Sunday 25 April 2021 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 25/4/2021

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday


In crowd

What a difference a few yellow chairs, green benches, mocha and chocolate-brown sun parasols and the return of hundreds of loyal customers does for your mood and your business. Last Monday morning we reopened our seating on the boulevard in front of our HQ/café/shop/Trunk in Zürich (there was a lifting of regulations across Switzerland from the start of the week) and by 8.00 it looked as if this corner of the world was back to its old self. Despite a chilly start, the weather was generally co-operative and the scene on Dufourstrasse reminded me what Mitteleuropa was missing and does very well – it likes to pause, consume coffee, observe, crack open the newspaper (FT, NZZ or Die Zeit, bitte), have a smoke, gossip, order another coffee, enjoy a bit more gossip and take stock of life. Across the week I caught up with the low-key loyals who’ve been with us for the past three years, newcomers who queued for takeaway during lockdown and now feel part of the family and hyper-regulars who can linger at the café for up to six hours a day. Fancy getting to know a few of them? Pull on your apron and let’s go for a little meet and greet.

The film director. He’s got his regular seat (he prefers a bench, back to the glass and with a view to the street), is always full of stories and at least once or twice asks you to lean in because he’s got a naughty opinion about something or wants to tell you something juicy about a fellow guest. He’s always keen to have you pull up a chair and has a little twinkle in his eye that suggests he must have gotten up to considerable trouble in his younger years.

Is that Rafael Nadal? Yes, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Spaniard is staying with the Federers down the lake but this lookalike does not hail from the Iberian Peninsula and may not even be good with a racquet. What we do know is that he’s German, he’s very tanned and he could be Nadal’s slightly older brother. There’s something rather sportif about him, he always has a friendly smile and it feels some mornings as if he’s hosting his own, in-depth morning talk show with other familiar faces.

The chic ex-Swissair flight attendant. We haven’t seen her for a while and she explains that she’s just back from New York, that she’s taken the early retirement package from Swiss and that, given the lack of flights at the moment, she’s not even sure if she’ll get another rotation. This makes me feel sad as I met her on a trip to Los Angeles and she’s the last of a certain generation of flight attendant that we’ll soon find no longer exists in the ranks of major airlines.

The Frenchies. Is Zürich becoming the new Hong Kong for French expats? Could be. Judging by the number of new arrivals with French passports it seems that this little city by the lake is close enough to Paris to feel connected to the Republique but also international and artsy enough to fulfil other needs. The French like their negroni sbagliatos and work in art, finance, film and the white cognac trade. Rumour has it that they also congregate at a very secret spot called Le Bar Titi. It’s not quite as naughty as it sounds, is hard to find, has the most wonderful hosts and boasts a dazzling art collection. Or so I’m told.

The racy ex-Swissair flight attendant. We bump into each other across the street from the café and she tells me that she’ll be over later for drinks on Saturday and Sunday. She’s a pro and is also from another time in the history of aviation. “No one will recognise air travel when we all get back to travelling again,” she says. “It’s only die Kinder flying around now; the people with decades of experience are all gone. Sad for them. Even more sad for the passengers.”

Who’s that smart young family with the four lovely children? Also, who has four children these days other than the super religious? Both good questions but we’re also very, very discreet at Dufourstrasse 90 and can only reveal so much. We know the handsome papa has aspirations of singing stardom. The mama might have plans to open a fish restaurant for people who don’t like fish. Their youngest will one day be one of the coolest young men in Zürich for sure.

The Aussies. What can we say? Good coffee, good Aussie crowd. A couple of them moan that Zürich is not Sydney but we quickly remind them that they can swim in drinkable water and there’s no risk that a sea creature will devour them during a morning dip.

The two stylish ladies. But which ones are we talking about? The Swiss and Italian pair in competing tunics and bangles? The woman with the chocolate Labrador puppy and Scheherazade trousers? The Turkish women chatting and smoking long cigarettes? The blonde American woman who’s often seen with a gentleman who has excellent taste in vintage cars? The Canadians who compare reading notes?

It’s wonderful having everyone back out in the sun and I’d like to say a big thank you on behalf of everyone at Monocle for your support, and for being a part of our business and the community. Cheers to happy days ahead!


Catch of the day

First born as a small venture in the seaside town of Polignano a Mare, fish-focused street food outlet Pescaria has grown into a success story, with outposts across Italy. Rome’s Prati hosts a recent opening and its fresh-fish sandwiches have already attracted crowds (and queues) to the neighbourhood. Don’t be afraid of experimenting with some of the less-conventional flavours – they’re all worth it.

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 Rome guide.


