You are here : Home > People > Zurich Confidential

Zurich Confidential

In the eternal mountains, with their wildflowers and natural gardens, which seem to swallow up the graffiti-scrawled industrial cathedrals, like a craving for apocalypse, a patient anticipation of the end of time.

The future seems to deal modernity a blow, tapping into ancient energies, not from the sky but from the ground.

Despite its cultivated folksy charm and airs of an Alpine paradise, Zurich has a long experience of urbanity.

Zurich is doubtlessly a modern city, but one look at the twin spires of its cathedral and you are transported to the turquoise minarets of Samarkand.

TANJA KOTZ member since 2004

Her fiery hair and soft eyes endow her with the ethereal charm of Botticelli’s Venus. Everything about this citizen of the Zurich Highlands, an Olympian back country perched on the mountain tops, seems to fit perfectly. She is an HR Manager in the hush-hush world of Swiss banking and certainly appreciates the intensity of Zurich’s cultural life, but prefers by far the purity of its lakes and forests. She loves it when the park at the Swiss National Museum is adorned with wintertime fondue tents and an ice rink straight from a Russian fairy tale, or when in summer, the chocolate-brown waters of the River Sihl cloud the waters of the Limmat. She drinks the same coffee at home and at work – her work meetings often take place at the Nespresso Boutique - enjoying it with the froth of a Latte Macchiato. But now she is pregnant, Tanja has chosen to forgo her beloved RISTRETTO in favour of the DECAFFEINATO Grand Cru.

ZURICH ZOO Wildlife nestles a few minutes from the city centre

SOMETIMES, IT ONLY TAKES A FEW MINUTES’ RIDE ON THE TRAMWAY TO DISENTANGLE YOURSELF FROM THE CITY WITHOUT EVEN LEAVING IT. The magnificent ZURICH ZOO recreates an equatorial forest on its hilltop location, amongst the fragrant mists and birdsong, echoing like in the nave of a cathedral. The lake exudes the serenity of a glassy sea as it laps the shores of Seefeld, the waterside neighbourhood where Tanja works. It’s in this rural neighbourhood that the MAISON LE CORBUSIER can be found. This last building designed by the Swiss architect, interior designer and urban planner was built behind the bizarre Chinese garden donated to the city by a district of Yunnan, Zurich’s twin city. Despite its impression of being an innocent little village, it still offers sanctuary to intrepid designers, be they local or international. At the heart of the city’s emerging district, WALRAUD exhibits a select collection of furniture and cloth with a mischievous, youthful twist. In the midst of this organised chaos, which brings to mind a little rich girl’s bedroom, there is an extraordinary pendant whose gem, midway between opal and precious wood, turns out to be formed from multi-coloured layers of recycled magazine pages. Many Swiss fashion designers are represented at THEMA SELECTION, a former butcher’s: its ceiling decorated with scenes from folk tales, which now houses creations which are both exotic and indigenous, like Sok Hand Druck’s gorgeous prints. A stone’s throw away, the SCHWARZENBACH grocery is a national treasure, with its jumble of “colonial” goods that hasn’t aged one iota since 1864, and rows and rows of dried fruits.

Masculine chic reaches Full maturity here. The best Aspects of virility can be found In this treasure trove for dapper gents.

HARRY BRUPPACHER  member since 1992

This graphic designer, who has travelled the world, is proud of the cosmopolitan charms concentrated in his hometown. The cultural scene here is particularly rich, comparable to that of major cities such as London or New York. Artists and foreigners have brought an alternative universe into existence in the former “red light district” of Langstrasse, the shady areas of Zurich that no one dared acknowledge. It was as if the mountains had opened, letting the winds of change blow through from all four corners of the earth, stirring up the liquid elements deep within this ancient valley in the heart of Europe, sowing seeds of innovation. Harry has used the same machine for twenty years, and enjoys a Pure Origin ROSABAYA de colombia at home, but prefers the more robust texture of a good RISTRETTO in the office.

HARRY IS A CAR LOVER AND ACCESSORIES ARE NOT AN OPTIONAL EXTRA FOR HIM. HE IS CAPABLE OF BREAKING THE BANK FOR AN EXCLUSIVE WATCH, tracked down God only knows where and how by watchmaker-jeweller JIM GERBER. Take the Corum adorned with a pheasant-feather dial or the priceless Bulova “Space View”, with its visible electronic mechanism, an exorbitant novelty rendered obsolete only two years after its invention by the quartz revolution. EDITION POPULAIRE’s small selection is devoted to indulging the male of the species, the uncharted region to be conquered by the lifestyle industry. The concept works so well that masculine chic reaches full maturity here. The best emblems of masculinity can be found in this treasure trove for dapper gents, with its eccentric and locally-designed products, from tank tops to kangaroo boxer-shorts, via schnapps bottles, items for polishing shoes and the barbecue-in-a-suitcase. The famous FREITAG bags cut from recycled truck tarpaulin are on sale in the brand’s biggest boutique, a true ramshackle monument build from old containers (see ‘Citizen of Honour’ section). The KUNSTHAUS ZURICH is obviously unmissable; with its never-ending modern art collection arranged in a mix of styles, in no chronological order, serving to wrong-foot traditional academic snobbery. Haute cuisine has proved to be musician Dieter Meier’s most profitable side-project (see Interview section), and one of his most successful restaurants, Bärengasse, is a favourite of Harry’s when he’s not at the HYATT bar, whose back-lit onyx counter looks like it is hung with human skin.

