Aldub, the BBC, and me



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Read the full BBC article here.


So Aldub was featured in the BBC website a couple of days ago. And yes, I was quoted a few times. I was actually interviewed by Heather Chen early this week. It was a pretty comprehensive interview that forced me to analyze the cultural and social (media) significance of Aldub. I’m sharing what didn’t make it to print.

The part of the BBC article where I explained the concept of “love team” and “kilig” –
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From the BBC article where I talk about why the Filipinos reacted this way in social media
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Here’s the back story of how the BBC found Aldub newsworthy. BBC presenter Rico Hizon had been seeing my Tweets about Aldub and Kalyeserye. So he sent me a tweet saying he’s been watching Aldub episodes and finds it funny. Here’s our exchange…


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During the airing of #AlDubEBTamangPanahon on October 24th, I was monitoring the show online. I couldn’t watch it live on TV because I was shooting a TV special. I was actually invited by Eat Bulaga management to watch in Philippine Arena. I took a rain check instead. So yes, one day I will be going to Eat Bulaga to watch them in person.

I posted some praises about KalyeSerye in my Facebook Page. I said, “not only have they changed the entire TV landscape and viewing habits, they even rocked the advertising industry by dictating ‘no commercial gaps’ – instead, they did product placements and live mentions. Thats power. And theyre building libraries.” That little bit made the rounds in Twitter and Facebook, and landed me in the GMA Network news. Click on the photo to lead to the GMA News site.

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Here are the notes I sent to the BBC –

What is “Aldub”?

‘AlDub’ is the nickname given to the popular onscreen love tandem of actor Alden Richards, and showbiz newcomer Maine Mendoza, whose character’s name is Yaya Dub.

They are the most popular “love team” in the Philippines right now. A love team is the usual formula that TV networks and movie productions have used since the beginning of the Philippine entertainment industry after WW2. These actors and actresses are paired up in all their movies and fans hope they end up together in real life. It’s been a formula in the Philippine entertainment industry for a long time. What’s different about AlDub tandem is that it was not a creation of a TV network or movie production, it just happened accidentally on live TV.

The name of the show is Eat Bulaga! – a popular daily noontime show that’s been running for 36 years. The format includes dance contests, singing contests and comedy skits that involve the show’s hosts (a group of established actors and comedians, young and old) and a live audience. The show has been enjoying a loyal following for almost four decades. They’ve had the same format. The hosts and producers later admitted that having Aldub was a surprise, an accident, a gift.

Aldub appears in the segment of Eat Bulaga called “All For Juan and Juan For All” (‘Juan’ being a play on the popular Filipino man’s name.) In this segment, three of the comedians would go out on remote locations, usually in crowded urban communities and interact with the people. Much of it was improv and instinctive. The result was always funny and endearing.

Early this year, the producers realized that the segment needed a boost. Jenny Ferre, SVP for Creatives and Operations of Television And Production Exponents Philippines Inc (TAPE, Inc.) and producer of Eat Bulaga!, looked for new talent. She saw Maine Mendoza, a 20-year old graduate of Culinary Arts from a top private school, appearing in her FB timeline. Maine’s hilarious Dubsmash videos had gone viral. Jenny saw something in this girl. Maine was asked to audition. She was asked if she could sing or dance, the answer was no. She said she had no performing talent. But the producers saw something in her quirkiness. So two days later she was offered a small role in Eat Bulaga! She had no speaking lines. All she had to do was lip synch and dub movie lines. She played the role of a Yaya (caregiver) to a rich old grumpy Lola (grandmother), played by a bald male comedian (Wally Bayola) in drag. The Yaya Dub character was introduced to Eat Bulaga! on July 4, 2015.

For almost two weeks, Yaya Dub’s character remained in the sidelines with the occasional comic Dubsmash. Then on July 16, the “magic” happened. While Yaya Dub was “dubsmashing” complete with facial contortions, she looked at the monitor and saw Alden Richards (one of the segment hosts) was looking at her. She got self-conscious, lost her character and became herself – a 20-year old fangirl who had a crush on this actor. The other studio hosts clued in and teased her. Everything happened organically. Nothing was scripted.

