Sunday 31 March 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 31/3/2024

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Legends in the baking

There’s a feeling of excitement in the air as we greet Easter Sunday this week. We stop by a neighbourhood bakery-cum-pantry in Tokyo that sees pastries as an all-day affair, peruse Los Angeles’s smartened-up Sunset Row in Silver Lake and catch the lunchtime service at a culinary stalwart in Zürich that has been rustling up röstis since 1924. Plus: a festive baked wreath to adorn the Easter table and a rural cabin retreat luring bibliophiles to Poland’s lush woodland. But first, we get things under way with Tyler Brûlé on things overheard and the odd dance move in HK.

The Faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

Leader of the dance

Yesterday our editor in chief, Andrew Tuck, concluded his column by saying, “That’s a wrap.” For the purposes of his stretch of screen for The Monocle Weekend Edition, that was, in fact, true. But, dear reader, Andrew only relayed the action of Monocle’s The Chiefs conference as it unfolded onstage and not the interesting bits that happened when the lights went down. Everyone made their way to cocktails and onto dinner, and then the after party and the after-after party. Allow me to pick up where he left off, with the help of a few atmospheric photos courtesy of my colleague, Linard.

This first picture represents genius at work. Andrew has to file his column by mid-Friday afternoon London time in order to hit inboxes at 07.00 Waiheke-Island time, so he clearly factored in a number of things while offstage at The Chiefs conference on Thursday. First, he knew that 80 per cent of our delegates were up for a party and things could run late. Second, the wifi on his return flight to London probably wouldn’t be working, so he couldn’t rely on filing from somewhere over Armenia. And third, he knew that he had an audience in the form of our design editor, Nic Monisse, sneaking a peek over his shoulder. He thought that he would show young Nic how seasoned pros manage their workload while gearing up for the night ahead.

Image: Linard Baer
Image: Linard Baer

Does The Monocle Quality of Life Conference have competition from its upstart sibling The Chiefs? It certainly seems so. During the breaks and over drinks, delegates like to talk about how they feel that the day is going. The comments that I heard the most were “The Chiefs is so much cosier than Quality of Life” and “I like that it’s more one on one and all the speakers want to stick around”. A little competition in the family is always a good thing – and we aim to announce the host city for 2024 in the coming weeks.

During cocktails I chatted to some Dutch delegates, who remarked how refreshing it was to be treated to a full day of discussion that didn’t touch on sustainability goals, culture wars or artificial intelligence. “Did you plan it that way?” asked the woman. “Was it deliberate?” I said that our starting point was simply to have the best, most inspiring leaders in their field on stage and it was clear that these were topics that they felt didn’t need more air time.

On a related note, several people commented about the amount of powerful female leaders on stage. “It wasn’t until halfway through the afternoon that I realised you, at no point, made a big deal about having an amazing line-up of Asian women,” said the well-turned-out delegate from Manila. “They were on your stage based on merit; because they were top of their game regionally and globally. I liked that.” We agreed that there was a need for less box-ticking and more general excellence, before making our way to dinner.

Side note. There’s a need for the global candle-making industry to start lobbying for more open flames in bars and restaurants. When I inspected the dining room, I told the man in charge that the LED candles were a no-go. Trusty Hannah had a standby sack of tea lights to change the ambience but they said that open flames were not allowed. I’m not sure who made those rules up but I have a hunch that they might be connected to the international LED table-light cartel in the PRC.

When it comes to Westernised nicknames, the Thais are out on top. While I like the retro, slightly quaint monikers you still get in Hong Kong (Elmo, Fanny, Alvin, Frosty…), the award for best name (and dancer!) at The Chiefs this year goes to the brilliantly named Miracle from Bangkok. More on him in a moment.

Monocle delegates had the option to sensibly ascend to their rooms, pull on their jammies, tuck in, get up early and head to Art Basel for a Good Friday spin-around. They could also shuttle into Central and meet in the privée that we’d booked at The Diplomat. The tiny room was perfect for cocktails, conversation and mingling. While it took some time for the dancefloor to get going, we made sure to close it down at 02.00.

Image: Linard Baer

“Is Hong Kong back?” It’s a question that locals and once-regulars constantly ask. At 02.15, on a street packed with Art Basel visitors, rugby fans and others drawn to the city, it definitely felt like the HK that I used to play in circa the 1990s and early 2000s. At that moment, the question was “Where next?” Thankfully, Mark Cho of The Armoury fame took matters in hand and suggested that we go back to his set-up at the Pedder Building. Thanks to a sound system by Kef, as well as an arsenal of cigars and fine beverages, the dancefloor resumed and Miracle delighted the group of 20 or so hardcore delegates and Monocle staffers to a back catalogue of the best moves from Kylie, J Lo, Madonna, Beyoncé and assorted K-pop groups.

STP. Monocle’s most senior editors know when an evening has turned STP – straight to plane. For Konfekt’s Sophie Grove and Nic Monisse, a 04.30 pull-up at the hotel combined with a 08.00 flight back to London meant there would be no pillow time. It’s more than 36 hours later and I still haven’t heard from them. I’m quite sure that they’re fine.

