Sunday 3 March 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 3/3/2024

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Grape expectations

There’s a spring in our step as we head into March. This week we grab a coffee break at a Roman bakery, chat with a chef from Istanbul who mixes music as well as menus, and check into a chic hotel on the Athens Riviera. Plus: wine that you’ll want to uncork this weekend and a Danish cookbook that will leave you hungry for more. But first, our editorial director kicks things off by counting down the seconds...

The Faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

Up to speed

I’ve always had a certain obsession with timekeeping. From the bells of the local church tower and the punctual start of the national anthem in primary school (is this still happening every morning in Canadian schools? I wonder…) to the pips on the radio before the start of the news, I like the formal marker that comes with the passing of time; the arrival of a new hour and all that lies ahead. While our popular culture is often built around the countdown to the start of a race or ceremony, I’m more interested in the counting-up: the sense of moving forward, of leaping into a fresh block of 60 minutes, the next day, a new year. I used to like the rather frenetic count-up to the top of the hour on BBC World News but all the whizzing and whirring became a bit too distracting. When it comes to putting a timestamp on the day, I like the solemn and sober on-screen animation, gongs and camera zoom of the Tagesschau at 20.00 on German state broadcaster ARD. Some years back we went behind the scenes at its Hamburg studios to cover the mechanics of this broadcast. If Monocle was ever to venture into the world of a daily newscast, this would be the model: straight-on, well-paced, international and refreshingly formal. Even if German isn’t your mother-tongue or second language, it’s worth tuning in as it’s a reminder of how a newscast can still be on point, broad and oddly comforting. Should you find yourself on the ARD website looking for a bulletin, make sure that you click on a programme with Susanne Daubner standing behind the desk. As smoky broadcast voices go, Frau Daubner is in a league of her own and makes the rest of the global rolling-news set sound reedy, squeaky and up-speaky. Back to my newscast fantasy for a brief moment: you might soon see a few more Monocle faces popping up on your screens as we set to work on a new studio set-up in London. While that’s on the go, Monocle Radio is also introducing some new sounds and will broadcast live from a variety of cities over the coming months.

On the topic of watching the clock, I just achieved a new personal best in the race from plane seat to car seat at Hong Kong International Airport. On Monday evening I went from seat 1G on the Swiss A340 (these will be replaced by Boeing 777 service very soon), up the ramp, down the concourse, through immigration, across the baggage hall and through customs, before making a hard right for the pick-up lounge (for limos, not escorts) and settling on the back seat of the wheels sent from the Shangri-La – all in seven minutes. Yes, it helped that I had a near gate rather than a distant one. But if you’re flying though HK soon, then set your watch and see how quickly you can make it to the car or train. Rather than amateurs belting out songs in TV talent competitions, couldn’t an airport curb-to-gate champions cup attract big audiences and sponsorship? It’s just the type of programming that might suit Bloomberg’s weekend line-up.

After Hong Kong, it was on to Bangkok on Wednesday. Shortly after touchdown, my colleague James suggested a meeting at The Mall Group’s new retail extravaganza, The Emsphere, along the way from its Emporium and EmQuartier developments. While it’s still a work in progress in parts, the ambition is enormous. Who thought that you could make Phuket-meets-Ibiza beach club alongside an Ikea work in the heart of Bangkok? If anyone can show the world that the concept of the mall is far from dead and just needs constant reinvention (and a couple of nightclubs), it’s The Mall Group’s chairwoman, Supaluck Umpujh. If you want a sparky and sassy masterclass in running retail, she’ll be on stage with a host of Monocle editors at The Chiefs conference in Hong Kong later this month. There’ll also be a few other sharp minds on the topic of retail, including The Lane Crawford Joyce Group’s Jennifer Woo and the very dapper Mark Cho from The Armoury, not to mention all your favourite Monocle voices (and faces) to keep the conversation and drinks flowing. If you haven’t secured a ticket yet, you can drop Hannah Grundy a note at or you can find the lineup here.

Eating out / Forno Conti & Co, Rome

Bread winner

If you’re planning on opening an artisan bakery in Italy’s capital, it helps if you’re a fourth-generation Roman pasticciere (writes Stella Roos). Sergio Conti founded Forno Conti & Co in Rome’s vibrant Esquilino neighbourhood, which turns out sourdough loaves and sweet pastries such as maritozzi buns and hand-rolled croissants. “I practically grew up inside an oven,” says Conti. “I just wanted to make something different.”

Image: Forno Conti
Image: Forno Conti

Forno Conti & Co’s northern European influences are evident in the interiors, which are furnished with Artek stools and Japanese paper lamps by architect – and Conti’s wife – Germana de Donno. It’s rare to find a place that serves flat whites and pour-over coffees in Rome – but Forno Conti is also a place that stays true to its roots, making sure that local classics such as torte rustiche (savoury pies) and Roman-style pizza rossa are always on offer.

Image: Larissa Araz

Sunday Roast / Cenk Debensason

For the record

Istanbul-born chef Cenk Debensason spent seven years working in kitchens in Lyon, Paris, San Francisco and Los Angeles, before returning to Turkey in 2016 (writes Liv Kessler). In 2022 he and his wife, Debora Ipekel, opened Arkestra, which is a cross between a restaurant and bar inspired by Japan’s kissa jazz clubs. Here, he tells us about his love of Turkish breakfast, his dog, Godot, and his partner’s extensive record collection.

Where will we find you this weekend?
I’m always in the kitchen. After dinner service at Arkestra, I usually check out our upstairs bar, the Listening Room. It’s the most exciting time of the week.

Ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle or a jolt?
Sunday is my only day off, so I take a lot of time to wake up. I like to have a coffee on my balcony followed by a late breakfast, either at home or in my nearby coffee shop.

What’s for breakfast?
Breakfast is a serious thing for Turkish people. At home there’s usually a selection of cheese, as well as tomatoes, cucumbers, avocados, olives, jam, sourdough bread and menemen, Turkish scrambled eggs with tomatoes.

Lunch in or out?
A late lunch out.

Walk the dog or downward dog?
My wife and I love taking our big dog, Godot, to the park, where we watch him play with his friends and swim in the Bosphorus strait.

A Sunday soundtrack?
Debora is a passionate record collector. She usually plays a selection of soul and rock records on Sunday.

Sunday culture must?
Lots of eating and chilling at home.

What’s on the menu?
I usually cook a simple pasta dish for Debora. Her favourite is bottarga spaghetti.

Sunday evening routine?
Watching a film and falling asleep.

Will you lay out an outfit for Monday?
Never. I wear the same outfit in the kitchen every day, so it’s pretty simple.

Illustration: Xiha

Recipe / Ralph Schelling

Fritelle di Carnevale

These traditional rice fritters are an Italian delicacy often enjoyed during the country’s carnival season, a period of festivity just before Lent. Savour these sweet golden bites when they’re piping hot and covered in plenty of sugar.

Serves 3-4

200ml water
150ml milk
60g butter
A pinch of salt
Zest of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
100g risotto rice
60g sugar
40g flour, sifted
2 eggs
2 tbsps rum
Oil for frying
Extra granulated sugar, for coating


Bring 50ml of the water, milk, 30g of butter, salt and lemon and orange zest to a boil in a large saucepan. Throw in the rice and lower the heat, continuing to cook until it dries out completely.

Let the rice cool and put it in a container covered with clingfilm.

In a different saucepan, add the remaining water and butter along with the sugar and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Add in the sifted flour and then lower the heat. Mix everything together until it forms a dry consistency. Gradually add the eggs and continue to combine until the mixture is smooth.

Add the rice and rum to the saucepan and mix until all the ingredients are well combined.

Heat the oil in a pan to about 180C.

Form the dough into medium-sized balls with the help of two spoons or a piping bag.

Put a few of the balls into the pan at a time and let them fry for about 4-5 minutes in the oil until they become golden brown.

Let the fritelle dry on paper towels and then toss them in granulated sugar. Serve hot.

Image: Tony Hay

Bottoms up / New Theory wines, UK

Message in a bottle

Natural wine has been fermented in France since the 1960s but its recent revival is largely down to the changing taste buds of a younger generation of drinkers (writes Chloé Lake). Founded in 2021 by brothers Charlie and Thom Bradley, UK-based wine label New Theory (previously known as Nouveau) is part of this shift. Partnering with South African vintners, New Theory creates fresh expressions of low-intervention wines. Its current range comprises four bottles, including a beaujolais-style red, a refreshing skin-contact pinot gris and a delicate sparkling pétillant naturel harvested from pinotage grapes.

New Theory’s expressive and bold branding reflects Thom’s experience working in graphic design but the labels also make visual the playful ethos of the natural wine movement, which doesn’t take itself too seriously. “The wine industry can be complex and mystifying,” says Thom. “We want to make it more accessible, so why not have a bit of fun in the process?”

Weekend plans? / One&Only Aesthesis, Athens

Capital gains

Keen to see the Athens Riviera in the off-season and get a little spring sunshine? One&Only Aesthesis consists of 95 bungalows designed by UK studio Muza Lab (writes Hester Underhill). “We paid homage to mid-century architecture with high ceilings, woven leather details and natural accents,” says Muza Lab’s co-founder Inge Moore. Every bungalow has an outside space with a private pool and garden.

Image: Marco Arguello
Image: Marco Arguello

Seafront restaurant Ora offers Mediterranean fine dining, while another onsite restaurant hosts residencies for chefs. At the time of writing, it’s headed by Paco Morales of Andalusia’s Noor. The resort has much to offer visitors outside the summer season. “We have partnered with Guerlain on its first spa in Greece,” says general manager Yann Gillet. “We also offer various experiences, including sailing tours and visits to ateliers that make leather sandals. And you get to enjoy the Athens Riviera without the peak-season crowds.”

For more of Monocle’s hospitality hit list, buy a copy of our travel magazine ‘The Escapist’, which is on newsstands now.

Cooking the books / Atelier September

Rich pickings

Published by Apartamento, Atelier September: A Place for Daytime Cooking is the first cookbook dedicated to the eponymous Copenhagen restaurant and features recipes from owner Frederik Bille Brahe (writes Amy van den Berg). Much like the restaurant’s minimal interior, every page is sparsely but elegantly designed, with the text laid out in the brand’s signature blue typeface.

Image: Tony Hay

Flip through the book for a sumptuous selection of 86 recipes, including the café’s shakshuka with harissa and piment d’Espelette and financier-like pancakes. Other classics include decadent miso-chocolate cake and an indulgent mushrooms with burrata and whipped butter.

Tech corner / R410 streaming system

All ears

Encased in handsome wood-panelled cabinetry, UK audio company Ruark’s all-in-one streaming system has a classic look (writes David Phelan). Its touchscreen display allows you to select audio from a turntable, TV or Spotify; there are also DAB and FM tuners for the radio. This device is rich in audio quality and it looks sleek on the shelf.

Speaking of technology, isn’t it time that you recharged your knowledge of global affairs, entrepreneurship and opportunity by picking up the latest issue of Monocle? Why not subscribe and you’ll never miss a magazine. Have a super Sunday.


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