Sunday 11 February 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 11/2/2024

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Sound bites

Looking for a bar with great taste in tunes? Then listen up. This week we head to Paris to visit a taproom started by a barman and musician, meet the co-founder of a company making an eye-catching electric vehicle and head to a rustic farmhouse in sunny Marrakech that’s showing the local creative scene to the world. Plus: a rich tiramisù recipe to dazzle your dinnertime guests. But first, Tyler Brûlé goes with the flow...

The Faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

Isle be back

Previously in ‘The Faster Lane’, your columnist was at sea on Explora 1, enjoying perfect weather in the Caribbean, about to disembark in St Kitts. Since then, there have been cancelled flights, emergency aviation interventions, a soirée in Paris, the ongoing real-estate hunt in the 1st and 2nd arrondissements and a staff pow-wow in London (see Andrew’s column in yesterday’s newsletter). But let’s cast back seven days for a bit of shore leave.

My expectations for St Kitts were neutral at best and the duty-free theme park that hugs the port wasn’t the best welcome. I made a hard left out of the port, popped into a local market to check out the island’s produce and then out of town, past a few paddocks of well-fed donkeys and some scruffy goats. There was a vaguely defined destination (a Canadian-owned hotel along the coast) and, after an hour of walking, I turned into the property, relieved to be away from road racers in their clapped-out Subarus. I had a quick lunch before heading back to the boat, which involved a search for a functioning ATM. A couple of failed attempts to secure some cash later, the burgundy-and-gold logo of CIBC (the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce) came into view and the machine obediently dealt out a sheaf of local notes. We paid the driver and hustled back to the ship. Perhaps I needed a few more days – rather than hours – on St Kitts to change my take on the place. Or perhaps not.

Back on board I sat down with the captain and she informed me that, due to a change in the weather, we would be pulling into St Barth’s seven hours early. The channel beyond Gustavia’s port was prone to violent choppiness and she didn’t want any issues with the tenders that would be shuttling passengers back and forth. As this was set to be my St Barth’s premiere, I tried my best to look a little disappointed about disembarking half a day early. But as the captain seemed equally enthusiastic about dropping anchor in EU waters, I relayed that this shift in the schedule was not only prudent but also rather exciting.

After four nights on Explora 1, it received high marks for exceptional service, proper coffee, excellent pizza (Italian owners help), very good retail, a serious investment in the best in porcelain, glassware and cutlery, and plenty of space indoors and on deck for privacy and quiet time. On the improvement side, a dress code would be useful for those passengers who think that Havaianas go with everything. And, in my books, lighting can never be too dim or golden. At 09.50 sharp the next morning, we were weaving our way through the yachts in Gustavia harbour. A few minutes later, Marion from Rosewood’s Le Guanahani hotel was helping place bags in the back of the car and offering a briefing on St Barth’s life. Some 15 minutes later we pulled up at the hotel. Within five minutes I was in the bungalow, where there were cloudless skies and a persistent breeze. I was starting to get to grips with what all the St Barth’s fuss has been about – strict building codes, lots of well-stocked wine shops and a cosy scale that made the place feel like a Frenchie, tropical toy town. After a few hours zipping around in a Mini Moke and sampling other resorts and beach clubs, another stand-out feature came into view: super hot 27-year-old French waiters, waitresses, bartenders and shopkeepers everywhere you looked.

Over lunch at Rosewood Le Guanahani, the sommelier (29, tanned, cute linen jumpsuit, sporty pony-tail) explained that many of her co-workers saw their time in St Barth’s as a moment in paradise – but not one that lasted more than three or four years. “We work hard here but it’s a lot of fun and you meet amazing people,” she said. What she couldn’t quite answer was how the service industry of St Barth’s had managed to attract all the prettiest, most polite and attentive twenty-somethings from Toulon to Grenoble and taught them to be sunny like Australians, while also allowing them to remain coolly French.

