- Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 9/10/2022

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

On the menu

This week we down the hatch at Singapore’s smartest new wine bar and rustle up some grilled red miso ‘onigiri’. Plus: a visionary shop in Tel Aviv, a seaside hotel in Ericeira, the perks of work at one of Germany’s largest textile manufacturer and a culinary stop-off in Estonia. First up, Tyler Brûlé has a tip that’s sure to be music to your ears.

The Faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

Hitting the right notes

Do you ever pause to consider the essential ingredients that make a hotel stay truly memorable versus competently mediocre? In your years of circling the globe, have you come up with a checklist of the components that make a property worth recommending to friends for a single night or a whole week? Is it the warm welcome from the bellboy who greets your taxi, somehow knows your name and whisks you straight to reception? Is it the perfectly appointed room that’s a mix of soothing hues, warm textures and dim lighting? Are you seduced by a sprawling spa, the relaxing aromas and the masseuse who knows how to untie all of your knots? Or is it all a bit more complex than good architecture, fine tunes, crisp bed linen and an efficient team behind the bar? For the past few days I’ve been trying to decode the elements that made last weekend’s trip to Marseille one of the best of my extended summer season. Here’s what I came up with.

1. Instant immersion. A hotel can be all open arms and cocktails on arrival but if your journey to the property is spent looking at your phone obsessing over forecasts and not taking in the scenery, interrogating what you’re seeing and conversing with your partner or extended family members then you’re unlikely to find yourself in the right frame of mind by the time you pull up kerbside. Our 45-minute taxi ride from airport to hotel offered the right amount of general comment, pointed opinions and local highlights to not only allow a feeling of being well briefed but also leave us curious to know much more.

2. Sun always helps. We left a cloudy Zürich, where the temperature was hovering around 17C. Marseille was almost cloudless and a welcoming 25C.

3. Sunny staff help too. We weren’t greeted with any fanfare on arrival and had to figure out which was the right door to enter the hotel. A bartender on his break gave us the door code, we punched it in, descended the stairs, found our way into the restaurant and were greeted by a funky chap who escorted us to room three.

4. There’s a reason why it’s called a briefing. Sharp hotel staff know that a welcome briefing should be just that: brief. The AC works like this; the wi-fi doesn’t need a code; dial nine for reception; enjoy your stay. Done.

5. How to keep the briefing brief. Sharp hoteliers know that rooms shouldn’t rely on tablets, touchscreens or digital shower interfaces. Switches, levers, knobs and pull cords are all that’s necessary. If the TV needs a technology primer from whoever is on the front desk doing the briefing, then it’s quite likely that you’ll find more to trip you up during your stay. This was an exercise in stripped-back basics and was just what we wanted for 48 hours of easing into autumn sunshine.

6. Yellow. As you’re a follower of Monocle, you’ll know that it’s something of a house colour as it’s optimistic, warm and a general mood-lifter. This little Marseillais gem had plenty of it.

7. Stripes are also good. Green and white; brown and orange; navy and cream; bitter chocolate and yellow – all of these work well for awnings, loungers and towels.

8. On the rocks, part one. As I don’t care much for sand, I’m happiest when a hotel has direct access to the sea via a little place to dive straight in and a good ladder to climb out.

9. On the rocks, part two. It’s even better when a hotel treats guests like responsible adults and not toddlers in a nursery. Rather than plastic goblets and cups on the rocks, the bar staff served drinks in proper glasses and copper or ceramic mugs. God created brooms, dustpans and Havaianas for a reason.

10. Just add locals. Staff who live nearby are likely to show up on time for their shifts and will have tips that aren’t found in a guidebook or on social-media outlets. Local customers not only give a dose of necessary colour but can also be a good source for style tips, from haircuts to seasonal layering. The men of Marseille know a thing or two about the right cut of trouser and how much hair product to use to look suitably wind-blown or just out of bed.

And what’s the name of this fine establishment? Tuba Club. It’s basic, fresh and very, very tasty. It’s perhaps not to everyone’s taste, and not for families, but core readers of this column will surely get it. Enjoy.

Eating Out / Fool, Singapore

Fool’s gold

Late in 2021, Rishi Naleendra, chef and owner of Singapore’s fine-dining restaurant Cloudstreet, opened Fool, a simple wine bar down the road. Naleendra was inspired by 1970s interior design and wanted to create a space that deviated from the samey bars popping up from Singapore to San Francisco. Judging by the results, this was anything but a fool’s errand. Inside, neutral-toned furniture is complemented by orange accents dotted around the space, while scorched-concrete walls lead up to a stained-glass skylight.

Image: Rachel Tan
Image: Rachel Tan

Dinner dishes such as the chicken-liver éclair, and crispy frog legs with aioli and caviar were dreamed up to pair with the wines. At lunch the menu offers simple classics including fish and chips, and steak frites. The eclectic wine list goes far beyond the big-name French labels that pass for fancy in Singapore: expect bottles from Slovenia or Japan alongside explanations of terroir. “It’s playful,” says Naleendra. “People tend to take wine really seriously and forget why we actually drink wine or eat. That’s the main reason we wanted a name that doesn’t say anything about wine.”