How did the social media phenomenon happen?

What’s amazing with this Aldub social media phenomenon is that none of it was previously planned. It’s not like they hired social media experts to strategize about how they would handle this. Eat Bulaga had an existing Facebook Page with a relatively small online community. They would upload snippets of the daily show. Now they upload the whole KalyeSerye segment.

Here are the main factors that contributed to the social media hype

  • Filipinos culturally are social beings and community-centric. Our smallest form of government is the barangay – the village. People like to congregate in the town plaza or barangay hall. TV used to be a communal activity – neighbours would watch through windows. Now, there are viewing parties when there’s a big event. There is a strong connection between an individual and his community or home town. If there is a Manny Pacquiao boxing fight, the barangay chairmen would organize communal viewing parties. If a local beauty pageant contestant wins in a larger stage, the victory is shared by all members of the town/community. The same is happening with Eat Bulaga on Saturdays, Filipinos in the grassroots (it’s core audience) can really relate and feel a sense of belonging with the show. There are communal viewing parties for Eat Bulaga when Aldub is on. It was just natural for Filipino fans to go on Twitter and share their experiences.
  • The producers of Eat Bulaga realized that they captured a new audience, a younger and social-media savvy one. So weeks into the Kalye Serye, in August, they encouraged viewers to tweet using hashtags that change daily. Example #AldubMostAwaitedDate and recently #AldubEBTamangPanahon with 41 million tweets which beat Twitter’s all-time record of highest number of tweets for one event, beating the World Cup finals.
  • Studies have shown that the Philippines has a very high rate of social media penetration. Of our 101 million population, there are 44.2 million active internet users (44% of the population). According to We Are Social 2015 study, the Philippines ranks highest in the region for time spent on the internet. In the Philippines, internet users spend an average of 6.3 hours per day on the internet, followed by the Thailand at 5.5 hours, Vietnam at 5.2 hours and Indonesia at 5.1 hours. For context, Japanese internet users only spend 3.1 hours a day on the internet. The Philippines also ranks highest in Asia Pacific for the number of hours a day spent on Social Media. On an average social media users in the Philippines spend 3.4 hours a day on social media (Facebook being the most popular site). For context, social media users in Japan only spend 0.3 hours on social media. I could talk endlessly an totally geek out on this.
  • Back to the love story of Alden and Yaya Dub. This appealed across all sectors of society,  rich and poor, young and old. The basic and overall reason is “kilig” – the overwhelming feeling of giddiness about young love.
  • In this digital age where everything is fast and instant, the KalyeSerye brought back old and lost Filipino values such as love is worth waiting for, the harder you work for something the more you will value it, respect for elders, living up to one’s word, patience, persistence, setting goals, and the concept of “Tamang Panahon” — everything happens properly in due time. Or literally it’s translated as ‘the right time.’ The theme of giddiness (kilig) and old fashioned courtship resonated well with the young and not so young. Example, when Lola Nidora gave her blessings for Alden to court Yaya Dub, she invited Alden to the family mansion. She gave a few conditions, one of them was “no touch” and stay one foot apart. The audience went wild and took to Twitter to share in this “kilig”.
  • The concept of Kalye Serye, a live reality TV series much like a soap opera that is set in the streets (kalye means street), evolved organically after Maine Mendoza reacted to Alden staring at her via split screen. This was new to the produers and longtime viewers of Eat Bulaga. And it also won over a new breed of viewers – including myself. I’d never watched Eat Bulaga prior to this. The producers realized they had a new audience. They worked on the new genre while keeping the values that attracted the core audience for almost 4 decades.
  • The producers also recognized that people consume media in different forms now. The show airs daily Mondays to Saturdays from 11:30am to 2:30pm. They continue to dominate the existing TV viewership during that time. But they also got the working crowd and overseas Filipinos watching via Facebook uploads. Their own social media team would edit the daily episodes into digital video packages.

Why I’m a fan of ‘AlDub’

I am not your typical Filipino TV audience – though I spent almost two decades working as a TV presenter and producer of my own shows. I barely watched local television except to monitor my old lifestyle shows F and Urban Zone. The variety show, talent show, and soap opera formats were not appealing to me. And in the past few years, I would consume video via mobile and laptop, not on live TV.

