Sunday, August 31, 2014

History, Class, History Class, and a Giant Cookie

So last night, while tooling around the North End of Boston at the St. Anthony's Feast, a cry of great despair echoed through the city. It came from me, if you must know. If we didn't get to Modern Pastry soon, they would be out of lobster tails again and we would return home with much sadness and no pastries.

Dudes, it's filled with diplomat cream--a marriage of pastry cream and whipped cream.
Also known as heaven in a crunchy pastry shell.
Only get them from Modern Pastry, though.
No one else does them correctly. Trust me on this. [source]
Also, not my hand. Who can get anything done with nails like that?

We pushed by slow-moving families with carriages and baby detritus;* we threw ourselves in front of cars to cross streets.**

Success! Pastries purchased, no immediate deaths resulting.  We wandered, contented with our future satiation,*** moseying to the park where Paul Revere sits atop his mighty steed, which sits atop a mighty block of granite.****

[source]
 
Naturally, a cigar was necessary, so Valentino reached into the pocket of his Tommy Bahama shirt and produced a Perdomo 20th Anniversary

This particular stick has been lounging in the humidor, basking in the goodness of perfect humidity and even temperature for ages. We can't remember if it was last fall or the spring before that when we attended a Perdomo dinner with the great Roy Kirby, courtesy of Paul Joyle of Mr. J's Havana Shop and his mad party-planning skills.****
 

So when he selected this baby***** for the great ride to the big city, the Gordo (6 x 60) with a sun-grown wrapper and Nicaraguan filler and wrapper was good to go. One of the many joys that came with this smoke--besides the amazeballs flavor profile of creaminess and earthiness and coffeeness (yes, it is a word) with just a teeny tiny bit of pepperiness, a perfect second-hand smoke for the delicious raspberry sandwich cookie, which happened to be occupying all the rest of my senses.

According to CI, "Perdomo 20th Anniversary celebrates this rich, family history of Nicaraguan handmades. Each cigar employs bold, Cuban-seed long-fillers grown throughout Nicaragua's black, volcanic soils. Top-priming tobaccos from Esteli, Jalapa, and Condega....patiently aged and skillfully blended to perfection. But then there's the wrapper. Where the fun really happens. Nicaraguan, Cuban-seed sun-grown wrappers from the highest priming, extra-fermented, cedar-aged, then barrel-aged in old bourbon barrels for 14+ months prior to being applied. A gentle box-press is the finishing touch to this impressive Nicaraguan puro."



As a side note, I've always been super impressed with Perdomo, from the very moment I met Mr. Kirby****** and he waved the 20th Anniversary before my starry eyes. Then he lit it, so, yeah... I was a goner. The brand represents high quality and class, which is further exemplified by their outstanding website, filled with education, behind-the-scenes action, and a serious collection of events. Spend some time there. Learn things. Go to your local tobacconist and prove me correct about the 20th Anniversary. I'll buy you a cookie if you do.

And! To make this all come full circle, and to tease you about a party I still haven't gotten around to writing about, Caballero #2 gave Valentino this as a birthday gift last week.******* Thank you, thank you, thank you!

It's gorgeous in real life. We almost don't want to muck it up! Almost.  [source]
And thank you, Perdomo, for this amazing end-of-the-night smoke. A great way to bid adieu to a season of Italian festivals. Now the countdown to my birthday commences! Consider yourself warned!


 
*Why, exactly, were these kids out so late? Just curious.
 
**Me. I live by the "Pedestrians always have the right of way" mantra. Valentino does not and, as a result, frequently grabs my arm to save me from myself. Reminder: He's not a native New Englander. 
 
***A cookie the size of my head also may have left the shop with us. No way would I be able to wait for sweet goodness until we got home. Hahaha. No.
 