Top of the shops / Glassworks, Tel Aviv

Easy on the eyes

Glassworks offers a new vision of what an optician’s can be (writes Carli Philips). The shop, founded by Australian expat Ariel Resnik, is housed in a restored 1920s building in the heart of Tel Aviv. Its tiled floors give way to optometry rooms, a lens-cutting lab and a library of frames from small, independent brands such as Spain’s Lool and Kame Mannen from Japan.

Image: Dudi Hasson
Image: Dudi Hasson

Designed by Office Alex Nicholls, the pink and ochre hues were inspired by the palette of Hebron and Jerusalem. “It’s a holistic approach to eyecare starting with enjoyable, restorative examinations,” says Resnik. “Clients can then sit and chat over coffee while they browse in a relaxed environment.” How’s that for a clear vision?

Sunday Roast / Matthew Wood

Art of the everyday

Mendes Wood DM has been one of São Paulo’s best-known exhibition spaces since its foundation in 2010. Showing works by the likes of Tunga, Mariana Castillo Deball and Vojtech Kovarík, the gallery has since opened outposts in Brussels and New York. Co-founder Matthew Wood now spearheads Mendes Wood DM’s Tribeca operation. Here, he tells us about Brazilian-style Sunday dinners, Tuvan throat singing and why he hates the American breakfast’s fixation with eggs.

Image: Vicente Muñoz / Mendes Wood DM

Where do we find you this weekend?
I will be in upstate New York in Germantown. It’s a small farming community on the Hudson river where I go to chase what Washington Irving called the region’s “Sabbath stillness”.

What’s your ideal Sunday morning? Gentle start or a jolt?
It seems sort of heretical to start a Sunday with a jolt if you have a say in the matter. Isn’t it our last cultural vestige of a time set aside for quiet reflection?

Soundtrack of choice?
I was actually listening to Tuvan throat singing last weekend. But normally, Tom Jobim, Bill Evans or Bach.

What’s for breakfast?
Lunch. I’ll wait until lunch to eat something amazing. I have a thing for vegetables and, well, variety. The American breakfast’s fixation on eggs has always struck me as rather crazy.

Walk the dog or downward dog?
No dog here; I travel too much. If I’m in the countryside, my physical expression will probably be garden-related. There’s a long sloping field behind my house that dips to the river and many people walk their dogs on the path there. That does look like fun.

Lunch in or out?
Out with friends. Hopefully lunch will last three to four hours and involve sharing a dozen or so plates from a small, thoughtful menu.

Larder essentials you can’t do without?
Olive oil. I have several varieties on hand for every sort of occasion. Also, good salt. I don’t care for much salt on anything but a little salt here and there is just fascinating.

Sunday culture must?
My mother is a journalist, so I still believe in newspapers and print. That almond smell of fresh newsprint and ink is wonderful, as well as the object itself – the way it opens and unfolds and refolds. It might be one of the most beautiful things we ever came up with.

A glass of something you’d recommend?
A white wine with some minerality – grapes that grew by the sea or near a river. I’m not going to tell you which one because it’s hard enough to find without anyone knowing about it.

Ideal dinner venue?
In Brazilian culture, Sunday dinner is meant to be spent with your family – even if someone is in jail or you married your cousin’s ex-wife. My favourite dinner venue was at my Aunt Laura and my Aunt Banana’s apartment in Belo Horizonte. They would hold court chain-smoking alongside an overladen table from 18.00 until midnight.

The ideal dinner menu?
After the lunch I’ve had, dinner will be more about the people – sort of an indoor picnic.

Who’s joining?
This Sunday? My sister and her children.

Will you lay out your look for Monday?
Only Virgos do that, right?

Recipe / Aya Nishimura

Grilled miso ‘onigiri’

These irresistible onigiri are bite-size beauties that you can enjoy on the go. The red miso paste and a quick grilling add an umami hit that elevates this everyday Japanese staple into something extraordinary.

Illustration: Xihanation

Makes 6


For the miso paste
2 tbsps red miso
2 tsps mirin
2 tsps toasted sesame seeds, roughly ground
½ small clove of garlic, finely grated
10g jalapeño chillies, finely chopped

Other ingredients
250g Japanese white rice
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil


Put the rice into a fine sieve and place in a bowl filled with cold water. Wash the rice and sieve three times with fresh water each time. Then soak the rice in fresh water for 20 minutes.

Drain the rice and tip into a medium-sized cast-iron pan with 300ml water. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and bring to the boil; do not lift the lid while cooking. When you hear the water vigorously boiling or see steam coming out from the sides of the lid, turn the heat down to low and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Then take the pan off the heat and let the rice steam for another 10 minutes with the lid on.

While you are waiting for the rice to cook, mix all of the ingredients for the miso paste.

Remove the saucepan lid and fluff the rice with a wet wooden spoon (this prevents the rice from sticking to the spoon), then decant the rice into a bowl. Divide the rice into 6 portions.