But when Maine Mendoza, the girl who plays Yaya Dub, fainted during one episode of Kalye Serye in Eat Bulaga, I saw some curious posts appear in my Facebook feed. I clicked, then clicked some more. And then I got hooked. The characters of the old grandmothers (in drag) were hilarious. And I found myself laughing at night before going to bed.

I appreciated it at first from a producer’s point of view. Because I knew the creative, writing, logistical, technical inputs were pretty intense. It was almost genius-like. Sure the teasing and attraction happened spontaneously, but the producers and senior hosts of Eat Bulaga knew what they had, and they handled it very carefully. That was not a fluke anymore. They maneouvered this KalyeSerye to be something that people waited for and talked about – by simply delaying gratification. While their characters had to wait for the right time for love, so did the audience.

I’m also impressed that they’ve added a social responsibility aspect to the program. Last Saturday at the Philippine Arena, all proceeds of the ticket sales were committed to building libraries across the country. (Figure is something like P14 million, we have to get exact). That’s a big thing. I like that they are using their fame to affect social change. But I hope they stay away from politics. We have a presidential election coming up in May 2016).

What I don’t like about it, is the same thing that people love – it’s popularity. It’s a little scary to see this level of almost-mass hysteria and “fandom.” There was one episode where the Grandmothers and Yaya Dub were in the streets, hosting the show and I could see the crowd closing in on them. It was very scary. They’ve had to adjust their format a bit now. They no longer film directly out in the streets, they just go to safer locations outdoors. I suppose this is why the heads of Eat Bulaga are trying to play it carefully and slowly by adding a social good aspect.

Fore more reference, here is my first blog about Aldub, which made the local news.

Social media saturation in the Philippines

We have yet to see the full power of social media engagement in the Philippines. We are a population of almost 102 million people. There is a 42% penetration of active users of social media. That’s 42 million social media accounts (not unique users).

It’s interesting to note that internet service providers had started selling social media in pre-paid bundles. Example, Globe Telecom first introduced the concept of unilimited-Facebook sold on a flat rate daily basis. This certainly contributed to the growth of social media use.

Social media savvy Filipinos

Though the social media community in the Philippines is very dynamic – with the Philippines ranking highest in the number of hours spent on social media and internet use, it is still in relative infancy in terms of reach and mobile use compared to neighbouring Asian countries. This is in part due to the still-developing mobile and broadband internet providers.

The Philippines has the second slowest internet connection in the Asia Pacific region. South Korea is the fastest with 25.3 mbps. The Philippines has 2.5 mbps and India, the slowest at 2 mbps. (Source: We Are Social).



Fashion Can Serve



I Can Serve 2015


Every year, for as long as I can remember, I have participated and supported breast cancer awareness campaigns. Recently it has taken on a different meaning with me. This year, I lost seven friends to cancer. Four of them had battled breast cancer. The other three had other types of cancers.

The Philippines has the highest rate of breast cancer in the region. Highest. This means one in 9 Filipino women will get breast cancer. It is mind-boggling and very scary. But what I have learned from my friends at I Can Serve Foundation, is that not all breast cancers are deadly. If detected early, breast cancer is curable by surgery, radiation, and/or chemo.

The message is simple. Please be aware of your bodies. Do a monthly breast self-exam. And if you are over 40 years old, have a mammogram once a year. Monitor your own body. Be proactive. See a specialist, if you feel you are at risk.

For more information on early detection and risk factors for breast cancer, go to


I Can Serve 2015
At I Can Serve Foundations first fashion fundraiser event, Fashion Can Serve, at the Raffles Hotel. My friend, Katherine Cheng of K & Company, accompanied me. I wore K & Company’s new collection – wide leg pants with a lace tunic top. Katherine is also wearing her dress from the new collection.


I Can Serve 2015
With the founder of I Can Serve Foundation, Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala. Like the other women at I Can Serve, Kara is a living testament that there is life after cancer — a beautiful and meaningful life. I am so blessed to have her as a friend.