Poetic irony

Sarcasm should really be an art form in and of itself. In Germany, 50 actors attempted to put it to use this week by releasing a series of videos “thanking” the German government for keeping cultural institutions closed and the media for their, ahem, perfectly unbiased coverage of the pandemic. Under the hashtags #allesdichtmachen (close everything) and #lockdownfürimmer (lockdown forever), the videos aim to draw attention to the plight of artists and, unsurprisingly, have sparked heavy debate across Germany.

The movement does highlight a generally confusing problem across Europe: the treatment and support of cultural institutions has been wildly mixed. For example, Germany was quicker to offer state financial support to freelancers than the UK but as the artists in the videos point out, their livelihoods have been at a virtual standstill in the past year and, thanks to a slower vaccine rollout, that’s now likely to remain the case for longer than in the UK. By contrast, neighbouring Austria allowed cultural institutions to reopen earlier this year – at the same time as non-essential shops – while Italy’s artists cried foul when churches got priority over culture. At the risk of sounding sarcastic, who could have seen this tragedy coming?


Host stories

José António Uva is the entrepreneur behind the peerless São Lourenço do Barrocal hotel in the Alentejo region of Portugal. After turning around the down-at-heel farm buildings with the help of Pritzker prize-winning architect Eduardo Souto de Moura, Uva’s mission extended to supporting nearby wildlife, businesses and producers – not to mention producing wine, olive oil and a lot more besides. Here he shares the joy of slowing down with a good book, his favourite view and two restaurants he can’t wait to return to.

Where do we find you this weekend?
In our family property and hotel, where I am most weekends with my wife and three children. I really enjoy meeting guests and showing them around; it has been a pleasure to host people.

What’s the ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle start or a jolt?
It starts with a slow-brewing siphon coffee for me, and serving eggs and bacon to my children. The whole family is rather slow in the morning.

Soundtrack of choice?
I recently started listening to Andrew Bird. He’s been around for a long time but it’s been a great discovery, both the lyrics and the compositions are fantastic.

What’s for breakfast?
Fresh goat’s cheese and our hotel’s homemade bread and olive oil. Our oil comes from century-old olive trees and has a green-apple acidity that I love.

News or not?
Always. I start with Portugal’s weekly Expresso, then move on to The New York Times and the Financial Times weekend editions.

Walk the dog or downward dog?
A bike ride in the countryside is my thing. Both my older boys are likely to join for longer routes.

Some exercise to get the blood pumping?
Depending on my mood, a cycle with my Pinarello road bike or a lazier trip on an e-bike. There are some nice climbs around here.

What’s for lunch?
Up in the Monsaraz castle [in the town of Monsaraz near the border with Spain], Dona Isabel at Sabores De Monsaraz does the best chickpea stew around, seasoned with black-pig chouriço and fresh mint. The view to the Alqueva lake from her porch alone is worth the trip.

Larder essentials you can’t do without?
Sunday is the day I indulge in chocolate while reading. Lisbon-based Bettina Corallo sources hers from her own farms in São Tomé and Príncipe. The hazelnut dark chocolate is unbeatable.

A glass of something you’d recommend?
We’ve recently launched a white wine that comes from 30-year-old vines and the grapes are fermented in large, 100-year-old amphorae. The terracotta brings a roundness and freshness to the wine that is very special.

Dinner venue you can’t wait to get back to?
Taberna do Calhau in Lisbon. Leopoldo Calhau, a fellow Alentejo native, traded architecture for the kitchen and proved his craft in this nice little place in Mouraria.

Who would join?
My wife Ana. With three kids at home, we really appreciate times when we get to talk to each other in full sentences.

Sunday evening beauty or betterment routine?
The evening normally ends with a work call and a few emails to get the week properly planned.

Will you lay out your look for Monday? What will you be wearing?
I mainly keep to a uniform during the week: navy chinos from Slowear, an oxford-cloth shirt from Drapeau Noir and suede Common Projects shoes.



This riff on a Japanese sweet treat requires some assembly as each dorayaki is like a sandwich; it involves making two pancakes and enclosing them around a dollop of sweet red-bean paste. You can buy the ready-made anko filling at most Asian supermarkets but we’ve also included a simple recipe for making your own below. That said, be warned: the beans need soaking overnight and to be drained and reheated twice, so start well in advance if you’re making your own.