Beware of revisiting the scene of the crime. On Friday afternoon, following a boys’ lunch at Da Domenico, I thought that it would be polite to thank our host, so I asked the driver to swing by The Armoury at the Pedder Building. Before I knew it, the host had me in a navy-kimono, silk safari jacket and was measuring me up for other essentials. They’ll definitely be making an appearance at Monocle’s next global gathering.

Eating out / Parklet, Tokyo

Dough with the flow

Freshly baked goods are at the heart of Parklet, an all-day bakery and café nestled in Nihonbashi-Kobunacho, near the Horidome Children’s Park (writes Ben Davis). Tall windows overlook an adjacent play area, while families and friends gather around communal tables during the day, contributing to the lively atmosphere.

Image: Parklet

The home-made sourdough bread is a highlight, while the rosemary scones and pastries go well with the single-origin brews roasted by Overview Coffee. Looking for take-home treats? The pantry is lined with granola, condiments and seasonings, while merchandise draws on Parklet’s roster of lovably doughy characters. Watch this space for evening events too.

For more on where to eat and drink this spring, pick up a copy of Monocle’s April issue, which is available on newsstands now.

Retail safari / Silver Lake, Los Angeles

Everything under the sun

Silver Lake is a residential neighbourhood in Los Angeles that occasionally gets called the Beverly Hills of east LA for its well-heeled crowd and sought-after homes (writes Christopher Lord). The area has seen a recent influx of high-end retailers, particularly in new development Sunset Row, where the final touches are being made on a clutch of boutiques, including eyewear brand Akila. Nearby is also Parisian fashion label Maison Kitsuné, which has opened a new café and spruced up its shop. Sunspel, a UK heritage brand best known for its ultra-soft T-shirts, has just opened on Sunset Boulevard. “We are always looking to be in a community with a characterful neighbourhood,” says CEO Raul Verdicchi. Sunspel gets its name from the sunny periods after rain in the Caribbean, the perfect conditions for growing sea island cotton.

Image: Sunspel

The brand has expanded rapidly in the US over the past 18 months, with new outposts on Madison Avenue in New York and the Marin Country Mart north of San Francisco. Yet its arrival in Silver Lake is a bold bet on an area that only 10 years ago was still rough around the edges. It might not look much like Beverly Hills around here but there is a rush of smart new retail spots ready to give Rodeo Drive a run for its money.

Image: Ove Kvavik

Sunday Roast / Tone Hansen

Set the tone

Tone Hansen is a Norwegian writer and director of Oslo’s Munch Museum (writes Gunnar Gronlid). Housing the largest collection of works by the late Norwegian painter Edvard Munch, the wonky 13-storey museum designed by Estudio Herreros has become a distinctive component of the city’s skyline. Here, Hansen talks about cross-country skiing, her modest pre-gym breakfast and the excitement of living out of a suitcase.

Where will we find you this weekend?
I plan to go cross-country skiing for the weekend in the mountains where my mother grew up.

What’s your ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle or a jolt?
My Italian partner does all the cooking at home. On Sundays, I sneak out early with the dogs to get fresh croissants and sourdough bread. On my way back, I might get a cappuccino.

What’s for breakfast?
On a normal day I have a spoonful of cottage cheese before running off to the gym. If I have time, my favourite breakfast is steel-cut oatmeal with fresh berries and a little maple syrup or sour cream. On a quiet Sunday I always have salmon and scrambled eggs.

Lunch in or out?
Out, in the wild.

Walk the dog or downward dog?
I do the walking and let the dog do the yoga.

Sunday soundtrack?
The Ann Peebles version of I Can’t Stand the Rain. Or, if I need some energy, Beyonce’s Texas Hold ’Em.

Sunday culture must?
The Munch Museum or the cinema.

News or no news?
Any lazy Sunday means catching up with stacks of newspapers from the past week and The Guardian.

What’s on the menu?
Dinner out at a small bistro close to where I live or at home in the kitchen.

Sunday evening routine?
I like to go to the cinema – I last saw Priscilla – or watch a series while ironing and preparing for the coming week.

Will you lay out an outfit for Monday?
Because I travel every other week, my life is in a suitcase, so I lay out an outfit every day.

Illustration: Xiha

Recipe / Ralph Schelling

Easter wreath

Monocle’s Swiss chef shares a plaited wreath adorned with colourful Easter eggs that harks back to Switzerland’s traditional recipe, which uses hard-boiled eggs (ours uses chocolate). The addition of saffron is a nod to cuchaule, a sweet saffron bread that originates from the French-speaking canton of Fribourg. Be sure to leave enough time for the dough to prove, even though it might be gone seconds after baking.

