Saturday, March 18, 2017

1966 was a good year.

Vacation?  I needed to do something and left for a week.  It turned out to be a very good week for me.  Very Good. 

When booking things, I opted to come home a day earlier than necessary.  I thought, well, no one will know where I am for a day and that's kind of fun. Turned out to be a good plan, I got out just before the blizzard.

And landed late in Los Angeles and came to The Cave to check on things.  Also, since the week went so amazingly, and I had one more secret day, I decided to keep it going: I retrieved what would be breakfast the following morning, because breakfast is the most important meal of the day: 1966 Chateau Figeac.

It was given to me a few years ago, yes, GIVEN TO ME. He was sober and everything, beats me.  I wanted to open it last winter, and then open it this winter, and then open it with a couple of other people, but the events of the week decided it: open it NOW. 

(sorry, guys.  Another wine, another time.)

Don't you eat your fridge clean before vacay so nothing spoils?   Everything but that last bit of tumeric. I was very proud of myself.

I woke up at 6 a.m., bummer, and made it worse by running a quick errand so wasn't able to begin breakfast until 8.  Precisely.  The plan was to have a glass of wine an hour to see how it unfolded, because there was also the possibility of it going south FAST. 

Also, A Woody Allen marathon was running.  Perfect morning!

Dense black in color, bright around the edges, I was amazed at the clean cork and didn't realize until I asked if it had been re-corked, which it had, in 1991. Just as the gold "Wine Guard" label stated.  Which I didn't read.

Here are the notes.

8:00 a.m. Grapey, metallic, watery.
9:00.  Deepened body, lots of herbal things - tarragon? And rust.
10:00. Mmmmmm, interesting. It's all one. No usual leather/tobacco overwhelm, no, gentle everything - fruit, age.

It was about this time I was realizing being in 20-degree temps for a week and then an airplane, my nasal passages and palate weren't intact, and I regretted not being able to fully, roundly, absorb this wine.  Which didn't stop me.

11:00 Holy Sh*t.  Everything. Body, fruit, herbal, subtle vegetal, cohesive, and a little bit rusty.
12:00 Fruit and love. Mature vs. aged. Magnificant.

Then I took a nap for three hours.

Awesome end to a great week. I am a fortunate troglodyte. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

3 odd bits of the week.

Out and about, recently I saw this.  It took me a second.  (The frame helped.) Then I took a picture of it, and then I accidentally deleted it.   Here it is meticulously re-created for your perusal:

I'm not sure that was the exact license plate frame, but it was one I found on the internet.  Also, clearly not the official State of California license plate font. Fonts are a big deal amongst the font lovers, and there are many forums on license plates and their fonts.  Like the classic CA black plates use "Penitentary Gothic Fill." I don't know if that was its original name, or a post-plate tongue-in-cheek font design. A lot of people talk about Pennsylvania's font.  Many people are very devoted to license plates.  Others to wine.  This person is devoted to both.

Saw this curious couple at the Glendale Community College swap meet, (circa 1972), this past weekend. $40 and $30, respectively.  I was about to open one, and the guy told me they were designed only as display.  I asked if they were filled with water, (like, can you legally sell these at a flea market?) but he didn't answer me.  I get that a lot. 
It turns out the bottle was empty.  Never mind, then.

This happened this past weekend, so I am told. I wasn't there. Bert and Ernie's Barley Wine by way of Eske's Brew Pub and Eatery.  I take it that's Ernie on the right there, maybe the brewer (?) It was brewed only once.  We were joking about how the label looks like it was made with an x-acto knife and xerox machine.

But I hear it was delicious!

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Highlight Coffee.

Every time I walk past Highlight Coffee and see all the tables full - which is often- I'm so happy for owner Frank. The space is simple and pristine, the coffee beautifully served...this is a real experience in impeccable aesthetics. But the real money shot is at night, walking past this historical building, a beautiful soft, white light emanating from its iconic corner. The whole building glows because of it.  The building is fortunate to have this.

On Christmas day, when he finally gets a day off, Frank instead had free coffee and pastries set up in the lobby for all the residents.  Even when some jerk dumped the canister of milk all over things, only a few minutes later it was again clean and beautifully presented.

The old Hotel Glendale is moving up in the world, and Frank @ Highlight Coffee is the class act.

Saturday, December 24, 2016


It's the first night of Hanukkah. It's also Christmas Eve.  We all get to celebrate our joys together this year.  Much nicer than Turkunukkah or whatever that was. (Not to be confused with Turducken.)

