Wednesday, July 23, 2014

2003 Drinkward Peschon Napa Valley Cab.

Good stuff!  Just when I wasn't sure Cabs were my thing, this tall drink of grape walks through my door.  With me.  I was carrying it, a very generous donation to the cause.

2003 Drinkward Peschon "Entre Deux Meres" Napa Valley Cab.  Two beautiful photos from their website.

This paragraph from Polaner Selections.
"Lisa Drinkward and Francoise Peschon were introduced to each other by their children and became fast friends. They, in fact, liken their philosophy about wine to their philosophy of raising children, and named their wine "Entre Deux Meres" (between two mothers, in this case), "Give them a lot of tender loving care, nuture always, then let them go on to express themselves and become the unique individuals they were meant to be." They believe that gentle handling and minimalist intervention yields unique wines that are elegant and balanced -- a true expression of the roots.

The wine is made by both Francoise Peschon and Lisa Drinkward. Peschon is also the winemaker at Araujo vineyards in Napa, while Drinkward is the wife of Les Behrens (of Behrens & Hitchcock). In fact, the wine is made at Behrens & Hitchcock on Spring Mountain.

The wine is produced in miniscule quanties, The 2000 vintage was the first they produced, and their Cabernet Sauvignon is the only wine they bottle."

Lots of good pedigree here, and it might explain why I like this cab when I was otherwise losing all cab hope.  Not to be sexist about it, but many of the recent cabs I've consumed seem to have a certain  muscle-i-ness to them.  There's a spiciness to them that seems to obliterate rather that mingle, and if you have a second glass, it almost burns the tongue like cinnamon.   It's like being trapped on the elevator with a guy wearing too much cologne, or being at a small party with the one obnoxious guy talking too loud and too long.

Not this stuff, this was a well-curated party: nice, intact tannins and a balanced presence of spice with fruit and other grape-y things.  Good party.

Again, not to be sexist about it; we all have our obliterating bits, like how mine right now is hummus.  No matter who made that wine, it was a nice wine. Just trying to make a point.  And avoid hate mail.  Cheers.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The dog days of The Cave.

Well, if everyone is going to leave town or otherwise not drink wine, you get what you get: hummus!  Lots of hummus, more hummus than you can shake a stack of pita at. 

As you know, caves - especially The Cave - are or is ...?... a tender and revered eco-system, and a good troglodyte respects its environment.

 I believe, in this Cave Food Pyramid, I might be the Organic Debris at the bottom.  I could be the greatest predator of them all, I'm pretty sure were it between me and the Cavefish I could take that Cavefish down. But best to let the ecosystem thrive and then adjust to how that shakes out.

So now that it's summer, I am adjusting to lots and lots of microorganism salads. Microorganisms are tasty, don't get me wrong, but after some time enhancements become necessary and so that is how we get to The Great Glendale Hummus summer.

Many salads of what's in season: cucumbers and dill and cilantro and red onion, a nice lemon/olive oil drizzle, a generous spoonful of hummus on top, and an egg on top of that - sometimes fish, I can't seem to not want this every day, and the hummus is a fitting dimension.

We started with Central Grand Market and then found Pacific Food Mart.  The latter I preferred as being lighter and, as the customer commented to me it would be, "cleaner."  But Central Grand Market had a nice bite to it lacking in the Pacific Mart.

Then the laundry room was crazy so I (wait for it) threw in the towel and opted the laundromat.   Across from the laundromat is the strip mall where Eden Burger is, and I walked over there to get a bottle of water. Nestled into the corner of that strip mall is this place, Kozanians Ranch Market.  (There is another one on S. Glendale Ave.) This is when I realized there are, in Glendale, a million of these little groceries and there would be much hummus in my future.

When I saw it was made by a company called Babylonia Foods in Glendale, this gave me hope there was a single producer supplying many small groceries apt to carry hummus.  But no, a little research showed it's simply their in-house name.  I don't know who Barron is, or why it's Babylonia Foods and not Kozonians Hummus, but I do know you might not want to buy your meat there, heh-heh.

The hummus was chunky, "artisan," had the best balance of flavors (not noticeably too salty) and an interesting recollection of deviled eggs. That might be paprika on top, it might have been from that.  Also, cumin in there, it was a nice after taste. This was a nice hummus.  

