Sunday 18 June 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 18/6/2023

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Heat wave

First up, our editorial director, Tyler Brûlé, talks about this year’s Monocle Quality of Life Conference in Munich. We also recommend a sound system that you can take poolside, pay a visit to a fiery new addition to Stockholm’s food scene and explore a guest house at the heart of Lebanon. Plus: an invitation into author Samanta Schweblin’s weekend routine and a takeaway hot spot on the rise in Toulouse.

The Faster lane / Tyler Brûlé

In good company

Imagine a leafy, green boulevard with handsome men and women pedalling past on elegant bicycles. As you step out of a taxi you’re greeted by a few smiling faces and you’re ushered along a pathway into a building that already feels alive at 08.30. Someone asks if they can make you a coffee and you’re suddenly caught up in the energy of this end-of-summer Friday morning. Nearby, a charming, bronzed Brazilian explains to a group of Danes why they should be looking to buy villas in Alvalade rather than Cascais. A short distance away, a Norwegian gentleman extols the prospects and opportunities of Warsaw. Further along the room there’s a gathering around a man who seems to be doing an impromptu book signing. Wait! Is that Andrew Tuck? It must be. You’re drawn to the crowd; you want a bit of whatever they’re having.

Just as you’re about to queue, your gaze shifts to the garden beyond, where all the excitement seems to be unfolding. Across the lawn there are little groups of old friends and fresh acquaintances chatting and laughing, sipping and nibbling. Venturing outside, you’re greeted by a refreshing coolness in the air. On the breeze, you catch the sound of a voice discussing retail in Ginza. In an instant you recognise it as Fiona Wilson, Monocle’s Tokyo bureau chief. Should you go over, say hello and get some tips for your November trip to Japan? Or is it all a bit too early for that? Perhaps wait until lunch and try to secure a seat beside her. As this is your first time at a Monocle Quality of Life Conference, you’re not quite sure what’s about to unfold. You pull the programme out of the natty tote that the Monocle crew gave you the evening before and conduct a swift scan of its contents. It goes something like this:

  • a world of risks and opportunities with the CEO and host of the event
  • a masterclass in advertising and branding with the brightest minds in private banking
  • a short film by Robert Bound on the power of being naked
  • the future of home delivery according to one of Germany’s biggest logistic players
  • a one-on-one interview with the CEO of one of the world’s largest airline groups
  • five architects you need to meet for future projects

Descending the staircase to the amphitheatre below, find a seat with a commanding view across the room. Seated next to you is a nice chap from Washington and, on the other side, a woman who works for one of France’s biggest fashion luxury brands. Suddenly the lights dim, a familiar jingle fills the room, a group of recognisable faces enter the room and the Monocle conference is underway.

All going to plan, this could be you, dear reader. Having just returned from a Munich reconnaissance mission, I can say that we’re on track to go one better than Paris last year. The event facility that has been engineered by Allianz beneath their world HQ is extraordinary. The weather, of course, is going to be dry and sunny so lunch and drinks will be served in the shade of the Englischer Garten. We’ve secured some of the best venues in the city for mingling, viewing, buying and maybe a bit of bum-shaking. For further details and to secure your ticket, take a peek here. If you’d like to bring a bigger group or have questions, please contact Hannah Grundy at

With graduation season in full swing, do you find yourself worried about your niece, grandson or cousin as they prepare to (hopefully) embark on their journey into the world of work? Given the ongoing global shortage in common sense and essential general knowledge, why not consider a subscription to Monocle as a gift for passing their IB exam or getting their degree in Viking history. We believe that the next generation of media consumers need a bit of fine paper between their fingertips (of course there’s a digital version too), so we’ve put together a special offer for the class of 2023. Sign them up to the magazine here.

