The Cave is closed Christmas day.
The Cave is open normal hours, 2-7 pm, Christmas Eve, New Years Eve, and New Years day. Cheers.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

"Greater Glendale's most complete private wine storage locker"

I've not even started and I'm already verklempt with a beautiful nostalgia. 

I found this.  I found this this past year sometime, and have waited, patiently, to post it, filling the space between with many necessary thoughts, etc. 

Tomorrow is December 15, 2014, The Cave's official  32nd anniversary.  This is the original invitation to the opening. 

In a Glendale News Press article dated July 24, 1982 - which you can read here in our entry way along with many other articles about the Hotel's history - Mr. Day talks about the coming wine storage facility. 

"Day's pet project of the overall refurbishing is the construction of a wine storage business he will operate in the basement of the hotel.  Beginning with 180 locker to test the market, Day will eventually have about 400 lockers-for-rent in the huge basement.

"Civic Center Cellars may soon house one of the largest stores of fine wine in the Southland, provided wine lovers flock to rent the temperature controlled locker as Day is sure they will.

"...He plans to install a large oak door and other amenities to give the cellar some old world charm."

Oh those guys and their old world charm!
The Bordeaux Room opened first, and the Napa Room would follow years later.  Mr. Day had planned to change the name of the hotel to Civic Center House, and The Cave would, as the article states, be Civic Center Cellars.  I'm not sure why the change of heart, maybe after dealing with the city of Glendale over his many renovations he lost his love for all things Civic Center.  I CAN tell you troglodytes much prefer Caves to Civic Centers. 

Gil, also of Broadway-Glendale Co. designed the AC. Here's a picture of Gil enjoying his AC.

Joe Burns was your first emcee, and people who have been here from the beginning still tell me stories about him.  Vern followed.  It's the holidays and about time for me to call him. These are none of them the stereotype of what you might think of as an avid fan of this guy.

These were real guys, old school, from the greatest generation.  Mr. Day is no longer on earth, nor Joe Burns.  Where I sit today is their legacy, one of many, I'm certain, but for this one ... I am so grateful for this privilege.

Happy Birthday to us.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Farewell, iconic Cave shoes.

This is a picture of Keanu Reeves shoes.

This is a picture of Johnny Depp's shoes.

How do people know these things, how do they even exist as a point of interest and as something both researchable and findable?

More than once have comments been made on my shoes.  More than once have my shoes shared the same sentence at the same time as either or both of these guy's shoes.

                                                           RIP, Iconic Cave Shoes. 

You began as shoes, Ken's shoes, in NYC.  He didn't want them so I took them.  They had waffle soles. don't like waffle soles so I took them to a shoe guy and he shaved them off for me.  Much better!  In the end, I took to Doc's and these sat in the closet.  Then I made them something to ride a bike in.  Then I became a professional troglodyte and needed Cave-wear.  These were those.  The elastic sides lost their elasticity and they were twice sewn tighter, and finally just pinned.  Sometimes a heel would fall off for no particular reason, like while I was waiting for the elevator.  It wasn't until the two lines finally met that I called it.  That was the bargain.  Line one was making it's way across the sole from one direction, line two from the other. They met, and it was time to call it.  Also, tip-toeing through water was getting strange, if anyone was watching.

They've been replaced by the next pair of shoes going south. Circa 1990, the leather is already cracked.  They are not as forgiving to the two pairs of socks it takes to withstand a day in this frozen tundra (laundry is 9/10 socks), but they've the potential to become something, maybe a la Kiefer Sutherland.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Someone else's holiday gift list.

Everyone is vying for your holiday dollars.  This past week The Cave has received holiday catalogs from  Zachys and Wally's, beautiful and expensive auction catalogs from Spectrum Wine Auctions, and a post card from Heritage. Okay, maybe Heritage isn't vying too hard.

This is a picture of me having dinner the other night.  You can see the Wally's catalog there awaiting my perusal.  Sorry, Wally, the entire ham had priority.

Sated and dreamy, I opened Wally's Wine gift catalogue to see what my dear friends (um...) might be getting me for Christmas.  Over 40 pages, they would have a difficult time deciding.  Maybe I could help. 


Page 14, say, I've heard of this stuff.  Let's check that out.