****Valentino brought up the cool historical significance of the park in which we sat, right near the Old North Church. One if by land and two if by sea and all that. As a native Massachusetts resident, I looked around, remembering that the place has more social significance than a good place to eat midnight snacks and (second-hand) smoke delicious cigars. I feel like I should go read a history book. Or at least a Wikipedia entry. 
 
*****His monthly cigar dinner events are about to start up again for the season. You should come and join us and have a rip-roaring good time!! Call the shop and ask for more details! (We'll even let you sit with us if you're up for a spot of crazy!)
 
*****Probably the wrong word to use, since he would soon light it on fire.
 
******The fact that I used "Mr." should be quite telling.
 
*******Along with a ton of other things. The Cabelleros' gift giving is getting out of hand. But who's complaining?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The One that Got Away--It's Box-worthy!*

The other night, under pressure of deadline and associated crazy, I sent Valentino away. He wound up at Habanos, which is great because that's where he headed in the first place, with pland to meet up with a bunch of super cool folks.

As my state reached pinnacle crazy, he packed up a few cigars, kissed me goodbye, and fled.  Usually I'll ask what tubular treasures he's taking with him, but I didn't. My brain, she is a weeeee bit fried. Twenty six measly letters into many, many combinations of words and sentences and paragraphs and then all of a sudden, he was home.**

So while I spent hours finagling a book proposal into some semblance of order, he enjoyed this:

Damn, he's a good picture-taker.
Once again My Father Cigar has made a spectacular impression and I'm just sorry I missed it.
Once he found out the details of the Flor de las Antillas, a sun-grown wrapper and Nicaraguan filler and binder, we said, "Ahhh. Of course." We've discovered over many many many cigars that he does tend to favor the leaves of Nicaragua.

According to Cigar Aficionado, the company released the Flor de Las Antillas brand in May 2012. "The standout of the four-size brand is the Toro, which has a gentle, rounded box press and a beautiful and evenly colored wrapper. The smokes are delicious from the first puff, with notes of nutmeg, white pepper and just enough strength without being overpowering. They are hard to put down. They are classics, 96-point smokes on our 100-point scale."

[source]

The Flor de las Antillas, the "first entirely box-pressed line from My Father Cigars, means 'Flower of the Antilles'; the Flor de las Antillas represents Cuba, the largest island in the Greater Antilles islands, and home to the Garcia family's rich cigar making heritage. Traditionally focused on more full-bodied cigars, Flor de las Antillas ventures into the company's untapped niche of a true medium-bodied experience." [source

The company states on their website, "The Garcia family has decided to put that name on this amazing and unique creation, combining a great cigar with a design that includes accents from the original art created in the early 1900s, packed in a box of 20 cigars. It is a 3/4 to Full-Bodied cigar Box-Pressed of a sun grown wrapper harvested in Las Marias farm, located in the region of Namaja­ in Estela­, Nicaragua, owned and operated by the Garcia Family. This cigar is blended with several Cuban tobacco seeds, making it smooth and creamy. It starts with the signature My Father spice and has a rich cocoa flavor. It produces a beautiful white ash giving it a great finish."

Valentino noted that the cigar started with a blast of spiciness and hint of pepper but it ebbed quickly and headed into a sweeter mild-medium smoke with hints of wood and leather behind it all. We're going to have to take his word for it, since I wasn't there. Oh, and he knows what he's talking about, so there's that...

::Happy dance:: We're getting a box of these! [source]

We can't quite remember where we got the magical Flor de Las Antillas toro (6 x 52)***; it surfaced as he mucked around in one of the humidors.**** But we certainly know where the next one is coming from--and the one after that. Seems there was a groupon for an online cigar shop we've purchased from in the past. Using that, a box of these delights is on its way to us shortly.

I can't decide if I want to end this by saying he should go out on his own and discover more awesome cigars or if I should be totally selfish and demand to second hand smoke them all. Guess the deadlines will have the final say.


