Sunday 5 March 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 5/3/2023

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Unexpected finds

This week we sample the culinary delights of Bath, stop off for provisions (specifically, wine) at a new delicatessen in Marrakech and learn the recipe for a French classic perfected in New York. Plus: join us at a book signing celebrating our new guide to Spain and learn about the Sunday rituals of designer Miminat Shodeinde. First up, Monocle’s editorial director, Tyler Brûlé, shares some wisdom.

The Faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

Points of view

This week started in the Engadine valley and moved swiftly on from there. Zürich, Schaffhausen, Munich, Lisbon, Madrid and Marbella. Here are a few observations from the road.

Zernez. It will come as little surprise that Switzerland has a highly organised system for dealing with residency and work permits. Recently the government decided to move from a passport-style system of different colour-coded booklets to a more convenient biometric identity card. A couple of weeks ago, I received a notice advising that it was time for me to swap over and that I should show up at the regional centre for said affairs at 11.00 on Monday morning. I pulled up in front of the building at 10.57, was greeted by a friendly if stern woman at 10.59, was escorted into a small room and told to remove my scarf and glasses, and look in the mirror. In the corner of the room was a machine that could best be described as a stripped-back, standing version of an MRI. I was told to look at the data on the monitor (name, birthdate, etc.) and click on the screen if all was correct. Then I was told to look in the camera for a photo and add my signature on another screen below. “Are you sure that’s the signature you’re going to be happy with?” asked the woman. I told her I could improve on it and did my scrawl again. “Perfect. All done. You will be able to collect your card at your local office next Monday. Wishing you a good week.” I was back in the car at 11.04. There’s a lot of criticism that Switzerland has too many people on the government payroll but if it makes the state function swiftly and efficiently, I’m only too happy to pay my taxes.

The Ritz, Lisbon. Would they ever build such a hotel again? Every time I return to this property, I ask myself that question when I marvel at the scale of the place, the celebration of modernism and the custom details. As grand city hotels go, this is one that is not trying to win any points with influencers or the cool crowd. It’s solid, smart and staffed by professionals.

A bar in Lisbon’s Chiado district. It’s Wednesday, early evening, and a new-ish bar is filling up with a mixture of locals and tourists. The Lisboans are all well turned out, sporting good blazers and cashmere V-necks, and make for a good-looking room. Then it all changes. The doors swing open and a young couple walk in. He’s in shorts, trainers and a T-shirt; she’s a bit more dressed-up. You’ll never guess where they’re from. It’s probably 9C outside, the skies are dimming and I’m wondering how on earth these two could think that it’s appropriate to show up to such an establishment, in March, as if it was a beach club. Have we not reached the end of the line when it comes to “anything goes/wear what you want/I’m expressing myself”?

Burel Factory shop, also in Chiado. If you think that it’s only the Austrians and Südtirolers who have a monopoly on felt then you’ve not met the people behind the Burel Factory. Having spent the better part of a decade reviving the production processes of an ancient business, the family behind Burel now work with some of the world’s most respected luxury players, helping them to weave blankets, vests and work jackets. As I chat to the owner about the collection, we land on the topic of capes, a subject that she’s clearly passionate about. “Capes are very important to the Portuguese,” she says. “And we make them for all kinds of functions: making cheese, feeding the animals, working in the fields and more elegant occasions.” Don’t be too surprised if you start seeing more capes in the pages of both Monocle and Konfekt, and maybe in our autumn collection in-store.

Any bathroom, any fine establishment – of late. Why has it suddenly become a thing to have identical hand soap and hand cream dispensers side by side in restaurant and hotel bathrooms? And why is hand cream even necessary in the course of a lunch or dinner? Is it a new marker of luxury to offer hand cream in order to win points and more positive reviews? Do I really need to moisturise my hands for the afternoon ahead? I prefer the Japanese approach to amenities in fine establishments: tooth flossing sticks and mouthwash. Rather more useful.

Any restaurant, bar or hotel attempting to look modern and sustainable. It was bound to happen. Many of those vertical green walls were never going to work, no matter how much they were watered, over-lit and injected with plant cocaine. Now we have thousands of square metres of plastic plants all over the world climbing walls and looking dusty, toxic and fake. The green vertical wall was a nice idea at the time and some continue to work well with a hell of a lot of upkeep but perhaps it’s time for clients and architects to resist the need to send greenery up interior walls.