I Can Serve 2015
With Dr Eileen Cuajunco, Girlie Rodis, Kara and Katherine.


I Can Serve 2015
Seated across from me – Larry Leviste, Philippine Daily Inquirer’s editor-in-chief Letty Jimenez Magsanoc, Girlie Rodis, and fashion designer Ito Curata.


Auction host Tessa Valdes


Lulu Tan Gan with muses including breast cancer survivor Patty Betita.


I Can Serve ambassadors Agot Isidro and Rissa Mananquil Trillo, with breast cancer survivor Toni Abad


Fashion designer Maureen Disini with survivors Leah Caringal and Maritoni Fernandez


Rhett Eala with I Can Serve supporters Tweetie de Leon Gonzales and Dawn Zulueta and breast cancer survivor Alya Honasan.


Fashion designer Kristel Yulo with breast cancer survivor Michelle Dayrit-Soliven and I Can Serve supporter Amina Aranaz.


For more information on



Trying to do it all



We just got back from a month-long vacation in our other home, Toronto. Travel is such a great opportunity to learn and be inspired. I’m so glad that our kids see it that way too. However it can also create so much imbalance in your real life, if you don’t take care of business.

Example, my kids and husband were on vacation mode, but I, on the other hand, still had to deal with writing deadlines and product concepts. Because my work is digital, I could be anywhere in the world and still publish. The key to enjoying your vacation, is to make sure to get all the work out of the way early so you don’t have this dark cloud looming over you. And that I did. Check out our recent visit to Toronto.


Toronto’s skyline has changed so much.  It has been experiencing a condo/skyscraper boom! I can no longer see the landmarks I love like the ones by Mies van der Rohe, Royal York and the gold building.


In Toronto’s Casa Loma.


We maximised our park and playground time.


There are many things I try to look forward to after the end of a fantastic vacation. Instead of getting sad about missing family and the spontaneity of life during travels, I use this time to get myself excited about my work, my regular life, and my home. Though as a mother to three kids, I can’t exactly just focus on my work and myself. I have to organize my kids’ lives first – especially during the school year. It’s a crazy balancing act that works itself out somehow.

It gets overwhelming when I think of all the things I have to do in different segments of my life. It’s not like I can compartmentalize each segment. They all flow into each other. I have a home office that doubles as the kids’ study room. I have a kitchen that doubles as my blog office. And my closet has become some sort of supply room from all the samples sent to me. I manage my home, with the help of very good staff. But I’m still that person who has to think of menus, grocery lists, baon, doctors’ appointments, driver’s schedule while trying to meet deadlines, negotiating at meetings, and doing my job as a corporate emcee and host. I cook, I give my kids baths, and I make sure Patrick and I have lots of together time.

Here’s what the balancing act looks like —


My work table at home.


Prototypes of DAPHNE & National Book Store in my kitchen — because my kitchen doubles as an office. I love the light here.


In my professional life, I emcee high-profile/corporate events, and I’m a TV presenter. I do not miss the days of producing and hosting a weekly show by myself. Now my time is more flexible. And I get to do top quality work of my choice. This was when I hosted a benefit for Typhoon Haiyan with Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian.


When I hosted the anniversary event of Etihad, with CEO James Hogan.


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When I hosted the grand launch gala of City of Dreams.


Hair and make up time, also doubles as time to catch up on emails and some writing.


I often get asked at interviews, “How do you do it?” The truth is, I do not know. Everything just happens. I do not have a concrete system. I basically just make lists and try to tick off as much from that list as I can during the day. I spent a lot of my 30’s making do with very little sleep. That is something I am not very proud of. Whether you are a mom or not, please, do not scrimp on sleep. Your body needs to heal and recharge. Get enough sleep.

Here are a few tips on how I keep myself in top form in order to run my little enterprises, manage my home, take care of my family, and make sure I am healthy.

1. I avoid getting sick by keeping my immunity strong. The rainy season has set in, and the common cold lurks around the corner. No one wants to be set back by a cold, flu, or other infectious diseases. The most important habit I have (and have instilled on my kids) is to wash my hands with soap and water all the time. It is one of the best ways to stop the spread of diseases. And to top it up, I boost my immunity by taking multivitamins every day.


