Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Two Caballeros*, part the first: The Cuban Trade and '64 Padrons

Last night, I had a double date--yes, two of my favorite men** wined and dined me. Actually, sangria, not wine, and by "dine" I mean "ate until we almost died from deliciousness."
Valentino and I dragged our friend Doc to one of our most favorite restaurants on Federal Hill in Providence, RI (and really, one of our favorites in the universe), Opa the Phoenician, owned and run by Joe Karam.  (We learned about the place years ago because his daughter was in one of my classes and she remains one of my all-time favorite students--and not just because she makes a delicious sangria.)
Anyway, if you go (and you SHOULD go) you must must must get the tasting menu at this Lebanese/Mediterranean restaurant.  Do not order off the menu.  Do. Not. Please, just let Joe decide what you're going to get; you will not be sorry.  If you like unique stuff that you can't get just anywhere, this is your place.  If you ask really nicely, and it's available, get the raw kibbeh. (Follow the link, read about it, and don't you dare turn up your nose until you've tried it.) And if you're super adventurous, you should ask if Joe has raw liver (not for me, but the men loved it) and the lamb testicles, which you should stop your laughing until you try it, because those em-effers were damned good.
So when I rolled out of the restaurant, a little more slowly than the men because some nose-powdering was necessary, I found the guys chatting about (what else?) cigars with Joe. Actually, by the time I got out there, trades had already occurred, a couple of unbanded sticks to my guys and a banded but of the same heritage to Joe, if you catch my drift. 
Then we headed to Tammany Hall, a cigar bar down the street, where Doc's generosity hit a pinnacle.  He handed Valentino a Padron Family Reserve 1964 45th Anniversary Maduro that had been aging in his humidor for five years. They lit them up. I almost died of happiness. Five years of aging on top of tobacco that had already been aged for ten years, the hallmark of the Padron Family Reserve series.
Valentino to the right of me.
An article on the Cigars International website beautifully describes the aging process: "You know the taste of a well-aged cigar: the subtle complexity, the certain 'je ne c'est quoi,' that light kiss of tobacco flavor left gently lingering. Aging is often what makes a good cigar a great one."

Doc to the left.
Man, oh, man, when a great cigar becomes an even greater one? There are no appropriate words for this 52 x 6". I wanted everyone else to put their smokes out because the smell was polluting this delicious experience--like when you're trying to listen to your favorite song and people keep talking through it. I was lucky that they were both smoking the same thing on either side of me.  Now that's heaven!

Doc also gave Valentino a Padron Magnum 50 x 9" natural, which had been in his humidor for seven years. Seven effing years, on top of the two and a half years of aging the tobacco. You're going to have to wait to hear about that smoke (and second-hand smoke).

*Almost forgot! Caballero is one of my favorite words. It's Spanish for "knight" or "gentleman." I don't know which descriptor is more appropriate!

**Sorry you couldn't join us Cathie! Hope you're enjoying your vacation!!

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