Six bottles of the '09 @ $30,000?  $30,000?  Wow, that's a LOT of ham!  Someone must really like you, or want something from you, to get you that for ANYthing.  Might come off a bit showy, better to go with the '08.

 Page 18.  Ooooh, lots of nice wine in that one, and it's a bargain at only four grand. Robert Parker, Jr. really likes those '09's.  And look, you get some caramel popcorn and airplane peanuts with it.  I don't know...

Page 19. $10,000?  To get bowled over?  Dude, seriously, I get bowled over half a sandwich that already has a bite out of it that someone else is too full to finish. PASS!


Mmmmm, cheese.  Page 40.  Over $400 worth of cheese.  That might be more cheese than I eat in a year.  That might be more food than I eat in a year.  Does anyone need this much cheese?  This much anything? Is Christmas, any holiday, love, measured in cheese?


Wally's, et al, is banking on it.

Friday, November 28, 2014


First, hoping everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving with mostly agreeable people (and the few we tolerate), mostly good food, and wine - which of course was good, it's why we're all here.

Okay, a word on pepper. is what my salt and pepper shakers look like.  I forgot to take a picture of mine, these are off the web, that's why they look so clean.  My grandparents had the same kind.  Now you might be thinking if I had any affinity for food whatsoever, WHY DON'T I HAVE A PROPER PEPPER GRINDER?

Not so fast, Louie.  It's true, I don't have a pepper grinder.  I DO have a spice grinder, AKA coffee grinder, a blade grinder, to be specific.  Burr grinders are superior, especially for coffee.  The blade grinder suits me fine.

 In this grinder I grind pepper in small batches and then put that into the shaker.  The pepper is actually a blend of, usually, black pepper, red pepper, mustard seed, and a small accent of star anise, which really makes it.  Sometimes I throw in a cardamom pod. 

You can tell how much I like pepper by my Thanksgiving dinner, which in the end looks like an old sweat sock.  Nope, just a lot of pepper on top there. 

KILLER meal:

Spaghetti squash roasted with garlic, thyme and black pepper...

topped by a generous slice of mozzarella cheese...

topped by a curried tomato sauce from heirloom tomatoes with onion, jalapeno, garlic, and green matter...

topped with an egg gently fried in butter with salt and a generous bit of pepper.  The salsa is a simple fuyu persimmons, pomegranate, jalapeno, and lemon. If I had cilantro around, I'd have used it.

Delicious despite the sweat sock presentation the pepper gives it.  I like pepper more this week than I did last week, if that's possible, because of this:

Back story: wine from Armenia is getting good, Max went to Armenia, Max gave me some Armenian wine when he got back, and I've been not entirely convinced about these wines.  The white was first and it lacked a certain elegance but it was nice and competent.  The ArmAs 2012 Dry Red blend and I did not get along at all.  Then Max proffered aNOTHER wine from somewhere else it was terrible.  So I had with Max a friendly troglodyto-a-mano about wine, his advanced palate versus my unfortunate palate, filled with deep and great apologies.  What was the quote he used? Something about all wine leading to Burgundy.  (Again with the Burgundy!)  My comments to him were that I understand the obvious and know there is a Burgundy, but I'm missing the middle wines that lead there.

After that conversation, then trying to decide what to open last weekend, I thought, Well, (sigh), let's get this over with. I opened the last of it, this ArmAs 2012 Areni. 

Now, the blend was deeply unusual, that's the point of these grapes, they are indigenous to Armenia and they will be something to experience.  This, the Areni, was seriously interesting.  This wine had a generous fruit front, but it was followed by a strong black pepper finish.  And not the heat of pepper, just the fruit if it. I was like, Wha?  I tried some more and some more and it was what it was: the most unusual thing I've ever tasted.  How do they DO that?  How does a grape do that?  Suddenly pepper is mysterious, but so is this wine. I definitely need to need to try that again.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Boxes, alas.


Once upon a time there was this place called The Cave, and it is awesome!  It's a public wine storage facility. Wine in. Wine out.  Repeat. 

Often, when people take wine out, they are pulling random bottles from several locations, and now they have three or four or more bottles they are trying to manage and maneuver and carry without breaking any.  DIFFICULT! 

