Sunday 9 July 2023 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 9/7/2023

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

The heat is on

This week our Japanese recipe writer rustles up a fresh, summery dessert, we recommend three organic wines to sip in the sun and offer some advice on Monocle’s vision of the ideal city. Our editorial director, Tyler Brûlé, offers a dispatch from home base before we drop anchor in Athens to raise a glass to the quintessential neighbourhood bar and gather around the table for some down-to-earth dining in Turin.

The Faster lane / Tyler Brûlé

Home comforts

How’s your summer so far? Are you already in your groove on your little patch of rock in the Stockholm archipelago or ancient lake in eastern Finland? Is there still another week to go before school is out and we find you laying out footwear and tunic ensembles for your imminent departure to Spetses? Or do you still have another three weeks in the office before you shut down for all of August? And when August hits, where will you go? Are you one of those Italians who loves a bit of Tanzania or a Frenchman who likes a roadtrip through British Columbia? Here in Zürich, I’ve decided to do my very best to stick around and not venture too far. As you might have read in Andrew’s column in yesterday’s Weekend Edition, we were up in Gstaad for a little work retreat. Despite all the great conversations and ideas generated for future editions, it also felt like a proper little break.

On Thursday I took the train back to Zürich. When I pulled into the Hauptbahnhof, the city was alive and full of locals enjoying extended lunches along the lake and on shady side streets. Tourists from the Gulf packed out terraces, enjoying ice coffees and creamy cakes. If you happen to be in Zürich today, please swing by Dufourstrasse 90 for a very special episode of Monocle on Sunday – my colleague Emma Nelson has come over from London for a pacy edition of the show. Shortly after we’re off-air I’m heading up to Vals to stay at Brücke 49 for a little alpine air and then over to Graubünden for a couple of days of swimming in the lakes and walking in the forest. Come Thursday I’ll be back and, save for the occasional work trip and a wedding in Sweden, I just want to be in the city and enjoy the best that it has to offer while everyone else is in Bodrum, St Tropez, Biarritz and much further beyond.

It’s at this time of year that I feel I have everything I need on my doorstep (the lake is a three-minute walk away) and, when the sky is cloudless, I don’t need the Med or even the mountains – open doors, a gentle breeze and a sunny balcony make it feel better than the Adriatic or Aegean. Before I moved to Switzerland I used to come to Zürich with friends to escape heavy London summers and enjoy the bathing clubs, restaurants and bars. Twenty years on I need to remind myself that I have the perfect set-up for running a business while finding the odd couple of days to relax. If I need to fly off to Seoul or Bangkok (highly likely in a couple of weeks), I can easily do so as the airport is 27 minutes by train from my apartment. I can return to Zürich and be right back in the thick of summer without having to feel that I’m missing the call of Forte dei Marmi or Menorca. I prefer my Med moment in late September or even early October when the crowds have departed, the sea is starting to cool down again and there’s little trouble finding a table at a favourite restaurant. Perhaps the best bit of staying close to base is being able to meet all of the Monocle readers who pass through Zürich and make a point to stop by our shops and café on Dufourstrasse 90 for a frozen Campari and orange slushy or perfectly chilled rosé. As the journalism business never pauses, there’s a good chance that we will bump into each other on our terrace under a sunny Swiss sky.

Eating out / Consorzio, Turin

Slow and steady

“We wanted to create a place of tradition and quality but also have fun,” says Andrea Gherra, who co-founded Consorzio with Pietro Vergano. “It had to be somewhere that represented our tastes.” In Consorzio’s kitchen, close attention is paid to primary ingredients and their provenance in a way that chimes with the values of Slow Food, an Italian organisation that supports farmers and promotes local food cultures (writes Laura Rysman). The Turin restaurant’s name, which means “consortium” in Italian, is a nod to its partnership with these producers, who are listed on the menu.

Image: Chiara Goia
Image: Chiara Goia

Preparing for the lunch rush, chef Valentina Chiaramonte moves quickly while explaining that the dishes represent “the cooking of common people”, rather than “the cuisine of aristocrats with fancy meat and fish”.

Consorzio’s signature dishes of the Piedmontese osteria tradition – roasted veal sweetbreads, the quinto quarto of brains, marrow and pig’s feet – aren’t always for the faint of heart but they certainly hit the spot. “I wish the Michelin world would move closer to our world,” says Gherra. “We’re informal and appreciate straightforward cuisine and the chaos of an osteria. We are freer and serve wine that expresses a larger alphabet of flavours.”

