Coming Together


As many of you may recall, I lost one of my best friends earlier this fall. It’s the saddest thing I’ve ever gone through. Sure, I’ve lost folks I love very much, but they’ve always been older and it’s never been out-of-the-blue. But Jean was my age with dreams the size of Texas and a heart of solid gold. I’m talking 24-karat. I still have moments where something happens and I think about what a kick Jean would get out of it. Lady Gaga and Elton John at the Grammy’s. Jersey Shore (no one loved bad reality TV more than Jean). This Friday would’ve been her 30th birthday, so I’m flying out to Boston to attend the first annual “Jean-a-bration.” We’re celebrating a big birthday and a big life that we all miss so dearly in a big way. And you know what? There’s nothing that girl liked more than a party. I know she’ll be proud. I’ve really never tried to celebrate an event or landmark when it’s tinged with this much sadness–so we’ll see how it goes. I guess there’s no right or wrong way to go about it.

I went to graduate school in Boston and haven’t been back since. So I’m excited to visit all my old haunts. I’ll take photos for you and share some of my favorite places to eat when I return. And if you have any favorite Boston spots, let me know! It’s been a few years since I’ve been back, and I hear things have changed a bit, so I’d love any suggestions. In the meantime, I wanted to leave you one of the best comfort drinks I know, perfect for heavy hearts or just a really gray afternoon: Mexican hot chocolate made with Ibarra.

I first learned of Ibarra when I was around sixteen. It’s when I started drinking coffee because–you know–everyone else started bringing to-go mugs to class and it all seemed very adult. This great bakery downtown did Mexican mochas made with Ibarra and I jumped on the wagon. They had a rich chocolate flavor with spicy cinnamon notes. It all seemed magical and mysterious until a few years later when I realized you can buy Ibarra at the store and the drink I loved so much was pretty darn easy to emulate at home.

Now this particular recipe is for Mexican hot chocolate, but feel free to add a shot (or two) of espresso to make yourself a Mexican mocha. You can find Ibarra at a Mexican grocery store or a well-stocked gourmet food market. It is made with granulated sugar so a) don’t munch on it right out of the package–it’s grainy! (I tried) and b) no need to add sugar. I have a friend who puts a little almond extract in her whipped cream, and I think that’d be a nice touch for this, too.  So drink up. In the name of love and chocolate and life and memory and gratitude. And while you’re doing all that, I’ll drink to Jean.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Mexican Hot Chocolate

  • Yield: 1
  • Prep time:3mins
  • Cook time:7mins
  • Total time:10mins

Ingredients

1 cup milk
4 blocks (or triangles) cut off one Ibarra tablet
Big pinch (about 1/8 tsp.) ground chile (not chile powder--it often has other spices added to it)
Dash salt
Whipped cream and cinnamon, to top

Instructions

Chop tablet of Ibarra into blocks for easier melting. Then warm the chocolate, chile, milk, and dash of salt in a small saucepan. Heat until the chocolate is melted–should be quite hot (although not boiling).

Froth with a hand-blender (or blend in a blender) until the bits of chocolate are completely dissolved and the top becomes foamy. Top with whipped cream and cinnamon and drink immediately.

Comments

  1. marla {Family Fresh Cooking}

    This sounds delicious. I have never had Ibarra chocolate, now I want to try it. Wishing you the best this weekend in the tribute to your friend, the "Jean-a-bration."

  2. El

    Megan, I'm so sorry to hear that you lost such a close friend. I hope that you have a safe trip and that your celebration and remembrance of her life brings you all peace and love.

  3. Jeb

    Zaftig's, Anna's, Diesel, you know the drill. :)

    Warm thoughts for Boston and for Jean.

  4. Bria

    I'm so sorry for your loss. I lost one of my closest childhood friends when I was 16 and I *still* find myself thinking about things from time to time in terms of how much she would have liked them. Have a wonderful time celebrating Jean's life this weekend and take care.