*
[source]
















**I have absolutely no recollection of what this sparkle was going to be.

***It also comes in Belicoso (5 1/2 x 52), Robusto (5 x 50), and Toro Gordo (6 1/2 x 56).

****We just remembered from whence it came! A cigar dinner last fall at Cosantino's in Providence, sponsored by Habanos!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

One of you will be receiving two TWO! Padrons! And the winner is...

As Valentino organizes his new humidor (which you will get to see as soon as it's prettified and stocked), I managed to lay claim to not one, but two Padron '64 Anniversary Series for you folks. Full disclosure: The humidor seems to be low on the torpedoes, so I'm sending you this instead (I'm sorry if it makes you sad that it's not torpedo action; please don't yell at me--I'll just cry and that's not something anyone wants to see). What was I saying? Oh yeah, this is coming your way:

'64 Anniversary Series Diplomatico and Exclusivo, coming soon to...one of you.
That's way better than what we promised--one measly torpedo!
What a bunch of cheapskates we are! Or at least we gave the illusion of being!

 Or at least one of you folks, since it's time for the reaping.

I bet you do. [source]
So we scientifically scribbled the names on paper--remember, one for a comment on the giveaway post and another for signing up for our mailing list--and tossed them into this beauty (below), which Valentino received as a birthday gift from our super fab neighbors. (Not these neighbors, because that would just be weird. And probably inappropriate.)

A visual representation--not the actual one because it's currently in use and if you know anything about me at this point, obvs I am not going to get up and wash an ashtray when I can steal a picture of a pristine one from the internet. Yes, it was clean during the choosing, but then cigars happened, as they are wont to do on cool, waning summer evenings.
 
And the winner is...Bryan Kizer!

Wahoooooo! Yay Bryan! [source] Now go check out the September giveaway!!

September Cigar of the Month: La Gloria Cubana Artesanos de Tabaqueros

First off, let's congratulate Bryan Kizer for winning the August giveaway! Two Padrons will be on their way to him shortly!! Yay, Bryan!


So the other night at Habanos, we met up with our friend John from Broadway Cigars* and while we were chatting about all the things in the world, he handed Valentino an Artesanos de Tabaqueros from La Gloria Cubana.
She's a beauty, all right.
"You have to try this," he said.

We did. And boy, howdy,** was it ever great.

Wrapper: Connecticut Shade/Ecuadorian Sumatra
Filler: Dominican/Nicaraguan/Honduran Proprietary/Secret
Binder: Secret***

According to the La Gloria Cubana website, this Dominican Republic cigar is "[m]eticulously crafted to combine two different wrappers and two distinct tastes in one eye-catching cigar. Artesanos de Tabaqueros is a world-class smoke that opens to a rich and intriguing spice and ultimately reveals a depth of flavor that can only be achieved through a precise balance of unique and rare tobaccos. Hand selected from General Cigar’s extensive library of Dominican and Honduran tobaccos, the cigars are dressed in both a supple Connecticut Shade and hearty Ecuadoran Sumatra wrapper. The blend is made solely of proprietary tobaccos, each aged five years or more."

Valentino and I both loved this stick from the first moment of toasting. Well, I loved it even before that because the complete coolness of the two-tone wrapper and the band placement.

The Connecticut wrapper started us slowly and smoothly, with a creaminess, which you all know I love. But as we moved to the Ecuadorian Sumatra leaf portion of the show, the potency and flavor ramped up to a richer, peppery, more full-bodied, earthy flavor. We liked it so much, five may have been purchased to reside in the new humidor we're going to keep telling you about but not actually show you. Think about how happy you'll be when the reveal comes!****

Then, the other night, at Valentino's Surprise Birthday Party,***** our friend Rick (Hi, Rick! Hi, Christen!) was looking for a recommendation. I knew exactly where to go--straight for the Artesanos de Tabaqueros! And he loved it! (How could he not?)

So, the point to this story is that choosing the cigar for this month was super easy!! Thanks, John, for pointing us in this direction!

