Sunday 18 February 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 18/2/2024

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

In the hot seat

This week Monocle’s editors share some highlights from the road. We check into Bali’s best new beachfront bolthole, nab a table at a must-visit London restaurant bringing some swagger back to Soho and meet a Moroccan fashion designer for a picnic under an olive tree. Plus: a warming recipe, drink recommendations and a book to leaf through. But first, are you feeling secure? Monocle’s commander in chief offers a diplomatic dispatch from a week that included a flying visit to the Munich Security Conference.

The Faster lane / Tyler Brûlé

State of the nation

Thursday morning in Munich felt like early May. The sun was out, the birds were singing, outdoor cafés were packed and the city, which often thinks of itself as Italy’s northernmost outpost (in lifestyle terms at least), was putting on its best show. Traffic was a bit on the slow slide as world leaders, generals and chiefs from aerospace and arms companies shuttled into town – some in motorcades, others on regional trains – for the Munich Security Conference (MSC). As things weren’t moving on the streets of Schwabing, I took the opportunity to call our editor-in-chief, Andrew, who had just wrapped up a few days at the World Government Summit and was about to fly out of Dubai (see yesterday’s column). Andrew was positively buzzing about the conversations that he’d had, the people he’d met and the observations he’d made. “It’s our world here,” he said. “It’s our crowd. There are wide-ranging, complicated conversations and the discussions are refreshing.” We caught up on other business, I updated him on our plans for the MSC and we ended the call, agreeing that we were both looking forward to our forthcoming Warsaw tour next week. (Attention readers and listeners: we’ll be hosting a special edition of The Globalist from the Polish capital on Thursday morning. Tune in or join us live.)

The traffic started to move again. I watched locals and visitors sipping their first Aperols of the season (it was only 11.30), I reviewed the line-up of guests that our team from The Foreign Desk would be interviewing over the coming days and I dropped a note to Hannah about the planning for the cocktail that we’d be hosting later (photos below). But something was bothering me. I arrived at my meeting and met our hosts and my colleague Raffi. While I was “in the room”, I was still picking apart my brief conversation with Andrew, trying to find the set of words that had darkened my mood. Was it the “discussions are refreshing” part? Was it linked to that?

We left the meeting, made a brief pit stop at the very well-appointed shop Falkenberg (one of Bavaria’s better retailers, for sure) and the unidentified, nagging thought disappeared. Lunch at Schumann’s was a further distraction from whatever was bothering me but as soon as I was out in the sunshine, walking back to the hotel, it hit me. By the time when I reached my room, I had pieced together the formula. The source was a conversation that I had with some policy folk in Ottawa a few weeks ago. Though I made note of the importance of the topic in the moment, we all moved on to talk about the pull of Paris, the ongoing hollowing-out of many sectors in London and lazy diplomats who feel that they can do a global job from the comfort of their living rooms, thousands of kilometres from where they’re supposed to be posted. The spark was both my conversation with Andrew but also the setting: one of the world’s most liveable cities as a backdrop for a conference that deals with some of the most urgent issues facing not just Germany and Nato nations but also the world in general.

During our Ottawa dinner we landed on the theme of national identity and whether social capital had become so eroded that being Canadian had lost much of its meaning. Did someone whose family arrived from Portugal in the 1970s feel Canadian or more Azorean? What about the family from Ontario’s high north, who could trace their roots back centuries? And the recent arrival from Haiti? Was Canada, in modern speak, more of a platform to live and earn rather than a nation that came with codes, traditions and expectations? And then there was the big question: would Canadians put on uniforms, pick up arms and fight for their nation? Would Swedes? Brits? Austrians? Kiwis? Spaniards? Another motorcade whooped past and I wondered whether this was a subject on the MSC’s agenda. Would there be panels discussing how to get liberal democracies to remember that in order to freely wave rainbow flags, you might also need to wave your national stripes atop an armoured personnel carrier, rally around an anthem (learning the words would be a good start for many) and follow orders?