The night before Christmas is my favorite night here.  It's mostly quiet and you think you should go home, but then someone shows up at the last minute and you realize that's why you're here and why it's worth it to stay.  We've been open normal hours Christmas Eve at least since I've been here.  It was a decision made because there's so much running around and procrastination and traffic and chaos there should be one place, one errand, that is civil and not about time or deadlines.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

HoHoHo, You're Killing Me, Santa.

I happen to know the Santa on Hollywood Boulevard, in the lot there next to one of the Scientology buildings, likes wine. He stores it here.  The Larry is a pretty good Santa, too. The triad of "Ho's" is spot on.  PS. The above title?  All The Larry. Cheers.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

UGH: The Deanster.

I swore I'd never again write about The Deanster, certain at least I if not everyone else had read ENOUGH ALREADY about this guy.  When he came last month I held true and silent. But then Dean did something that I thought was really cool. So here we are.

When Dean comes into town, he spends a lot of time at The Cave.  We tie a cute little kerchief around his neck and refer to him as The Cave mascot. He does this because in Indiana he doesn't get to share wine things with too many people.  Here, he can. People walk in, discussions occur, it makes Dean happy.

This week, a lovely intersection occurred. Dean and another Cave gentleman got into a very long conversation about wine things. I didn't really see what came of that, but I did see Dean writing on a cork and I got very curious about that.  He was writing the gentleman's name, and the date. He keeps the cork; he keeps who he shared the moment with, and with which wine.

And I DIG that idea.

So today I interviewed Dean about it.
"Did you get the date?  Make sure you get the date."

How long have you been doing the cork thing?
Shit...30-plus years. A long time.

Is it an original idea, or is this some kind of wine tradition?
No, I just started doing it.  I don't know if anyone else does.  I'm sure they do.  They collect corks.  They usually write on the bottles.  I see that alot.  They keep the bottle.  But corks are smaller.

How many corks do you have?
Maybe 100. I don't know where they are, how's that.

Then why do you do it?
Because it reminds me, whenever I see those things, who I was with.  It's 100 % at a restaurant.  I have the date and who I was with.

(At this point, after some deep confusion on my part, it was finally established some of the older corks are MIA, but recent corks still exist and are revisited.)

Do you do it if the wine is special or the person is special?
When the occasion is special.  You're not going to keep Two-buck Chuck.

You've never kept a cork from wine you and I shared.
It's your wine usually.  I won't take a cork if it's somebody else's wine.

Also, Dean's guitar made it's Cave debut. 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Qurrent Qave Quaffs.

It turns out between plonk and DRC there is at least one other tier of wine and name for it.  It was The Deanster who recently introduced me to the term quaffing wines, your basic daily dinner wine that isn't plonk

These are the qurrent Qave quaffs.  Look, I'm just going to say it: the holidays are coming and a certain amount of not horrible wine needs to be on hand for delivery guys and other vendors who've kept us in wine at the ideal temperature all year long.  Some I'll see in October and November, and then not until next year, so the quaff is here NOW.

Also, sometimes you just want something decent to open while the rest of your stuff is incubating. The quaffs are each around $10.  The two on the left are from Topline here in beautiful Glendale, California, and The Cicada is from K&L Hollywood.

The Bugey Gamay is the one most unlike the others.  It's fun and fruity and different and a little strange. The Kermit Lynch Cotes du Rhone is safe and likable with some nice, delicate, simple layers. The Cicada, which I opened last weekend and got four more bottles of and already only have three now, was the most sophisticated and surprising: This for $10! Wow, that's pretty good!  Like that. Even the winery refers to it as a pleasant "quaff."

This article about the best regions for good/cheap wine made the rounds this week. Though it opens with "Stop buying wine by choosing the bottle with your favorite animal on the logo," and I'm pretty sure a cicada is some kind of animal, it's still good for a gander.  In the meantime, Happy Quaffing!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Weekend wine, and vinegar.

I figured since I am spending a lot of energy hoping we keep getting reasonable weather, I should offer  compromise by opening something white.  Because everyone knows white after Labor Day is tres gauche!  And I've managed to squeak through summer minus doing so.  (Success!)

But according to research, aka, Cellar Tracker, it seemed like this (a generous donation to The Cave) needed to be opened.

I don't know why I don't like white wine, it's pretty tasty stuff and of course this didn't disappoint.  It tasted a lot like pears the first night though no one else writing about it agrees.  Still, it was really good and everyone who tried it was excited to do so, so it's probably better than that. 