Neighbourhood business / Au Revoir, Athens

Watering hole

In this summer series celebrating our out-now Quality of Life-themed issue of Monocle, we profile businesses that are helping to bind their communities together. Say hello to the neighbourhood bar that we’d all welcome as our local.

Athens has had its fair share of ups and downs over the years. But little has changed at Au Revoir since it opened in 1958 (writes Hester Underhill). “It’s like a time capsule in here,” says owner Sotiris Papatheodorou, whose father and uncle founded the bar in Kypseli during the neighbourhood’s prosperous mid-century heyday.

Image: Bill Georgoussis

Frank Sinatra famously drank here in the early 1960s and a photograph of him smoking a cigarette in a corner booth still hangs on the wall. Next to it is a picture of Aristomenis Proveleggios, the architect who designed the bar’s interiors. “He worked in Paris with Le Corbusier, which is why the bar has a French name,” says Papatheodorou. You’ll find him behind the bar six days a week, serving whisky to patrons old enough to remember the early days of Au Revoir, as well as young artists who have recently set up studios in Kypseli.

For more businesses that every neighbourhood needs, pick up a copy of the July/August issue of Monocle. Or subscribe so you never miss an issue.

On the case / Wines of the week

Bottoms up

As well as watching the way the world is turning and staying up to date with the latest stories, Monocle’s roving reporters and editors keep an eye on the finer things in life. We came across a new crop of organic wine-makers with plenty of bottle at the Summa fair in South Tyrol. Here are three bottles to try this summer.

Blaufränkisch Eisenberg 2019
Wachter Wiesler
A fruity red made with Austria’s signature grape. Expect ripe cherries on the palate.

Quinta da Lomba Garrafeira Branco 2016
A fresh, low-intervention white made in Portugal’s Dão region.

Fontanasanta Manzoni Bianco 2021
One of Trentino-based biodynamic pioneer Elisabetta Foradori’s famed whites with hints of peach, pear, honey and caramel.

Sunday Roast / Eri Takane

Free as a bird

Eri Takane is the director of Tokyo Gendai, an art fair that showcases more than 70 galleries from Europe, the US and the Asia-Pacific region in the Japanese capital. Having previously worked for Google Arts & Culture’s Japan division and the Japan Foundation in New York, she is a veteran of the country’s art scene. Here, she tells us about her pet sparrow, a neighbourhood falafel spot and Tokyo Gendai, which opened on Friday and closes today.

Image: Hayato Noge_Eri Takane

Where will we find you this weekend?
I’ve been preparing for the final day of Tokyo Gendai.

What is your ideal way to begin a Sunday – a gentle start or a jolt?
A gentle start, playing with my pet bird, a white Java sparrow.

Downward dog or walk the dog?
Walk the dog. I don’t actually have one but it’s my dream to own one.

What’s for breakfast?
An iced latte.

A pantry essential?
Black salt from the Goto Islands.

Lunch in or out?
I am happy to do either. My favourite brunch spot is Ballon in the Nakameguro district. It makes delicious falafel.

A Sunday culture must?
I like to buy fresh vegetables from the farmers’ market in Aoyama.

What’s on your evening menu?
Something healthy: probably a Caesar salad with kale.

Who will join you?
My bird (really).

A glass of something that you’d recommend?
I don’t drink alcohol so it’s always a mocktail for me.

Any Sunday-evening routine?
I have a massage to get ready for Monday.

News or no news?
A book.

Will you lay out your outfit for Monday?
I don’t do that – I tend to pick my outfit 10 minutes before I go out.

Recipe / Aya Nishimura

Orange jelly

There’s a childlike joy in our Japanese recipe writer’s culinary creation this week. This simple orange jelly – served in the peel – will be a sure-fire hit in the heat. Enjoy.

Serves 3


2 medium-sized oranges 1.5 gelatine leaves
1.5 tbsps caster sugar
2 tsps Grand Marnier (optional)


First, slice both oranges in half. Trim a few millimetres off the bottom of each half so that it can sit on a surface without rolling around. Make sure that you don’t make a hole, as these halves will be your jelly moulds.

Place a fine sieve over a bowl, then carefully squeeze the juice through it without breaking the skin. You’ll need about 90ml of fresh juice.

Scoop out the fibrous membrane from inside the four orange halves, again being careful not to pierce the skin.

Place the gelatine leaves in cold water and let them soak.