LADY MATA HARI  member since 2006

She introduces herself by her stage name, as if the character and the real personality overlap instead of treading on each other’s toes. Lady Mata Hari is a professional DJ, originally from Korea and Singapore, but she has been living in Zurich from a young age. Her old cultural baggage has long lain forgotten at the back of the wardrobe – indeed her aim seems to be to fit in with the image of her adopted hometown. This big village has all the advantages of the provincial lifestyle without the drawbacks: a place which is both quiet and tolerant, a real Aladdin’s cave. It certainly is difficult to break the ice, but once you’ve found your way in, its reputation for loyalty holds true. She drinks ARPEGGIO, the violet capsule – the same colour as her hair – whose exuberant intensity mirrors that of the PIXIE which brought it into being.

IN THIS CITY THAT IS ALWAYS ON TIME, THERE IS A FASCINATING TIME LAG, A MISMATCH OF ERAS. FIRST, THERE’S THE FAMOUS VIADUKT, whose Dantesque arches now host a picturesque farmers’ market. The nearby MARKTHALLE is the place to go and sample the legendary rack of lamb or the Croûte au fromage, after stocking up on Swiss products from the handpicked selection at the Berg und Tal delicatessen. DANIEL H evokes the close connection between kitsch and folklore, with its squinting hunting trophies and its Madonna placed in a niche lined with tawny fur. It feels like a bikers’ bar in a mountain chalet. In terms of cuisine, the organic sushi is excellent at lunchtime, and the weekly theme gives the menu its roving spirit, but this is not as tasty as the mix of alternative creatures and predators of the financial world that mingle here in unnatural proximity. During the day, the BARFUSSBAR is a public pool, where ladies come to paddle with the swans in the misleading tropical hues of this icy stream. However, as night falls, the wooden pool becomes tinged with more fiery colours, and is transformed into devilish nightclub. Another waterside establishment, the café-concert venue EL LOKAL looks like Cape-Horner’s shack from the last century, crammed from floor to ceiling with souvenirs from his travels. It is impossible to resist the baroque indecency of the blood-red velvet adorning the walls of the SCHOBER confectioner’s, with its trompe-l’œil jungles, gilt coating and magnificently arranged pastries. This hushed monument of Old Zurich brilliantly reveals the true nature of classicism – its constant desire to shock.

A small public bath, where women come to paddle with the swans, in the misleading tropical hues of its icy current.

GIULIO PICIN  member since 2009

Giulio Picin is an atypical teacher, born in Zurich to Venetian parents, and resembling a figure from traditional African artwork, with his Mohican, his throat encircled by chains and his metal bracelets which clink like jacks. Although he is addicted to the Spanish lust for life, he always comes back to his hometown because he finds a good balance there without ever getting bored. If Venice is the fantasy of a past that is yet to come, and New York is the fiction of a future that has already had its day, then Zurich is the happy medium. People like Giulio, with Italian roots, cannot be indifferent to coffee. Giulio savours each of his fifteen daily espressos with a reverence bordering on devotion. As well as the RISTRETTO Grand Cru, served short and strong, he appreciates the guaranteed perfection of each extraction, and the freedom he has to enjoy his coffee anywhere in the world, always with the feeling of being at home.

Mediterranean cuisine is served, prepared with vegetables from the kitchen garden alongside the railway lines.

THE GENIUS OF THIS “LITTLE BIG CITY” IS BETTER SEEN IN ITS KNACK FOR RECYCLING THAN IN ITS CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS: reclaiming existing sites is a clever form of redevelopment, and it halts urban sprawl by making use of abandoned spaces. The brand new FRAU GEROLDS GARTEN has outstripped the neighbouring Freitag tower, stacking up used containers against a big fresco by the artist Sarah Parsons. Mediterranean cuisine is served, prepared with vegetables from the kitchen garden alongside the railway lines. A hundred metres away, BOGEN 33 collects vintage items just opposite the ROSSO pizzeria, whose wood-burning oven nestles in premises once used by the national electricity company. While Zurich is proud of its rich cake-making tradition, only a few firms still work like CAREDDA, a Neapolitan artisan who hand-creates each of his panettone and delicious aragoste, the puff pastry cornucopia bursting with Chantilly cream. One of the city’s most successful restaurants serves local, seasonal and sexy cuisine under its wine glass chandeliers. The chef at DIDI’S FRIEDEN improvises on a bold bistro cuisine, in keeping with its lava-thick stew, flavoured with rich wine, blood and pure cocoa. With its moleskin wall seats, bourbon selection and absinthe fountain, the bar at the WIDDER hotel maintains a nostalgia for its golden age, between the Prohibition era and the Cuban Revolution...

