Work trip to Zurich

About a month ago, I traveled to Zurich for work. I spent most of the overnight trip at my hotel (which I’ll show you tomorrow) and at my work location, the palatial Dolder Grand Hotel overlooking the city.

Zurich Dolder Grand Hotel

Let me digress a bit. You might be wondering: what does she do for work, anyway? I rarely blog about work, so this might be a good time to talk a little about what I do.

I work in on-air promotions for television, a niche industry that’s always a bit hard to explain. On-air promotion is what you see on TV that isn’t a commercial or a TV show: trailers (called plugs in the Philippines, or promos everywhere else), branding, and other bits and bobs that tell you about a channel and its shows.

As a writer and producer, I come up with ideas for promos and promo campaigns, write them up into script form, and get them made. That means managing a host of other people and processes—from casting to location scouting, filming to graphics, editing to scheduling—until my 30- or 60-second promo gets aired on TV.

Still with me?

I worked for an agency in Singapore before going freelance. Since moving to Amsterdam, I still work for Singapore-based companies, but my role has evolved. These days, I mostly write promos to help my client (a large international media network based in Singapore) create branded content for companies that advertise on their channels—exclusive, customized promos that are tailor-fit to a brand.

I suppose I’m kind of a matchmaker between brands and audiences. I get to decide where and how they meet, and what kind of experience they’re going to have on their date—a date that takes place in 30, 60 or 90 seconds on television.

I write at home and send my work to Singapore, where it gets produced. But this time, a project involved a shoot in Zurich—all hush-hush, quick, and very last minute. When I got the call from my client asking me to fly in and be a producer for a day, I immediately said yes!

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Churros con chocolate

Odd fact about me: once or twice a year, I am struck with a debilitating craving for churros con chocolate. (The same thing happens to me with raw oysters.) I get really picky about it: the churros must be perfectly crisp and the chocolate hot, thick and not too sweet.

When I was living in Singapore, I couldn’t find any churros that passed muster. After enduring this craving for two long years, I finally had the chance to travel to Spain and enjoy them there. I haven’t had much luck with churros in Amsterdam either, so I pounced upon the opportunity to have them on my last day in Granada.

I’m starting to think perfect churros only exist in Spain. Maybe, like Icelandic horses, genuine Spanish churros aren’t allowed to leave the country.

Churros

Expecting graceful little loops of dough, Marlon and I sat down at a churreria on the Plaza Bib-Rambla and ordered two servings with chocolate. Boy, these churros gave me the shock of my life. They were immense. Like two huge bunches of bananas!

They were so big that we started giggling in embarrassment when the plate was served. People actually turned to stare; I’m sure they thought we were complete pigs. And we were. We finished every last one of those churros, because they were perfect: golden, crisp, light and airy.

Don’t even get me started on the hot chocolate.

Churros con chocolate

Goopy, rich, and perfect for dipping—the Spanish sure know how to make hot chocolate. One decadent cupful can almost make one forgive them for centuries of oppression. I kid, I kid.

This ends the week on a sweet note, but be sure to drop by on Sunday for this month’s installment of Let’s Do Brunch. Till then, have a great weekend!

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How to make your own Ritter Sport

Head to the Ritter Sport Bunte Schokowelt on Französische Straße 24, Berlin. Just off the Gendarmenmarkt and very near Berlin’s most popular monuments, it’s a sweet end to a day of sightseeing. You may stare worshipfully outside for a few moments before entering. This, after all, is your temple.

Ritter Sport Schokowelt Berlin

At the time of your visit, there may or may not be hordes of weary parents and sugar-crazed children. Gently but firmly make your way past them to the end of the queue. Wait your turn to pay for the number of chocolate bars you wish to make; a standard-size 100g square costs €3.90 (US$ 1.25 or about Php 210).

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Chocoholics anonymous

I tried not to shop on my last two trips out of the country. I succeeded in Prague, but failed miserably in Köln. Unpacking after both weekends, I discovered that I’d managed to acquire multiples of my favorite things. The first was shoes; the second, chocolate. 

The full stash, clockwise from top left:

  • Stainer 75% Cocoa with Cinnamon, from Italy. Cinnamon and dark chocolate, two of my favorite things. This brand has gorgeous packaging, metallic gold with field-guide style botanical and zoological illustrations.
  • Madecasse 63% Cocoa with Sea Salt and Nibs, from Madagascar. Am I the only one thinking “I like to move it move it”? I suppose “nibs” means it’s crunchy.
  • Casa Amatller Chocolate a la Taza, also with cinnamon, from Spain. The Amatller family made chocolate and lived in Gaudi’s famous building in Barcelona. Sounds like my kind of life. One bar should make four cups of chocolate. I should have broken it out this week, it might have taken the edge off my extended-winter blues. 
  • Ritter Sport Nugat from Germany. My absolute favorite German import. I’ve been addicted for over a decade.
  • Becks Cocoa in “A Clockwork Orange” from Germany. Hot chocolate flavored with Moroccan oranges plus a classic film reference, ooh. This requires a precious cup.
  • Emils Gustavs Dark Chocolate with Pink Peppers, from Latvia. Finding treats like this (from “one of the best confectioneries in Eastern Europe“) is why I love living in Europe. I mean, Baltic chocolate. Really, who eats chocolate from Latvia? Now, I do! 
  • How could I leave out the humble Chocnut? Cas handed me and Marlon two packs of homegrown peanut buttery goodness when I watched the Glee Club in Oberweyer, a gesture that delighted me… and my taste buds. 

The best part about this stash? Only the Ritter and Stainer have actually been consumed. Willpower for the win!

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Studs and chocolate

Apologies for the non-activity on this blog. I’ve gone out of the country on each of the last two weekends, been busy in between, and it’s caught up with me. I’ve spent the whole day in bed with a bad cold and a slight fever.

I have lots to post about our spectacular weekends in Prague, Czech Republic and Köln, Germany—also about a few new developments at home. But those will have to wait until I feel better. In the meantime, let me leave you with by two of my favorite impulse purchases from last weekend.

So, between:

a) These gorgeous studded Balmain (Balmain!) leather brogues for €49 (Php 2,800)… or
b) A Ritter Sport Nugat chocolate bar as big as my freaking face for €2.65 (Php 150)

… which was the better buy? Help me decide. Shoes versus chocolate, it’s a tough choice!

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