Combine the orange juice and sugar in a small pan and heat gently. As soon as it starts to sizzle, turn off the heat and swirl the pan to allow the sugar to dissolve. Once the gelatine leaves are soft and swollen, add them to the warm orange juice, stir and let them dissolve completely (discard the unused water). Now add the Grand Marnier if you want an extra kick.

Pour the orange juice mixture into the empty orange halves and put them on a tray. Keep them in a refrigerator until set (at least 2 hours). Serve as they are or sliced into wedges.

Weekend plans? / Minagarten, Hiroshima

Growing strong

Developed over the past three years, Minagarten is a village-like mixed-use community area in the Minaga neighbourhood of Hiroshima, based around a renovated warehouse (writes Ben Davis). The project began when its founder, Chiharu Taniguchi, took a deep dive into the history of the area, where her family has lived for the past 430 years. For Taniguchi, the community’s well-being and way of life were central to the redevelopment of the former Shinya Farm site. “Viewing it as one big garden, I wanted to create a landscape and then incorporate houses, shops and other amenities,” she tells Monocle on a tour.

At the heart of Minagarten is the Companion Plants bakery, the first outpost of chef Ippei Sato, formerly of 365 Jours in Tokyo’s Tomigaya district. Sato and his team bake about 40 varieties of bread, from tulip-inspired buns to pistachio-cream doughnuts and chocolate croissants. The bakery services the café alongside the in-house coffee stand called Watering Duty.

Image: Yoshitsugu Fuminari
Image: Yoshitsugu Fuminari
Image: Yoshitsugu Fuminari
Image: Yoshitsugu Fuminari

The community provides diversions and delicacies for the residents but it also thrives on tempting visitors. On the building’s top floor, a hybrid retail, workshop and gallery space is managed by a team of young creators, including a woodworker, a basket weaver and a painter. At a large table surrounded by an assortment of antiques and furniture, Kanoko Nakashima is running a weekly calligraphy workshop. “Even just preparing the ink provides you with a moment of quiet,” she says. “People are so busy and often can’t find time for themselves. Calligraphy can be a form of mindfulness, bringing a hint of happiness to daily life.”

For more on how retail and hospitality can help revive a neighbourhood, read the full report in the latest edition of Monocle.

Parting shot / Monocle’s perfect city

Model metropolis

Monocle’s July/August issue is all about what makes cities tick (writes Josh Fehnert). Alongside our annual Quality of Life Survey (and between interviews with urban heroes and thoughtful essays), we’ve laid out a blueprint for the perfect city. Here are three ideas for Monocle’s imaginary urban paradise.

Fresh air
Monocle’s perfect city follows Turin’s example by lining public spaces with porticoes and loggias that offer covered walkways and some shelter from the elements. In private homes and developments, we’re also keen on bringing the outside in with generous balconies on which to drink, dine and enjoy the fresh air. More outdoor spaces, even for those without a ground-floor berth, add some security in the form of extra eyes and ears on the street. We’ve also stuck to Danish urbanist Jan Gehl’s rule of thumb that residential buildings shouldn’t stray much higher than five floors or they risk their connection to life at street level. Glass-and-steel towers with windows that won’t open are very sad indeed.

Light touch
It’s time for a switch. We’ve taken great care to get the light right in our ideal city – and that starts with contracts with companies such as Barcelona’s Urbidermis and French firm JC Decaux (which knows a thing or two about a decent bus stop too). Come nightfall, that means warm wattages, which offer security and visibility but don’t dazzle you into submission with the cold, bluish glare of many ill considered LEDs. Think streetlights, not searchlights. Our point isn’t to be mawkish or sentimental about a candlelit past – but cities including Paris and London have repurposed their comely old lanterns to cast a more sustainable glow.

Illustrations: Xiha, Holly Wales, Satoshi Hashimoto

Better branding
A clear visual identity can help a city to gel its image and give people something to rally behind. Picture something simple: embossed flags, licence plates, civic buildings and buses. A simple logotype, colourway or pattern can go a long way. For a masterclass, look to Lisbon’s distinctive coat of arms (two ravens perched on either side of a ship), Zürich’s simple blue-and-white insignia and the sheer breadth of beauty in Japan’s prefectural logos. Each of the Japanese regional crests is distinctive, contains a clear colourway and is often accompanied by a decent backstory about a plant, animal or founding myth. Oh, in time we might need a cute city mascot too.

For more from our Quality of Life special, our top-20 cities to call home and plenty more sunny suggestions, pick up a copy of Monocle’s July/August issue. Have a super Sunday.


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