A cave in Bermondsey
Chocolates, flowers and wine: a trifecta of the finer things in life. Cave, a small but impeccably edited store in Bermondsey*, London - SE1 for the postcode-obsessed Brits - manages to take them to the next level with a focus on the artisanal and unique. I spoke with Jennifer, shop girl and the creative force behind Cave’s luscious, whimsical floral arrangements (possibly inspired by her other life as an artist/performer) about the store.
How did the store start?
I love flowers, wine and chocolate.
Exactly. And so it’s really quite simple. [Co-owner] Steve was an actor for many years… and he sort of got hugely into wine, and then got really passionate about it and then later on he actually did the wine course at the School of Wine & Spirits down the road and yeah. He’s just phenomenal with wine, has an amazing taste. And so yeah, he loved wine and also worked with flowers for many, many years as a gardener and then chocolate… well it’s all really amazing chocolate that’s all just selected and very edited. It’s all very small scale production from small scale companies.
How do you find all these products?
One of the other business partners, Mark, is a designer and very big in sort of the fashion and style worlds so a lot of these different products, like the chocolates and bits and bobs, he just knows all about.
So it was almost like all of you had interests, and decided to join it together and come up with Cave.
Well that’s where you get passion from. They were just things that we all just loved. I mean we love flowers, we just love eating chocolate, and we love drinking wine. It’s great. It’s a really nice business and it’s nice being surrounded by lovely things all the time.
Can you tell me about some of them - your favourite items maybe?
I mean, I don’t really like to play favourites, I like them all. The candles are beautiful, there are some really interesting scents like Smoke on the Water. It’s like they really capture the atmosphere, so Smoke on the Water smells like a barbecue… on a beach… in a flower meadow.
And what would you recommend for wine?
Ooh, where to start? I guess for summer, this, this is amazing. It’s a rosé secco and it is like a glass of summer. Really tart strawberries, lovely minimal finish, really gentle bottle.
For us wine is not region-specific, it’s about taste and knowing and testing. Stephen’s taken everything and chosen everything… and I slowly make my way through it all.
So as you drink you’re like, “this is work.”
Yeah, that’s kind of what happens!
It’s all about really small scale production, and stories. The majority of it is organic or biodynamic - hand-picked grapes in a really old school way.
Why is it important to you to have the organic, biodynamic wines?
It’s really about… I know it’s become overtly sort of on trend at the moment, but it’s really about going back to actually the original methods of making things. Actually, a lot of the wines that we have are from such small scale productions that they can’t afford to be certified organic. It costs a lot of money just to say ‘I’m organic’ but that’s just how they’ve been making wines for hundreds of years. They’ve always been organic, they’ve never not been organic. And we know that because we work closely with them, we know they don’t use pesticides.
And we just like the natural wines, they’re just more interesting. I mean, massive scale wines aren’t really nice. It’s not. It’s just not. It’s fine, it’s not really bad, but this is just really interesting stuff.
And what’s your favourite aspect of the store in general?
All of it really. Being here. And it’s all really seasonal, which is nice. Like the wines change with the seasons, the flowers obviously change with the seasons, so do the cards and the chocolate. It’s just nice that everything’s always moving and changing.
*A note on Bermondsey - before I went there, my knowledge of the area was based on two websites. One, the NYTimes.com, told me it was a former pickpocket’s haven turned up-and-coming area. The other, Editer.com, told me it had great Spanish tapas. Intrigue plus comida rica = a surefire way to get me there. Oh, and apparently there’s some good pho going on too.