Sunday 10 March 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 10/3/2024

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Setting the table

This week we discover a secret world behind an unsuspecting wall at a riad retreat in Marrakech, before heading to Germany to sample the delights of a Berlin café-cum-wine bar. Plus: we savour a shallot-and-porcini tarte tatin that’s guaranteed to dazzle dinnertime guests and speak with a French comic writer and illustrator about pancakes for dinner. But first, Tyler Brûlé courts the idea of the country club...

The Faster lane / Tyler Brûlé

Grand slam

Over the years, Monocle has fantasised about “perfect” designs for everything from department stores and airlines to rail stations and neighbourhoods. Working with talented illustrators from all corners of the world, we have conjured up visions for what would be required to create the perfect cruise ship (passengers who know the value of when and where to cover up their hoofs) and how to engineer a better airport or superior sunny resort. During a recent visit to Bangkok, a hotel general manager told me that he still keeps our Dream Hotel poster pinned to his wall and refers to it constantly as a guide to stay on top of his game. An airline CEO recently referred to our vision for creating Nippon-Nordic Airlines and suggested that a joint venture marrying the best of Scandinavia and Japan as a transport brand was a concept that he thought about a lot. However, he couldn’t quite see how the two cultures would come together operationally to deliver the concept that we’d printed on a poster.

Lately I have been thinking about revisiting the idea of the urban country club and how it would be designed, staffed and fitted out. I’ve even gone so far as to consider how Monocle could create its own franchise of sportif-inspired outposts for staying fit, socialising and even checking in for a full seven-day reset. My starting point would probably be the late afternoon that I spent at São Paulo’s Club Hebraica many years ago, where I parked myself under a parasol and watched kids tear around the pool, as well as men in tightly packed sungas run their businesses with chunky Nokia phones. There were also retirees stretched out on loungers, competing for who could sport more gold on their wrists and reach a darker shade of bronze before sundown. For Monocle’s thus-far-imagined retreat, I would stick with the Brazil theme and commission Isay Weinfeld to create the structure and interiors, before calling on my friend Masa in Tokyo to run the operations. I think that I would like to build it somewhere in or around Lisbon to make it a year-round affair.

Shortly before Christmas, my friend Mareva got in touch and asked whether Monocle would like to do a seasonal shop in Athens at the Tatoï Club. I hadn’t heard of the suggested venue and quickly looked it up. The website opened with a full-screen image of a clay court and, after further clicking around, it was clear that it had many of the features of my fantasy country club. It took a bit of logistical and stock planning before we arrived on an opening date but, thanks to speedy teams on both sides, we made our first sales on Thursday morning at its airy concept shop. On Friday afternoon I arrived at the club with the rest of the Monocle crew and wow! Or should I say, “Wow, wow, wow!” While the location is more suburban than city-centre, pretty much every aspect of the Tatoï Club embodies all that I have been thinking about for a sporty place to gather: elegant landscaping, fragrant cypresses, low-slung architecture, the welcoming rhythm of felt balls hitting racquets and a sense of calm amid the urban buzz beyond.

We grabbed a leisurely lunch in the dining room, inspected our set-up inside the shop and held a conference call in a well-appointed meeting room. There was even time for a 30-minute disco-nap in the villa before our opening reception started. By 19.00, club members and Monocle subscribers were mingling among our wares. I marvelled at what you can achieve as an owner when your day job is running a fleet of bulk carriers across the world’s oceans. The club’s CEO explained her grand plans for expansion and it all made perfect sense. Who better than the Athenians to elevate sport, culture and a bit of shopping to a whole new level of design and hospitality? If you happen to know a member, take them up on the offer to spend a few days improving your serve.

Eating out / Material, Berlin

Making a case

Material, a café-cum-wine bar on Berlin’s Schönhauser Allee, is founded on a friendship between Ebrahim Qayumi, owner of café Kajumi in Prenzlauer Berg, and Carlos Rodriguez, who once owned a nearby shop for Spanish natural wines (writes Stella Roos). The two frequented each other’s establishments until they decided to join forces in 2023. “Carlos says that I came up with the idea but I’m convinced that he suggested it first,” says Qayumi. Either way, it has grown into an all-day neighbourhood haunt, complete with a vinyl player and vintage Gilbert Marklund chairs.

Image: Marc Krause
Image: Marc Krause

It’s common for customers to pop in for a coffee made with beans from Qayumi’s own roastery, Farben, and soon after find themselves drinking a glass of wine recommended by Rodriguez, who has personally visited each of the vineyards that he mentions. Sustenance comes in the form of warm saffron buns, sardine-topped sourdough toasts and velvety homemade croquettes, which are baked behind the counter. “We just want to serve perfect coffee, perfect wine, and perfect food,” says Qayumi. With Material, the duo comes close enough.
+49 1573 4417693

Image: Tony Hay

Bottoms up / Lichtenberger-González

Deep roots

Galician Adriana González and Austrian Martin Lichtenberger met during a winemaking internship in Sonoma, California (writes Lucrezia Motta). Their mutual passion took them to Breitenbrunn, Austria, where they took over the winery of Lichtenberger’s parents. Their vineyards are situated between the Leithaberg mountains and Lake Neusiedl, where the limestone-rich soil makes for optimal grape-growing conditions.

Their company, Lichtenberger González, has a philosophy of keeping the ancient winemaking tradition alive, reflecting its founders’ deep devotion to agriculture and viticulture. Its rosé pét nat is made from blaufränkisch and pinot noir grapes, packed with refreshing notes of citrus, redcurrant and raspberry. A simple design featuring vintage-style stamp labels makes for a sleek bottle that still manages to conjure a sense of nostalgia.