NEXT. Well, I had to try this and check it off the list, Nature's Pride Golden Farms. There is one on San Fernando, but this I got from their store on N. Glendale, north of the 134. This was a nice hummus but safe, which I guess is necessary to appeal to the widest audience. Turns out I like a little more opinion in my hummus.

NEXT. I was running a little early today and remembered this place on Central, Glendale Ranch Market. Which begs my question, What IS a Ranch Market?  Is it one company with many ranches? I don't know, but there are a lot of them in Los Angeles.

The hummus here is also nice but unremarkable.  It is vaguely unbalanced - like your resident troglodyte, you're thinking right about now. 

Yesterday I was in Whole Foods and the gentleman standing in line ahead of me was wearing chef pants.  I'm not sure how these got to be THE chef pants, but I engaged him in conversation anyway and he works for a company that caters to the studios.  They specialize in middle eastern cuisine.  I asked him where in Glendale one can get the best hummus.  "Packaged?"  Then he trailed off and it was clear I was on a fool's errand.  However he does favor Raffi's for good local Mediterranean eats.  Which I see has hummus on its to-go menu.

Right now we are leaning towards the offerings of Pacific Food Mart and Kozonians Ranch Market. 

Entirely unrelated, last weekend I decided it was too hot to drink wine, at least anything red and big, which is precisely why I opened this, 2002 Chien Lunatique.

I think the chien was lunatique after drinking this wine. 

I don't know why France's dogs are lunatiques while ours are merely something to beware, but there it is.

This wine was exactly what I wanted: decadent and delicious.  Deep dark fruits, mysteries and allures, exactly right.

Cheers to the quiet days of summer and all the little bits that fill it. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Great Glendale Hummus Search, part 2, sooner than I'd planned.

What, more hummus already? The Great Glendale Hummus search continues today minus any plan for it to do so.  After the last sampling I thought maybe a quiet bit of rest, reflection and research to make it a somewhat thorough and fair endeavor. 

Also, I was running really late in the Out-and-About part of the day. That's the part right before I punch the troglodyte card, which, incidentally, has never been done LATE in many, many years. And then I passed this place. Oh, sigh.

Pacific Food Mart, on, go figure, Pacific @ Dryden.  First, nice little store.  Bright and lively, everything a cave dweller thrives on.  More than that, it's hard not to fall for a place that has three fantastic paintings of chickens and flowers above its deli counter.

The gentleman assured me: no sugar.  Also, that the hummus was just made.  And that it's really good.  A waiting customer standing next to me concurred. She said, "It's clean." The hummus, when he handed it to me, was still warm.  Hopes were high.  And then I hightailed it out of there.

This hummus is:  lighter, airier texture than the previous fare.  Less salty, and a nice hint of garlic.  Clean, indeed. But I must concede, the previous hummus had a nice bite to it that was lacking here.  This was smoother.  And I could always add more lemon.

Which begs the obvious: why aren't I making my own hummus?  I neither have nor desire a food processor.  I suppose I could do it by hand, people have done it before, it'd merely be less smooth but edible. 

Until then, this is getting fun. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Don't ask, don't tell.

Can I throw those away for you, gentlemen?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Great Glendale Hummus Search has begun.

Recently perusing the interwebs, it turns out my sudden craving for hummus collided with stumbling onto this  capture from the Tumblr page, Things White People Like. There is another version on the site Stuff White People Like.  I don't know if they are related or competitors or plagiarists, but I don't want to get into the middle of it by posting one minus mentioning the other.
Now a stereotype, I still wanted hummus.  The deal is, Whole Foods once had a really fricking good hummus in their fresh/prepared foods case. Then they messed it up by changing the recipe and adding sugar to it.  Okay, so now that I'm even MORE a stereotype, let's add to it:  basic hummus has like four ingredients in it: chick peas, tahini, lemon, and garlic.  THAT'S IT.  So when I go to a store and see a list of weirdo stuff in there, I walk away.  Hummusless.
Trader Joe's has one hummus, Eggplant Hummus, minus sugar.  But I live in Glendale, there has to be an amazing hummus somewhere in this town, right? The search has begun.

First stop.
Currently on ...Central above the 134, these guys are going to move into the old Red Carpet location on Glenoaks.  Will they still be Central Grand Market?  The suspense is palpable. 

