Sunday 26 May 2024 - Monocle Minute | Monocle

Sunday. 26/5/2024

Monocle Weekend
Edition: Sunday

Shifting sands

This week we head to Switzerland to raise a toast to a bar bringing Italian flair to Zürich’s brutalist fourth district, tuck in to some potato dumplings with Austrian hotel royalty and see off the last of the season’s asparagus with a twist on the classic ‘aglio e olio’. Plus: we get in line for the most coveted bagels outside New York and uncork a Portuguese pét-nat made from grapes grown so close to the ocean that you can taste the sea. First up, Tyler Brûlé has a small change of tune in Tokyo...

The faster Lane / Tyler Brûlé

Facing the music

There’s a certain ritual that comes with filing this column from Tokyo. It’s usually written pre-dinner from the sofa of room 4701 at the Park Hyatt. Normally, there’s a glass of wine and a bowl of strawberries from Kyushu on the coffee table. I press the “do not disturb” button so that I’m not interrupted by the turn-down service. And, if all goes well, about 650 to 900 words are filed to London for a speedy turnaround and global send-out. This Saturday eve, it’s all change. It started in Paris on Friday evening. Instead of the late Air France flight to Haneda, I boarded Japan Airlines flight JL 46. I have grown rather fond of Air France of late and held out until the last minute, hoping a seat would clear. But by the start of the week it was looking unlikely that anything would free up, so I stuck with my JAL booking.

The boarding was efficient, orderly and polite, and as I walked onto the aircraft, I heard the delightfully schmaltzy theme song. I was transported back a decade or so to a time when JAL was my regular shuttle and David Foster’s chorus I Will Be There With You would follow me around Tokyo for days. I was so distracted by the familiarity of it all that I didn’t notice the gentleman in the seat in front of me until I returned from the bathroom and heard “Hello Mr Tyler” in a voice belonging to my friend Hide. As the boarding process was taking a bit of time (the French passengers are not quite as drilled as the Japanese in the very evolved art of boarding a 777 without ever having to stop in the aisle), we chatted about summer travel plans and business (he’s launching a tea company to go with his saké brand) and made a tentative date to meet in London in June.

Some 10 minutes later, we were high above France and the aircraft was doing gentle arcs around the thunderstorms gathering over the east of the country. The crew had donned stripy aprons at this point and there were several rounds of introductions. The first crew member told me that she was running the galley and wanted to highlight the wagyu special that they had on board to celebrate 60 years of the Tokyo-Paris route. Shortly after, the chief purser introduced herself and said that they had now switched champagne. Laurent-Perrier was only for boarding but Billecart-Salmon was the chosen champagne for the in-flight service. She hoped that was okay. I assured her that all was right with the world at that moment and I was very happy to be back on JAL.

I surveyed the menu and counted 35 different dishes across their Japanese, French and classic Western menu. I then did an inventory of the amenities, the magazine and other printed material in various seat pockets and soon established that I was most definitely back in 2009 – a time when newspapers and magazines were still an in-flight feature, immaculate grooming a brand asset and adding service and innovation rather than cutting back was a defining trait for some carriers. Hide-san recommended some sakés to go with dinner and I was so happy with my little JAL moment that I almost passed out before the crew member gently shook my shoulder and asked whether I wanted to hang my clothes and change into pyjamas while she made the bed. A colleague working at a European carrier recently told me that there was an ongoing discussion about loosening up the grooming at his airline and whether male crew could start wearing their hair longer and also paint their nails and if women could also have theirs longer – on their legs. If you’re the type of reader who cares about such things, then you’ll be happy to know that the “workplace should be a free-for-all tsunami” has not hit the management offices of Japan Airlines. JAL might have female captains, not to mention a woman as CEO, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a male crew member pouring coffee or helping with seat assignments on any long-haul flights.

I woke up somewhere over Japan’s west coast and 45 minutes later, we rolled up to the gate at Haneda, said goodbye to the crew and Hide, zipped through immigration and greeted the driver with a sign, not for the Park Hyatt but the Palace Hotel Tokyo. If you’ve already managed to catch our June issue, then you’ll have seen our 16-page homage to the Park Hyatt – captured before it closed its doors earlier this month. The hotel will be back in about a year’s time but until then, GMs from various properties have been trying to win our business. Today’s column is being written from a different sofa; somehow there are strawberries and also fresh air. The Palace is one of the few grand hotels with proper balconies. I’m looking out toward the Imperial Palace and the lights of Toranomon and Roppongi are twinkly in the distance and, unsurprisingly, David Foster’s boarding tune is on heavy repeat in my head. You might want to have a listen here.