Remember when I took that trip to New Zealand and brought some Conzace with me? It helped keep my immunity up in the cold winter weather.


Multivitamins can help you fight off possible viruses and infections. I make sure to shield myself from catching a cold by taking multivitamins.


2. No matter how busy I am, I have committed to doing pilates at least twice a week. I do this in the morning before I start my day. My advice is for you to find the time that works best for you. My afternoons are unpredictable, so I prefer to get it out of the way in the mornings. Do not underestimate the power of a clear mind and strong body to uplift your spirit and productivity.


Pilates at Options Studio.


3. I avoid processed food. We still have fast food whenever it’s totally unavoidable, but this happens very seldom. I prepare healthier snacks and lunch for my kids (will have courage to share soon), and I usually make a bit more for my husband and me. I also have maintained my commitment to green-juicing. I have a cold presser and I religiously juice – cucumber, celery, kale, spinach, carrot, ginger, green apple and whatever greens I find in my fridge and the grocery.


Green juice gives me a jolt every morning. I take a glass daily, first thing in the morning. Then after twenty minutes, I have a regular breakfast. I don’t believe in skipping meals.


4. I do not work at night anymore. I used to write during those precious quiet times when everyone was asleep. I’d still have to wake up when the whole house woke up so I ended up being very sleep-deprived. Not a good thing. I stopped that. Now I sleep, sleep, sleep. Wake up early. Get things done. Working from bed is also very bad for your neck. More on that later.


No more working in bed.


5. Daily quiet time helps a lot. I start and end my day in prayer. Sometimes the busier I am, the more I need to unplug from the digital world, hide from the real world, and just sit still. I have a favourite chapel that I go to. I also make sure to connect with nature. There is a lack of public parks and open spaces in the city. We knew this decades ago. So my husband and I worked towards making sure we always have access to nature – beach, mountain, farm. That’s where I find stillness and calm.


I love sitting in chapels. We all have our way of praying. I find that being in a quiet space helps me find my centre and strengthen my faith.


City life can take a toll on us. I make sure we make time for fresh air in our little rural plot.


My happy place. This is home to us. We come here to get recharged so we can do what we do.


I’m curious to know how you keep it together. How do you balance your work, passions and family responsibilities? How do you keep yourselves healthy? Are you as conscious about immunity as I am?



Picosure at Belo Medical Group



I attended the Belo Medical Group’s launch of Picosure a few days ago at Greenbelt’s The Residences. It is always such a pleasure to see both Dr Vicki Belo and Cristalle. I love their energy. No doubt, Belo Medical Group has been the leader in revolutionizing the beauty/medical industry for 25 years. Now they just introduced Picosure, the world’s fastest laser and the biggest breakthrough in laser technology.


I love Dr Vicki Belo. She always compliments my skin when she sees me – “no pores, no spots, no makeup!” She always asks me which of her treatments I’m doing. And since I started going to Belo Medical Group in 2008, all I’ve been doing is a simple facial and Powerpeel. I used to go every two weeks (when I was still on TV). But now that I don’t have a regular show, I just go every three weeks.


With interior design sisters Cynthia & Ivy Almario and Yvette Fernandez.


At the launch – Distribution Manager of Cynosure, Michael Byers, Cristalle Belo Henares, Vicky Belo, and host Grace Lee.


Picosure was introduced to the media by Michael Byers from Cynosure the makers of the machine. Dr Belo kept teasing him that he looked like Keanu Reeves. The crowd loved it. Michael explained that Picosure is faster than the conventional nanosecond laser machines. Operating in picoseconds, Picosure uses a patented technology called Pressure Wave which utilizes light pulses instead of heat that prevents damage on the surrounding areas of the skin.

Picosure is best used for tattoo removal, acne scar treatment, removal of pigmented lesions and wrinkle treatment. This same technology makes it more effective in breaking down skin pigmentations, inducing collagen production for skin rejuvenation and improvement of acne scars. With Focus Lense, Picosure’s benefits become even more effective by concentrating light pulses through targeted areas in the face and neck. Also, tattoo is no longer permanent with Picosure. This beauty machine breaks down the stubborn pigments into sand-like property which makes it is easier to remove from the body.


