Pulitzer-prize winning author Anna Quindlen says if you see a woman out in public in an unflattering dress or heavy-handed makeup, you know she must not have any girlfriends. We count on each other for solace and celebration, in times of joy and in times of grief; but we also rely on each other to keep us on our toes, to push us when we need a good kick in the pants or pamper us when we need a time out or a hug. And so it was, that after postponing and postponing our doctors’ instructions to get our yearly lab tests done, we two were finally given that kick in the pants by Jessica, Joan’s daughter, who announced she was going to be at the lab at 7 am this morning and we’d both better be there too! We didn’t dare say no, so at 7 am, there we were, one by one being called in and one by one, emerging with a big smile, having finally checked off this undesirable task from our well-worn to-do list. We were so proud of ourselves, we immediately went off to break our fast at Renaud’s French bakery — the closest thing to Paris we have here in Santa Barbara. Pain au chocolat, almond croissant, honey and butter, steaming hot cocoa — what a lovely way to start the day! And since we were on a roll (no pun intended), we decided to check another item off our to-do list and head over to Occhiali’s Eyewear to finally check out the sunglasses we’d been wanting…. much more fun to choose frames when you have girlfriends around to give their opinions (“too serious,” “too frivolous,” “too boring” “YES, perfect!”)!
So here we are, late on a sunny Friday afternoon, blood tests taken, breakfast enjoyed, bi-focals ordered. check, check, check! We’re good to go — have a great weekend, everyone!
Parisian hot chocolate (chocolat chaud)
2 cups milk (people think they use cream in those Parisian bistros but they don’t!)
5 ounces good bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 tablespoons light brown sugar (optional)
Heat the milk in a medium-sized saucepan. Once the milk is warm, whisk in the chocolate, stirring until melted and steaming hot. For a thick hot chocolate, cook at a very low boil for about 3 minutes, whisking frequently. (Be careful to keep an eye on the mixture, as it may boil up a bit during the first moments.) Taste, and add brown sugar if desired. Serve warm in small demitasse or coffee cups.
Note: This hot chocolate improves if made ahead and allowed to sit for a few hours. Re-warm before serving. I also like to add a few flecks of fleur de sel, the very good sea salt from Brittany.