So I keep a collection of empty wine boxes on hand for just this sort of thing.  When I ran low, I'd do a wine box run over to Trader Joe's and this was an all-around jaunty task.  After close I could walk over there and say, Do you have any wine boxes?, and they'd say How many and I'd respond All of them, and they'd put them outside for me.  I'd carry armloads across the parking lot to The Cave, six or seven trips worth, and everybody was happy: I was able to provide a service and my customers had at hand an endless supply of Charles Shaw boxes to class up their otherwise lousy plonk, ease and generosity courtesy of Trader Joe's. 

Then they moved, grrrrrr.  

The boxes dried up. 

Holidays loomed.

I needed a Plan B. 

First I needed to figure out how to accomplish the multi-box transport minus a multi-box carrying vehicle.  Then I woke up early. 

With an old school luggage carrier, the sort if thing you one day appreciate never having thrown away, I walked over to Ralph's.  No luck.  Next, Cost Plus.  2 boxes!  And it was easy.  Third, Whole Foods.  NO LUCK.  People get very protected about their boxes around the holidays.  I wheeled my two boxes home.

I had maybe just enough time to make one more try.  I put the piece of wood that I use to haul things like broken Cave computers to the repair shop onto the back of my bike and quickly screwed onto it four screws with washers so the bungees could wrap around them easily.  I was OFF, me and my Brilliant Box Carrying Machine, to the newly re-opened Mission Wine and beer and alcohol and chewing gum. They were crowded, good for them.  I was like, no way am I getting any boxes from these guys.  I figured I could get four on the bike, so only asked for four, bashfully, and they gave me four, easily! 

The Brilliant Box Carrying Machine does NOT have a kickstand.  Flaw #1 quickly became many other flaws in my design, like the bungees were too short, or maybe I couldn't balance everything and get the right torque at the same time.  If you are a fan of clown cars and Keystone Cops, you'd have enjoyed this. In the end we managed to get home alive by gently walking the Not-So-Brilliant Box Carrying Machine.  The victory was the boxes stayed on there, barely. 

During the walk I reworked the blueprints and I think I've got it.  Worse case, it may take a village and everyone is going to have to pitch in to the contribution of the boxes.

Just look at all those beautiful boxes! 

Sunday, November 16, 2014


I: troglodyte, residence: Cave.  Turns out I share it with about 300 Others.

301: Last week began with a visit from a gentleman who closed his locker late 2012.  THAT'S LIKE TWO YEARS AGO. He came in to ask about a bit of product I'd given him then. This very special product is not available in California, could I get it again?  Well, sure, anyone can, just order some, here's the link.    He didn't want to order some, he wanted me to order some. And because this is The Cave, I did.

When he came in this week to get the order, I again asked him if he wanted the necessary links for future endeavors.  He said, "No, this way I get to visit you." Aaawwwwww, *sniff*.  Anytime, Mr. M.

Then The Deanster came into town.
 This is The Deanster.  He's like a new piece of furniture.  He's been here daily for the week. DAILY.

Last (my weekend) we went on the Tour de Wine Stores.  We managed to hit six wine stores from West LA to Glendale.

OH! and BevMo.  Seven.  Ish. (meaning BevMo is to wine what ... Bevmo is to... wine.) 

After he dropped me off, I went to Some Thing and VOILA!  There were two more customers!

Thursday not-really-morning, I was lolling in bed and had the epiphany that maybe M. kept telling me he was sleeping through the farmers market in hopes I would figure out to offer, " I go there every week, what can I pick up for you?"  (Troglodyte,  raised by wolves.)  A few texts on the bat phone and he would later come in to pick up his strawberries and blueberries.  Then he and The Deanster would peer over my shoulder for an hour looking at wine menus for restaurants I'll never go.  Did you know some wine menus are 70 and 80 pages?  I do now.

(PS: The Glendale farmers market closed at end of day Thursday, as in D-O-A. Not my fault?)

Since The Deanster was in town, we examined some new ideas, all generously proffered by above-said M.   The 1998 Capcanes Vall del Calas Tarragonawas was initially considered, and I'd tried it before...with better results, it appears.  Two years later, this stuff, to me, tasted like drinking Lavoris while chewing on lemons. No way, Lavoris still exists?  I haven't seen it since I was in my grandparents bathroom.  Okay, so get a lemon, throw it into a glass of Lavoris, and you've got wine. 