Eating out / Campo, Zürich

When life gives you oranges

It has been five years since popular apéro spot Campo brought aranciata amara to Zürich (writes Claudia Jacob). When Monocle visits, its 70-cover terrace is overflowing; Switzerland’s largest city has clearly developed a taste for the bitter orange Sicilian beverage. The laid-back bar takes inspiration from its surroundings, drawing on the dolce far niente lifestyle of Switzerland’s Italian neighbours and the seedy environs of its former red-light-district location. Over the past 50 years, the nearby concrete jungle of Helvetiaplatz has witnessed its fair share of demonstrations, including one last month that demanded climate action.

Image: Horatiu Sovaiala
Image: Horatiu Sovaiala

Campo thrives off its spirited neighbourhood. Its concrete pillars, rooted in Brazilian brutalism, are tempered by warm wooden panelling, jute stools and an attractive bespoke bar counter designed in Bergamo. And it’s not all style over substance: stick around for a taste of Campo’s new Bolognese-inspired aperitivo menu featuring tagliatelle al limone, gnocchi di patate and polpette di pane. The result is a tasty (and tasteful) concept that makes light of Zürich’s formal drinking culture.

Sunday roast / Florian Weitzer

Family first

Austrian fourth-generation hotelier Florian Weitzer is at the helm of five hotels and seven restaurants across Vienna, Graz and Salzburg (writes Hanna Pham). Known for reinterpreting classic Austrian buildings with a stylish contemporary twist, he tells us about his Austrian Sunday lunch, his taste for classical music and cooking up a Italian-inspired antipasto.

Where will we find you this weekend?
In Graz, where my family and I are staying in a farmhouse.

Your ideal start to a Sunday? Gentle or a jolt?
My children wake us up and then we have breakfast, so it’s more of a jolt.

What’s for breakfast?
Coffee in various forms is a must: a mocha, for example, or an espresso. I always get fresh breakfast pastries from our favourite bakery in Graz.

Lunch in or out?
It depends on the weather. We prefer lunch at home on Sundays but if we eat out, we like to go to our own restaurant, Der Steirer, in Graz. That’s where the extended family often gathers for some beef consommé and potato dumplings.

Walk the dog or downward dog?
Preferably neither.

A Sunday soundtrack?
The classical concert at 11.00 on Österreich 1 (Austrian public radio).

Sunday culture must?
Cooking with my wife.

News or no news?
I read all of the newspapers at the weekend.

What’s on the menu?
A mix of Austrian, Italian and French cuisine. My inspiration is French chef Mimi Thorisson. My wife and I enjoy cooking her vitello tonnato [sliced veal with tuna sauce], followed by spaghetti carbonara.

Sunday-evening routine?
We like to watch German-language police-procedural series Tatort.

Will you lay out an outfit for Monday?
Not yet but I will do that in the future.

Illustration: Xiha

Recipe / Aya Nishimura

Asparagus ‘aglio e olio’

Make use of the last asparagus of the season in this light spaghetti dish topped with a crispy fried egg and salty bottarga (cured roe). Monocle’s Japanese recipe writer offers a simple twist on the classic aglio e olio recipe originally from Campania, which makes a hero of peppery olive oil.

Serves 2

200g spaghetti
250g asparagus
6 tbsps olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ tsp chilli flakes
2 large eggs
10g bottarga, finely grated
Pinch of black pepper
Sea salt, to taste


Bring a saucepan of generously salted water to a boil and cook the spaghetti for 1 minute less than what the packet instructions advise.

Snap off the hard bottom ends of the asparagus and discard. Chop the asparagus into approximately 4cm chunks. Add these to the pan with the pasta for your final 2 minutes of cooking.

Put 4 tbsps of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium-low heat with the garlic and chilli flakes.

When the pasta is cooked, scoop up a small amount of the cooking water with a ladle and add it to the garlic oil. Drain the pasta and asparagus, and add them to the frying pan. Mix until the pasta is well coated in the oil.

In a different frying pan, heat the remaining 2 tbsps of olive oil over a high heat. Fry the 2 eggs until the edges of the egg whites turn brown and crisp up.

