Sunday 25 June 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 25/6/2023

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

On the bright side

This Sunday we’re checking out a revamped seafood spot in Singapore, a sparky new opening in Berlin, and leafing through an appetising new magazine from Sydney. Plus: we check out a tranquil new opening in the High Atlas Mountains, Asket co-founder Jakob Dworsky’s weekend itinerary and a handy piece of technology to keep you feeling recharged. First up, Tyler Brûlé on Bangkok’s business boom and why you should go there next.

The Faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

Return to the fold

If you’ve been following various versions of this column for the past few decades (first in NZZ am Sonntag, then the FT Weekend, over to The New York Times and then back to the FT Weekend), you’ll know that I go through phases with certain cities. There have been the Copenhagen years, the Los Angeles days, on and off moments with Paris (currently on) and Beirut bounce-backs. There is also a group of cities that have become part of my work and personal life: Tokyo, Lisbon, Stockholm, Helsinki, Milan, Geneva and Hong Kong. And then there’s Bangkok, which has stormed back onto the scene with such force that it feels like a return to the particularly intense relationship that I had with the city in the early 2010s.

After a quick visit to Milan and a very easy, elegant summer party at Sant Ambroeus on Monday, I set off for Bangkok with my colleague Ariel on Tuesday evening. A Lufthansa A350-900 got us there smoothly and, with no queues at border control, we were in the car and on our way in 10 minutes – checked luggage included. The traffic on the way into the city from Suvarnabhumi Airport is always a different matter, however, and on Wednesday afternoon it wasn’t quite co-operating. We nevertheless made it to our first meeting right on schedule, albeit without the budgeted window for a quick refresh. We presented ourselves as vibrant and full of energy, and the client was none the wiser.

In a week that saw the release of our 2023 Quality of Life Survey it was curious being in Bangkok. It’s a city that challenges so many of our preconceptions about liveability but also reminds us that it’s liveable on a different set of terms. The pavements are jagged and difficult to navigate in even the best footwear, the power and telephone cables bundled on lampposts are an eyesore, the air quality is frequently oppressive and Google Maps’ estimated journey times are almost certainly wrong but somehow it all works out with a bit of patience, common sense and planning. As Thailand eagerly awaits a new government, businesses in Bangkok are preparing to introduce projects and initiatives in alignment with the anticipated change in political leadership.

On Thursday evening we hosted a party (pictured) for our readers, clients and friends of both Monocle and our hosts from Chanintr Craft, the Bangkok-based design retailer and distributor. After an evening of drinks and bites I catalogued an array of new launches and smart ventures; one of my favourite discoveries was a concept by a renowned Thai developer. The project aims to re-establish the living room as a social hub, considering the limited entertaining space in modern apartments – an ironic twist, indeed.

If you have reached the middle of the year and find yourself needing a business boost, a steamy summer visit to Bangkok might be exactly what you need. With any luck, you’ll return with a fresh sense of purpose and renewed determination.

Eating Out 01 / Ember, Berlin

Fire starter

After stints at Copenhagen’s Noma and Berlin’s Ernst, chef Tobias Beck decided to start a restaurant where dishes are prepared on an open fire (writes Stella Roos). “Cooking with smoke in a city is mission impossible,” he says, laughing. After a few years of garnering acclaim – as well as a few complaints from neighbours – with pop-ups across Berlin, Ember has at last found a permanent home on a rooftop in the heart of Kreuzberg. Reached by taking a run-down elevator in a courtyard, the space has an outdoor terrace-cum-kitchen and a glass-walled dining room with a handsome view of the Berlin skyline.

Image: José Cuevas
Image: José Cuevas
Image: José Cuevas

The elevated setting is a good fit for Beck’s approach to barbecuing, which steers clear of typical fare such as greasy wursts. “Germans love to grill but it’s not a very nice grilling culture,” he says. “I try to challenge the macho stereotype.” Ember’s four-course tasting menu serves up dishes such as young asparagus with herb-packed Frankfurt green sauce, slow-cooked lamb tacos and flaky wood-fired mackerel. Accompanied by crisp natural wine, poured by the glass, it’s the perfect way to ring in the summer while soaking up the sunset.

Eating out 02 / Humpback, Singapore

Whale of a time

This Singaporean seafood restaurant and wine bar has an all-new look, thanks to local studio Hui Designs (writes Joseph Koh). What began as a conversation about adding a bigger kitchen developed into a major revamp, involving an overhaul of the heritage building and a reimagined menu. The warm, bijou space is all smokey grey timber, copper finishes and homely booth seating.

Tables are set for groups of friends to gather around and dig into sharing plates of scampi, wild-caught marble goby and purple clams. As with any Jigger & Pony Group joint (the company’s eponymous bar is regularly voted Asia’s best), Humpback isn’t horsing around when it comes to its drinks, which have been thoughtfully chosen to pair well with the food.

Sunday roast / Jakob Dworsky

Simple pleasures

Stockholm-based Jakob Dworsky is the co-founder of Asket, the minimalist fashion brand celebrated for its reliable basics (writes Grace Charlton). Here, Dworsky tells us about a Swedish pantry staple, his love of running and his go-to risotto.

Image: Nils-Emil Nylander

Where do we find you this weekend?
At home in Stockholm. I recently moved to Södermalm.

