday 28 to Sunday 30 April.

To secure your place and find out more about the programme, click here.

On the up / Riyadh Air

Reaching for the sky

A new airline is coming to Saudi Arabia and the details announced this week reveal the project’s sky-high ambitions (writes Markus Hippi). Riyadh Air will purchase 39 Boeing 787 Dreamliners with options for 33 more. The carrier says that the deal will support Saudi Arabia’s goal of serving 330 million passengers and attracting 100 million visitors by 2030. With Riyadh as its hub, it is hoped that the project will create more than 200,000 direct and indirect jobs.

Illustration: Mathieu De Muizon

The airline, however, is heading for a dogfight with the major Gulf carriers. While critics have suggested that the kingdom’s poor human-rights record might put off guests, others are more sanguine. “Just look at the situation in the UAE,” says Bill Law, Middle East analyst and editor of Arab Digest. “Human rights haven’t stopped people from going to Dubai for their holidays.” Time will tell whether the idea has wings.

Sunday Roast / Itamar Srulovich

Taste of honey

Born and raised in Jerusalem, Itamar Srulovich has been cooking since the age of five (he also says that he has been leaving a mess in the kitchen ever since). When he and his wife, Sarit Packer, moved to London in 2004, they began to think about starting a restaurant. By 2012, they had opened the celebrated Honey & Co and have since acquired new digs in Bloomsbury, a site in Fitzrovia called Honey & Smoke and a food shop called Honey & Spice. That’s not to mention their series of exceptional cookery books. Here, Srulovich tells us about lunch in south London, his love of pottery and what’s pepping up his coffee.

Image: Patricia Niven

Where do we find you this weekend?
In bed, reading a book and drinking cardamom coffee.

What’s your ideal way to begin a Sunday? A gentle start or a jolt?
As gentle as can be. Sunday is our one day off so we cherish it.

What’s for breakfast?
Black pudding and fried eggs or homemade granola, fruit and yoghurt.

Lunch in or out?
Out if we can: usually the Canton Arms in Stockwell. It’s just around the corner from our home and our go-to for delicious food.

Walk the dog or downward dog?
I’m pining for a dog but my wife won’t let me have one. We’re more into pilates than yoga but that is definitely not for Sundays. We might go out on our bikes to the park if the weather is nice or up to Borough Market.

Your Sunday soundtrack?
Yaya Bey’s Remember Your North Star.

A weekend culture must?
Usually a pilgrimage to the farmer’s market on a Saturday. If we miss that for whatever reason (usually work-related), it’s a bike ride up to Borough Market. It was a game-changer for us when the market started opening on Sundays. We also love a good gallery. The last show that we saw was Giorgio Morandi at the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art in Highbury.

News or not?
Sunday is a news-free zone. I’m usually catching up on podcasts in our pottery studio. Sarit and I got into ceramics during the first lockdown – so much so that we have our own kiln. She produces a lot of the ceramics at our restaurants. We’ll listen to podcasts such as Who Killed Daphne? or catch up on BBC Radio 4 classics, such as Desert Island Discs, Front Row, This Cultural Life and In Our Time, while we’re working away.

What’s on your Sunday menu?
For me, it’s anything that you can throw in the oven and leave for a long time: a slow-cooked dish that I can prepare early on and forget about. If we have people coming over in the evening, all we need to do is pour a few drinks and pull the dish out of the oven when they arrive – and it leaves the house smelling amazing.

Do you lay out an outfit for Monday?
Absolutely not.

Recipe / Aya Nishimura

Wonton soup

This week our favourite Japanese recipe writer takes inspiration from Chinese comfort food for her simple but sumptuous wonton soup. There are many ways to fold a wonton dumpling but remember: it doesn’t have to be neat because the chicken broth will hide all manner of sins. Enjoy.

Illustration: Xihanation

Serves 4

For the wontons:
170g minced pork
2 tsps ginger, finely chopped
1½ tsps Chinese cooking wine (Shaoxing) or dry sherry
2 tsps light soy sauce
1½ tbsps arrowroot powder (or potato starch)
2 spring onions, finely chopped
A pinch of salt
A pinch of ground white pepper
32 square wonton wrappers

For the soup:
500ml chicken stock
1 tbsp light soya sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
A large pinch of salt
1 pak choi, each leaf cut lengthways into 4

To garnish:
5g ginger, finely shredded into thin matchsticks


Put all of the filling ingredients in a bowl and mix well.

Line up the wonton sheets on a clean kitchen surface. Place a teaspoon of filling on the middle of every sheet.

Prepare a small bowl with water and wet two edges of the wonton sheets, fold into two to make a triangle, then seal by pressing lightly (don’t worry about being too neat). Repeat with the rest of the sheets.

Bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a pan and add all of the soup ingredients.

In another large pot, bring the water to a boil and add half of the wonton dumplings, stirring occasionally to prevent them from sticking to each other. These will take about 2 minutes to cook. Lift them out with a slotted spoon and drop into the chicken soup. Repeat with the rest of the dumplings. Add a ladle of the wonton’s cooking water into the soup mix before discarding the rest.

To serve, divide the soup, wonton dumplings and pak choi into four large soup bowls. Sprinkle shredded ginger and enjoy warm.

Weekend plans? / De Durgerdam, Amsterdam

Dutch master

On the shores of the Ijmeer, there’s a white, wood-clad 17th-century inn that’s making waves (writes Josh Fehnert). If you have never heard of De Durgerdam, take note. The inn is just 7km northeast of Amsterdam but the view through its windows is a world away from the bustle of the Dutch capital.

Amsterdam-based Aedes is the canny property investor that saw the potential of the site, which is nestled on a road lined with pampas grass, opposite a wooden jetty jutting into the lake beyond. Its founder, Paul Geertman, began bringing historic buildings back to life in 1995, before branching into hotels. It’s his vision behind the ambitious three-year renovation of the inn, which opened fully last week.

Image: Julia Mayfeng
Image: Julia Mayfeng
Image: Julia Mayfeng

For the interiors, Aedes tapped Design Academy Eindhoven graduates Brecht Duijf and Lenneke Langenhuijsen, co-founders of Buro Belén. They started with the idea of honouring the building’s past, an approach that enriches the 42-cover restaurant, De Mark, the four suites in the main building and the new-build guesthouse at the back, which offers a further 10 rooms. There’s also a snug fireside space that can be cordoned off with a curtain, a downstairs reading nook for guests and a lively communal table at the front of the restaurant.

The palette throughout is a mix of brick-red and ochre, and you’ll spot custom-fired bathroom and accent tiles from 1572-founded firm Royal Tichelaar Makkum. Our favourite suite is in the eaves of the original pitched roof and includes a wood-burning stove, window seat, barley twist chair and desk combo with views of the village and bobbing boats beyond.

Tune in to our new travel show, ‘The Concierge’, for a full interview with Geertman.

Tech Corner / Bose QuietComfort Earbuds II

Easy listening

Noise-cancelling headphones are hard to get right, especially when it comes to in-ear buds such as these from Bose. Its new QuietComfort Earbuds are smaller than those that they replace and are noticeably comfortable to wear. A smartphone app lets you know if you have the right fit for achieving the best sound quality. How does that sound?

Image: Yusuke Saitoh

If you’re enjoying Monocle’s independent journalism, subscribe today. Oh, and have a super Sunday.


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