No, you do not get the whole box. Sorry! We're not THAT nice!

Comment on this post to be entered to win.  (Be sure to leave your email address so we can get in touch with you!) Want a second chance? Subscribe to our blog posts by email--over there on the right side of the blog.

The winner will be chosen on the 25th of each month--because my birthday is on the 25th (of December; be sure to mark your calendars), and what better way to count down to the blessed event than to give something away?

So! Comment below. Wheeeee!



*That was quite a meta event, seeing a cool guy from one of our hangouts actually hanging out at another of our hangouts. The world was a little off-kilter there for a while!!

**What does this even mean?

***Duuuuudes...I can totally keep a seekrit!

****Yes, I watch too many HGTV shows because I love the transformative reveal at the end. So sue me.

*****Yes, I am behind on blog posts. Sorry! We'll catch up one of these days!

Valentino and the Neighbor who Knows Things

So this happened today:

Valentino goes next door to chat with the neighbor about lawn boundaries and mowing and other manly, territorial things. As they're chatting, our hero fiddles with the Cuellar Connecticut Kreme in his hand. 

"You know, those can cause cancer," our friendly neighbor says.

"I don't inhale," Valentino proclaims, not willing to get into a row with someone who lives so close to Chez Awesome.

"Oh, you don't?" he says, surprised. "But you can still get cancer in the mouth."

"Oral cancer? How do you know?"

"I'm a cancer researcher. Google me when you go in."

Valentino temporarily abandons all smoking plans and heads to the Google. Cancer researcher? Hahahaha. Yeah, right.

No, right. How about the leading cancer researcher at a major cancer organization located in a nearby Ivy League university? And editor of scientific magazines. And lead scientist of scientificy things. And writer of books. And winner of major awards. (I'm being vague on purpose, to protect his privacy.) But we saw videos on YouTube of him explaining how stress affects DNA and makes fighting cancer more difficult. (The embedded PowerPoint presentation was actually darned interesting.)

When he just told the story at the cigar lounge, what question did everyone want answered? Waaaait for it...

"So did you blow smoke in his face?"

I love our friends. 

And yes, he did go back and enjoy the Kreme while working in the yard and breaking up the box of the new 2,000-count humidor. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Cuellar Connecticut Kreme: A Great Discovery (Or: Corruption of my own child, part 2)

Things you should know:
  1. I don't confuse easily. Except anything to do with math. Math is stupid and I challenge it to a duel.
  2. I am on a first name basis with the mighty, mighty internets and am pretty darned good at researching stuff. Except math. Researching math is stupid.
  3. Different is cool. Except differential equations because that's math. Differential equations (sons of math) are stupid.
  4. I know the font changes in this post. I'm sorry. I tried to fix it. And then I stopped trying because I needed to keep a modicum of sanity.
Keep these things in mind. They're going to come in handy later.

Sean (my son) and Valentino and I were on a bit of a mission* to fill a small humidor for the young one (well, relatively young one). We went with a bunch that we already loved--Nub, J Grotto Silk, My Father Connecticut.... Look! Here's a picture!
 
There were more when he left the house. Hmmm...I wonder what happened...
 
Anyway, the story isn't about that. It's about this...

The cigar with so many names it's almost unfindable
unless you have the correct combination.
Unless, also, you happen to see them in your favorite tobacco shop.
 
In the sea of deliciously dark cigar boxes sat a glossy, heavy-duty white box. Oooh. Shiny. But I was a little apprehensive. It was different. I like different. But was it one of those issues where the packaging made up for an inferior product? Because that happens, as we all know. (I'd give an example, but I don't want to call anyone out, so, yeah. You know what I mean.)
 
