Sunday 12 March 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 12/3/2023

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Savour the good life

This week, Tyler Brûlé reports on a refined reset in Spain. Plus: we drop anchor in Extremadura and Lake Como, visit a crafty new inn in Fukuoka, try a cake recipe to savour and book a table at a bubbly Italian opening in London. Start your Sunday here.

The Faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

Fighting fit

This week has been devoted to personal improvement – on every possible level. And, after seven days of long walks, physio sessions, very few calories on the plate (800 a day) and not a drop of crisp Galician albariño, I do feel like this has been a very worthwhile start-the-year reset. A few years ago, I used to make an annual pilgrimage to Chiva-Som in Hua Hin but somehow ended up migrating to the Barai enclave next door and the annual wellness moment fell off the page. For the past few years, my friend Ruthie has been raving about her trips to the Buchinger Wilhelmi Klinik on the Bodensee and I’ve thought about making the quick journey from Zürich for a week of slimming and refining – but I never quite found the hook. When friends Yolanda and Matt, who like their negronis and rosés as much as I do, did a two-week stint and came back raving about the results, I was nudged a bit closer. But it was only when I had a conversation with my friend Gerd that I got serious about booking: “Have you tried their Andalucia property?” he said “It’s fantastic!”

While the Buchinger brand is all about fasting – they work hard at selling you on the benefits of broth – I thought it best to sample the setup first and go for an easier programme to find my beat. As this is a Germanic arrangement in the south of Spain, it has been right up my strasse/calle. Sunny skies and sunnier staff, but with an underlying foundation of discipline, rigour and a bit of work. The feeling is much more “Klinik” than resort, with plenty of doctors and nurses on hand to take daily measurements, offer advice and regimes, and generally ensure that you’re on the right track; the rooms feel more smart Swiss hospital than Aman or Six Senses. That said, yellow awnings, a lovely pool setup and a “do as much or as little as you want” mentality keep it from feeling too heavy-handed.

While my retreat mates went all-in for treatments of every description, I’ve been doing long walks, attempting to catch up on a stack of mags, finish a book and run the companies that enable me to afford a week of enforced dietary and physical order. And as you will hopefully know, Monocle pays its own way and doesn’t go in for freebies or press trips, so whatever you read on page or screen from the world of hospitality comes with a bill at the end of the service or stay; none of that “pay me because I’m a jumped-up influencer” nonsense in our editorial world.

Sunny skies and sunnier staff, but with an underlying foundation of discipline, rigour and a bit of work

I would give you a day-by-day account of the past week but that feels a bit narcissistic and not so interesting. Also, things got off to a bumpy start when I was struck by a severe pain in the kidney, was instantly whacked onto a morphine drip and taken to hospital. After a speedy scan, the doctor told me that I had a kidney stone that in medical terms was only “slightly smaller than the [nearby] rock of Gibraltar” and that I would need an operation – immediately. Though the hospital looked nice enough, I wasn’t mentally prepared for a general anaesthetic, ultrasound and cameras and hooks fed up my ding-dong, so I called my trusty doctor back in Zürich and we discussed the options. She was also up for the surgery but said that if the pain was managed, I could wait till I was back and it could be dealt with then. It may well have been the fear of the catheter and accompanying apparatus that has kept me pain-free for most of the week but so far, so good. However, be warned, if you’re on my Swiss flight from Málaga today and someone’s writhing in the aisle, it may well be me – but let’s hope not.

If you’re looking for a pre-summer shape-up and shake-down, I can highly recommend Buchinger Wilhelmi. The crowd is mostly Spanish and French, with a few Swissies, Gulfies and Americans; the food is sourced from their own local network and is quite excellent; and everyone plays by the digital-detox rules. Phones are allowed but no calls, Youtubing or Zooming in public; in rooms, doors must be shut so that no one is forced to endure the conference-call pacers roaming around on their terraces.

I had my final consultation with the doctor and shed four kilos in a week. There are some tune-ups that require a bit of effort but we ended our session on an emotional note when she leaned in, gave me a steady look and said, “I would really like to thank you.”