On Monday morning I went in search of a retail space that might work well for Monocle (found one), surveyed some windows at real estate agencies (why not?) and then headed to Le Toiny for lunch. As it says on the label, I like to keep moving at speed but, as I made my way back to the hotel, I found myself saying, “I don’t really feel like leaving”. At about the same moment, my phone beeped and local carrier Winair advised that my flight had just been cancelled. What to do? The captain had been right. The weather had changed and the tiny airport was hit by challenging crosswinds. “I wouldn’t bother going to the airport as it will take a few days to sort the flights,” advised the concierge. But what about my meetings in Paris in less than 24 hours, the mingler at Midori House and dinner at Royal China on Thursday? I reluctantly abandoned the bungalow, headed for the airport and was confronted by clusters of passengers trying to figure out how to get off the island. After visiting the desks of the three main carriers serving the island and being told that I should just enjoy the island, a gentleman approached me and asked how light I was travelling. “Just two of you? No big bags? Are you ready to go now?” he asked. Half an hour later we lifted off and flew out over a foamy, choppy channel and connected with our Air France flight from SXM with 20 minutes until pushback. In this case, a few hours convinced me that I needed a few more days of the place. St Barth’s, I’ll be back soon.

New opening / Mesures, Paris

Listen and learn

Listening to music can be thirsty work (writes Claudia Jacob). The vision of barman Guillaume Castaignet and musician Benoît Coulomb (pictured, on right, with Castaignet), Mesures is the place for well made cocktails (their favourite is a old-fashioned with a Jura whisky) and wine served to a just-so soundtrack in Paris’s Marais neighbourhood. The pair, who met at the Hôtel Particulier Montmartre, modelled their intimate bar-cum-venue on Japan’s jazz cafés, which encourage a focused appreciation of music rather than using it as mere background noise.

Image: Mesures
Image: Mesures

The soundtrack at Mesures is decidedly analogue, delivered in the form of vinyl or tape, and attracts a discerning group of audiophiles from across the French capital. “Paris’s bar scene is becoming increasingly less niche,” says Coulomb. “Today, Parisians are looking for ambitious concepts with a wide range of well-sourced products. We don’t want to limit ourselves by calling ourselves a wine bar or a cocktail bar. Instead, we just want to see people having a good time.”
58 rue de Saintonge, 75003 Paris

Image: Andrea Pugiotto

Sunday Roast / Merlin Ouboter

Electric dreams

In 2015, Swiss brothers Merlin and Oliver Ouboter launched automotive start-up Microlino. Its small electric vehicles (EVs) are designed to squeeze into tight urban spaces and prove that EVs can do many of the same things that their much larger, overengineered and gas-guzzling cousins can do. Here, Merlin tells us about his love for padel tennis, the news podcast that keeps him engaged and his tipple of choice on a Sunday evening.

Where will we find you this weekend?
I’ll be in the Swiss Alps, close to Flims Laax Falera, for a skiing weekend.

Ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle or a jolt?
A quick coffee and then off in my Microlino to a padel match with friends.

What’s for breakfast?
I’m not a breakfast person. I usually skip it during the week.

Lunch in or out?
On the weekends I love to grab something from the Markthalle in Zürich.

Walk the dog or downward dog?
Neither. I normally go to the gym.

Your Sunday soundtrack?
I’m a big fan of German electronic-music producer Parra for Cuva and The Prof G Pod podcast with Scott Galloway.

A Sunday culture must?
A visit to the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, one of Switzerland’s best museums for design and visual communication.

News or not?
I don’t listen to the news on a day-to-day basis but I like the NZZ Akzent podcast.

What’s on the menu?
Homemade spaghetti al ragù and a whisky sour.

Sunday-evening routine?
Dinner at my parents’ place.

Will you lay out an outfit for Monday?
Yes. It’s usually a white T-shirt, blazer, jeans and Chelsea boots.

Illustration: Xiha

Recipe / Brutto


The origins of this iconic Italian dessert aren’t clear – some claim that it was invented in Treviso, while others insist that it’s a Tuscan delicacy. Either way, the brandy-spiked dolce classic will round off your dinner party in style. This version from restaurateur, writer and broadcaster Russell Norman’s Brutto: A (Simple) Florentine Cookbook must be prepared at least four hours before serving.

Serves 8

500ml strong coffee
50ml brandy
4 large free-range eggs
150g caster sugar
10ml marsala wine
500g mascarpone
1 packet savoiardi sponge fingers
Cocoa powder, for dusting


First, prepare the coffee using a strong espresso variety in a large stove-top coffee maker (such as a Bialetti Moka Express). Leave to cool in a large jug, adding the brandy and 100ml of cold water.

Divide the egg yolks and whites, putting them in separate large mixing bowls. Whisk the whites vigorously until they start to stiffen. Add half of the sugar and continue to whisk energetically until the mix is firm but still glossy.