While writing this, A. brought in 35-year-old Corsican red wine vinegar, one of which he was good enough to pop open for a try. The first go was strong and tart and bitter, and left a raw path down to the gullet. My eyes watered. By second taste, though, it had already evened out and was softer with more finesse.  Super interesting! 

Coffee, wine, vinegar.  What a vast and curious realm of flavors there are! All the many hunters, how fortunate I am to experience the various fruits of their labors.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Coffee from Hawaii.

Vahe went to Hawaii and paid $50 for this.  !. 

OK that's crazy.

Even crazier was his willingness to part with some of it on my behalf, something I was ambivalent about.  Coffee from Hawaii,  like, say, Jamaica Blue Mountain - which can run  upwards of $70/lb - is often more pomp than circumstance. No one wants to taste bad $50 coffee and have to have that follow-up conversation just like no one wants to open a pricey bottle of wine to realize it's quaff at best.

(That's an inside wink to The Deanster, who's fond of the term 'quaff.')

What I mean is, while Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. that grows coffee it is historically unremarkable, and I had ambivalent expectations.

This was one of the better cups of coffee I've ever had.  It was memorable.  It was beautifully balanced, smooth, easy.  The Kau website describes it as having "the depth and rustic sweetness of maple syrup, accompanied by the sweet spice of true cinnamon. As it unfolds on the tongue a bouquet of sweet flowers and herbs present themselves (marigold, wintergreen, dill)..."

Like wine tastes like wine to me, coffee tastes like coffee, and this was really just a nice, good cup of coffee.

Look! There was enough for a cold brew!

According to Starbucks,  one pound of coffee makes 64 5-ounce cups of coffee, an amount of coffee no one actually drinks. 

A Starbucks short is 8-ounces, a tall is 12. So, let's call it at 32 10-ounce cups of coffee per pound.  That's still only $1.57-per-cup.  Coffee this good is certainly worth that.  There's lots and lots of places you can get really horrible coffee for way more than that.

Really lovely stuff, thank you, Vahe.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

We get the best mail.

Because we have the coolest customers.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The evolution of a corner.

The corner of Broadway/Glendale is on the move!  Highlight Coffee, the new upstairs neighbor to the world famous The Cave Wine Storage,  posted a recent pic of its progress, looking to open SOON.

The original lobby to The Hotel Glendale

The Cafe Broadway, which vacated last year. 

The vacant corner of Broadway/Glendale

Highlight Coffee in progress.

(You can follow Highlight here on Instagram, from which the photo hails, and also on FB)


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Oh, right, that.

I was rummaging through files yesterday and found this picture that would have been taken between the previous two blog posts.  Oh, right; that was that day everyone showed up the same time and then so did that other thing.  I wonder what happened next.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Sherry and The Deanster, together at last.

The Deanster landed mid week.  To celebrate we plied him with this really lovely, delicious Emilio Lustau East India Solera Sherry. The Deanster informed me it would last a long time once opened, and I suspected that might be a good thing as a long time might be Dean's tenure here. Good Call! 

It was a good week with a few really nice intersections, and Dean got to talk about wine with people who know about wine. That would be pretty much anyone but me. 

I'm still trying to figure out why the East India Sherry is from Spain.

Sherry aside, it's been since May that I've shared my deep love of wine I know nothing about, so let's catch up. Because the bottles piling up are starting to make me look a little zealous; I assure you, it's merely time passed.

This started the pile back in late May, and I'm old and I didn't take notes so here's what I know.  I'd do it again in a heartbeat. It was really unusual and interesting and good. That's enough, isn't it?

The thing is, I finally organized my wine locker.  Well, I rented out my locker - there was nothing left - so now I have a wine floor in the corner. Wine Without Borders. I researched open times and organized my spreadsheet by that. Now all I have to do is go down the list. 

"Spreadsheet," like I have that much wine. About two and a half cases divided into the really nice stuff the very generous customers have donated to the cause and the plonk I buy. Obviously this is from Golden Pile A. It was ready to drink and I wanted to get some of the bigger reds in before it got too hot. Mission complete! It was big, huge, gigantic and delicious.

Then Dave said, "It's not THAT big."

I differ. 


This I opened because I could find little about it.  Also from Golden Pile A, seriously interesting!  And good!
I took notes!

"Black Cherry wrapped in two bay leaves."  

 That's different.  I like it.

Justin gave this to me and I was making salad one night.  The bottle was on the counter and I was crumbling feta into the salad.  I remembered that thing about how Champagne pairs best with salty foods, so I popped some feta and took a swig of this stuff, and really it just came ALIVE.  I rarely drink wine with food, because the wine I like and the food I eat don't really go together.  But WOW, how well everything works when it does. 