The Monocle crew is touching down in Bangkok this coming Thursday for a special summer party at the wonderful CHANINTR courtyard in Thonglor. If you’re resident or passing through the Thai capital, please join us for a little Q&A session, a few treats and some exceptional drinks and bites. We look forward to seeing you but please RSVP with Hannah Grundy at

Eating out / Solen, Stockholm

Seat in the sun

Adam Dahlberg and Albin Wessman are both pupils of the well-known Swedish chef Mathias Dahlgren and started their own, now Michelin-starred, restaurant in 2016 (writes Jonna Dagliden Hunt). The duo’s next step is their biggest so far: Restaurant Solen (“Sun”) seats 150 diners within a restored 1912 industrial building, part of the former meatpacking district Slakthusområdet in southern Stockholm. “When we first stepped into this space, we knew instantly that it could be magic,” Dahlberg tells Monocle. It’s a huge contrast to spaces in the city. From having picked up produce from suppliers here to running a restaurant is amazing.”

Image: Solen
Image: Solen
Image: Solen

Designed by Stockholm-based Specific Generic, the light, rounded dining area (a nod to the restaurant’s solar muse) is spread over a large space with a 13-metre-high ceiling. The menu takes tips from the pair’s favourite Los Angeles restaurants and cues from Middle Eastern, Mexican and Mediterranean flavours. The dishes are meant to be shared; expect anything from garlicky harissa to creamy burrata or a tarte tomatillo salsa combined with pizzas, barbecued meat and fresh fish. The open fire in the dining room adds to the warm atmosphere and the chefs cook either by using the stone oven or over the fire pit.

Food on the move / Croq’Michel, Toulouse

Breaking bread

The sandwich toasters have barely been fired up at Croq’Michel, Toulouse’s latest takeaway spot, but already loyal croqueurs have been drawn in by the reputation of its Michelin-starred chef and founder, Michel Sarran (writes Claudia Jacob). From the cries of the chef’s name to passers-by to a teenager requesting a selfie, it’s clear that Sarran is a celebrity here.

The chef’s prominence is largely due to his appearance as a judge on cooking show Top Chef, as well as his eponymous restaurant that has been tempting Toulouse’s foodies for almost 30 years. The fact that his latest project is a takeaway venture is no mean feat in a country that sees long, languid meals as sacrosanct.

Image: Timothée Chambovet
Image: Timothée Chambovet
Image: Timothée Chambovet

The inspiration for the popular chef’s croque monsieur takeaway came during lockdown when his restaurant shuttered, leaving him with surplus truffles to put in sandwiches for healthcare workers. He named the venture after himself but also after the creator of the original croque monsieur, Michel Lunarca. The result? A pandemic-proof hole-in-the-wall serving up a host of imaginatively filled croques, embossed with a logo featuring Sarran’s smiling face. No wonder he’s so recognisable.

But the chef’s creations are different from the traditional French croque. The ham, gruyère and béchamel combo has been replaced with unorthodox fillings. One bestseller is the Croq’Gascon filled with duck confit (a nod to Sarran’s native Gascony), while the Croq’Ibiza, where he has a second home, contains spicy chorizo and nutty manchego. Meanwhile, the limited-edition Croq’Marseille, available on the summertime Paris-Marseille route, was a collaboration with France’s national rail company, SNCF. “Life is a risk,” says Sarran. “If we don’t take risks we stagnate.”

For more food finds, top tables and concepts worth chewing over, don’t miss our June issue of Monocle magazine.

Sunday Roast / Samanta Schweblin

Literary vices

Berlin-based Argentinian author Samanta Schweblin’s short stories and novels blur the lines between the real and the imaginary world. Over the years, she has won countless awards, including the FIL Literary Award in Romance Languages and the Booker International Prize. Here, she shares her love of Sunday walks in the German countryside, desire for dark chocolate and experimental filmmaker Luis Buñuel’s take on the negroni.

Image: Shutterstock

Where do we find you this weekend?
Back in Berlin after visiting my family. They live in a small town in the “paradise of the south” – that is, Argentina, 13,500 kilometres away from where I now live.

What is your ideal start to a Sunday, gentle or a jolt?
I’m rested and ready for a jolt but I’ll take it gently anyway.

