Sunday 25 February 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 25/2/2024

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Full of beans

On the hunt for a good coffee and a bite to eat? Come with us to a riverside bakery in Mainz that is attracting a loyal fanbase. Hungry for more? Discover the hidden culinary charms of the Swiss Jura, a small canton that punches well above its weight, or rustle up a spicy flatbread with a twist. Plus: meet the Lebanese designer reimagining Dubai’s skyline. But first, Tyler Brûlé has a few dates for the diary (or, perhaps, the wall calendar)…

The Faster lane / Tyler Brûlé

Little wonders

As it’s almost two months into the year and it’s a Sunday, how about we take stock of what’s working and not working in the inventory of new measures, regimes and purchases that you’ve plugged into your life since 1 January. On the train from Porto to Lisbon on Tuesday, I had a moment to complete a mental checklist of all the things that have changed my life in little ways and those that have been or will soon be discarded. Here it is, committed to keyboard.

1. The power of the entourage
For the past few weeks the Monocle crew has been travelling en masse in multidisciplinary delegations to various cities for events, commercial meetings, office scouting and more. In Porto we had advertising, design editorial, retail and creative interests represented. Aside from covering more ground, drinking and dining well and watching our colleague Raffi almost lose his trunks in the Atlantic, there was a high level of efficiency involved as we were constantly scouting, while also saving on sending e-mails or scheduling meetings. In Lisbon I was able to spontaneously do retail benchmarking with the team and even squeeze in an impromptu annual review with a senior staffer. On Wednesday it was more of the same in Warsaw – but it was an even bigger mission. With my colleague Holly on hand, we were happy to directly compare notes on the state of the magazine offering at Warsaw’s Chopin airport (not bad but much room for improvement). When you add a contingent of the radio team to the mix, you’re also able to assess the pace of your output in the moment rather than convening a call or meeting. I’m up for more trips like this. Indeed, there’s another Lisbon on the books. Now all that’s missing is that peppy little Pilatus PC-12 NG.

2. Spiralling forward
One of my biggest life-changers was a very basic purchase in the stationery department at Hands (formerly Tokyu Hands) in the suburb of Naha, Okinawa. When I saw the selection of 2024 wall calendars, I thought that I needed one or two for home and the office. I also spotted a slightly dinkier version (a bit bigger than A5) that I thought might or might not work for planning sessions. Eight weeks on, it’s now my best purchase. The paper is thick, so you can pencil in and erase as much as you like (wonderful for one’s erratic side). It’s also spiral-bound, so you can jump back and forth across months and fire off dates while your colleagues faff around on their phones, trying to find the right month in the right year. Don’t be surprised if we add one to the Monocle retail line-up in 2025.

3. Smartly tethered
I hate my phone. Most people around me know this. I held out forever with my BlackBerry and it has now been a little more than a year with my Samsung Galaxy. I attempted to dress it up with an army green cover, which didn’t really make me feel much better about it. All I want is a proper Qwerty keyboard. Things improved recently, however, when I was in Hong Kong and I purchased an Alpine-inspired strap from Topologie. As I’m slightly handicapped with my left hand (remember that sniper attack in Kabul?), having a strap makes things less fiddly for me. So happy am I with this little purchase that I invited the company’s founder and CEO, Carlos Granon, to The Chiefs conference in Hong Kong at the end of March. Come and listen to his story.

And while we’re looking at the diary, we hope to see you in Athens for our seasonal shop opening at the Tatoï Club from 8 March and at our annual Sakura Market and spring preview in Zürich on 12 March.

Eating out / Liesbeth, Mainz

Baking from scratch

Liesbeth, a bakery-cum-restaurant in Mainz, Germany, has single-handedly catapulted the city onto the culinary traveller’s itinerary (writes Stella Roos). The venture was opened in the city’s port at the start of 2023 by the owners of Pankratiushof, a nearby farm shop and fine-dining restaurant. “Mainz didn’t have the kind of bread, cheese or even coffee that I liked,” says co-owner Paul Schmiel, who trained as a chef in Stockholm and London. “We had to start making it ourselves.”