The Rosewood Villa Magna, Madrid. If the Ritz Lisbon had a more svelte Iberian cousin, it would be the recently opened Rosewood in the Spanish capital. When I pulled up on Thursday, it was a proper Hong Kong-style welcome, with a full line-up of staff to say hello, a quick escort to the lift and a fine suite on the top floor. The hotel has put considerable thought into smart uniforms and, better yet, they’ve ensured that they’re worn by proper grown-ups with decades of experience in the hospitality business. The hotel lobby buzzes with a good crowd of locals, the service is gracious and there’s also the soon-to-be-super-upmarket El Corte Inglés connected via the back door.

House news / ‘Spain: The Monocle Handbook’

Place in the sun

Thinking of heading somewhere warm this spring? If so, you’ll find plenty of inspiration in Spain: The Monocle Handbook, the second title in our new series of country-focused guides. We venture far beyond the usual tourist haunts to present the very best of the nation, taking in everywhere from Madrid and Málaga to the Balearics and the Canaries. Between the covers you’ll find innovative retailers, culinary hotspots and smart hotels, as well as leading museums and galleries – and, of course, a beach or two. We also suggest the ideal neighbourhoods in which to put down roots, plus the design contacts to know, with advice from plucky entrepreneurs who have already set up shop. Buy your copy today or join us for signings this month in Zürich and London. Head to for more.

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New opening / Barbe, Marrakech

Uncorking success

Parisian architect Maha Mseffer and DJ Adnane Belakbil from Casablanca are the married couple behind Barbe, a fetching wine shop and delicatessen in Marrakech (writes Sarah Rowland). “Shopping for wine in Morocco [a Muslim country] has never been a fun or comfortable experience,” says Belakbil. “We felt that it was time to create a space that democratises it.” Mseffer, who is architecture firm Studio KO’s chef d’agence for Morocco, worked on the project during her free time, restoring the ochre-coloured floors. “I always taste the wines before they go in the cellar,” says Belakbil.
61 Rue Yougoslavie, Marrakech

Image: Ben Roberts
Image: Ben Roberts

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Sunday Roast / Miminat Shodeinde

Full of juice

British-Nigerian interior designer Miminat Shodeinde has designed residences from Cape Town and Málaga to Provence and Portugal (writes Claudia Jacob). Here she shares her Sunday rituals, including listening to Sam Cooke and a fondness for a morning juice – and afternoon margarita.

Image: Armand Da Silva

Where do we find you this weekend?
At home reading, cooking or painting in my home studio in London, going for a long walk with my partner or enjoying a glass of wine at the kitchen table.

Ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle start or a jolt?
Gentle, that’s what Sundays are for. When I was growing up, my house was always filled with music – Sam Cooke, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole – and especially so on Sunday.

What’s for breakfast?
I’ve never been a breakfast person but I do start every day with a celery, mint, apple, lemon and cucumber juice that I prepare the night before. It’s a ritual.

Lunch in or out?
Out. I love a long lunch, sometimes with a margarita or two.

Walk the dog or downward dog?
Downward dog, please.

A Sunday soundtrack?
“It’s My House” by Diana Ross.

Sunday culture must?
I’d always choose a slow Sunday spent browsing antiques or vintage works. A few fail-safe favourites that I revisit for inspiration are Saatchi Gallery, Hayward Gallery, Tate and White Cube.

News or not?
News, without a doubt. It’s really important to know what’s going on in the world, however distressing it can be.

Do you lay out an outfit for Monday?
It depends on whether I have a meeting or not. If so, yes. I go for a monochromatic, structured style so that planning outfits is never a hassle.

Recipe / Ralph Schelling


Despite working in top, envelope-pushing kitchens across the world, Swiss chef Ralph Schelling is a stickler for the classics, including this hearty potato-and-leek soup. First made by French chef Louis Diat in New York in the early 20th century, this simple crowd-pleaser hasn’t lost its allure. “I recommend some croutons: bread baked in a little butter with a few chives on top,” says Schelling. “If it’s cold outside, I tend to add a little chilli on top too.”