“You’re welcome, I’ve really enjoyed my stay,” I replied.

“No, no, it’s not that,” she said. “When we sent you to hospital and I saw all of your scars everywhere and you later told me that they were from your injuries in Afghanistan, it made me think – a lot. So, I’m saying thank you to you and all the journalists who do what you do. More than ever, the job of proper journalists is vital for all of us.” Needless to say, I sign off today and start this next week with a bouncier spring in my step. Graçias and danke, doctor.

Eating out / Jacuzzi, London

Immersive dining

French restaurateurs Victor Lugger and Tigrane Seydoux of Big Mamma Group are the sort of people you’d want to plan your party (writes Josh Fehnert). Since starting the firm in 2015, they have earned a reputation for lively joints and their latest opening in Kensington is among the most hotly anticipated. Spread over three floors and with about 170 covers, Jacuzzi is as warm and bubbly as its name implies, even if it doesn’t quite evoke the “Venetian villa” that the restaurant’s sales bumf claims inspired its design. Instead, the group’s in-house team, Studio Kiki, has filled the space with plants, booths, colours, patterns and more.

Image: Charlie McKay

There’s barely a patch of wall without adornment, from Murano glass to vintage bottles and even a pair of Versace flip-flops. The brash, bold and boisterous new site shares its DNA with Big Mamma’s 19 other trattorias and its Parisian market, La Felicita. The food is as lively and colourful as the decor and includes a tender saltimbocca alla romana and a lobster-and-seafood risotto, as well as the usual line-up of pizzas (one of which is topped with smokey burrata and caviar). A retractable glass ceiling on the mezzanine offers the promise of enjoying the spectacle in the open air as the weather improves.

Feeling peckish? Subscribe to Monocle magazine today for more food news.

New opening / Craft Inn Té, Yame, Japan

Home from home

The team behind the beloved Unagi no Nedoko shop in the small Japanese town of Yame in Fukuoka prefecture has opened a smart new three-room hotel (writes Junichi Toyofuku). “Rather than attracting people from outside who might shop and leave, we wanted to do more, creating an interactive relationship between the visitors and locals,” says Unagi’s Rei Watanabe. The team renovated a century-old two-storey residence and a separate kura storehouse into modern Japanese accommodation: the Craft Inn Té. The residence is divided into two guest rooms – Ai (indigo) and Take (bamboo) themed – and the kura is a standalone washi (traditional Japanese paper) room.

Image: Kentaro Ito
Image: Kentaro Ito
Image: Kentaro Ito

The Ai room has a wooden table, tapestry and cushions, all indigo-dyed, while the Take room has intricate bamboo lampshades and chairs. The beautiful bathtubs are made from red cedar by woodworking studio Matsunobu Kogei in Yame, while shoji paper screens were handcrafted by Nao Tesuki Washi in the neighbouring Saga prefecture. “It’s a new style of tourism,” says Watanabe.

For the full story and an itinerary of what to see on your travels to Fukuoka and beyond, pick up a copy of our March issue or subscribe to Monocle today.

Sunday Roast / Valentina de Santis

At the lake

Valentina de Santis took over her family business, the Grand Hotel Tremezzo on the banks of Lake Como, in 2010 (writes Lucrezia Motta). Here the Lombardy native shares her weekend plans, a family twist on risotto and preparations for the hotel’s spring reopening.

Image: Stefan Giftthaler

Where do we find you this weekend?
This weekend I am wearing my hard hat. We’re working on the final touches before we reopen the hotel’s doors in a few weeks after lots of winter renovations.

Ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle start or a jolt?
My dream is for my husband and kids to bring me breakfast in bed. For now, it remains a dream. Early-morning jolts are nice too.

What’s for breakfast?
I don’t care what’s on the plate as long as I have a view with the sun rising from the mountains and reflecting on Lake Como.

Walk the dog or downward dog?
Downward dog and sun salutation flow with the kids.

A Sunday soundtrack?
Italian classics and anything cinematic.

News or not?
Not on Sunday.

What’s on the menu?
My favourite Sunday menu is saffron risotto with ossobuco, made by my mamma using a family recipe.