Walk the dog or downward dog?
I would walk the dog if I had one but I’m still recovering from my last loss.

What’s for breakfast?
A cup of coffee. I need to be in hungry-curious-alert-mode for writing. My brain loves food so much that it gets distracted when I think about eating. So no food for me until lunchtime.

Any larder essentials you can't do without?
Almonds, dark chocolate and yerba for the maté.

Lunch in or out?
In. Sometimes I have a coffee after a lunch out, either with a book or a friend.

Your Sunday culture must?
I don’t believe in culture on Sunday, when there are too many people around to be focused. On Sundays my partner and I walk for three hours in the countryside, even in the winter.

What’s on the evening menu?
I hope for something warm and crunchy, maybe with some pasta in it. And wine before dinner.

Who will join you?
Mostly friends but yesterday it was my neighbour.

A glass of something you recommend?
A Buñueloni. It’s Luis Buñuel’s take on the negroni, prepared at Würgeengel, one of my favourite bars in Kreuzberg.

News or not?
I prefer long articles. I don’t believe in news titles or one-paragraph-news.

Do you lay out your outfit for Monday?
Never ever in my life.

Recipe / Ralph Schelling

Fettuccine with pea-and-mint pesto and lime

This week our Swiss chef and recipe writer Ralph Schelling is keeping things simple with a riff on Liguria’s basil-based pesto using fresh mint and peas as an alternative. “Feta goes well with the mint if you prefer that to parmesan,” says Schelling. “You can also use my pesto on bruschetta or as a dip for an aperitivo.”

Illustration: Xihannation

Serves 4 as a main


250g fettuccine pasta (from a packet is fine)
250g fresh or frozen peas
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
100g parmesan, plus extra to top 10g bunch fresh basil
20g handful of mint leaves
5 tbsps olive oil
1 lime (zest and juice)
2 tbsps pistachios (or pine nuts)
salt and pepper to taste


Cook the pasta in salted water according to packet instructions but take it out a minute early so that it’s al dente. Drain and reserve about 120ml of the starchy pasta water.

Blend all ingredients for the pesto (everything except the pasta) to make a paste. Try not to blend until completely smooth so as to leave a little crunch. Season to taste.

In a pan, add the pesto to the pasta along with the starchy cooking water and heat until warm again.

Serve with a dusting of parmesan.

Weekend plans? / Dar Zefta, Lebanon

Family pride

The process of rebuilding his great-grandfather’s home and turning it into the boutique guest house Dar Zefta took Bahjat el-Darwiche six years: much of that time was spent sourcing furnishings (writes Leila Molana-Allen). Just one armoire survived a fire in the southern Lebanese village of Zefta and destroyed the roof along with everything inside. The rest of the appointments are a love letter to Levantine design across the decades: sweeping art deco mirrors sit alongside Damascene bureaux with mosaic woodwork and inlaid mother-of-pearl, carpets from Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar coat the stone floors and Parisian auction rooms supply finishing touches, such as two Jean Royère Yo-Yo armchairs. A pair of chandeliers by Italian designer Gio Ponti dominate the dining room; after falling in love with the first, it took Bahjat years to find its partner. “My thinking was that no matter what, I would rebuild it better than it was,” Bahjat tells Monocle. “I want my father to see the house that he fought so hard to protect standing tall again.”

Image: Maria Klenner
Image: Maria Klenner

For the latest hospitality finds, sunny escapes and city boltholes buy the June issue of Monocle. Or subscribe so that you never miss a beat.

Tech corner / Beosound A5 Bluetooth speaker

Sound of summer

Illustration: Yusuke Saitoh

This slick portable speaker from Bang & Olufsen has a timeless quality with an aluminium build, wooden handle and a modular design that allows parts to be replaced if they wear out (writes David Phelan). The top includes a wireless charging panel so you can juice your phone while you stream music from it. It’s also dust- and water-resistant so you can listen poolside – assuming your neighbours approve.

For the latest in everything from global affairs to architecture subscribe to Monocle magazine today. Have a super Sunday.


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