During the day, Liesbeth offers up freshly baked goods such as sourdough bread and croissants, which are made using locally grown milled wheat. Come dinnertime the space transforms into a trattoria, serving Neapolitan-style sourdough pizza topped with homemade mozzarella and sauce made from tomatoes grown by Schmiel’s uncle. “We thought about what we could do with our products and what would make us happy,” says Schmiel. “Everybody loves pizza.”

Image: Mansour Dib

Sunday roast / Nada Debs

In the swim

Beirut-born designer Nada Debs was raised in Japan and studied at the Rhode Island School of Design (writes Liv Kessler). Now based primarily in the UAE, she’s focused on bringing influences from the country’s architectural past back to modern high-rise buildings in Dubai. Here, she chats to us about her favourite French concept store in Dubai, adopted cats and newfound penchant for Indonesian coffee beans.

Where will we find you this weekend?
In Dubai, watching kite surfers in the sea. It’s a must on a Sunday.

Ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle or a jolt?
I like to do a workout or go for a swim at the beach, which is accessible and empty early in the morning.

What’s for breakfast?
A smoothie with berries. I often go to Comptoir 102, a cool concept shop founded by French curator Emmanuelle Sawko.

Walk the dog or downward dog?
Downward dog. My golden retriever, Fifty, lives in Beirut but I have cats in Dubai. The weather gets too hot for dogs to roam around the city here.

A Sunday soundtrack?
Soft jazz. I also love to listen to the radio station Vibe FM when I’m driving, which plays everything from Bollywood-style music to spiritual Indian songs.

Sunday culture must?
I often have friends over. My garden is a haven away from the busy life of Dubai.

News or no news?
I go straight to The New York Times culture pages and then play Wordle.

What’s on the menu?
Light bites that are gluten- and dairy-free. I’m obsessed with having a healthy lifestyle. Good coffee from around the world is also important. I have recently been enjoying beans from Java in Indonesia.

Sunday evening routine?
Yin yoga or a film.

Will you lay out an outfit for Monday?
I think of which colours I’m inspired to wear instead. I usually start with what mood I’m in and the outfit follows.

Illustration: Xiha

Recipe / Aya Nishimura

Flatbread with chorizo and broccoli

If you find the idea of making pizza dough daunting, then these flatbreads offer a simple alternative to achieving its signature crispy texture. Monocle’s Japanese recipe writer suggests topping yours with spicy chunks of chorizo and crunchy tufts of tenderstem broccoli. And don’t hold back on the mozzarella.

Serves 2

250g jar of passata
2½ tbsps olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
¼ tsp chilli flakes
½ tsp anchovy paste
125g tenderstem broccoli (halved lengthways if the stems are too thick)
2 flatbreads
150g fresh mozzarella, roughly torn
100g cooking chorizo, skin removed and crumbled into small pieces


Preheat oven to 200C.

Place 1½ tbsps of the olive oil, garlic, chilli flakes and anchovy paste in a small pan and cook over medium-low heat until the garlic turns golden. Add the passata and cook for another 15 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken a little.

In a separate medium-sized pan, bring the water to a boil and add some salt. Add the broccoli and cook for 1-2 minutes until it turns bright green but still has a bit of a bite to it. Drain and set aside.

To assemble the pizza, divide the sauce between the two flatbreads and spread it up to 1cm from their edges. Arrange the torn mozzarella, cooked broccoli and crumbled chorizo on top. Drizzle with the rest of the olive oil and sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper.

Bake the flatbreads in the oven for 13-15 minutes, until the sausage browns and the cheese melts. Serve warm.

Weekend plans? / Swiss Jura roadtrip

Hidden charms

Even though the Swiss canton of Jura was founded in 1979, the area has a long history (writes Petri Burtsoff). The region is peppered with pretty towns, intimate hotels in period buildings and a culinary tradition that draws influences from neighbouring France as well as its own heritage, which dates back to the Holy Roman Empire. Jurassians are known for being hardy and proud folk with a distinct way of doing things. No one exemplifies this better than the Blattner family. Olivia Hänggi-Blattner runs Domaine Blattner, a seven-hectare estate near the town of Soyhières, with her partner, Sven Hänggi. Jura is not renowned for its wine but the estate’s work has taken on newfound importance as climate change affects traditional wine regions in Italy and France. “You could say that you can taste the wines of the future here,” says Hänggi-Blattner.

