With gusto - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 28/3/2021

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday


Cover star

I might have told you this already but for the purpose of today’s column it’s worth repeating: I grew up in a household filled with magazines. One small but important detail I’ve left out over the years is that I also grew up in a household where rarely a weekend passed that didn’t see me dragged off in our white, wood-panelled Scout four-wheel drive (if you don’t remember this chunky little workhorse made by International Harvester, it’s worth looking up as they now have cult status amongst funky chaps living in suburban Sapporo) for a garage-sale tour, a church rummage-sale, a farm auction or a Saturday spent in thrift shops.

As I was a keen collector of National Geographic I could often be found shuffling through boxes under tables looking for missing editions to complete my collection. Occasionally I’d stumble across musty copies of Nova or Der Spiegel and get lost in the racy imagery and exotic advertisements, or I’d find a box of titles I’d never heard of and cart them back to the pile of books and other magazines my mother had amassed. Every couple of years, there’d be a big clear-out at the house but certain magazines were always spared – large-format copies of Chatelaine, special editions of Life and Time and Harper’s Bazaar from the 1950s.

Four decades later, many of those same editions are still with me and are moving into a new home in our HQ in Zürich. For the past few years, some of the finest volumes have been living in boxes in a nearby lock-up but over the coming week some of the most memorable Harper’s Bazaar covers executed by art director Alexey Brodovitch will take pride of place on new stretches of shelving and bookcases that are currently being erected in my office. It’s all rather fitting as Zürich is currently plastered with eye-catching posters promoting a new Brodovitch exhibition at the city’s Museum für Gestaltung.

After last Sunday’s radio show I ushered my partner Mats and colleague Gillian onto the number four tram, destination: the Museum für Gestaltung’s satellite space on the western edge of Zürich. As cultural institutions in Switzerland reopened about a month ago, I wasn’t sure what to expect on a somewhat grey Sunday. Would it be a snaking queue around the building? Or would we have the space to ourselves? Up the stairs and through the doors, it looked like any other Sunday in normal times – save for the stop-light at the door. There were plenty of people milling about the gift shop or mingling around to pay for a ticket. Inside the exhibition it was exactly as you’d want any exhibition devoted to the life of a great editorial talent – buzzy and full of curious fans.

The show starts with a tutorial on his life in Belarus, the graphic influences that informed his early work for retailers in Paris and promotional work for Swiss resorts and then, before moving into his work for Harper’s Bazaar, there’s a little nook showing amped-up, restored clips from Funny Face on a super high-res monitor. After this short tone-setter there’s a meandering, typographically precise overview of his best work for Harper’s Bazaar from all angles, on a range of formats. Aside from the well-known covers and spreads, one of the strongest parts of the exhibition is a section devoted to his advertising and promotional work for Prunier in Paris.

Next door to Brodovitch, the museum also has an exhibition dedicated to the work of René Hubert – a somewhat unsung master of Swiss fashion and creative direction renowned for his costume work in the film industry. The best stretch of the show is his work for Swissair and Hubert’s vision for not only uniforms but also the airline’s approach to art direction, cabin interiors and overall brand consistency. If you’ve been missing cultural excursions like this one, the good news is that both the Brodovitch and Hubert shows run until 20 June and, better still, many countries just dropped off of Switzerland’s quarantine list. Come for a visit!


Plate expectations

Chicago’s Avec has made a name for itself over the past 17 years for its reliably excellent Mediterranean-inspired menu, featuring the ever-popular melt-in-the-mouth chorizo-stuffed dates and slow-roasted pork shoulder.

Its new outpost in River North will serve up these same time-tested favourites alongside new dishes that are worthy of discovery. We’d particularly recommend the hearth-baked cod and charred cabbage with stone ground polenta. avecrestaurant.com

Subscribe to Monocle’s Digital Editions to access the latest issue of the magazine, our back catalogue and regularly updated tips for exploring key cities – such as this editor’s pick from our Chicago guide.