Illustration: Xihanation

Serves 4 as a main


1 large leek
2 small potatoes
1 garlic clove, diced
2 tbsps olive oil
25g marjoram
1 litre vegetable stock
150ml single cream
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste


Roughly chop the leek into small cylinders, discarding the top of the leaves and the base. Peel the potatoes and dice into 5mm chunks.

Sauté the vegetables and garlic in a large saucepan with a little oil on a medium heat for about 5 minutes, without letting anything burn.

Add the marjoram and vegetable stock to the pan and simmer, half-covered, for about 30 minutes. Remove the marjoram stalks.

Puree everything with a hand blender, add the cream and season to taste. Serve warm or cold.

Weekend Plans? / Bath, UK

Simple pleasures

Forget the abbey, Roman ruins and Royal Crescent: the best reason to visit Bath this weekend is in a Georgian greenhouse, halfway down Bartlett Street (writes Josh Fehnert). Opened in December, Beckford Canteen is a welcome addition to an English city whose culinary star is rising. Looks aren’t everything but this single-storey former sushi shop has been spruced up with marble counters, green-leather trims, dark oak furniture, salvaged Czech lighting and a wall display of Wedgwood cabbage-leaf plates. The restaurant currently has a modest 40 covers inside but a similar number will be accommodated in the garden to the rear when the mercury rises.

A few tipsy paces from its beloved sister bistro, the Beckford Bottle Shop, this feels like a significant step up for co-founders Dan Brod, Charlie Luxton and Matt Greenlees, whose Beckford Group also includes four rural inns and a boutique hotel. Head chef George Barson’s deft touch has turned a few simple-sounding snacks – think rarebit with pickled onions or sardines on toast – into dishes worth travelling for. His combination of simplicity, rich flavours and an almost guileless reliance on good produce makes the regional ingredients sing. Look out for the smoked eel with leeks and egg yolk, and the ham hock and jowl terrine served with a light-as-mist brioche bun.

The mains riff on a similar theme. The monkfish with cauliflower purée and curried butter is subtle but sumptuous, as is the sole with harissa. When it comes to sides, the buttery greens and crisp confit potatoes are a treat so complete that they threaten to outshine the mains. You might need a break before tackling the chocolate, hazelnut and brown butter dessert: a fight between tiramisu and a giant Ferrero Rocher (both sort of win). Roman Baths, eat your heart out.;

Bath weekend guide:

8 Holland Street
Tobias Vernon’s gallery specialises in art, design and interiors. Vernon’s first hotel will open above the shop before summer 2023.

This homeware shop from Patrick and Neri Williams, who also run a nearby design studio, is brimming with covetable bric-a-brac. It’s impossible not to be bowled over by the interiors.

Topping & Company Booksellers
This family-owned bookshop is spread across two floors and a mezzanine of a grand neoclassical building close to the abbey. This is how books should be sold.

Upstairs at Landrace
After stints at top London restaurants, Rob Sachdev and Jules Copperman relocated to Bath to open a tiny but terrific restaurant above the equally appealing Landrace Bakery.

The Yard in Bath
A contemporary inn huddled around the atmospheric little courtyard of a former pub. There might be grander places to stay in Bath but there’s nowhere cosier.

The Stack / Non-fiction

Ways of seeing

Forget celebrity biographies, self-help titles and dry histories: there’s far more to non-fiction than the predictable volumes you’ll find on the bestseller lists. This round-up is for the creatively inclined, whether you’re seeking something to accompany you on an inspiring trip or are thinking of writing a book of your own.

Image: Tony Hay

1. ‘A Horse at Night: On Writing’, Amina Cain
Writing about writing can be a rather solipsistic genre but US novelist Amina Cain’s first non-fiction work reaches for bigger themes in a kaleidoscopic account of how we live.

2. ‘Looking to Sea: Britain Through the Eyes of Its Artists’, Lily Le Brun
Through 10 water-themed artworks, London-based writer Lily Le Brun explores the modern history of the UK.

3. ‘Some Reasons for Travelling to Italy’, Peter Wilson
Packed with anecdotes and stories, Peter Wilson’s erudite guide to Italy celebrates the country’s history, culture and architectural wonders.


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