Image: Marvin Zlim
Image: Marvin Zlim
Image: Marvin Zlim

This part of Jura has a terroir that is rich in limestone, giving its wines a characteristic minerality. Its wealth of land and unspoiled nature means that you can find great produce here, from the trout in the Doubs river to herbs such as elderflower and sweet woodruff. Small-scale agriculture is still very much in vogue in this part of Europe and visitors should try local specialities such as tête de moine cheese and saucisse d’Ajoie. Many head south to Neuchâtel but Jura’s rustic inns and smaller hotels offer a warmer and more intimate experience. In the town of Porrentruy, the 12-room Auberge du Mouton is a mix of old and new, all exposed brick walls and stylish bathrooms. Rebecca Leaver and her partner, Samuel Tobler, took over this protected 18th-century building in 2023, attracted by its historic charm and the region’s appeal as a destination. Despite hailing from Zürich, the couple had no qualms about relocating. “Jura is largely undiscovered by the outside world, yet it has immense potential,” she says. “There is an authenticity here that is hard to find elsewhere.”

Planning your next road trip? You’ll want the help of Monocle’s February issue, which is available to purchase now. Better still, subscribe today so that you never miss our travel tips.

Image: Tony Hay

Bottoms up / Ode aperitifs

Raise a glass

Berlin-based drinks brand Ode’s aperitifs are a good accompaniment to the approaching warmer evenings (writes Julia Lasica). For founders Stefan Becker and Thorsten Konrad, Ode attempts to revolutionise alcoholic drinks, from their taste all the way down to their bottle design. “The aperitifs served in restaurants are generally no more than a mixture of cheap alcohol, water and artificial flavours and colours,” says Konrad.

Ode bitters, however, are blended with premium Rheinhessen riesling created for the brand by German winemaker Nico Espenschied, making for an exquisite summer tipple that’s delicately dappled with notes of orange, vanilla bean and apricot. The drinks also come in chic, brown glass bottles with colourful, round wooden tops. “We wanted the carafe to be so beautiful that no one would want to throw it away,” says Konrad.

Top of the shops / Hul le Kes, Arnhem

Inch by inch

Historically, the city of Arnhem was known as an industrial centre and a focal point for Dutch-German grain trading (writes Claudia Jacob). But more recently the city, in the east of the Netherlands, has blossomed into a creative hub. For designers Sjaak Hullekes and Sebastiaan Kramer, Arnhem’s compact size and sense of community offered an opportunity to return to traditional ways of making clothes. Hullekes and Kramer founded their label, Hul le Kes, in 2018 with the goal of returning to the basics. “The Hul le Kes style is informed by an antiquarian aesthetic, reminiscent of the old-money style of dressing but reimagined for the contemporary wearer who seeks practicality,” says Kramer.

Image: Sara Meinz
Image: Sara Meinz

In a small workshop in the Van Oldenbarneveldtstraat area next to the Rhine, the duo is committed to producing every piece within their atelier’s four walls. Inside the workshop, sewing machines hum with activity as the team of 50 tailors, pattern makers and apprentices painstakingly sew, stitch and steam natural and recycled fabrics. Once the materials are secured, a natural dyeing process follows, using onion peel, avocado skins and walnuts collected from forests and restaurant kitchens. “We wanted to get back to the knowledge of manufacturing that is almost non-existent in the Netherlands,” says Kramer. “Arnhem doesn’t traditionally have a strong textiles know-how. The city is known for its fashion and design prowess but not for manufacturing. This is the craft that we’re trying to renew.”

Raise a glass to independent print and pick up the latest issue of Monocle, which is available now. Or why not subscribe today to join the club? Have a super Sunday.


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