Jack White’s rider on his touring contract, in which he stipulates that he be provided with guacamole, is not that crazy. Recently, it was leaked that Jack White, formerly of the White Stripes (oh Meg, I miss you), has all sorts of what seem like diva-esque demands in his rider. Out of context, it does seem unreasonable. But ask anyone who has to travel for business on even a semi-regular basis, and they will reveal the routines that keep them sane.
If you are a pop star, your schedule is often dictated and controlled by indifferent concert organizers who neither know your routine, nor are going to take as much care of you as you would. And if you are a major pop star whose concert a small town is eagerly anticipating, you don’t have the luxury of walking down the street looking for guacamole. If it’s written down on paper, there is no ambiguity. Those who organize and control your schedule understand what you need, and what you’d do for yourself if you had the luxury.
Me, I have the luxury of maintaining my own travel routine. When I go to San Francisco, that includes a visit to Jack Epstein at Chocolate Covered, the holy temple of chocolate in the Noe valley. Forget all those fancy stores with pretty ladies who wear gloves and pick up little pieces of chocolates with scalloped tongs. Nope, Jack Epstein has been serving up a huge variety of chocolates from across the world since 1994. Kiya Babzani; the owner of the Self Edge stores in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, and New York; and lover of many things esoteric and luxurious, introduced me to Jack and Chocolate Covered years ago, and more than one Styleforum member has him to thank for introducing us to this gem.
I take a cab ride from my Union Square digs, tell the driver to go to “24th St. Between Noe and Castro,” and about 20 minutes later I am in a long cavernous store full of homemade lunch-boxes, miniature street signs for every street in San Francisco, and over 600 bars of chocolate. All the big international names are strongly represented: Domori, Amedei, Pralus, and the rest. But the gems are the smaller makers that you will find nowhere else, from single origin bars to bars with every flavor and inclusion you could throw into a chocolate bar or bark. One of my perennial favorites is local maker Dandelion’s 70% single-origin chocolate from Maya Mountain, Belize, which has rich cherry notes and a great temper. The chocolate has a soft but solid “snap” when you break it, which translates into a smooth mouthfeel that is not overly buttery, nor overly dry. The percentage refers to the cocoa content (as opposed to milk solids). The higher the number, the darker the chocolate. Milk chocolates go up to 60%, and beyond that is “dark.” At about 85%, you are into the truly hardcore world. A new discovery is Laguna Niguel’s “Cocoa Parlor,” whose “Dark Jungle 70%” with wild Ecuadorian Peanuts and salt accomplishes something that many companies try to do and fail – to highlight the best parts of a Reese’s peanut butter cups.
And please don’t buy all of the Omnon 55% dark milk chocolate with burnt sugar, which is rich and buttery with the texture and slight bitterness of burnt chocolate. That is my wife’s jam, and she would not appreciate everyone buying it under my nose. I know that I blew my own spot, but it’s in the interest of journalism.
Worried that you’ll gain too much weight to fit into your jawnz? Do what I did this last trip and run/scoot the few miles back to Union Square. In the rain. And buy a belt at Maas&Stacks on your way back. Nothing tells you that maybe you need to lay off on that chocolate bar like having to use a bigger notch on your belt.
And before you ask, yes, Kanye’s rider is crazy. A chauffeur dressed in 100% cotton? Egyptian or Zimbabwe, Yeezus?