Fresh behind the counter but minus any posted ingredients list, I asked if there was sugar in their hummus.  The initial answer was "I don't think so," but I persisted.  After some investigating, the answer was no, but I have no idea what else is in this hummus.  I got a small tub.  The hummus is reasonably priced and good consistency.  My only thought against it was it seems too salty, and maybe a bit...heavy. Whole Foods was a fresher, lighter fare, this by comparison seemed more laden.
The woman behind the counter was very nice as was the gentleman who looked into ingredients for me, but I think the search will continue.  Someone suggested I try one of the many restaurants, like Carousel.  Good idea!

Still, last night I made a cucumber salad with red onions, dill, lemon, S&P, and a drizzle of good olive oil.  Put some hummus on that and a hard boiled egg with anchovies - only in this case a scrambled egg with a bit of curry because I was running late  - de-lish!

Sunday, June 1, 2014

da Plonk is in da Cave, redux

You may recall, though I hope not, December 2012 through April 2013 saw the Great Cave Plonk-a-thon

It's baaaaaaack.

It seems we've come into some plonk, and now it can all be yours.  Sure, all the experts say the wine you cook with should be at least as good as the wine you drink, but they're experts, what do they know?  Plonk's acidity pairs well with fatty meats and adds a nice zest as it reduces. 

It just so happens I'd already picked up a small bit of pork butt, aka, shoulder, and was about to sacrifice a surprisingly pleasant wine to it, this 2001 Columbia Crest Shiraz.  The Larry came in Friday and left this behind.  I thought it might be okay at best, not because Columbia Crest doesn't do a good job of it at a most reasonable price, but that their efforts might not last 13 years.  I was wrong!  It was delicious, a little too delicious in a big sort of way, it probably would have obliterated that pork butt.  (AKA, shoulder.) 

Fortunately the Plonk showed up. I opted this one, a 1978 something French and white.The cork was like soft butter and the wine tasted like the smell of coffee with a sharp, fruity edge. 

I'm just going to say it: raw pork butt is not attractive.  Neither is the shoulder.  Garlic, salt, and some crushed spices - looks like a little anise, black and red pepper, coriander and a little cumin.  Not quite a slow-and-low, more like a slightly faster-and-medium.  The juices got strained and reduced, and softened with a bit of butter.  This is a sharp, acidic flavor profile, maybe not for everyone, but free for the taking for anyone to try.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Buy beer here, not there now, but there later.

There is a place in South Pasadena called Mission Wines.  It's on Mission, so that works out well.  Whenever I ask anyone if they go to Mission Wine and Spirits, they usually think I mean this place, but no. 

I mean Mission Wine and Spirits

There are four of them, the first in Pasadena, on Washington.  There is one in Glendale on Glenoaks.  They opened a second Glendale location when they took over the world's greatest-named liquor store, Hammered Liquors (Glendale @ Maple).  This was late 2012. It was just a quick move-in to capitalize on the holidays while paperwork was being secured for renovation in the early new year. 

Gary manages that store, and he was generous in embracing this uncouth troglodyte as part of his clientele.  More importantly, Gary has a dream: to be the biggest beer retailer IN THE WORLD!  We all need our dreams - well, based on last night not mine, but you know what I mean.  Part of the renovation would be to have, like, three or four miles of beer cases to fill with all Gary's dreams.  Awsesome. 

You know how paperwork goes, especially in Glendale. A year passed, some of another, and Mission is finally closed for its renovation/soon-to-be close up.
To give Gary a run for his dream, world famous (?) Ramirez recently opened its new, second, location on Olympic @ Soto, very near it's first location.  I wrote about visiting Ramirez-original last November, the world's biggest beer selection crammed into a phone booth. 

No longer!

I got this.  It was nice, I liked it. 

Not sure when Mission will be re-opening, look forward to dreams fulfilled.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

The Hotel Glendale.

Find the Hotel.
(Then keep scrolling.)

In conjunction with Preservation Month, The Glendale Historical Society and the City of Glendale Historic Preservation Commission presented, earlier today, the Glendale Civic Center Walking Tour.  Participants picked up a booklet and map for the self-guided tour that covered 21 notable buildings in the heart of Glendale, including the Municipal Power and Light Building, Glendale Main Post Office and First United Methodist Church. 

Old though I am, I was not featured in this tour. The Hotel Glendale was.  Here is the stop placard. 