Later that evening this theme, in various forms, was a talking point as Monocle gathered around a mix of readers, contributors, journalists and members from the security community. A financial consultant reminded a hotelier that just because some people are right of centre doesn’t mean that they’re fascists or radical – simply that they’re fed up with crumbling infrastructure, failing hospitals and a migration policy that has failed to absorb the people who it welcomed in the first place. A gentleman in aviation explained that Boeing’s current problem has much to do with putting the wrong people in leadership and struggling to recognise that they’re a company based on engineering and keeping planes in the sky, as opposed to one made for ex-bankers and HR consultants to play armchair pilot in. As he saw it, Boeing became distracted by too many fashionable workplace topics, too little oversight and direction, fear of honest conversations and a loss of mission – and now they’re in their current fix trying to keep doors on aircraft and recruit the right people to get the company back in the game. The same could be said for many nations attending the security conference. Mission drift, loss of focus and erosion of common-sense conversations have left them less than resilient to actually fight for their beliefs rather than simply market them.

For more of the week’s biggest talking points with Tyler Brûlé, including analysis of the death of Alexei Navalny, tune in to Monocle on Sunday on Monocle Radio.

House news / Munich Security Conference

Raising the bar

The Munich Security Conference, which wraps up today in the Bavarian capital, has brought together political leaders and defence-policy experts from across the world to debate the most pressing issues of international security policy. To kick off the event, Tyler Brûlé and the team behind Monocle’s flagship current-affairs show, The Foreign Desk, gathered on Thursday alongside conference attendees, as well as Monocle listeners and readers, for an evening of drinks and spirited – even punchy – conversation.

Image: Daniel Nguyen
Image: Daniel Nguyen
Image: Daniel Nguyen
Image: Daniel Nguyen
Image: Daniel Nguyen

It helped, of course, that Monocle Patron Sarah-Joan Fuld offered to play host – and what a job she did. A wave of chatter, clinking glassware and laughter filled the air as guests settled on the top floor of her space, The Fuld, on Munich’s Katharina-von-Bora-Strasse. With a seamless service of perfectly chilled cocktails, bartenders from legendary Munich watering hole Schumann’s proved the perfect ingredient to shaking up the night.

For the latest from the Munich Security Conference, including interviews with the world’s top decision-makers and thought leaders, tune in to The Foreign Desk on Monocle Radio.

Eating out / Mountain, London

Peak performance

The only thing more troubling than snagging a booking at Mountain, chef Tomos Parry’s pretty Beak Street bolthole, is the unanimity with which the world has decided that a seat here is the best thing since sliced sourdough (writes Josh Fehnert). Can it be so? Like Parry’s beloved Shoreditch forebear, Brat, the food is a paean to the Welsh chef’s love of freshly netted seafood and great produce. The final ingredient and reason for the restaurant’s name (so says the press release) is Spain’s mar y montaña cookery, which I’ve taken to mean immaculately delivered Iberian surf and turf. However Parry got here, the menu is magnificent. Lots of rich bits to share: tangy sobrassada (cured sausage), shatterings of pumpkin fritto laced with chestnut honey and a yielding spider crab omelette set with Japanese precision and a perfect wobble.

Image: Benjamin McMahon

There’s no lull for the mains but a mite more theatre maybe: The Menorcan lobster caldereta is all velvet and brine, while fish (Dover sole, John Dory or sea bass when Monocle visits) can’t be faulted, nor can a selection of sirloins. There are also beef sweetbreads, rabbit with squid, or tripe, which all help adventurous orderers find less-likely delights – and give the rest of us reasons to revisit. For afters, the ensaïmada (a Mallorcan pastry) and torrija (a Spanish take on French toast) are proof in pudding form of the originality and charm of the place. The service is excellent too – far from a given in this well-trodden stretch of the West End – and delivered in uniforms made by designer Ventura Foreman of nearby Studio Nicholson. Parry’s unlikely perch has put the business end of Carnaby Street back at the vanguard of something interesting for quite some time. The only thing more troubling than everyone telling you how good Mountain is? How hard it is to disagree.

For more tasty morsels and dishy delights, read the February issue of Monocle, which is out now, or subscribe today so that you never miss a sitting.

Sunday Roast / Fadila El Gadi

Stitch in time

Moroccan fashion designer Fadila El Gadi blends rich artisanal craftmanship with modern silhouettes to create her unique pieces (writes Lucrezia Motta). In 2016 the designer founded the École de Broderie de Salé to train underprivileged children in the art of embroidery and revive the dying Moroccan métier. Here, she tells us about her culture fix in Rabat, a hearty soup recipe and her Sunday soundtrack from the Sahara.

Where will we find you this weekend?
In the gardens of the Selman Marrakech hotel, with a glass of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs champagne in hand.

Ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle or a jolt?
A good breakfast and a yoga session.

What’s for breakfast?
A salad with tomatoes, cucumbers and eggs. There’s no better way to start the day.