But our tobacconists, the incomparable Paul and Mark at Mr. J's assured us the Cuellar Connecticut Kreme by Villiger Cigars was more than just a pretty box. The cigar comes in four sizes--
 
Robusto: 5 x 48
Toro Gordo: 6 x 54
Churchill: 7 x 50
Torpedo: 6 1/4 x 52

 
We purchased three of the four and took the Toro Gordo on the road with us to Federal Hill. There, we took my boy on a tour of the place and ultimately landed at the LaPigna statue at Garibaldi Square. (Yes, we're creatures of habit.)
 
After deciding who would sit on the wet spot of the bench (not me; I'm a girl and as such, am afforded certain benefits thanks to my delicate female sensibilities.**), we settled in and the gentlemen started their butane engines, toasting and lighting.
 
This cigar was launched at the IPCPA in Las Vegas recently, so digging up a ton of research materials proved difficult. Finding a picture of that shiny white box? Impossible, so don't ask. But the things I do for you folks!!! Here are some details!
 
Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut Leaf
Binder: Cuban Seed Piloto Ligero
Filler: Cuban Seed and Criollo 98

We chose this as an addition to the new humidor because of the lightness--our goal wasn't to blast my boy's taste buds into the stratosphere so early in the game.
 
Where I did not want my son's taste buds to go. [source]
The mild choice proved perfect for our new cigar smoker. He said, as he progressed from the first to second third, "It tingled my tongue but then mellowed out."
 
The folks at Cigar Coop had the same experience, but with much more detail. "The start to the Cuéllar Connecticut Krēmē surprised me with black pepper notes right out of the gate. There also was a light 'twang' on the tongue from the pepper notes. I also detected the pepper notes on the retro-hale - something that would be present throughout the cigar experience. Once the pepper subsided, notes of cream and wood emerged. There also was a subtle fruit sweetness in the background."
 
As I experience the second-hand smoke in stereo, I, too, sensed the pepper but also the long-lasting creaminess, which you all know I am a serious fan of inhaling.
 
Our in-house cigar expert, Valentino himself, concurred that this smoke ranked high on his list. "A good breakfast smoke," he said. "A good, smooth entry into the day. Although it's still smooth and wonderful at any time of day."
 
Jack from StogieNet.com said about this cigar, "Smooth is the name of the game....The overall flavor is a creamy smooth woodiness.  Lemon curd, fresh hay, and some grassy notes are in there too.  I have found that grassy notes can be a bit harsh in Connecticut cigars but this cigar is so smooth that the flavor fits perfectly.  A very mild cedar spice, light coffee, and a nice herbal note appear in the middle of the cigar.  Here the creaminess really starts to shine.  There is almost no bite to the smoke at all.  As you can imagine, it is an exceptionally mild cigar...but it does lean higher on the mild scale as you smoke it.  The filler contains 16  year old criollo tobacco, hence the smooth body.  Some caramel,vanilla, nuts, and extremely smooth woody characters pop up towards the end of the cigar.  I am blown away.  It doesn't get hot or harsh at the end either.  Superb smoke all around."
 
I know. Lousy picture. You get the gist.
  
Where does the confusion come in? Don't just ask the mighty, mighty internets for info on Kreme cigars because you will wind up in Krispy Kreme hell.*** And don't look on the Villiger website, because you'll find lots of great info, but not on this baby. This cigar, in fact, has so many varied monikers, and Villiger so many logos, I almost gave up. Almost.
 
 
 
So I went even deeper into the internet and sought out Carolyn with Villiger Cigars. (Thanks, facebook!) She directed me to the Cueller website, which I wouldn't have found in a zillion years! You should totally check it out!
 
I also found this pretty interesting information. "The Cuellar is named for Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar. Velázquez was a Spanish conquistador who sailed with Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World in 1493. He settled in Hispaniola (the island that the Dominican Republic was a part of). Eventually he played an integral role in the conquest of Cuba and by 1515 he was appointed Governor of Cuba. The Connecticut Krēmē is derived from the wrapper (Ecuadorian Connecticut) and the cigar's creamy profile." [source]
 
"Hey! Where are my royalties?"
 