What I wasn't understanding was, Dean was saying, It's flat.  Flat?  That's all?  Brother, this thing has worst problems than mere flat.  Is it a desirable quality for wine to sometimes taste like Lavoris and lemons?  Is this a goal of some wine and I'm just not getting it? But you know how furniture is: unmovable. So I don't know the answer to this one. 

Instead we entertained the idea of the 2012 ArmAs  Dry Red Wine.  This wine is 92% Karmrahyut, 5% Areni, 2% Kakhet, and 1% Macguyver.  WAIT, that's 1% Meghrabuyr.  No merlot or pinot noir crap here, these are grapes all indigenous to Armenia.  After all I've been reading recently, I was deeply curious.

Last weekend I took advantage of a lingering summer to open the white.  It was crisp, apple-y, other fruity things, a bit heavy-handed but solid.  Last night I tried the dry red.  Really unusual, very prune-y and otherwise not grape-y in pedestrian ways.  I was intrigued.  The Deanster merely said it was "sweet."  Today, I confess, it tastes exactly like lemon flavored artificial iced-tea.

I'm not sure what's going on with all the lemony stuff, but I can tell you Dean has finally moved out.  We called in a van and some guys.  They were gentle.

Shipping season has begun, and Thanksgiving is soon. After many quiet, sleepy days at The Cave, it's good to see people I've not seen in months. It turns out there is LIFE here after all.  

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Mission Wine and Spirits, redux.

Trader Joe's, those rats, (for leaving us for a bigger and farther location) opened their first store in Pasadena.  Now look at them!   Porto's Bakery and Cafe started in Echo Park, moved to Glendale, and has a store in Downey and Burbank.  Bob's Big Boy and Baskin-Robbins got their starts in Glendale.

You may also recall Glendale was home to one of the great-named businesses of all time, Hammered Liquor Store.  When they closed, Mission Wine and Spirits did a quick move-in while working out all the red tape Glendale has to offer.  They closed in May for remodeling.


Occasionally I'd stop in at their Glenoaks store to see when they were EVER going to reopen this location. Inside stories about The City of Glendale are always entertaining!  Today I was in there again and they said, "It's open." 

I said, "What am I doing here?  See ya."

Look!  Now open on Glendale @ Maple. 

An entire WALL of beer.  As of two hours ago that stuff on the right is on my bucket list.

Their separate wine room and still-in-progress wine tasting station.

Gary wasn't there, the store comes with a Gary.   Nice bit of fortune, he was driving in as I was riding out.
"Is it everything you hoped for?"

He was so happy.  He said, the beer isn't even close to what it will be, and of course the wine room is still in progress.  Yes, it will be everything he hoped for.

Nice guys, welcome (back) to the neighborhood. 

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Case of Perplexing Pinot.

The best part of being a troglodyte is I've the legitimate wine habits of a troll. Onward!

Here's what I understand about Pinot Noir:
(wait for it)
Okay, so here's what I gather.  There's this country called France and they have a bunch of wine regions.  For instance there is Bordeaux on the bottom left and that stuff is primo, lots of Chateaus and stuff. Actually I thought it was up higher, but that's Loire Valley.  Good thing I'm doing this.

Many recognizable regions, like Champagne, we all know what that is, and Cognac.

That little red chili pepper above that other chili pepper is Burgundy, and here's what I gather about Burgundy, other than it seems to attract a following in fanatic need of esoteric meanderings:  it's made from Pinot grapes. 

Also: it's very mineral-ly.  Burgundy has a lot of limestone and so the wine tastes very rock-like, or as one person put it, like sucking on a rock.  Which is like, why don't you save a few bucks and just suck on a rock?  But there's probably fruity things going on, too.  Either way, I get the sense that it's erudite stuff, Advanced Wine, not for amateurs and especially not for trolls or troglodytes.  


In this country, there is Pinot Noir, made from...pinot grapes, like the ones that make Burgundy.  It turns out I've been drinking a ton of Pinots:  Castle Rock 2008, Williams Selyem Sonoma Coast 1994, Longoria Santa Rita Hills 2001, A to Z from Oregon and I could swear a Kosta Browne went down the gullet. 