Serves 4-6

250ml milk
3 saffron threads
40g fresh yeast
15g vanilla sugar
50g butter
1 tsp salt
500g flour
1 egg yolk
4 chocolate Easter eggs
Caster sugar, for dusting
Flaked almonds

Aluminium foil, for shaping moulds


Heat the milk with the saffron in a saucepan over a medium heat, until the milk takes on the colour of the saffron. Take the mixture off the heat and cool for 5 minutes. Add the yeast, vanilla sugar and butter, and stir to dissolve.

Put the flour and salt into a bowl. Add the ingredients from the saucepan and knead everything into a smooth dough for about 5 minutes. Cover and leave to rise for approximately 30 minutes.

Knead the dough again for about a minute. Then, roll it into three-equal sized strands and braid them into a plait, by folding the strands over each other. Tie both of the ends together to form a wreath. Cover and leave to rise for another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Shape aluminium foil into the form of 4 small eggs and press into the Easter plait at even intervals to make egg-shaped indents. Whisk the egg yolk with a little milk and brush the plait with it. Sprinkle with the caster sugar and almonds over the top and bake for about 30 minutes.

Take the bread out of the oven and remove the aluminium-foil eggs. Place the chocolate Easter eggs into the indents where the foil was and enjoy while warm.

Image: CP

Weekend plans? / Bookworm cabins, Warsaw

Read the room

Entrepreneur Bartłomiej Kraciuk felt inspired while standing on a wild plot of land that overlooks the surrounding fields and forests of Poland’s northeastern province of Mazovia (writes Julia Lasica). “I had spent years in Poland’s hospitality industry and party scene. But on that day I was struck by a feeling of tranquillity,” says Kraciuk. “I felt compelled to give people the opportunity to reset and detach themselves from their busy lives.” Joining forces with his partner, architect Marta Puchalska-Kraciuk, and studio Pole Architekci, Kraciuk created Bookworm Cabins in 2019. These wooden cottages are tucked away in the quiet of the Polish countryside, about a 45-minute drive from Warsaw – and yet, a world away.

Surrounded by trails and woodland, the highlight of the cabins are inside: bookshelves laden with hundreds of titles from cookbooks and albums to contemporary novels and classics, handpicked by Warsaw-based Desa Art Bookshop and Polish publisher Albatros. The modern comforts aren’t lost on guests, with each cabin featuring a bed raised on a mezzanine along with a bathroom and well-equipped kitchen for evenings of cooking and conversation. But there are some rules. The no-wifi policy is complemented by weak cell phone signal and there is a yellow box that gives guests the opportunity to stow away distracting phones. “Reading is an activity that relaxes our minds and captivates our imaginations,” Kraciuk says, “Why not take a break away from your phone and ordinary routine?”

Image: Tony Hay

Bottoms up / Fabbrica Pienza, Tuscany

Natural wonder

Tuscan winery Fabbrica Pienza sits in Val d’Orcia, one of the most tradition-bound areas of Italy, which is famed for its rolling hills and cypress trees (writes Ivan Carvalho). Winemaker Tim Manning enjoys experimenting in the cellar to create innovative and surprising wines. The oenologist from Manchester has spent more than 20 years working with the sangiovese grape, from which he has devised a delicious, pink-hued pét-nat sparkling wine for the owners of Fabbrica Pienza.

Try a glass as you unwind on a sun lounger overlooking the vineyards at Casa Newton, the 11-room boutique hotel that the winery owns. The design of the labels changes depending on the vintage but the fizzy liquid inside the bottle always follows the same process: pressed whole bunches of sangiovese grapes undergo spontaneous fermentation in stainless-steel tanks before bottling to create this natural sparkler.

Image: Samuel Schalch

Hospitality holdouts / Kronenhalle, Zürich

Tried and tested

The way that we eat might change but the qualities that we seek in a restaurant remain the same. In our April issue Expo, we featured five restaurants that have stood the test of time by catering to needs that won’t change with the seasons.

Behind its unassuming façade, Kronenhalle offers a lesson in how food is only part of what makes a meal outstanding or a restaurant remarkable (writes Carlo Silberschmidt). The Gaststube has stood the test of time by sticking to its core principles rather than attempting to offer something for everyone – there are no “concepts” or tasting menus here. The restaurant was founded in 1924 by Hulda Zumsteg, whose late son, Gustav, continued to serve her takes on French and Swiss classics, while bringing in impeccable art. Visitors can dine alongside the work of painters such as Chagall, Miró and Picasso (many of whom were guests) with their bratwurst or chateaubriand. The restaurant’s current director, Dominique Nicolas Godat, and his team ensure the upkeep of seamless service that’s solicitous but never shy of reminding visitors of the house etiquette (no video calls, no screens, no athleisure, please). Its head chef, Peter Schärer, has been part of the kitchen staff for more than 30 years. This respect for tradition is crucial to Kronenhalle’s allure. Its guest books might brim with the names of illustrious patrons but this isn’t a place for grandstanding. Indeed, regulars tend to use the side entrance, rather than the main one.

To see more hospitality holdouts, pick up a copy of Monocle’s latest issue, which is available to purchase now. Or subscribe so that you never miss an issue. Have a super Sunday.


sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio

00:00 01:00