The face of Picosure is Alice Dixson, who proudly announced she was 45 years old.


Jordan Shen, Field Marketing Specialist for APAC of Cynosure, Michael Byers, Distribution Manager for APAC of Cynosure and Mr. Doron Glazer, Chief Executive Office of Spectrumed


“What makes this machine so wonderful is that with Picosure, it requires fewer treatments. You can also combine it with Belo’s Collagen powder drink to help the skin become more supple and firm” says Cristalle Belo Henares.


PicoSure’s ultra-short pulse duration goes beyond photothermal action creating an intense photomechanical impact, patented PressureWave™, resulting in greater disruption of the target for better clearance with fewer treatments, less fluence and without injury to the surrounding skin. Even dark, stubborn blue and green inks, as well as previously-treated, recalcitrant tattoos can be removed. Source.


PicoSure laser focuses on your problem areas whether it’s brown spots, sun damage, freckles, pigmented lesions or acne scars. PicoSure offers a gentler treatment. In the past, lasers have relied on intense heat energy to remove pigment from the skin, which may be painful and lead to significant skin redness and downtime. Source.


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Traditional nanosecond lasers predominately rely on photothermal action, delivering heat to the pigment and surrounding tissue. PicoSure takes advantage of PressureWave Technology to shatter the target ink into tiny particles that are easily eliminated by the body.


For more information on Picosure, check out, Belo Medical in Facebook, or locally call 819 BELO (2356), US inquiries call 1-310 742 4843.



Barcelona food





Last December, just before the Christmas rush, I travelled to Barcelona with a 2-person team from Lifestyle Network. It was a surprise bonus from being Samsung Digital Home’s brand ambassador at the time. We filmed some interstitials called “DAPHNE Diaries” that will soon air in Lifestyle Network. I have quite a few stories about this trip that I’ll be sharing in future entries.

Barcelona is one of those cities you can just lose yourself at while wandering through its streets. There are the must-see sites for visitors, those listed in all travel guides. But the true beauty of Barcelona is in what you discover while walking around. This is what happened to us in terms of food. We had a couple of pre-planned dining spots, but we left a lot of our meals to whatever came our way, wherever we were. Hope you like my list.


Our hotel Hotel Silken was located just off of La Rambla, the main tree-lined promenade with kiosks that sell newspapers, flowers and souvenirs. We were within walking distance from La Boqueria and other great spots.


When in Barcelona, must have churros at any random xurreria. Found this stall while walking around Placa de la Sagrada Familia, outside the church.


Thank you for our guide, Fabio Bugna, for showing us some his favourite spots in his beautiful city.





We arrived in Barcelona on an afternoon flight and found ourselves famished by 5pm, too early for dinner. Euskal Taverna was a random discovery on our way to the Picasso Museum. They had a pintxos bar! Pintxos (or pinchos)  are little snacks served in bars common in the Basque country. They are like tapas, but pintxos are spiked with a skewer or toothpick on a piece of bread. They are served and billed individually. You may either order them or just pick them up in a buffet setting. You are then charged for each pintxos based on the number of toothpicks on your plate.


Euskal Etxea Taverna


The pintxos are presented over the bar. You just get what you want. This is what I love about Spanish dining. It’s so casual and social.


For my first meal in Barcelona… of course, jamon iberico and tortilla de patata.


Euskal has over 80 varieties of pintxos, depending on what is available and what’s fresh.


Happy tummies. Our producer Dianne Sibal and director/videographer Carlo Lina.

EUSKAL TAVERNA, Placeta de Montcada, 1-3_08003. Tel +34 933102185





I can just imagine living in Barcelona and having La Boqueria market right there. I’d be picking up fresh food every single day. There would be very little cooking done, just tossing of all the fresh ingredients in hot olive oil and everything would taste so good. This is a place that is frequented by locals and tourists.