Clean the whisk and do the same to the yolks, adding the rest of the sugar when the volume starts to increase. Continue whisking until the yolks have doubled in volume. Add the marsala and whisk for about 3 minutes. Add half of the mascarpone and whisk for 2 minutes. Now add the other half and whisk for a further 2 minutes until firm.

Using a wooden spoon, gently and slowly fold the egg whites into the yolks without beating or stirring. A folding action from bottom to top and from the sides to the centre is very important to avoid overworking the mixture.

Place a large, high-sided ceramic or glass tray – ideally about 30cm by 20cm – on your work surface and begin to dip the sponge fingers in the cold coffee mixture (no more than 3 seconds each). Make sure that they don’t disintegrate. Lay the soaked sponge fingers in a single layer on the bottom of the tray.

Cover the fingers generously with the egg and mascarpone mixture, so that there’s a 2cm-thick coating on top. Do the same again with another layer of sponge fingers, then top those with a final layer of the remaining mixture. Don’t worry if you haven’t used all of the sponge fingers from the packet; you can keep what’s left until next time. Finally, dust it all liberally with the cocoa powder, completely covering the tiramisu, and place the tray in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

Cut the tiramisù into large squares and serve on individual plates.

Weekend plans? / Farasha Farmhouse, Marrakech

Only connect

When Morocco’s borders were closed at the peak of the pandemic, entrepreneurs Fred and Rosena Charmoy (pictured, top) believed that people’s yearning for connection and sanctuary would come back stronger than ever after the restrictions were lifted (writes Liam Aldous). In 2021 they discovered late French artist Patrice Arnaud’s run-down former residence on a plain between the Atlas and Jbilet mountains, and converted the property’s two front-facing buildings into a four-key lodging called Farasha Farmhouse. The refurbishment of another building will add six more suites later this year. The opening’s staggered pace reflects the owners’ desire to savour the process.

Image: Ben Roberts-Panos
Image: Ben Roberts-Panos
Image: Ben Roberts-Panos

Set among a deep-rooted olive grove, the property’s oasis-like garden was designed by landscape architect Marius Boulesteix, who moved to Marrakech after leaving a career in the Paris fashion industry. The regenerative farm grows many of the vegetables and herbs used in the kitchen. The drought-resistant plants, butterfly-attracting lantanas and winding pathways layered with argan-nut shells are gentle reminders of the thought and care that have gone into the project.

For more inspiring stays and sunny destinations, pick up the newest issue of ‘The Escapist’.

Cooking the books / Tuscany

Feast for the eyes

Berlin-based chef Mattia Risaliti spent his childhood in Tuscany, where food is a way of life and the focus of long, joyous family gatherings (writes Hanna Pham). His beautifully photographed new cookbook, Si Mangia (“Let’s Eat”), is a loving tribute to the Tuscan culinary philosophy of cucina povera: cooking done by ordinary people using inexpensive ingredients. It presents authentic recipes passed down the generations alongside Risaliti’s family photographs and reflections on his childhood.

Image: Tony Hay
Image: Tony Hay

Among the dishes included here are pappa al pomodoro (bread and tomato soup), which Risaliti remembers his great-grandmother Zita whipping up; hearty mains such as bracioline alla livornese (veal schnitzel in tomato sauce), his father’s favourite; and desserts that champion Tuscany’s summer produce, such as ricotta fichi e miele (ricotta with figs and honey). The book is an ode to food as a unifying force and a heartfelt celebration of the pleasures of coming together as a family.

Image: Erdem

Parting shot / Istanbul

Getting steamy

Stepping off a frenetic main street in central Istanbul and into the Zeyrek Cinili Hamam feels like discovering a portal to the city’s distant past (writes Hannah Lucinda Smith). The din outside fades instantly to a hushed calm in a space where every sound echoes between the marble floor and high dome. The original tiled hammam was completed between the 1530s and 1540s and eventually fell into ruin – but a new renovation has brought it back to life.

The rebooted hammam has kept the layers that had been slapped on top over the centuries, while some spaces that were decorated with tiles are now covered with marble. The heating was switched on in December 2023; by spring, the hammam will be steamy enough to welcome bathers. Some practices stand the test of time, even if the places where they’re conducted do not. But it is often better to revamp past glories than build anew – and a trip to the spa is the best way to be revived.

If you’re a fan of independent publishing and pristine print, pick up a copy of Monocle today. Or subscribe so that you never miss an issue. Have a super Sunday.


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