This stuff was as unusual as it was different.  The first day or two, I wasn't convinced.  Very dry, stiff.  Then I left it for the weekend, cellar temperature and not at all tightly capped.  While I was gone it just...settled into itself.  It got delicate and floral notes showed up. 

When The Deanster was here, we talked a lot about wine in how it has a different purpose for everyone.  What you realize when listening to these guys is how much they know, all the little details about the growers, the vines, the weather that year, the pedigree of the wine maker, the history of hands touching the grapes, the mood of the bottler, the species of crickets in the vineyards, the elevation of each individual grape. It's devotion to this beautiful, live, ever evolving liquid in a bottle. And being privy to such conversations is really one of my favorite things about being here,  even if I myself will never progress beyond, "That was really good." 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Cave Guestbook.

It's easy, really.  You come in, you sign in, you do your thing, you sign out, you leave. 

The sign-in book existed when I came into this job.  It was a yellow legal pad.  It was divided into five columns: Date, Locker Number, Name, Time In, and Time Out. Nice old school way to keep track of things.  Very helpful that one time a really honest guy reported a bottle of wine sitting in the middle of the aisle.  All I had to do was look on the guest pad to see who'd been in that day, and VOILA!  Mystery solved!

In 2010, the legal pad was replaced by a Mead-like Composition book, but with recycled paper.  Ever Forward! Well, actually Ever Forward! would be something digital, but we like to keep a reverent bit of old school going.  It took about 6 years: the current guest book recently saw its last, dog-eared page.

There were MANY times when, while drawing four lines with the ruler to make the five columns, I wanted to shake things up a bit, like draw the lines at a diagonal,   or skip a line, or have no lines, or shake up the order of the columns.  Hilarity would ensue!  Okay, most likely not, so 200 times I ruled 5 straight lines in good order.

I may have abstained from guest book fun and games, but not everyone did.  Below is one gentleman's entire list of aliases entered into our guest book, a one-time joke become a well-honed routine. He'd saddle up to the guest book after his withdrawal/deposit, sometimes in lengthy consideration, other times with swift inspiration. I was not allowed to look at it until after he left.  It never disappointed. 

The list:

Bozo Jones
Lee Dickman IV
Boo Dugan, in locker #JRTX3
Peter Paul Blues, locker Q1
Dutch Denmark
Bob the Gambler
Todd Ditts, Jr.
Rebel Lee Jones
Jude Dickes
Horus Cohen
Billy Bob Titus, IV
Buzz Supken
Big Barnyard Stootz
Buzz Smithereen
Sam Sperling IV
Bud Templeton

Odd Smith
Bobs Fischler
Ralph Tummy
Boyd Stitts
Wild Man Noozy
Jack A'Holeski
Carlitos Gardenberg  IV

Franz Kafkasky

Now we have a new guest book.  It's spiral bound, much cleaner in presentation.  First entry in it?  Justin.  

...but give it time.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The mystery of the secret tunnel, and other Hot Glendale gossip from the locals.

There is this thing called Facebook, and The Cave has a page on FB that has been broken for three months.  I can post, but I can't access the feed.  Ergo, the many interests we share - beer, wine, historical buildings, and all things local - have been inaccessible.

So instead I've been trolling other FB bits of interest, and this is from the group "Growing up in Glendale in the 60's and 70's."  (There is also a group called Vintage Glendale which we will do another time.)  I scrolled back through to the beginning of this group, and this post is about what bits of interest were found.  But first, The Mystery of the Secret Tunnel, which has taken me three months to solve...or is it?  Solved?

It begins with this, posted July 2013.

She later insists:

We get our first clues:

We get an attempt of reason:

And it's true, The Silver Room was here in the basement of the old hotel.  But does that negate the original claim? The mystery is ON.  Stop 1, The Tattoo Parlor.  Why? Because The Cave was built in 1982, so if there were a secret tunnel down here, it's behind lockers. Also, the matter is easily resolved based on one thing: is there a basement in the building across the street.

That's Body Shop Tattoo, behind the tree and wedged between the pawn shop and Dave's.  (Hey, not every corner in Glendale can be Caruso Affiliated.)

I asked the guy, "Is there a basement in this building?" 
Not to his knowledge.
"Did this used to be a barber shop?"