Light bites

Chef Shin Harakawa shot to fame with his simple but sumptuous restaurant Beard in Tokyo’s Meguro. Not content with scooping Monocle’s inaugural Restaurant Award, he shut up shop in order to devote time to meeting food producers across Japan. Earlier this year he reopened Beard, albeit transplanted to an unlikely seaside town in Nagasaki prefecture. Here the chef tells us about his pantry staples, soundtrack recommendations and the joys of a hot bath.

Where do we find you this weekend?
In Unzen, Nagasaki because I usually work on weekends. Beard only opens for dinner on Saturdays and Sundays, so I usually start slow. I wake up gently, and get ready to go and get some spring water from the nearby mountain before heading to the restaurant.

What’s the ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle start or a jolt?
Gentle. The ideal start would be waking up around 8:00 and opening the windows to get the morning sunlight and the fresh air, then lying down on the bed and adjusting my breathing for a while. I am a tea person so I usually start with a big bowl of herbal tea or light hojicha.

Soundtrack of choice?
I love piano and acoustic sounds. Recently, I’ve listened to Haruka Nakamura’s Still Life albums so often. It perfectly resonates with everyday life.

What’s for breakfast?
I am not a breakfast person. I usually drink a big bowl of tea to start, then I have a bite of umeboshi [pickled Ume plum] as a sort of a supplement.

News or not
I try to stay away from news on my days off. I like to be disconnected sometimes and spend quality time with myself.

Walk the dog or downward dog?
Downward dog, I guess. My morning routine is to start slow and consider my mood. Having a warm tea is a kind of meditation to me: slowly getting ready for a busy day.

What’s for lunch?
I usually eat out. I go to a friend’s local organic grocery stand called Taneto and have a vegetable lunch plate. Or a local curry shop called Curry Life.

Larder essentials you can’t do without?
Good salt is a must. I use Bounotsu no Hana from a friend who produces it in Kagoshima. And good, light oil: olive, rapeseed or sesame. It has to be light but tasty. When it’s too strong, I won’t be able to taste the ingredients. One more thing is some sort of acidity. Good citrus is my favourite, or quality vinegar.

Sunday culture must?
A film. When I have time, I love to watch movies. Quiet, relaxing, heartwarming movies to relax to and to daydream about.

A glass of something you’d recommend?
Chenin blanc is my favorite, ideally fruity but dry. I chill the bottle to start and enjoy the change of the taste as it comes to room temperature. I love to start drinking in the late afternoon.

Dinner venue you can’t wait to get back to?
Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California. It’s my sanctuary. The quality of ingredients and their respect toward them is always inspiring, as is their sense of hospitality.

Who would join?
Good friends who love to eat and drink.

Sunday evening beauty or betterment routine?
Onsen [a hot bath] and an early night.

Will you lay out your look for Monday? What will you be wearing?
I am usually working on Mondays, so it will be my cooking clothes. I do not wear a typical chef’s uniform to cook in, just comfortable clothes – round-neck shirts and baggy trousers.

For an exclusive look at Harakawa’s new restaurant in Unzen, buy a copy of the March issue of Monocle magazine.


Piri-piri chicken

Serves 2

1 small whole chicken (around 1.1kg)
Sea salt, to taste
Crushed black pepper
100ml olive oil (plus extra for coating)
1 birds-eye chilli, stalk removed
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp lemon juice or red wine vinegar
Sea salt
1 tsp chilli flakes


  1. Take the chicken out of the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before you are ready to grill. Turn the chicken over. Using a pair of kitchen scissors, cut down both sides of the backbone and remove (keep it for chicken stock). Flip it over and use the heel of your hand to press down the breastbone and flatten the chicken.

  2. Mix chilli, garlic, lemon juice, salt and 75ml of the oil and blitz until smooth with a blender.

  3. Add the rest of the oil and chilli flakes to a small pan, put over a very low heat and warm just until the oil starts to simmer. As soon as it reaches that point, turn off the heat and let the chilli flakes infuse the oil. When it has cooled, add the blended garlic-chilli mixture to the oil.