Lunch in or out?
I love to put my lunch into a picnic basket, take it into the garden and eat under the shade of my olive trees.

A Sunday soundtrack?
I usually listen to Tinariwen, a collective of Tuareg musicians from the Sahara region. I couldn’t possibly choose just one song; they’re all masterpieces.

Sunday culture must?
I love spending a day at the Es Saadi resort spa in Marrakech or visiting the Le Musée National de la Parure in Rabat. I never get tired of the beautiful jewels that are showcased there.

News or no news?
I prefer to disconnect from everything on the weekend.

What’s on the menu?
Something Moroccan, such as harira [a hearty tomato-based soup]. It warms the body and the spirit.

Sunday-evening routine?
I like to prepare the table for dinner with friends.

Will you lay out an outfit for Monday?
I put on my Dars trousers, Katerine dress shirt and my military jacket.

Image: Tony Hay

Bottoms up / Iessi

Free spirit

Apéro, aperitivo, happy hour: call it what you will, there are many ways of expressing the social ritual that has become something of a tonic in trying times (writes Claudia Jacob). Cue Iessi, an alcohol-free aperitif and spritz company founded in 2023 by Nicolas Maiarelli in Paris. The drinks – named L’Aperitivo and Il Frizzante – are made from premium ingredients at a family-run distillery in Trieste, Italy.

L’Aperitivo is the brand’s signature aperitif. Inspired by Maiarelli’s nonna’s recipe, this tasty tipple boasts the bitterness of an Italian amaro and is packed full of botanical extracts, including gentian root, rhubarb and chilli pepper. Maiarelli’s favourite way to enjoy the drink is with a splash of sparkling water and a slice of orange – or simply on the rocks. Pair with salty crisps and briny olives for a taste of the Mediterranean.

Illustration: Xiha

Recipe / Aya Nishimura

Roast pumpkin, yoghurt and spiced butter

We believe that pumpkin is always in season. This week, Monocle’s Japanese recipe writer incorporates one into a light starter, served with Greek yoghurt and warm, fragrant butter.

Serves 2-4


450g delica pumpkin (other pumpkin will also work)
1 tbsp olive oil
50g unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 tsp fennel
½ tsp chilli flakes
½ cinnamon stick, lightly crushed
200g Greek yoghurt


Place the yoghurt in a fine sieve over a bowl. Leave it to strain for a minimum of 3 hours.

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

Cut the pumpkin into two halves and scrape the seeds out with a spoon. Slice the pumpkin halves into thick wedges. Place them on a baking tray and season with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the baking tray in the oven and roast until the pumpkin softens. This should take about 30-40 minutes.

Make the spiced butter by placing the butter, garlic, chilli flakes and cinnamon stick into a small pan. Melt the mixture over a low heat and cook until the garlic turns golden and crispy.

Spread the yoghurt onto a large serving platter and arrange the roasted pumpkin wedges on top. Remove the cinnamon from the spiced butter and pour over the pumpkin. Serve warm.

Weekend plans? / Further Hotel, Bali

Sunny disposition

The seaside village of Pererenan on the fringe of Bali’s southwestern coast, just past the bustling and built-up resort town of Canggu, is a place where coffee shops and roadside lunch shacks squeeze between terraced rice fields (writes Naomi Xu Elegant). A few minutes from its black-sand beaches is Further Hotel, a low-rise terracotta marvel dreamed up by husband-and-wife duo Claudio Cuccu and Martine McGrath (pictured). The boxy building appears to change colour throughout the day depending on the angle of the sun. The act of entering the lobby and ascending the staircase to the rooms is like entering a candlelit cave. The 10-key property opened in summer 2023 alongside Bar Vera, a wine bar and French-inspired restaurant on the ground floor. “It was important to try to create a unique experience,” says Cuccu.

Image: Dedy Andrianto
Image: Dedy Andrianto

The hotel was designed by Italian architecture firm Morq and Australian interior-design company Studio Wenden. Everything is custom-made, from the bricks of the façade to the soaps, towels and in-room toiletries. Rather than remaining ensconced in the “big bubble” of a resort, Cuccu wants guests to walk around, experience the neighbourhood and interact with residents. “For us, the atmosphere surrounding our hotel was created by what already existed in the village.”

For more places to see once you’re out there, buy a copy of Monocle’s February issue today. Better yet, subscribe and join the club. Have a super Sunday.


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