Of course, I also can't find these cigars online anywhere,**** so I can't secretly ship them to my son! Or Valentino!***** But I can head back to Mr. J's and scoop up a handful or two. I'm sure no one will mind. And it won't matter what I call them. I'll just look for the shiny, white boxes.******
 
 
 
 
 *With shenanigans and sneakiness involved, but that's a post for another day.
 
**Stop laughing, you scoundrel.
 
***Hell because we live in Dunkin' Donuts central, with the head office less than an hour away. No Krispy Kremes anywhere around here. ::weeps::
 
****Although I will admit that I haven't searched very hard and am always looking for an excuse to go to visit our friends at Mr. J's.
 
*****I like to order cigars and ship them to him as a surprise. Tee hee! Although that won't work here, I guess. Dang.
 
******Private joke for Sean and Valentino: Boxen.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Words of Wisdom #17

We looooove this guy!! One of our all-time favorite comedians!
[source]

I've got a great cigar collection -- it's actually not a collection,
because that would imply I wasn't going to smoke every last one of 'em.

Happy Birthday, Valentino!!


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Words of Wisdom #16

Oh, Dude. I know. I make that face a lot when I'm writing. [source]

"You should hurry up and acquire the cigar habit.
It's one of the major happinesses.
And so much more lasting than love,
so much less costly in emotional wear and tear."

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Words you should know #3: Manners! Or: Oh no, she di'int!

DO:
  • Open the door for someone and let them go through first.
  • Wait until everyone is seated and has their meal before you even think about digging in.
  • Say "Please" and "Thank you."
  • Push your chair in before you walk away from the table, regardless of where that table is--library, kitchen, conference room.
DON'T:
  • Tug on Superman's cape.
  • Spit into the wind.
  • Pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger.*
  • And...don't you dare take Valentino's lighter without permission.

Yeah. That happened. We were at Habanos last night and a couple sat next Valentino.** Cool, right? We like talking to people. They order their drinks and out of the corner of my eye, I see Ms. Grabby McGrabberson wrap her hand around his lighter and bring it towards her. Obviously I had a look of horror on my face. It's a Vector Orbis. They don't make this Vector Orbis anymore. Valentino's Vector Orbis*** is his prized cigar accessory.****


And then she says, "I'm going to use this."

Now one of the many things we love about the cigar culture is the generosity. Want to borrow the lighter/cutter/spouse? No problem! Just ask!

She didn't ask. She just grabbed.***** And then said, "I'm going to borrow this for a second."

[source]

Valentino is way cooler than me. My mouth dropped open and my brow furrowed. I couldn't even make word noises.  He said, "That's like cutting in front of somebody and then putting your blinker on." She laughed coquettishly, which was not flattering, by the way, and I'm not even saying that in a bitchy-girlfriend way. Just in a human observation way. Next time, I vowed (in my head), I would be ready.

But then. Then! It happened again. I wasn't ready. I thought I'd have more time to concoct a perfectly snarky remark. Obvs, I didn't, because it takes a lot less time to smoke a cigarette than a cigar.

And then again, although the third time she didn't even bother to ask. She just took it. Again, no words.  Anyway, do we need to discuss how Valentino lines up his accessories before him on the bar, all evenly spaced? And how she just kind of flung it in that direction, spinning on its little Orbis axis? I guess we don't need to mention it, since this surely happened to you last night:

[source]

For more on manners, please watch this. You won't be disappointed. Stay until the end.






*You're welcome for the earworm.

**I always sit on the left. Just because.

***We have two back-ups because they're impossible to find. I may have gotten the last three in the world when we sought a replacement years ago.

****This may change in the next few days. Stay tuned.

*****And we're not even going to question why she needed a torch lighter to light a cigarette.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Words of Wisdom #15

"I think I need a cigar. And another Nobel Prize." [source]

"I never can understand how anyone can not smoke.
It deprives a man of the best part of life.
With a good cigar in his mouth a man is perfectly safe,
nothing can touch him, literally."