Divide the pasta between plates and serve the fried eggs on top. Finely grate the bottarga and serve with a sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper and sea salt.

Weekend plans? / Palm Springs

Modern marvel

If the brochures are to be believed, Frank Sinatra crooned and caroused his way around much of Palm Springs (writes Christopher Lord). It’s a claim to fame that hotels and bars here still trade on. The past few years, however, have brought a fresh breeze that’s ruffling the desert city’s fronds. The extraordinary collection of mid-century buildings – homes created for California’s elite by leading American modernists such as John Lautner and Albert Frey – now attract a global audience. Here’s our rundown of the best spots in California’s storied oasis.

One of the most recent arrivals is Sensei Porcupine Creek, a hotel housed in the former home of technology entrepreneur Larry Ellison. It sits amid 93 hectares of desert garden interwoven with a manicured golf course. The hotel consists of standalone villas dotted through the grounds and suites in the single-storey estate house containing a Nobu restaurant.

Image: Carlos Jaramillo
Image: Carlos Jaramillo
Image: Carlos Jaramillo

In town, the most sought-after table is at Bar Cecil, a corner restaurant where trays of oysters and martinis are whisked through a candlelit dining room. Other highlights include the lodgings at Azure Sky, which reopened in 2022 after taking the bones of an old motel and bringing a sense of spaciousness and light back into the rooms. Casa Cody in downtown Palm Springs is a hotel that hosted Hollywood stars throughout the 1930s. Orange and grapefruit trees give shade to the gardens, with low-hanging fruit that’s ready to be snipped off and served in sundowners beside the pool. And if you’re on the lookout for a little Hollywood glamour, try the Purple Room, a cabaret lounge built in 1960 at which Ol’ Blue Eyes would sometimes get up on stage. It now caters to healthy crowds every night – a little of the old-time glitz is sure to rub off.

For more neighbourhood tours and Monocle dispatches, pick up a copy of Monocle’s June issue, which is available on newsstands now.

Image: Tony Hay

Bottoms Up / Tubarão wine

Lines in the sand

There’s no better drink for a day at the beach than wine grown on sandy soils next to the ocean (writes Ivan Carvalho). Tubarão, meaning “shark” in Portuguese, is a boutique winery found in the northern province of Minho. The winery is run by Ricardo Garrido, who moonlights as a vintner when he’s not busy working as a photographer for Revista de Vinhos, Portugal’s leading wine publication.

The label’s refreshing pét-nat rosé is made from a mix of red and white grapes, including vinhão and loureiro, grown in the seaside city of Póvoa de Varzim on traditional masseria plots: depressions dug into the local sand dunes where vines are planted on the banks. The result is a fun, low-alcohol bubbly with delicate acidity that reveals a fruitiness with hints of strawberry, lime and salinity.

Parting shot / The Queue

Running rings

They say that good things come to those who wait but are we becoming a little too eager to form an orderly line? In Monocle’s May issue, we join the queue for a bagel and schmear at a new opening in north London that commands long lines and arduous waiting times. Is that fluffy, chewy prize worth it?

New York-born photographer Dan Martensen can name supermodels and actors among his subjects but it’s his bagel shop in north London that is turning heads (writes Lara Olszowska). The idea to bring a slice of New York bagel culture across the pond first began as a passion project. But when the shop opened in 2023 it was clear that the business would become more than a sideshow. From the moment it opens, a long queue grows outside It’s Bagels on Regent’s Park Road. “It gets a bit lawless,” says manager Franklin Arthur. “When we ask people to cross the road, to start a new section of the queue, people start jumping ahead and we don’t know who was there first.” He often has to leave the assembly line to put on a high-vis jacket and control the chaos. The shop hired its first queue manager so that Arthur could focus on the bagels. “The demand is outrageous,” he says.

A mixture of north London devotees and out-of-town visitors make up the daily queue, which can be 50-people long by midday. When Monocle visits, David Lock has brought his mum to his new favourite spot. Every week, Lock makes the journey from Bermondsey in southeast London to It’s Bagels and describes the occasion as “a bit of a pilgrimage”. Another punter, Jack Bergman, welcomes the anticipation. “If you’re waiting 30 minutes for a bagel, it’s always going to taste better.”

For more tried-and-tested bars and boltholes that are worth the wait, pick up a copy of Monocle’s June issue, on newsstands now. Or subscribe today so that you never miss an issue. Have a super Sunday.


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