He suggested I try Dave's. Dave's was not the barber shop because Dave's is the oldest bar in Glendale.  I went to Dave's.  I asked the guy, "Is there a basement in this building?" Not to his knowledge.  I asked if there might be one that has since been locked up, inaccessible.  He suggested I try the owner who was on vacation.  I left The Cave contact info.  The woman sitting on the bar stool chimed in that the tunnel was actually a sewer pipe and it was filled in when they re-paved Broadway in the eighties.  The possibly sotted plot thickens!

While waiting to hear from the owner of Dave's, I emailed some people who were affiliated with this building for many years, during the time period in question. Broadway-Glendale Co. bought the building in 1975.  The basement was virtually untouched, the original restaurant, its horseshoe bar, intact.  If there were a tunnel, it would be evident then.  Was it?  The answer was no, that there was no memory of a tunnel.

After a few weeks I went back to Dave's.  "Not to his knowledge," the guy told me, though the owner has only been around a certain time and may not know.  This time, I was given the number of the management company for the block.  I called.

"Is there a basement in that building."  I told the woman who got stuck with me and my query that I thought no one wanted to tell me because they thought I might be a terrorist.  SHE told me: that there actually IS, not so much a basement as a small storage area. But not under the tattoo parlor - nee - barber shop. 

So there was no secret tunnel running from the once barber shop, under Broadway, to The Hotel Glendale basement during prohibition or ever.

HOWEVER.  There are other possibilities, very real ones, and the plot thickens.  Stay with me here:
1. There is a barber shop:

This is the current barber shop on the retail level of the old Hotel, Sevak Haircut Store.

And this is...Sevak?  No, Mike.  Sevak is his son. When Mike took over the space 27 years ago, he changed the name to Sevak which means there has been a barber shop in this space a really long time, if not forever.  There seems to be a barber pole on the building in old photos, but it's not clear enough to be sure.   Mike has been cutting hair 55 years.  He was born in Iran, then lived in Armenia, and then Glendale.  He's been to 80 countries, he tells me. He loves to travel.

2. There is a stairway to the basement:  Once upon a time, the main stairwell of the lobby indeed continued down to the basement, a sweeping entrance into the restaurant and social room. That stairwell was closed off when not only The Cave was built, but when the rest of the basement was made into offices during the Broadway-Glendale Co. era.  The defunct restaurant into which it swept - though I've never seen nor read about how it looked - may well indeed have had the red booths and black and white tile so vividly remembered.

BUT. The barber shop does not connect to the lobby.

3. There are other stairs to the basement: 

Some of the retail spaces on the Glendale Avenue side of the building do have stairways that lead down to the basement for restroom access.  NONE of the retail spaces on the Broadway side have them.

SO ... could there have once been a stairway from Sevak's that has since been removed to make space for other enterprises?

I scanned the original blueprints and was unable to identify stairs.  Also, the barber shop has no "footprint" of a once existing stairway, though both that floor and the basement ceiling have been covered over. 

SO ... the possibility exists, not of the tunnel, but that the barber shop in the Hotel Glendale once had a stairway the led down to the defunct restaurant/social room where remained red booths and black and white tiles floor. If that is not the case, it may be a confusion of memory with the main stairwell down to the basement.  If THAT is not the case, it is the stuff of pure fun and fiction.  Or maybe there was a tunnel that was paved over in the 'eighties, who knows.


The building on the left and on the top right are The Maryland Hotel, on the corner of Maryland and Wilson. The two remaining photos are of The Hotel Glendale.

Though the old Hotel has had its storied past, and there is across the street two pawn shops and a tattoo parlor and a bar, look what the new owners have done to it:  Glendale Flats.

The milk doors are still there.

Sadly, the basement door with the original KIEV radio signs has been recently removed.

Mmmm, Rhinegold beer, my favorite. It exquisitely  pairs with Pall Malls.   Glendale Flats is attracting many young urban professionals, or as they are now called, Millennials.  There is here a really nice mix of culture, age, and languages.

The Cave Wine Storage is still there, also known as HERE.

My AC service tech and I have been together eight years and only discovered his last visit that we both think one of the rooms here entirely creepy and haunted.

Now that the bricks are exposed post-renovation, I'll also be thinking of the great grandfather and others whose hands laid them.

The service elevator was an afterthought.  The Hotel was built without one, considered only one of the Hotel's many failures.  If you stand  on Glendale Ave. north of the building and look up, you'll see a line of windows covered over.  They took out a swath of the building to add the elevator.  I once lived in an apartment under the motor of that elevator and it was the bane of my existence.  Now I know who to blame.

I messaged Sherry Phelps Holt in hopes of getting more stories from her about the Hotel during her tenure, but I've not heard back.

If you have any stories or old family photos of the old Hotel Glendale, please do share.