This past weekend, oh what a weekend!  It was cooler, it rained real rain for a few minutes, and The Cave was finally busy.  Wine Weather!  I opened this, 2007 Road 31 Napa Valley, a guy, his dog and his truck.  That's all you need.

You know when you really want something and you get it right?  This was that.  Though I was expecting neither the deep red hue nor the rich, slightly spicy, front, it arced gracefully into a softer, gentler finish and this was a very satisfying wine.

But I didn't understand it as a Pinot Noir.  Like after six years I finally GET Cabernet, (yay!) but I absolutely don't GET Pinot.  It seems every bottle I try is a whole different wine idea.

This is in the Museum of Bad Art.  I kind of like it, actually. 

But the yardstick by which it is measured is clear.  Pinot Noir, not so much.

Okay, so Max was in yesterday and we discussed, and as he put it the Pinot grape is the grape most conducive to expressing terroir, so in limestone it would be mineral-ly and in the deep black soils of California it could be a bigger statement.  Add to that the hand of the wine maker, and a list of other variables.  If its nature is to be reflective of variables than it can never be defined.

 Which means Pinot Noir spelled backwards is Dog.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Happy International Stout Day.

Happy International Stout Day.  And to prove the existence of gods or intelligent design, it is also National Nachos Day.  Dinner tonight is going to be AMAZING. 

I declare Old Rasputin Imperial Stout not only my favorite stout these days, but my favorite beer. 

When I first moved into The Cave and saw my bedroom, I was like, wow, this is cool, but can you scrape a few of those cherubs off the ceiling and maybe tuck in the edges of that blue tapestry on the ceiling to give it a cleaner look?  Okay, thanks. 

That's kind of how Old Rasputin tastes, decadent but restrained, a tasteful baroque by a feng shui designer.

This weekend I saw this at Whole Foods, Echigo Stout from Japan.  In 1944, Echigo became the first craft brewery in Japan. It's imported by Mutual Trading Company, the same people from whom I sourced the Iwate Kura Oyster Stout about this time last year.   I didn't know any of this when I opted it.  

Where Old Rasputin exudes sweet chocolate and floral notes, the Echigo Stout is restrained and buttoned up, a sturdy, old school stout. 

Like our living room.

(Stout 101)

Celebrate International Stout day wisely:


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Shipping Woes.

We got those.

Shipping hours (for businesses) are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.  The Cave hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 2 - 7 p.m.  You can see the potential problem here.

Except UPS, Fed Ex, GSO and DHL all ship to your business during posted business hours. That's great!  So if the shipping label states the hours, and the hours are in everyone computers, which they are, then The Cave and Shipping are a happy, song-filled team.

Not so much, actually.

Though The Cave has accepted direct shipments for a few years now, and more customers are taking advantage of this, it remains fraught with pitfalls and dangers.  And shipping season is just getting started.

So here's The Low-Down.

DHL.  Hardley ever see them, so far, so good.

UPS.   My UPS guy and I had it all worked out and then he got transferred a few weeks ago. And then it all went to hell.  I got some new kid who seemed nice enough, then one day I walked outside and there was a stack of four boxes just sitting there.  I was like, WHA?   Yesterday, Tuesday, I happened to be outside The Cave when The Cave is closed and who shows up but UPS.  That's when I met Cesar.  I asked Cesar why he was delivering to The Cave when it was closed, and when it says it on the label, and when it says it in his computer.  It was a promising chat, and we saw Cesar again today, during business hours.  Things are looking hopeful.  If he keeps the route.  He has to bid on it and wait to find out, so we'll see. 

GSO.  Yesterday, Tuesday, when The Cave is closed, about an hour before the UPS guy showed up, GSO showed up.  Now, this was my regular GSO guy, and the label was clearly marked to deliver Wednesday.  This was a less promising chat, part language barrier and mostly just because.  GSO is consistently the most difficult to deal with.  They often leave door tags on Tuesdays because wineries ship on Mondays, they claim, and they can't hold a package.  The wineries say its not them, it's GSO.  It will never be different. 

