Sunday 22 March 2020 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 22/3/2020

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday


Screen time

We’ve been told that in the modern media landscape the television has, at best, lost ground when it comes to delivering breaking news to a diverse, fragmented global audience. We’ve also been told that consumers much prefer to receive bulletins on their mobile phones or maybe laptops, that their social channels are more important than established news providers and public broadcasters, and that people no longer gather around the good old television screen for news events. Whoever came up with these proclamations about our media habits wasn’t in our Zürich bureau early Monday evening (or the thousands of places with televisions) when work came to a standstill and everyone gathered to hear an announcement from Switzerland’s Federal Council.

First, for those of you unfamiliar with the workings of Swiss government, the Bundesrat (Federal Council) is a group of seven ministers representing various parties who each oversee a series of ministries. For example, Viola Amherd doesn’t just get defence and civil protection but also sport – and why not? One of the seven holds the position of president and currently in post is the forceful, confident and very capable Simonetta Sommaruga. Functioning more like a corporate board of directors, with federal councillors rotating in and out to ensure continuity, the Monday evening “presser” staged in Bern was a rather different affair from the press conferences we’ve seen from Number 10 and the White House. Against a graphically correct backdrop (we’re in Switzerland after all), Sommaruga and three federal councillors calmly yet firmly took the nation through a range of steps and measures that are now in full swing.

At the time of writing this column (Friday evening CET) Switzerland is thankfully only in a semi-lockdown scenario; this means that bakeries, butchers and wine shops are still open but other types of retail are closed. It also means enforced social distancing – a space of at least 2 metres between people and no gatherings of more than five people. While the measures have come with park and promenade closures, it does mean that you can still have human contact; lakes are still open for tingly, early spring dips and a 10km run won’t be interrupted by blue flashing lights. In times of crisis, a big screen comes into its own as it allows us to come together – even when we need to be carefully spaced apart.

On Monday, when the government advised that we had to shutter all of our operations by midnight (The Monocle Café and Shop and adjoining Trunk clothing shop), it wasn’t just staff who stood hanging on to Sommaruga’s every word (in four languages, I might add) but also customers who had joined us to grab their last glass of wine on our terrace for at least five weeks (current guidance has Swiss retail and gastronomy closed until at least 19 April). Switzerland has had the good sense to advise that those over 65 stay indoors or give others a very wide berth should they venture outdoors. They’ve also stated that they don’t believe in the more heavy-handed measures taken by Austria and France but have made a solid attempt to manage expectations by putting a five-week time span on the current shutdown.

Before I sign off and head to a dinner for four with friends, you’ll notice that we’re changing our tempo on radio and there’ll be more of me at the mic from our studio in Zürich over the coming weeks. If you’ve managed to read this before 10.00CET, then do tune in to Monocle on Sunday on Monocle 24. If not, you can always listen again via our site or your favourite podcast platform. There will be more from Zürich throughout the week on radio and this column returns next Sunday.


Special delivery

As businesses around the world grapple with the impact of the pandemic, many restaurants in Los Angeles have transitioned to a delivery and takeaway service only, as a way to remain open (writes Carlota Rebelo). Leading the way is Sqirl, in the trendy neighbourhood of Silver Lake, which has not only adopted this model but has extended its opening hours from 08.00 to 20.00 every day. “We have been here for the past 10 years, always here for the neighbourhood first and the community first,” says Jessica Koslow, Sqirl’s chef and owner. “I think because we did that, the community is here for us now. It’s been a really powerful thing to realise.”

For Koslow, seeing the familiar faces of regular customers is also a reminder of how everyone is in this together. “I’ve always said that a latte is a luxury and now, more than ever, we’re seeing that,” she says. “And just to be able to provide something that has been so constant to people and give them some semblance of normality has been really amazing.”


Change of pace

In 2010 David Allemann co-founded Swiss running brand On in Zürich with Olivier Bernhard and Caspar Coppetti (writes Louis Harnett O’Meara). By bringing his background in marketing and a love of the outdoors to the product, Allemann has succeeded in selling On running shoes to seven million runners across 50 countries. The brand now has offices in the US, Japan, Australia and Brazil. Here he talks Swiss cheese, Spanish red and his favourite Sunday paper.

Where do we find you this weekend?
I was in the mountains last weekend so this time it’s going to be an easier weekend in Zürich. Normally I’m biking, hiking or kitesurfing in the Engadin valley.

What’s your ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle start or a jolt?
If it’s a beautiful morning I’ll go for a jog. If it’s on the rainy side and the family is away I sit down with the newspapers.

Soundtrack of choice?
It depends on the time but mostly in the mornings it’s some lazy pop. I’m also listening to a lot of easy mid-century jazz – I use my playlist on Apple radio [Beats 1] to find it. And last Sunday I was listening to Brett Young, which is a little more like country music.

