December often ushers a bounty of memories spent with family and friends. Especially when there is a reason for you and your loved ones to bond. Sadly, for my family, our reason for this season is the passing of my kuya (older brother). The past few weeks have been spent sharing memories of my brother. The thing about memories is that they can make you happy and melancholy at the same time.
In one of those moments spent as a respite from all the filial duties I found myself being seated by the hubby in a small open-area cafe in the mall. The wait staff of Mary Grace Cafe, seeing that I was undecided (and perhaps looking a little lost) recommended the Hot Chocolate. Thick, warm and, yes, like memories, bittersweet.
I decided to have some ensaimada with it. The light, fluffy pastry topped with cheese and sugar used to be a Christmas staple during my childhood. After all the aguinaldos were opened, my titas would serve it with hot chocolate before sending me and my cousins back to bed, happy with our Christmas hoard. Mary Grace's version did not have stringy shreds of cheese, instead, the cheese is finely grated and melted to a delicate golden perfection. No wonder, the business is thriving. There is something to come back to in this cafe.
The secrete to eating ensaimada with hot chocolate is to cut the pastry into small bite-sized pieces and then dip it in the hot chocolate. The saltiness of the cheese in the ensaimada brings out the sweetness of the chocolate.
After the first bite, I found myself smiling. Like the effect of the ensaimada on the hot chocolate, the simple delight of eating a perfectly paired merienda brought back sweet memories I will forever be grateful for.