Fed-Ex.  Same Fed-Ex guy since day one, he just dropped off a package.  I adore him.  There is one guy who gets a lot of deliveries.  He brings them in and reads he guy's name and laughs.  "S_______ gets a lot of wine!"  Yes, he does.  Thank you for getting it here duly.

On Brand Boulevard between Wilson and California is the previous Kinko's, now Fed-Ex Office center.  They are open 24-7-365.  They are AC'd.   If you ship your wine there (you know, via FedEx), they will sign for it, and you can pick it up from them, any time.  Call them for details. 

Addendum, 11/14/14.  Today, a different FedEx guy came in with a few boxes, and I asked him where my usual guy was . (On vacation.)  I then thanked him for coming in during business hours.  He said, "Why wouldn't I, it's on the label."  'Nuff said.

Lastly, here's an interesting development.

East of here on Broadway, same side of the street and before Chevy Chase, there is a Mailboxes Etc.  Mailboxes Etc. is a franchise of UPS. In their window is a banner claiming they ship wine.  The gentleman's name is Joe, and he ships wine nationally and internationally.  He offers insurance.  A customer is moving to Florida and was asking me about shipping wine, a mostly expensive endeavor.  I suggested this guy, and he took a few cases to him.  I'll update this one as it plays out. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Summer's final gasp, we hope.

This week brings cooler temperature to the rest of you, of course it is always cool in a cave.  This particular cave, AKA The Cave, has been quiet, minus the crickets whom I've counted, tagged, and tracked.  Each cricket has his own tiny GPS.  Here is a map of one of the crickets, Henry.  This was just one night!

Since it's been a bit quiet around here, I've not been opening wine.  Or maybe I'm just drinking it all by myself.  Either way, here are a mere FEW samplings to catch up on, plus one astonishing end of summer foodie thing.

I finally drank all the white wine and opened this 2010 Bila-Haut.  Here's the long version:  2010 M. Chapoutier "Les Vignes de Bila-Haut" Côtes-du-Roussillon Villages.  (I heart copy-and-paste.)  It's made by some guy named Michel Chapoutier which seems to mean something to people. The wine is organic/biodynamic, and boasts the first wine label in braille. This was part of the Late Great Zachy's order of noted wines at affordable prices.  It is currently selling for $13.99 at K&L. This was a nice, pleasant wine.  It's like if you go to Trader Joe's and get a $6 wine that is a meh daily dinner wine, why not spend a few more bucks for a better daily dinner wine, which this is. 

Speaking of Trader Joe's, they moved, rat bastards.  (Am I allowed to say that on a family blog?)  They are now on the corner of Brand and Glenoaks.  "North of the 134," code for no longer in our humble ghetto that is South Glendale.  Trader Joe's is where I've pilfered empty wine boxes so my dear customers had something to carry out their wine. Nothing classier than your Bordeaux and Burgundy dressed up in a Chuck Shaw box, and it was convenient to carry armfuls of boxes, six or seven trips-worth, to The Cave.  Alas. 

Oh, say, here's a wine.  It is, was, the last of Plonk Part Deux.  As it's been going, it was over the hill in the most pleasant manner - boozy, caramelly.  What happened is I'd gone to bed and was wide awake at 3 a.m.  Around 4 I realized life was futile, or sleep, anyway, and decided to make my tomato sauce from all the heirloom tomatoes fresh from that days farmer's market.  Around 4:30, it occurred to me the last of the Plonk Part Deux would be great in it. So I came down to get it.  Onion, garlic, ginger, curry...around 6 a.m. the sauce was done and cooled and I decided to go to bed.  Nice night. 

But here's the astonishing end of summer foodie thing.  I tried to find the recipe, it was posted on LATimes twitter, or NYTimes twitter or neither of those...I couldn't find it... but   it     is     k i l l e r.  Cucumber salsa.  Cucumbers, red onion, 1 jalapeno with seeds, fresh cilantro and mint, lime and olive oil and salt.  The first time I had it with fish tacos and OMG.  Second time, this batch, I threw in a pomegranate, too.  Black beans, sour cream, and this on top...Holy Mother of OMG.  Both times, The only thing missing was a really appropriate wine pairing. 


Yes, it's been awhile, but we've now resolved that.

PS - If you don't have a food processor, you might want to make the salsa on your day off.  Lots and lots of  chopping