  4. Preheat the grill on a high heat (220C). Put a piece of foil on a baking tray and add the spatchcock chicken, skin side up. Drizzle olive oil over and sprinkle generous amounts of salt and pepper. Place it under the grill and cook for 10 minutes, then flip it and grill for another 15 minutes. Turn the chicken again and brush the skin with the chilli oil. Bring up the grill to the highest setting and grill for 5 to 10 minutes to char the skin. Keep an eye on it to avoid burning.

  5. Remove from the grill and let it rest for 10 minutes. Drizzle the chicken with extra piri-piri sauce as you eat.



With gusto

Many Italians are custodians of recipes involving minuscule but vital variations on classic dishes; it goes without saying that each purports their nonna’s lasagne to be the best (writes Chiara Rimella). The idea of a family eating dinner at separate times is anathema. There’s something sacred about setting the table, taking a seat and focusing on the food and company.

Even midweek meals are prepared with creativity and flair; an invitation to someone’s house is an occasion for the host to show off the best from their everyday repertoire. Compliments are to be doled out plentifully, while enormous second helpings should always be accepted. Abundance goes hand in hand with affection. Pizza, pasta and Italian wine might have become staples from Singapore to São Paulo but isn’t it time that the rest of us took notice of how Italians eat? Seasonal food, enjoyed together, at a table: a sensible diet that the world would do well to chew over.

For more fine food scoops, ‘The Monocle Book of Italy’, published by Thames & Hudson is out now.


Mountain air

Japanese hospitality firm Hoshino Resorts specialises in stays that give a taste of the great outdoors, from camping to bubbling geothermal baths. Kai Kirishima is a 2021 addition in Kagoshima in southern Japan that’s all hot springs, washi paper, sliding screens and tatami floors, plus views of the magnificent Sakurajima volcano and over Kinko Bay. The tone of escape is set by the surrounding Kirishima-Kinkowan National Park.

In keeping with Hoshino’s focus on Japanese culture, the food is faultless and no western menus are offered. Expect plenty of references to Tenson Korin, a folkloric tale that’s part of the mythic foundation of Japan and involves a deity who descended from the heavens to the nearby Kirishima Mountains. Luckily, the superb service is anything but a tall tale. hoshinoresorts.com


In good company

The past 12 months have shaken things up for all of us (writes Josh Fehnert). Our just-out April issue suggests some sure-fire ideas for changing your business for the better, being brave and taking action. Here are a few to get you started.

1. Wake up recharged
Banish the fizz and ping of that phone, get a good Ruark radio and have a stack of print to hand on that bedside table. Technology has chased us into every corner of our home (and responding to the boss from bed is a tad odd). So establish healthier boundaries – replying to emails is a distraction from bigger thoughts.

2. Time for a rebrand?
Your business may have gone into the pandemic as a restaurant but morphed into a delivery firm or a deli. If so, it’s time to tie the knot with a new logo and draw up a fresh plan. Remember that a rebrand should be to bring ideas together – don’t draw up an impossible plan or launch a “concept”. Keep it simple and to the point.

3. Invest in a fresh look
Jump in feet-first with, say, a pair of Alden brogues, comfy slacks, a button-down number from Gitman Vintage or a blazer by Boglioli. It might sound superficial but making an effort starts with the way we feel about ourselves and that can be as simple as deciding it’s time to play dress-up again.

4. Start a wake-up regime
A morning dash helps get the blood pumping and the pulse racing, while setting the pace for those busier, brighter days to come. We’ve all joined calls over lockdown where we’ve clocked a schlubby colleague who is still in first gear (lounge gear, at that) and could do with a jolt. Hit the day running.

5. Take out a subscription
To a magazine that inspires you (Monocle comes to mind), a newspaper that challenges you, or even a knowing newsletter. This isn’t a shameless plug, by the way; trawling the internet drains time and costs idle hours – relying on a digest that informs is better and it has a beginning, middle and end. Speaking of which, have a super Sunday.


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