Serves 4 as a snack or dessert


For the pancakes:
3 eggs
130g cane sugar
1 tbsp honey
150g plain white flour (or hakurikiko, the Japanese equivalent)
½ tsp baking powder
2 tbsps water
Oil for frying
250g packet of anko (red-bean paste), if using

For the ‘anko’ filling (optional):
250g adzuki beans
210g sugar
½ tsp salt


For the red-bean paste:

  1. Soak the beans in a pot of water for at least 10 hours or ideally overnight. Strain and cover with fresh water.

  2. Slowly bring to a boil. Strain a second time, cover again with cold water and bring slowly to a boil – this will stop the beans bursting. Simmer for about 2 hours until the beans are soft.

  3. Strain, keeping 230ml of liquid in the pot. Add the sugar and simmer over medium heat until a solid paste forms, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Season to taste with salt and allow to cool.

For the pancakes and assembly:

  1. Beat eggs, sugar and honey together lightly with a whisk. Sift in the flour and baking powder, add the water and mix to a thick batter. Add a little more water if necessary.

  2. Heat a frying pan and coat with a little oil. Spread about 1½ tbsps of mixture in a circle and cook until golden brown (check after a minute). Turn it over and cook for a further minute until bubbles form on the surface. Remove onto a plate and add 1 tbsp of bean paste to the centre of the pancake.

  3. Clean the pan and cook another pancake as above, then use it as a lid to complete the dorayaki, like a sandwich. Pinch the edges to seal.

  4. Repeat this process for the remaining three dorayaki, then serve.


County retreat

Pacific Coast Highway 101, a ribbon along the coastline of northern California, is one of the world’s most storied strips of road. In the small town of Hopland, which borders the region’s wine country, stands The Thatcher Hotel, a restored inn and café that was seen as the area’s grandest hotel when it first opened its doors in 1890.

As a building with several chapters to its history (it is rumoured to have been a bordello and, less credibly, a spot for ghost-sightings), there was much to showcase when proprietor Mark Rogero refurbished, reducing the number of guestrooms to 18 and adding a bar and café. “The idea was to restore, repair and reimagine,” says Rogero of the space in southern Mendocino County, which is surrounded by farms and vineyards. “We wanted to appeal to those people who are looking for a destination for the weekend that’s off the beaten path.”


Pure tone

It’s a trope that the pandemic itself didn’t so much change everything as it helped to accelerate what was already unfolding (writes Josh Fehnert). This said, the only thing I’ve spent time unfolding recently are my rather old-fashioned headphones. All-singing, wireless, Bluetooth options have been on the market for a while, with Apple’s Airpods landing in 2016. But it’s only since the regular application and removal of masks became a daily ritual that I’ve personally seen the value of untangling myself from the traditional.

This said, I still resent the faff of having to charge the headphones themselves (I already spend most days appeasing the temperamental Monocle coffee machine). I’ve since had an epiphany, a change of heart – and its name is PI7. The name’s a little unromantic but the feeling isn’t. Launched this week, these svelte, comfortable little numbers do all sorts of clever things, from tuning out the background hum of the buses to making music sound immeasurably better than I remember (I’ve spared you – and if I’m honest, myself – the techy bits here).

The headphones by UK-based Bowers & Wilkins seem designed as much for the eye as the ear and come in a fetching charging case that sits somewhere between a Tic-Tac box and something you might expect dental floss to emerge from. At this point in the review you might have clocked that I’m not your typical technology reporter. In fact, in the few days I spent with these handsome headphones, I lost the charger, then the left one (since recovered) and inadvertently video called my mortgage advisor (mis)using the voice-assistant option. I’m not the savviest sailor on the seas of technology but bear with me: this may be why I’m a suitable reviewer.

Perhaps the PI7’s Star Wars-y name and packaging that trumpets a “24-bit True Wireless design with Qualcomm © aptX™ Adaptive for high resolution sound” will feel niche to some. Meanwhile, in the real world, I’ve found a set of headphones that offer solace from the traffic, sound divine and are well-made enough to covet and cherish – until I inevitably drop one down a drain, that is.


Stick ’em up!

Good graphic design can transform advertising into an art form and the humble poster can add allure to any home or office. At their best, great campaigns use deft illustration or artfully rendered ideas to create idealised, soft-edged and simplified versions of the world. They pique our interest with promises and appeal to our desires for order, exploration, ideas or excitement.

These posters’ pleasing shapes, tight typography and eye-catching colours combine to raise awareness – of an exhibition, perhaps, or consumer electronics – but they can simultaneously cause us to raise an eyebrow, crack a smile or start making plans. Here are a few postwar posters that demonstrate the alchemy of advertising done well.

From left to right:

Designed in 1960 by Tom Eckersley for an exhibition organised by the Society of Industrial Artists.

Contemporary poster advertising a night at Glasgow’s Numbers club.

Herbert Leupin poster from 1962 for sparkling water brand Eptinger.


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