La Boqueria’s full name is Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria. The earliest record of La Boqueria dates back to 1217. It went through many names and changes. It wasn’t til 1826 that the market was legally recognised. The construction of the permanent market structure started in 1840 under the direction of the architect Mas Vilà. The metal roof from the 1914 fish market still exists today. .

My happy place in Barcelona.




Fresh catch


Being touristy in the market.


Then I found what I was looking for.


Acorn-fed Jamon Iberico. This one’s from Salamanca. The ones I bought were from Jabugo.


I was so happy just tasting all the different legs!


Seriously. This is my joy. I could never give up eating jamon.


There’s my baby. I bought a big chunk of this and had it sliced and vacuum packed. Bellotas means acorn. This Iberian pig ate only acorns. It came from a farm in Jabugo. The ham was aged for 5 years. That’s the story of my jamon.


My precious jamon iberico 5 jotas. I still have one pack in my fridge. Hmmm.

LA BOQUERIA, La Rambla, 91, 08001 Barcelona. Telephone +34 933 18 2584.





One of my unforgettable meals was in this amazing market stall at La Boqueria. El Quim does not take reservations. We took our chances and got there in the morning before the lunch rush started. El Quim started in 1987 with a three-metre long bar and just five stools. It now is one of the most famous eating spots in La Boqueria.

El Quim specializes in fried eggs, hence the egg emblem on the chefs’ jackets. They also have sandwiches, seafood and basically whatever fresh comes in to the market that day.


You won’t miss El Quim when you are at La Boqueria. It has a choice spot in the middle of the market with a 16-metre wrap around counter and 18 stools.


Chef Quim and his fellow chefs in the open kitchen.


A must!!! Two fried eggs with baby squid. Yes fried eggs. The best I’ve ever had!!!


Totally simple but oh so good – fried artichoke with a drizzle of sea salt.


With a glass of cava, early morning.


With the gracious and famous chef Quim.

EL QUIM DE LA BOQUERIA, Stalls 584-585-606-607-608-609, La Boqueria Market, Rambles. Telephone 93 301 98 10





Escriba is a pastry and chocolate shop with a lot of history and awards. We visited its second shop situated along La Rambla. The main confectionery showroom is at Gran Via. This shop along La Rambla was formerly Casa Figueras, makers of pasta and semolina. The corner shop shows beautiful Art Nouveau decor, with the founding date 1820, laid out in mosaic. The shop was refurbished in 1902 by stage designer Ros Guell who supervised some of the best craftsmen in the Art Nouveau movement.


Escriba’s pretty art nouveau facade.


The original corner mark of the building.


Beautiful chocolate shop.


We zeroed in on the xuixo, the sweet pastry beside the croissants.


Creations of Chef Antoni Escriba, which have been winning awards since the 1950s.


An image of the Virgin Mary guards the main shop.


Dianne, Carlo and I with our xuixo purchase.


If you don’t have time to sit and have coffee and sweets at Escriba, just drop by and get some xuixo, a pastry filled with crema catalana that is deep fried and covered with crystallized sugar. It was so good, I had to snap this selfie while walking down La Rambla with some crema in the corner of my mouth! Oops.

ESCRIBA, Rambla de les Flors 83, 08001. Telephone 93 301 6027



Feast formatgeria


One of the most charming places we went to was Formatgeria La Seu in Barri Gotic. This was highly recommended by our guide, Fabio. Formatgeria La Seu, a lovely cheese shop, is run by Katherine McLaughlin who personally picks the variety of cheeses from all over rural Spain. Her passion has brought her to some of the best cheese farms in Spain. At Formatgeria La Seu, you are guaranteed carefully selected cheeses, presented in optimum conditions.

We sat at the tasting room in the back, where we sampled a couple of palettes of cheese and a glass of vermouth.


A lovely cheese shop in the narrow streets of Barri Gotic.


The cheese at Formatgeria La Seu are stored and displayed in a temperature and humidity controlled cool-room, which one can enter, to view and sample.


The tasting room at the back still has equipment for churning butter as this was one of the first butter-making factories in Barcelona.


It was a very cold morning. This is Fabio and me trying to warm up with a glass of vermouth. It took me a while to peel off my trench coat.