While the rice is still hot but cool enough to handle, spoon 1 portion onto a sheet of cling film, (or directly into your clean, wet hand) then shape it into a patty with a diameter of about 7cm diameter and a depth of 3.5cm; make them slightly triangular if you’d like to observe the Japanese tradition. Repeat with the rest of the rice.

Preheat the oven to 250C.

Brush both sides of the onigiri with sesame oil and cook in a frying pan over a low heat for 7-10 minutes on each side, until the surface becomes golden and crispy.

Spread the miso paste on one side of the onigiri, place it under the grill and cook for 5 minutes or until it starts to char on the edge of the miso. Serve warm.

Weekend plans? / Hotel Aethos Ericeira, Portugal

Surf’s up

This Portuguese debut for the London-based Aethos brand opened in September close to the surf town of Ericeira in central Portugal. Benjamin Habbel, co-founder of Aethos, already has successful sites in Saragano, Milan and Corsica, with private-members’ clubs slated for Mallorca and Lisbon.

Image: Przemysław Nieciecki / Francisco Nogueira

The 50-key Ericeira outing was updated by Barcelona’s Astet Studio and Portuguese architect Luís Pedra Silva, who revived the old building with a few nautical touches and sandy hues throughout. Restaurant Onda is an excellent choice for freshly caught seafood served with a view.

Report / Estonian food boom

Close to the source

“When I opened this place 15 years ago, everyone thought I was crazy,” says Erki Saare with a grin, standing in his farm-to-table restaurant Tammuri Talu. “Estonian restaurateurs lacked confidence; they thought that our dishes and ingredients weren’t good enough.” Saare’s restaurant serves a four-course set menu that is only fixed on the day of the dinner, based on what’s ripe, what fish he is able to catch and what the hunters bring him. Saare has his hands covered in dirt as he washes soil-strewn carrots, beetroot, asparagus and courgette flowers. His mother and daughter wave cheerily from the garden, where they are at work picking redcurrants and bilberries for dessert.

Image: Juho Kuva
Image: Juho Kuva
Image: Juho Kuva

A similar philosophy underpins the work of sister Kerti, Triin (pictured, Triin on right) and Kadri Vissel, the three sisters who run Restoran Kolm Sõsarat in Lüllemäe, an apple’s roll away from the border with Latvia. Housed in a traditional wooden villa in the middle of a (somewhat run-down) village, the restaurant serves an incredible multi-course dinner. Next to the beautifully decorated old house stands a disused former Soviet-era kolkhoz or collective farmhouse: an unlikely setting for such a refined experience. “We grow about 80 per cent of the food that we serve,” says Triin, plating up a sturgeon with sour milk, birch juice and apple cider (much better than it sounds). The rest they get from their parents, such as foraged mushrooms, or nearby farms: the lamb, for example. “The finest restaurants in our bigger cities serve food that is grown here in southern Estonia,” says Kerti. “We set up this place so that people could enjoy it here at the source.”

For the full report and more culinary finds, pick up a copy of our business annual ‘The Entrepreneurs’, which is out now.

Parting shot / Job for life

Keep it in the family

Where’s next for business and the way we work? The Entrepreneurs is our annual magazine dedicated to answering these questions and more. Expect ideas, inspiration and savvy suggestions to improve your professional and personal life. Here we share a perk of work: how one company offers a job for life for you and your children.

A small town an hour’s drive south of Stuttgart, Burladingen is a picture-perfect version of a rural German idyll. It is the home of Trigema, one of the last large-scale textile manufacturers in Germany. Here, about 1,200 employees – about one tenth of Burladingen’s population – help spin and sew yarn into millions of sports and leisure garments every year. The company is the biggest in town and it’s aware of its responsibility towards both its location and its residents. The century-old family business has never moved any part of production elsewhere and, in the 50 years that it has been helmed by CEO Wolfgang Grupp, there has been no downsizing. Once hired, people can count on a position forever. “Of course, if you steal or something, it’s a problem,” says Bonita Grupp, Wolfgang’s daughter, who leads personnel and recruitment. “But if everything works the way it should, you have a job for life.”

Image: Conny Mirbach

Trigema goes one step further by guaranteeing a job contract for all employees’ offspring as soon as they finish school. Making this promise seems risky but Bonita explains that the policy works both to gauge worker satisfaction and as an almost foolproof way to find trustworthy new recruits. “Parents wouldn’t recommend our company to their children if they weren’t happy with the job themselves,” she says. “And they wouldn’t recommend their children to apply if it had a bad reflection on them.” Almost two thirds of Trigema’s workforce have been on the job for more than 10 years and many employees’ ties to the company stretch back generations. Staff loyalty has clear upsides for an employer and Bonita believes that this is a key reason why Trigema is thriving while most of its German rivals have long since shut up shop. Having grown up in the business herself (even as a sometime model for children’s collections), she also knows the rewards that such continuity can bring to the individual. “Taking one company into the future is a nice task in your life,” she says. “It’s a tradition you’re inheriting.”

For more from the world of start-ups, success and succession, buy a copy of our business-minded magazine ‘The Entrepreneurs’ now. Have a super Sunday.


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