What is your ideal start to a Sunday, gentle or a jolt?
I like to get up early and go for a quick run along the water before my daughter wakes up. Then we have breakfast and spend some time together while my wife sleeps in.

Downward dog or walk the dog?
I’m a cat person. Neither of our cats likes to go outside so I have to say downward dog.

What’s for breakfast?
Breakfast is overrated but I have committed to a regime of oatmeal and strong black coffee. On Sundays I might spruce it up and throw in some fresh berries, peanut butter and cashews.

What’s on the evening menu?
A favourite of mine is home-made mushroom or asparagus risotto with a tomato salad. Plus, ice cream from Snö for dessert – the brown-butter version is outrageously good and the company has just opened a shop close to where I live.

Who will join you?
Sunday evening is reserved for family so perhaps my parents or my in-laws. Proper Sunday dinners are mostly hosted by them.

A glass of something you recommend?
German riesling from Djuce. Full disclosure: my brother is part of the team behind it.

Your soundtrack of choice?
The Deportees, The National, The Tallest Man on Earth, combined with some Neil Young and Bob Dylan. Some people have described my playlists as depression-inducing so I’m aware that they’re not crowd-pleasers.

Will you lay out your outfit for Monday?
No, I have a very slim wardrobe so I don’t need to. All Asket, of course, with a pair of Jack Purcell sneakers. I’m that basic.

Recipe / Ralph Schelling

‘Topfenzopf’ bread

This Germanic riff on brioche has a distinctive braided appearance and a sweet taste. “I like to make this when I’m in a hurry and don’t have time to make a raised dough with yeast,” says our Swiss chef Ralph Schelling. “Unlike a traditional dough, this curd-based mixture should only be kneaded very briefly – otherwise, it becomes too sticky.” And if the recipe goes wrong? It makes for excellent French toast when fried. Try it with apricot or strawberry jam.

Makes one loaf


500g plain white flour
100g caster sugar
15g baking powder
100ml full-fat milk (plus extra for brushing)
50g butter (at room temperature)
250g quark or cream cheese
2 medium eggs
2 tbsps pearl sugar (to top)


Preheat the oven to 170C.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and baking powder. Then add the milk, butter, cream cheese and eggs, and combine to form a dough. Knead the dough for about 30 seconds and stop to avoid overworking it.

Divide the dough into three balls of the same size and roll into long, thin strands of equal lengths (approximately 20cm by 4cm).

Braid them into a plait – it doesn’t need to be neat. Place on a baking tray.

Brush with milk and sprinkle with pearl sugar. Bake for 50 minutes until golden brown.

Remove the Striezel (plait) from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack. Enjoy while it’s still warm.

Weekend Plans? / Olinto Atlas Mountain Retreat

Escape from the city

As a child, Fabrizio Ruspoli spent his summer holidays at his grandmother’s home in Tangier, Morocco (writes Sarah Rowland). After years as an antique dealer in Paris, Ruspoli left France for Marrakech, where he opened La Maison Arabe riad in the city’s Old Town. More than 20 years later, he began to work on a new project – a retreat for contemplation outside of the city – and to pursue a lifestyle that had long proved elusive.

Image: Ebony Siovhan
Image: Ebony Siovhan
Image: Ebony Siovhan

In the small mountain town of Marigha at the foothills of the High Atlas Mountains, Ruspoli found a countryside plot that was far enough from Marrakech to make for a tranquil getaway but still close enough for him to access the city’s restaurants, souks and experiences. “What happened to me has happened to many of us: arriving somewhere and feeling an immediate and profound bond with a place,” he tells Monocle. “I felt a deep connection with this verdant valley surrounded by serene mountains.”

All of the buildings at Ruspoli’s Olinto Atlas Mountain Retreat use traditional Moroccan materials: rammed-earth, bricks, painted wood (zouak), carved plaster (gebs) and wood latticework (moucharabieh). “For me, hotels with a genuine sense of place are a must,” he says. “The magic of interiors and gardens lies in their ability to suspend time. These are places where the eye is always discovering something new.”

The Stack / ‘Swill’ magazine

Food for thought

The second issue of Sydney-based Swill magazine brings to light the often overlooked moments of everyday culinary culture (writes Sela Musa). “It’s about the pure joy, play and creativity that exist in the hospitality industry,” says journalist and editor Myffy Rigby, who launched the large-format quarterly title in 2022 after a spell at Time Out Australia and other publications.

Image: Tony Hay
Image: Tony Hay
Image: Tony Hay

Behind the cover – an artful tableau by illustrator Allie Webb – readers will find a feature on the Cubano sandwich, a defence of the maligned long island iced tea and a fond farewell to Sydney institution Frankie’s, and plenty more besides. It’s a toothsome title that offers plenty to chew over.

Tech corner / Nomad 65-watt power adapter

Socket to ’em

Nomad’s products are well made and thoughtfully designed (writes David Phelan). This plug is particularly useful thanks to its two USB-C sockets and the fact that it packs plenty of power (65 watts): it delivers up to 45 watts from the top socket and 20 watts from the lower one. That means you can charge a laptop and a tablet at the same time. If you don’t need twin sockets, there are 20-watt and 30-watt options.

Speaking of plugs, isn’t it time that you recharged your knowledge of global affairs, entrepreneurship and opportunity and subscribed to Monocle magazine? Have a super Sunday.


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