What’s for breakfast?
It’s eggs for breakfast. Then we’ll go to the market and buy all of the good stuff – kale, avocado, grapes – and it goes into a mixer to make a delicious green smoothie. I got the recipe from a breakfast place in Venice, Los Angeles, called Gjusta.

News or not?
I read our local Sunday paper, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, which is great because it gives you a serious review of the week but then you also have a good mix of lighter things – the magazine and style section and so on. It’s the Zürich equivalent of The New York Times’s Sunday edition.

Walk the dog or downward dog?
Downward dog. I try to do yoga once a week during lunch – sometimes with my team – but I rarely get to. It’s easier for us to go out for a run along the river.

A glass of something you’d recommend?
We’re well stocked with Spanish reds. I particularly like the ones from the Priorat region.

Ideal dinner venue?
I’m very much into new spaces and I love to see the different designs. It can be a local smaller place or a very traditional place. In Zürich there’s a classic Italian restaurant called Casa that I enjoyed recently.

Who’s joining?
My wife, of course. We love to explore new restaurants and we travel a lot together.

Sunday evening beauty or betterment routine?
I spend an hour on Sunday evening taking a look at the next week, to try to make myself conscious of how it will come together.

Will you lay out your look for Monday? What will you be wearing?
I never plan it. We just tend to wear what we feel like; there’s no office uniform. It’s usually a pair of dark-blue jeans and a sweatshirt or T-shirt. Or, if I’m feeling luxurious, a black cashmere sweater.



London-based food stylist and recipe writer Aya Nishimura shares her method for making a breakfast staple of eggs served with a Middle Eastern twist.

Serves 2

3 tbsps olive oil plus an extra 2 tbsps to garnish
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
½ red pepper, sliced thinly
1 tsp pul biber (Aleppo pepper) or ordinary chilli flakes, plus extra to garnish
1 tsp cumin powder
¾ tsp smoked paprika
400g good-quality chopped tomatoes (from a can is fine)
1 tbsp tomato paste
½ tsp sea salt
4 medium eggs
20g coriander (including stems), finely chopped
Freshly ground black pepper
150g Greek yoghurt
Sourdough bread or Turkish flatbread, to serve


  1. Pour olive oil into a medium frying pan over medium heat and add the garlic. When the garlic starts to sizzle, add the onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add the red pepper and cook until the onion is slightly translucent but not yet brown.

  2. Add the spices and cook for a further minute, then add the tomato along with the tomato paste and cook for 15 mins or until the sauce thickens and all the flavours come together. Season the sauce with ½ tsp sea salt.

  3. Make four shallow dents on the surface of the tomato sauce and crack an egg into each space.

  4. Cook for 2 minutes on medium heat. Then cover with a lid. Turn the heat to low and cook for a further 4 mins, until the egg white sets but the yolks are still runny.

  5. Season with a sprinkle of the extra pul biber, black pepper and coriander and drizzle with olive oil.

  6. Bring the pan to the centre of the table and serve with a large dollop of Greek yoghurt on the side. Mop the sauce and runny yolk with a slice of sourdough bread or freshly baked Turkish flatbread and enjoy.


Sláinte to staying in

St Patrick’s Day was this week and although it’s usually marked more as a bibulous than a culinary event, we’ve got just the thing for those of you hankering for some hearty new recipes (writes Josh Fehnert). The Irish Cookbook is the latest and, probably, least likely of Phaidon’s encyclopaedic takes on an aspect of food culture (following similar forays into German, Japanese, Nordic and Jewish cookery), which shows just how far Hibernia’s fare has come. “Initially I was a bit apprehensive because there are so many Irish cookbooks in the 20th century but I wanted to give it an international dimension,” says author and Michelin-starred Galway chef JP McMahon.

The 500 recipes do cover some of the usual suspects – soda bread, salmon and stews – but there’s also an unexpected variety and richness, which surprised the author as much as it will readers. “At [our restaurant] Aniar, we don’t use any spice: we don’t use any pepper; no lemons or vanilla. We had this reductive view of ‘let’s just make Irish food that grows in Ireland’. This was very much the New Nordic philosophy and we did it for 10 years,” says McMahon. “When I started writing the book I realised that I had been wrong. We had cut all of this stuff out and labelled it as ‘un-Irish’ when cinnamon or nutmeg or mace has been in Ireland for a thousand years.” He adds, “The potato comes from Peru. Take something like wild garlic that seems quite new and you’ll find out it’s been here for thousands of years.” The turf-smoked salmon or ash-baked eggs might be beyond some of us but with recipes for any culinary skill set – including a sandwich with crisps in it – there are plenty of ways to celebrate staying in.