 Here is the postcard, front and back, with the printing intact.  You can see both these pictures, and more, lining the walls here at The Cave.

According to Glendale's volume of the ubiquitous series by Arcadia Publishing  ("Home of the Iconic Images of America Series!") the radio station was here 1927 - 1929. Katherine Yamada, one of the books authors, also pens the column "Verdugo Views"  for the Glendale News Press. You can read more about the Hotel's radio history, KGFH and the longer lived KIEV, here.

Before the antenna intricate enough to nuke everyone on the sixth floor, there was to be a dirigible port, the world's first.  I've read some places that it would take passengers into DTLA in twenty minutes, but the bigger vision was a series of roof top junctions that would end in New York.  

This post on Vintage Air gives us the ecstasy, agony, and eventual bankruptcy of Slate Aircraft's vision, via its prototype ship, the City of Glendale. "Slate envisioned a network of hotels and "stations" across the country where his transcontinental airships would make passenger stops, the first of which was built on the roof of the Glendale Hotel."

Before e-things and i-things, there were real things.  Good for us the ones that stand, protected. Thanks to those who work to protect them.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Wine and Champagne storage under the Brooklyn Bridge.

*Click on pictures to enlarge*

Last week a friend of mine - (gasp, yes, I have a friend) - re-posted this link from Huffington Post on the Tweety.    8 Things Even New Yorkers Don't know About New York City.
  "4. The Brooklyn Bridge originally contained a vast wine and champagne cellar."

WHAT?  Now I know a few things about NYC, like Washington Square Park was once a cemetery, Canal Street was really once a canal, and the lions in front of the Library are named Patience and Fortitude.  I know what DUMBO means, SoHo, NoHo, and Tribeca. But living this long and not knowing something this important kills a huge chunk of my street cred. Also, I needed to know more.  

(Fine Print NYC.)
First, before there was a Brooklyn Bridge.  He doesn't link his references, but the following is based on's 2013 post, Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams, At The Brooklyn Bridge!?

Mike writes that in the bridge's construction, room was made for a champagne cellar at all because "they were there before the bridge was built. Prior to the Brooklyn Bridge connecting Brooklyn to Lower Manhattan, at the very spot where the anchorages were placed, stood Rackey's Wine (Brooklyn side) and Luyties and Co., (Manhattan side) another liquor company. So, the bridge builders worked around the business and incorporated storage spaces into the bridge. More importantly, the spaces were rented to the companies in order to help the city pay for the bridge's construction."

(Fine Print NYC)

A Pittsburgh Post Gazette article (don't spend too much time here, we will get to it again later) confirms, "New Yorkers of another generation remember the cellars, which were built in 1876, seven years before the erection of Brooklyn Bridge, and which housed the wine stores of Rackey's wine establishment and Luyties and Co."

(Corbis Images)
Second, they build a bridge. (This is from an article  by Jim Talbot published June, 2011 in Modern Steel Magazine.) There are four main steel cables, each one consisting of 5,434 parallel steel wires arranged in 19 strands.  "Work started on placing the main cable wires between the two anchorages in February 1877. Crews on the anchorages and platforms positioned or 'regulated' the wires as they were hauled over by the travelers, lashing 286 wires into strands. One strand was at the center, surrounded by six strands,and surrounded again by 12 strands. The crews built the cables from the bottom up to form this arrangement. Sixteen machines wrapped the finished cables with iron
(Brooklyn Expedition . Org)
wire to finish the job. Clamps moved ahead of the machines to bind the wires tightly to form a cylinder. Lastly the wires were oiled and painted. Crews completed the work on the main cables by October 1878."

(Fine Print NYC)
And because an anchorage is an unsightly thing, all this stuff got encased in buildings, vaults.  Brooklyn Bridge Facts states John Roebling, the bridge's engineer, envisioned this space as a double-tiered commercial arcade, or vault for the national treasury.  TimeOut New York says Roebling's vision for the Gothic design and 50-foot-high cathedral ceilings would be for shopping arcades.  But in 1999 this worthwhile New York Times "FYI" column states, "The anchorages are the 60,000-ton granite structures located where the cables that support the bridge are fastened to anchor plates and buried in the ground. The wine cellars were located beneath the ramps that lead up to the anchorages, within the arched granite and limestone approaches that span the intervening streets, and that today are all but lost in the maze of exits and entrances. These approaches are perforated by thick masonry vaults running perpendicular to the roadway above."
About the Brooklyn Anchorage, writes, "It is composed of a series of eight barrel-vaulted masonry and brick arched spaces, framed by the piers which support the bridge, with ceilings nearly 50 feet high."