Do you lay out an outfit for Monday?
I prefer to choose my outfit in the morning so it varies depending on my mood. Maybe that’s just a nice way of explaining that I am a super-last-minute person.

Recipe / Aya Nishimura

Japanese Swiss roll cake

Our recipe writer Aya Nishimura shares the secrets to the perfect Swiss roll – with a twist. This show-stopping, feather-light Japanese version, with whipped cream and fresh fruit, is well worth all the whisking.

Illustration: Xihanation

Serves 10


3 medium eggs
7 tbsps caster sugar
1½ tbsps neutral oil (vegetable or similar)
1½ tbsps whole milk
5 tbsps plain white flour
300ml double cream
Sugar, to taste
1 kiwi, peeled and sliced
1 banana, peeled and sliced
5 strawberries, quartered


Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan).

Separate the egg whites from the yolks and place them in two separate bowls.

Beat the egg whites with an electric whisk until they double in volume and form uniform bubbles. Add 1½ tbsps of sugar and beat for another minute. Add another 1½ tbsps of sugar and keep beating until the egg whites become glossy and form a firm peak. Set aside.

Beat the egg yolks and 2tbsps of sugar in another bowl. Once the mixture turns creamy yellow and thickens, add the oil and milk. Beat the mixture for another minute. Add the sifted flour bit by bit and mix until fully incorporated.

Add a large spoon of egg-white mixture to the egg-yolk mixture. Gently incorporate it using a large, flat metal spoon to keep the air in the mix. Add another third of the egg-white mixture and repeat. Finally, add the rest of the egg-white mixture, making sure that no egg-white clumps are left visible.

Gently pour the incorporated mixture into a 24cm by 33cm baking tray lined with baking parchment. Use a spatula to spread the mixture evenly. Place in the oven and bake for 7 minutes. Turn the oven down to 180C and cook for another 7 minutes.

Remove the cake from the oven. Let the cake cool completely on a wire rack and cover with a tea towel.

Flip the sponge upside down on a clean surface and carefully peel off the baking paper.

Slice off the end of the cake at an angle (about 1cm). This helps to close the cake completely when rolling.

Whip the cream with 2tbsps of sugar to taste until it forms soft peaks. Spread the cream over the cake leaving a 2cm gap at the end without cream.

Arrange the fruit on top of the cream. Lift the bottom of the sponge and roll firmly. Wrap with clingfilm and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Remove the clingfilm, slice the cake with a sharp knife and serve.

Weekend plans? / Atrio, Cáceres, Extremadura

Nod off at dinner

In a nation as old as Spain, not everything notable is new. Cáceres natives Juan Antonio Pérez and José Polo spent decades putting their city on the map. They first launched Atrio in 1986 as a standalone restaurant. In 2010, with the help of architects Mansilla + Tuñón, the pair relaunched Atrio as a restaurant-hotel that brought modern flair to the medieval walled city. In the 14-room property, Pérez and Polo have added personal touches, such as decorating the space with pieces from their own collection (including a Warhol), making the hotel feel like a rather artful addition to their beloved restaurant.

Image: Ben Roberts

For more on the delights of Spain, plus ideas for where to stay, eat, shop and put down roots, pick up a copy of ‘Spain: The Monocle Handbook’ today. Or head to our website to join our forthcoming book signings in London or Zürich.

Liquor cabinet / Quarter gin

Ain’t half bad

Friends Fabian Clark and Rohan Radhakrishnan don’t think that spirits should be all or nothing (writes Claudia Jacob). The starting point of the pair’s drinks brand was to create a quarter-strength spirit (12 per cent ABV) that wouldn’t leave you with a hangover but had all the botanical beauty of a good gin.

Image: Tony Hay

After experimenting with different formulations of juniper, orange and grapefruit peel, the Clerkenwell-based duo settled on a formula that is distilled in Wales in copper pots. Already available across the UK in The Wigmore, The Pig hotels and branches of Hawksmoor, Quarter proves that there are no half measures when it comes to taste. Have a super Sunday.


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