Treading water

Distance: 7.5km
Gradient: Flat
Difficulty: Medium
Highlight: The changing skyline
Best time: Late afternoon on weekdays

For a simple but rewarding run in Rio – a city that spoils you with its pristine beaches and beautiful climate – take on a loop of the picturesque Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, north of Leblon. The 7.5km-long lane that circles around the picturesque lake is less busy in the early evenings – follow their lead as it’s a good idea to avoid the blazing daytime heat but for safety reasons it’s best to be finished before dark. Rio is broadly safe but it’s good to always be streetwise and not put yourself in a compromising position.

The beauty of this route is that there’s no definite starting point so begin at the most convenient place for you and just follow the path. If you get thirsty, don’t fret – you’ll pass stalls offering água de coco (coconut water) as well as cafés selling snacks if you need a pick-me-up. Foot traffic frequently draws to a standstill as onlookers gaze over at the helicopters landing and taking off at the heliport opposite the Jockey Club or watch the Botafogo rowing club practising on the water. There are plenty of places to sit if you need to slow down or take a break.

If you’re staying nearby and eyeing up a spot for a post-shower bite then Bar Lagoa on the southern bank sells some of the best pastéis (pastries) in the city. About 600 metres east of that is Palaphita Kitch, which serves punchy caipirinhas. Both options are perfect for that well-deserved post-run reward or simply somewhere to while away a well-spent evening.

For more tips you can explore our guide to Rio de Janeiro, published by Gestalten, or pick from our 38 other city guides.


Behind the screens

On Thursday morning I attended the most exclusive VIP preview I’ve ever been to (writes Chiara Rimella). In fact, I was the only one in the room. This is Art Basel Hong Kong but not as we know it. The fair, which has been cancelled due to coronavirus, is trialling online viewing rooms (for those registered at from 20 to 25 March). Despite a few technical glitches, the overwhelming traffic to the site caused it to crash at one point this week, clearly the format is piquing the curiosity of collectors.

Sure, it’s not like being there and seeing the artworks in person. Nonetheless, I have decided to respect a few traditions, starting with a Berocca before heading in (parties or not, focus and stamina are fundamental). As for navigating the fair, my approach remains the same except that, rather than getting a map of the hall and circling the stalls I’m interested in, I’ve loaded all participating galleries on the page (about 230 are taking part, more than 90 per cent of those who were expected at the physical fair).

First I “head” to Hauser & Wirth. Oddly, the online presentation makes matters a lot more transparent than in real life. For starters, when I enter the “room” a pop-up window appears explaining the idea behind the booth (in this case, an exploration of form and colour). This is much more than a casual wander in the real-world fair could ever offer. What’s more, each of the works, which are displayed on a fixed mock-booth background complete with a bench to give a sense of perspective and size, bears a clear price tag. In an industry that is notoriously reticent to disclose its pricing, this is refreshingly demystifying.

While many galleries opt to display mainly two-dimensional works (painting and photography remain, after all, the easiest to picture in this “shopping cart” context), some have decided to play with the medium. Japanese gallery Nanzuka, for instance, is showing Keiichi Tanaami’s video animation “The Laughing Spider”. It is an interesting move: people might actually watch the whole thing when it’s on their own screen. And why not present monumental works, such as Marian Goodman with Gerhard Richter’s huge painting “930-2 Strip”? They probably wouldn’t fit in a normal booth but on the internet anything goes.

In matters of size the online experiment is also revealing. Without positions in the halls to fight for, and floor space to secure, the fair giants – your Perrotins, White Cubes and Paces – end up putting everyone on a more equal pegging. Even online, though, certain traditions endure: head to the Gagosian booth early because the display will keep changing throughout as what’s on offer shifts after sales are made. I might not be completely sold on the format but these touches of familiarity – in such strange times – are endearing.


Remote control

We are living in a stressful moment but some of the more pleasant choices we can make over the coming weeks are with regards to the media that will help maintain our sanity and keep us upbeat (writes Fernando Augusto Pacheco). It’s a lesson I learned the hard way when I recently made the ill-informed decision to watch Steven Soderbergh's clinical, excellent but resolutely not-ideal-for-now flick Contagion. So what should we be watching?

For pure escapism, few can beat the racy plots of Spanish Netflix hit Elite. But my current favourite is France 2 production Call My Agent!, a delightful comedy-drama set in a Parisian talent firm. In every episode there’s a cameo from French filmstars ranging from Juliette Binoche to Isabelle Huppert. Also available on streaming services is Bacurau, the latest production by Brazilian directors Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles. It’s hard to define the film – a mix of western, horror and satire – but it’s definitely worth seeing.

Now is not just a time for critically acclaimed features but for comfort TV too. I’m currently rewatching some old Brazilian soap operas (a soothing medicine against the barrage of bad news). Whatever your guilty pleasure, I would encourage you to indulge. It’s going to be a difficult stint for many – businesses too – but the home-entertainment industry could see a welcome spike as well as offering a few routes for escapism and much needed relief in straightened times. Lights, camera, action.


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