Vermouth was having something of a revival in Spain. It was an old-fashioned aperitif that was eventually replaced by beer or wine. But now, it is again in vogue in the Barcelona brunch set. People drink vermouth straight up before a meal or on Sundays after mass. Some say, vermouth’s resurgence has to do with the poor state of the economy. Vermouth has 15% alcohol by volume, offering the best value for your euro. The vermouth at Formatgeria La Seu was homemade, sourced though Katherine’s exploration of rural farms in the region.


Each cheese in our palette came with a story about the farmer, the farm, the region. I was amazed.


The backroom was kept as close to authentic as possible, with the old tiles and dairy-churning equipment.


Wine and vermouth decanters in every shape.


We really enjoyed this stop. I could have stayed longer. I’ll definitely be back. This is so Patrick’s thing.

FORMATGERIA LA SEU, Carrer Dagueria,16,08002, Barcelona. Telephone 93 412 65 48




In one of our walks home to our hotel, we stumbled upon El Nacional. At the time, it was just newly opened. El Nacional is located in a huge warehouse-like structure that dates back to 1889, the height of the industrial revolution in Barcelona. It used to house a cafe, a theatre, a fabric dye factory, a car dealer’s shop before the Spanish Civil War. Then it became a garage.

The building of El Nacional has now been converted into this beautiful dining hot spot with six different food specializations that reflect various recipes from the around the Iberian Peninsula. Loved the interiors!!! We didn’t get to try anything here, so feel free to let me know in the comments section how the food was. I just wanted to show photos of the stunning space.


Narrow path that leads to El Nacional


The cocktail bar.


The oyster bar.


La Llotja, specializing in fresh seafood.


There is a mini seafood market where diners can choose their catch of the day and request for it to be cooked.

EL NACIONAL, Passeig de Gràcia, 24 Bis 08007. Telephone +(34) 93 518 5053.




Stop & Mos was  random find while shopping at the Mercat dels Encants, one of the oldest markets in Europe, dating back to the fourteenth century. After going through stalls of peddlers in the antique market (I will share with you my finds later), we went up to the mezzanine and looked for a place to eat.

Stop & Mos is one of those market stalls that caters to people on the go. Their logo says “natural take away food.” So this is not your typical fast food joint. We found a picnic table and seats, where we ate our food in take out containers outdoors. It was December and it was cold. Everything we ordered was so good.


Mercat dels Encants.


There was a fantastic view of Torre Agbar from the market.


Me and Fabio ordering our tapas and pintxos.


The chef himself was taking our order while preparing our food.


We had tortilla, tapas, croquettas, sardines and these amazing fried peppers. I could have eaten the whole dish.


Layers of aubergine with goat cheese, tomatoes and olive oil.


And my favourite Spanish comfort food, tortilla de patatas.

STOP & MOS, Castillejos 158, Fira Bellcaire Mercat dels encants, Barcelona.



feast casa 1


Casa de Tapas is an interesting concept restaurant that put together award-winning, Michelin-starred dishes from other Barcelona restaurants and chefs, all under one roof. It’s like being able to have a sampler of all the best dishes at one time. This was our only scheduled meal in Barcelona where we actually had reservations. Excellent.


We started with bruschetta using fresh tomatoes and garlic and a bottle of award-winning olive oil from Tickets.


Casa de Tapes staff demonstrated how to rub fresh garlic and tomato on toasted bread. Then we drizzled extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled salt and pepper on our toasts. Delicious.


Salad with burrata.


Steamed tomatoes. So simple yet so out of this world amazing. What’s in their potatoes in Barcelona?


Beef stew that just fell off the bone.


Dani Garcia’s Burguerbull, with two Michelin stars. Oxtail burger, beef, arugula, havarti, cheese and Dani’s magical mayonnaise.


Chocolate cake


Russian roulette chocolate by Escriba. One of these chocolates is filled with pepper. Dianne was the lucky one.


A memorable farewell dinner with new friends Fabio, Dianne and Carlo.

CASA DE TAPAS CANOTA, Calle Lleida 7, Barcelona. Telephone +(34) 93 3259171.