Image: Arno Paul

Sunday Roast / Jochen Gerner

Comic relief

The works of Paris-based comic writer and illustrator Jochen Gerner have appeared in Libération, Le Monde and The New York Times (writes Gunnar Gronlid). He also regularly attends the Angoulême International Comics Festival, France’s best-attended event for fans of the celebrated bande dessinée. Here, he tells us about Japanese graphic design, the wine keeping his glass half full and his favourite breakfast.

Where will we find you this weekend?
I’ll be in Burgundy, delivering logs to my house. Then I’ll travel to Haute-Marne to see an exhibition at Le Signe in Chaumont called Butsu Butsu: Design graphique contemporain au Japon [Contemporary graphic design in Japan]. It will be a weekend spent enjoying the countryside and the graphic avant garde.

Ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle or a jolt?
I like it to be more of a jolt but I often experience that on other days of the week.

What’s for breakfast?
A mug of black tea, a bowl of cereal, toast and jam, a glass of fruit juice and apple sauce.

Lunch in or out?
Lunch is often at home. I like to take a break in my working day.

Walk the dog or downward dog?
Walking my Australian Shepherd is like an intensive sports session.

A Sunday soundtrack?
Thurston Moore’s Rock n Roll Consciousness album.

Sunday culture must?
A stroll through a flea market, a coffee on a terrace, a visit to an exhibition or sharing a cake with friends.

News or no news?
I always read the headlines, even on Sundays. I pore over newspapers, magazines and books when I have a bit more time.

What’s on the menu?
Grilled chicken or oven-roasted aubergines with fennel and potato pancakes, accompanied by a burgundy or languedoc wine.

Sunday evening routine?
I often feel melancholy at the end of the day. I find solace in cooking and listening to the radio.

Will you lay out an outfit for Monday?
Never, unless I’m going on a trip on Monday morning.

Illustration: Xiha

Recipe / Ralph Schelling

Shallot-and-porcini tarte tatin

“What could be better than a shallot-and-porcini tarte tatin at a Sunday brunch?” asks Monocle’s Swiss chef Ralph Schelling. This savoury alternative to the traditional French upside-down dessert will leave a wonderful aroma in the kitchen as it bakes.

Serves 4

100g sugar
40g butter, in pieces
2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp thyme leaves
300g shallots, cut into thirds
100g porcini mushrooms
1 sheet of puff pastry (about 32cm in diameter)
Pinch of fleur de sel
Pinch of black pepper


Preheat the oven to 220C. Spread the sugar out on a baking tray. Put the tray in the oven and caramelise the sugar for about 7 minutes, until it turns light brown.

Remove the tray from the oven and spread the butter, balsamic vinegar and thyme over the caramel. Place the shallots and sliced porcini mushrooms on top. Bake for about 20 minutes in the oven.

Remove the tray from the oven. Prick the puff pastry with a fork and place it loosely on top of the shallots and porcini mushrooms. Press down the edge of the pastry so that it fits in between the shallots and the edge of the tray.

Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the pastry turns golden brown.

Leave it to cool slightly before turning it out onto a cake plate. Remove the baking paper and season with fleur de sel and black pepper. Serve the tarte tatin warm or cold.

Weekend plans? / Rosemary riad, Marrakech

Herbal remedy

Rosemary is a riad tucked down a narrow, unsuspecting street near Bahia Palace in central Marrakech (writes Mary Holland). The space is owned by Laurence Leenaert – a Belgian ceramicist and founder of LRNCE – and Ayoub Boualam, her husband and business partner, who wanted to move their studio into the two-storey building. The couple had heard about the sale of the riad from the previous owners, a French couple who wandered into their showroom one day. “They were convinced that the riad was for us,” says Leenaert, who, at the time, wasn’t aware that the building existed.

Image: Marina Denisova
Image: Marina Denisova
Image: Marina Denisova

“That’s the beautiful thing about Marrakech: you never know what’s really here.” Looking at Rosemary’s soaring walls from the narrow alley outside, it’s difficult to imagine that such an oasis exists within. The only exterior visual cue is an elaborately carved wooden door and a small sign with a sprig of rosemary, which, much like an olive branch, signals that it is a place of peace. Open the door and you’ll enter a peaceful courtyard shaded by the branches of a giant tree. On the ground floor, there’s a small, tiled pool, a cushioned seating area with a carved sandstone table, a living area filled with books and a marble hammam. The five rooms are spread across two terraced floors, which have wooden balustrades and terrazzo floors. Every room has its own character, whether it’s a skylight, tiled green bath, open shower, sitting area or balcony.

Top of the shops / Bard, Edinburgh

Tales of the bard

Overlooking the Water of Leith in Edinburgh, Bard celebrates a comprehensive array of Scottish craft and design – without a single piper-adorned shortbread tin in sight. Based in Scotland’s oldest former customs house, business (and life) partners Hugo Macdonald and James Stevens exhibit and sell their discoveries, including Orkney chairs, alongside traditional woven willow baskets for carrying broody hens – by the Isle of Eigg’s All About Willow makers – and a pepper mill made of peppercorns and resin from Loch Lomond-based Marc Sweeney.

Image: Max Miechowski
Image: Max Miechowski
Image: Max Miechowski

Bard is at once a shop, a gallery and a conversation starter. “In rural economies, craft is a way of living born through necessity,” says Macdonald, who is originally from the Isle of Skye. “We work with people who have an extraordinary ability to manipulate materials out of need.”

Find out more about the makers putting Scotland’s heritage back on the map in Monocle’s travel special, ‘The Escapist’. Or subscribe to Monocle so that you never miss an issue. Have a super Sunday.


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