  5. Kasey

    Megan,

    Sorry to hear about your loss. I lost a good friend in college to a brain tumor and it was extremely difficult--particularly as I was very far away (studying abroad) when it happened. Little things here and there remind me of him. And while he was lost young, my memories of him definitely live on.

  6. MomGordon

    Do at least one "I can't believe you did THAT" thing. Jean would expect nothing less. I miss you!

  7. Mary

    Raising a glass to Jean. Your post gave me chills. It was so beautiful and I like your Mom's reply too. Happy Jean-a-bration!

    Looking forward to reading your Boston posts. You asked for some Boston recs. I ate a ton when I went in August. My three fave restos:

    Hungry Mother: http://www.hungrymothercambridge.com/ - feels like you're eating in someone's home. And I don't normally write about the restrooms but their walls are lined with Julia's Child's Master the Art of French Cooking.

    Scampo: http://www.scampoboston.com

    Lydia Shire's more casual restaurant - great for group. All pastas can be ordered gluten-free - keep waiting to see this option on Bay Area menus - as I think it's becoming a bigger trend.

    Myers + Chang: Great Lunar New year spot. http://www.myersandchang.com/ or @myersandchang

    If you're in Brookline, there's a beautiful third-generation family bakery: Clear Flour Bread.

  8. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite

    Beautiful post Megan. I hope your weekend in Boston was a beautiful celebration of Jean's life. xoxo

  9. Manggy

    I wasn't a reader yet when you mentioned it - sorry for your tragic loss. I hope with the celebration of her life comes some healing.

    Lemme guess - was this bakery in Bernal Heights? Or maybe the mission? :)

    1. megang

      You know, Manggy...the bakery I was referring to was actually this little bagel shop where I grew up in Northern California. It's called Los Bagels if you're ever up in Eureka/Arcata...worth checking out!

  10. megang

    Thank you all so, so much for your well wishes, nice words about Jean, and sharing your similar experiences. It means the world!

    And thank you Jeb and Mary for sharing recommendations. Mary: Clear Flour is incredible!! Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to try your other fabulous ideas (jam packed days), but I jotted them down for next time. I'm particularly excited to try Scampo!

  11. Memoria

    It is interesting that you wrote this post because I just came back from my friend's funeral today. He is the first friend I've ever had who has died. I am having trouble grasping the reality that he is gone. It is quite unsettling, to say the least and makes my heart heavy. I'm glad that you and your friends continue to celebrate your friend's birthday with such jubilation. I hope to do the same for my friend.

    Your Mexican hot chocolate looks amazingly comforting. I drink this with either Ibarra or Abuela Mexican chocolate. Both brands taste the same to me. You could also try a bolinillo instead of a blender to froth the mixture.

    Have a great time with your friends!!

  12. arugulove

    Lovely! I adore that Mexican chocolate. I use it to make brownies - the flavor is amazing!

  13. allison lemons

    Oh Megan. Im so so sorry. I cant even begin to imagine what you're going through.

    I didn't read through the whole Boston post yet, but your photos look incredible. It looks like you had an amazing, memorable trip back to your old stomping ground. And really, my heart goes out to you.

  14. megang

    Thanks so much for your nice words, Allison. Nice to hear from you! And yes, we ended up having quite a big weekend which everyone needed and which Jean would've wanted :)

  15. nakedbeet

    So sorry for your loss, Megan.
    Boston is my old college haunt, too and that Mexican chocolate looks wonderful and now to find me some Ibarra!

  16. Kasey

    I just realized that I have that orange latte bowl (Anthropologie??) I love it :)

  17. megang

    Hee hee, yes Kasey: it's Anthropologie! Good eye :)

  18. jessica

    oh los bagels...i live close by and don't make it out to the coast enough...i am hooked on their lime cornmeal cookies...to die for...also a huge fan of mexican hot chocolate..thanks for the continuing inspiration!

  19. przewozy do holandii

    Thank you for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and I am waiting for your next
    write ups thanks once again.

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