The NYTimes column talks about how the temperatures in these granite cathedrals maintained a constant 60 degrees, ideal for wine and champagne storage.  City records from 1901 show the Luyties Brothers paid $5,000 for storage on the Manhattan side and A.Smith and Company paid $500 a year for space on the Brooklyn side.

(New York Evening Post, 1936)
Third, Prohibition, before, during and after.  Prohibition ruined everything.  In 1920 the vaults were emptied of all alcohol and used to store rolls of newsprint.  Repeal was 1933, and this brings us back to the earlier referenced article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.  The article is written July 11, 1934, the ninth anniversary of the opening of The Hotel Glendale, home of The Cave Wine Storage, also a rumored speakeasy.  "Historic Wine Cellars Reopened After Dry Era," this article walks us through the stacks of vintage wine and champagne in the dark passageways under the Brooklyn Bridge.  They are now the wine cellars of Anthony Oechs and Co. and the nickname "Blue Grotto" has been earned for the statue of a Virgin Mary that's been placed in a small niche, brought from the Pol Roger cellars in Epernay.  In 1953, Theodore Belzner's  Brooklyn Daily Eagle article adds that Hearn's department store took over the space from Anthony Oechs and Co., and then it was vacated.

In the book Meyer Berger's New York, there is a passage also from 1953 that speaks of 14 "industrial concerns" that rent the space for work or storage, including canned food from Holland, wire, and cable  He talks about the now abandoned wine storage behind heavy steel doors and the faded mottoes still on the walls. 
      "Who loveth not wine, women and song, he remaineth a fool his whole life long."
      "The best wine goeth down sweetly causing the lips of those who are asleep to speak."
      "Their flavors are as a brook of many voices."

(Creative Time)
Finally.  1983 began Creative Time's annual Art in the Anchorage series, video, music, readings designed
specifically to incorporate the space. "...visitors could listen to Spalding Gray muse over his and others’ reminiscences about the bridge and its surrounding neighborhood, while around him, installations addressed the Gothic nature of the environment, a dark rusticated interior reminiscent of Piranesi’s dungeons."  This series ended when the Anchorage was finally closed to the public after September11, 2001.

(Stanley Greenberg . Org)

This 1992 photo by photographer Stanley Greenberg gives us our first full peek into the the cellars.  From his book, "Invisible New York: The Hidden Infrastructure of the City (Creating the North American Landscape)" we get the Brooklyn side of the anchorage. If you click on it to enlarge, you can see on the back wall the Pol Roget logo. 

In 2011, Paul Fitzpatrick, aka, Pauletto, posted about two dozen shots of the Brooklyn Anchorage in his Flickr photoset,  "Under the Brooklyn Bridge."  Jealous, and WOW.

(Paul Fitzpatrick/pauletto, Flickr)
(Paul Fitzpatrick/pauletto, Flickr)

(Library of Congress)

You can see the how much real estate comprised the (Manhattan) anchorage in this 1885 Currier and Ives lithograph, "The Great East River Suspension Bridge."


Outside the Brooklyn side

(Forgotten NY)

(Loren Madsen)

Outside the Manhattan side was taken over by skateboarders and the like and was christened "Brooklyn Banks."  In 2010 the city took the space back for their bridge restoration project.

You get a pretty good tour of Brooklyn Banks in the first minute.ten of this video, but you might want to hit the mute button first, especially if you like Halloween. I think.

Here are all the links for everything linked, mostly in order of appearance.
Huffinton Post 
Edible Geography
Mike the History Guy
Fine Print NYC
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Corbis Images
Jim Talbot for Modern Steel
Brooklyn Expedition
Brooklyn Bridge Facts
Time Out New York
New York Times
New York City
New York Magazine
New York Evening Post
Meyer Berger's New York
Creative Time
Stanley Greenberg
Paul Fitzpatrick, Flickr
Library of Congress
Forgotten NY.
Loren Madsen, Flickr.

If you're still awake, one more.