Sunday, September 25, 2011

Mark Thompson on Lifeguarding, Chocolate and Comic Books

"County Recurrent" readers may recall the February 18, 2009 blog post featuring Veteran LACo Recurrent (Ret.), Mark Spyder Thompson, Phd, waxing prosaic on Lifeguarding and Chocolate, particularly slave free dark chocolate:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mark Thompson On Lifeguarding and Slave Free Chocolate

We felt it was time to check in again with Mark and to see if he had any updated remarks to share with all of us on the these topics. We were rewarded with Mark's current preferences in terms of chocolate, as well as some great historical remarks of of some classic after hours, off duty field trips with the likes of fellow veteran recurrents, Terry Flanagan (aka, Flanafish) and John Thomas (aka, JT). So here goes...

"Well, since you asked, I will make the effort to offer three of my most favorite California chocolate shops.

There is no other chocolate that I would rather eat than that made at the Nevada City truffle shop. I would stop by most everyday for a treat just to keep my chocolate fix satiated. My personal favorites were the liquor-based ones, especially: the Highlander (15 yr old Scotch), the rum saturated 151 Rum, the very surprising Imperial Dragon, and the Gold Rush. DeGroot made a Chocolate Oblivion Torte that is filled with three different genres of dark chocolate: an interior dense fudge, surrounded by a layer of rich creamy and chewy truffle, and coated with hard dark chocolate. I would purchase one every two months or so for my students to enjoy, celebrating the end of quarters.

I have a personal interest in the Lake Tahoe Chocolate Factory, in that a dear close friend from the 80s daze at Kirkwood became a chocolatier after marrying a master. For more than 20 years they have been making a variety of great chocolate goodies, and by goodies i mean chocolate covered goodness. Pralines? Macaroons? Sour cherries? The list goes on and on. You cannot and will not eat just one.

Although Italian by name and Northern Italy by chocolate, this (next Chocolate shop) is a San Francisco treat all the way. This isn't your usual dark chocolate bars, but amazing deliciousness imbued with wonderful California tastes. My faves are the Sesame Nougat, the Ginger Heart, and Kona Coffee (covering two of my vices in one stunning bar).

Back in the 70s, good dark chocolate was not the most preferred choice. JT, Flanafish, and myself were avid eaters of large quantities (mass consumables as the Coneheads said). We would go to Baskin-Robbins and buy a cut gallon of chocolate chip, stop by the WineHaus (a large warehouse run by the bicycle-racing brother of the founder of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale; we tested many of his first batches) and pick up some excellent Reds (I still can't believe we drank all of the Chateau de St. Michelle 1976 Cabs by 1980 {I found a bottle a few years ago priced out of my league at $800}), and then down to Bernie's Comix to read for hours. If we weren't into ice cream we would stop at San Vicente Foods and get frozen Sara Lee cherry cheesecakes to go with great early-days microbrews.

Bernie's Comix: this comic store was on the east side of 4th St., a little bit south of Santa Monica Blvd. It had a huge selection of comic books in the front area, a small office, and a reading space filled with cushions and trippy artifacts (Bernie was a world traveler and had a stunning collection of items from all over). We read everything we could get our hands on that came during the Silver Age of the art. We had Doctor Strange to help us on our way, and I suspect the three of us still have a wonderful collection."


Many Thanks to Mark for sharing some of some of his off duty stories from "back in the day." Perhaps we might also hear from JT and Flanafish about their recollections of these after hours, off duty lifeguard ice cream, chocolate and comic book store field trips.


Until next time.....

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