MICHAEL EURINGER  & ALF HELLER  members since 2011

One is a shaven-headed accountant for a bank. The other is a hairdresser. Needless to say that the pair were not naturally cut out to meet. But as is so often in this city, a deeper reality lies beneath the surface. To a certain extent, Zurich is to Switzerland what Milan is to Italy: while neither of them is the most beautiful location in their respective countries, they are both the most exciting place to be, a bit like an oyster whose uninviting shell opens to reveal the delicious flesh within, and occasionally conceals a beautiful pearl. Despite the metallic purity of their Aluminium PIXIE, Alf and Michael appreciate the smoothness of the VOLLUTO and the VIVALTO LUNGO, which they take long, with no sugar but with a drop of milk and some little chocolates. They also enjoy discovering the new blends of aromas.

ONE OF THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN TOWN IS IN A RENOVATED HOUSE IN THE HEART OF A SOCIALLY-DEPRIVED AREA. JDABURG was opened by a group of friends, led by a capable young woman, who seems to carry this big restaurant on her small shoulders. They serve a flavoursome, seasonal, inspired cuisine, including cordon-bleu with truffle-stuffed cheese, tuna carpaccio with wasabi mousse and a delicate lemon panna cotta. “Trendy restaurants are often a let-down,” says Alf. “Either the waiters drift around in their dinner jackets, or the prices are astronomical, or the quality of the food is debatable. Here, a minor miracle is performed every day. And no one is ever out of place, whether they come in slippers or stilettos.” The excellent TIMES restaurant shares its walls with a paraphernalia of precious objects, such as balsamic fragrances from the Farmacia Ss Annunziata in Florence, scented candles from Secrets d’Apothicaires in Grasse and art deco snuffers with mother-of-pearl handles. Diners enjoy a wonderful meal beneath the enormous seventies-style chandeliers, whilst admiring their reflections in the lacquered tables, glazed with hull varnish. On the sleepy hills above the city, KAFI SCHNAPS boasts five cosy little first-floor bedrooms above a black-and-white tiled café, like a 1950s New York diner. The little RIO BAR snack bar is as clear as a glass bubble, like an aquarium lit up from the inside. The romantic FISCHER’S FRITZ bistro is lapped by the waters of the lake. Finally, in the heart of the LÖWENBRÄU AREAL COMPLEX, one of the largest modern art institutions in Europe is hosted by the retailing group Migros, a pillar of the Swiss middle classes.

Diners enjoy a wonderful meal beneath the enormous seventies-style chandeliers, whilst admiring their reflections in the lacquered tables, glazed with hull varnish.

RENE PALLI, Head Barista at the Boutique situated in Zurich’s business district, works some beautiful patterns into the foam of his cappuccinos. He tells us about Switzerland’s first Nespresso bar.

René Palli, why Nespresso?

René Palli: The story begins in 2007, with the opening of Switzerland’s first Nespresso bar. I had already acquired a variety of experience in the catering sector. I had been trained as part of a kitchen team, and completed a course of study at a hotel school. That’s where I discovered my real vocation in the service sector. I had worked as a Head Waiter in several establishments before reading a Nespresso advertisement looking for staff who were equally well-qualified in both hospitality and catering.

And that’s how I became a barista. where is the boutique?

R. P.: We’re in Zurich’s financial district, less than a minute’s walk from the Paradeplatz. It’s the heart of the city, and maybe even of the world!

What kind of people normally call in?

R. P.: At opening time, our clientele is largely made up of businessmen who come to meet up over an Espresso and some croissants. Later on come our regulars, ladies, friends and tourists, who tend to order cappuccinos and latte macchiatos when it’s cold, and cappuccino frappés and ice vanillas when the first rays of sunlight start to break through. Not to mention our many seasonal in-house creations. The room is often buzzing with the sound of several languages, like a Tower of Babel, and I regularly have to put aside my native German in order to answer questions in English, French or Italian...

What are the most popular items on your menu?

R. P.: In the morning, the financial early-risers tend to go for a strong Indriya from India, Ristretto or Arpeggio. Then in the afternoon, the trend shifts towards the sweeter Pure Origin Espressos, such as the Rosabaya de Colombia and the Dulsão do Brasil…


The Restaurant at the Dolder Grand

The young prodigy Heiko Nieder (see our Chef section) leads the team at this prestigious establishment located near Zurich Zoo. Here he prepares a unique cuisine which has earned him two Michelin stars.


Marcus Lindner’s flagship restaurant brings a delightfully fresh, contemporary Mediterranean twist to a classic gastronomic repertoire.

Wirtschaft Zum Wiesengrund

Just outside the city near Lake Zurich, this traditional flagstone house conceals an unexpected culinary experience with Chef Peter Hussong’s menu and a dazzling wine cellar.

Baur Au Lac Linger

Over a coffee in Zurich’s legendary luxury hotel, which has hosted the upper crust of the past two centuries beneath its old gilding.

Production Sandrine Giacobetti Text Julien Bouré Photograpy Jean-Claude Amiel




Read Read


Everyone See See

© Nestlé Nespresso S.A. 2010 . Nespresso Policy . Terms & Conditions . About us . Credits . Nespresso Websites
Logo Opsone Logo FCINQ