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Words You Should Know #2: Vitola

No, not this:
(It's a victrola) [source]
Or this guy:
(It's Vitruvius. He was known to be a hard-head. Authors generally are.) [source]
Or even this guy:
(It's Vito Corleone.) (He is too a real person!)
 
Instead, I give you this:
[source]

"Whaaa?" You're asking as you freak out from sensory overload. Calm down, calm down.

Here's the dealio: Vitola is the unique measurements of a particular cigar. That's all. A Lonsdale is always a Lonsdale, regardless of who makes it--It will be 6.5" long and a ring size of 42. You'll see it listed as 6.5 x 42. Same thing with the salomon (5.8 x 56). Or the torpedo (6.5 x 52). (You knew I was going to choose the wacky shapes, right?)

Not sure what the ring size* is all about? A ring is 1/64 of an inch in diameter. So that Lonsdale 42 ring size means the diameter is 42/64. So what does that matter? Bigger the better, right? Err...maybe? Not really? Depends on what you like.

The general rule is the thicker (higher ring gauge number), the cooler the smoke, which means you'll get a hotter burn with the smaller ring gauge.

Also, the ratio of wrapper to filler is significantly different--higher ring gauge, more filler so the wrapper plays a smaller, but still important role. Smaller ring gauge means the wrapper will account for more flavor in the smoke and less variation in the filler.

I know! It's more interesting than victrolas and Vitruvius! Even Vitruvius playing a victrola! (But nothing is more interesting than Vito Corleone, of course!)

Oh, there's lots and lots more to learn, but let's stop here for the day, okay?**


* If you're a fan of comedian Brian Regan, you might know this as a girth unit.




**There's really no need for more sparkles, but I feel like I owe it to you.***

***Three is better!

Words You Should Know #1: Esteli; Or: Mommy, Where do cigars come from?

You see the word on your La Gloria Cubana or Drew Estate cigar.
 
You hear people drop-kick it into a conversation, for no reason other than they heard someone else say it.*
 
Maybe during the recent soccer hullaballoo, you heard the city name in passing.**
 
See Esteli right there? Below the middle? [source]
Welcome to the third-largest city in Nicaragua. Officially known as Villa de San Antonio de Pavia de Esteli, "The land around Esteli is perfect for growing tobacco for use in cigars, and the town became a refuge for Cuban cigar makers after the Cuban Revolution in 1959. Award-winning cigars have made Esteli one of the most important cigar-producing cities in the world." [source]

Wait, what? That's a good picture but you don't know where to put Nicaragua in context? You mean like the person who asked the other day if it is in Europe?***

Hello, Central America! [source]

According to Cigar Cabana, "The Esteli region has black and fertile soil and produces a heavy, full-flavored tobacco leaf. It is characteristically dark, and rich with full aromas, body, and flavor. Esteli is known for producing the most powerful of all Nicaraguan tobacco." As such, this is where the majority of Nicaraguan cigars are created.

Read more about the rich and varied history of Nicaragua and its cigars! Be amazed at how many times the industry has been kicked in the face by conflict (Looking at you, Sandinista government and Contras.) and nature (You too, Hurricane Mitch).

I'll fully admit that I'm no geographical wiz-kid and have a limited view of the universe because I stay fully ensconced in Penny World, which is wall-papered with rainbows and unicorns and sparkles. I will also admit that sometimes a trip across the border into the real world can be pretty darned interesting.

I'm not saying you have to go to Nicaragua (although we're thinking about a jaunt there next year--shocking, I know!), but just take a look into one of the places where your cigars may be coming from. It's actually pretty interesting.****
 
 
*This actually happened recently. We're still shaking our heads because it didn't even fit into the conversation's context. Luckily, my mom reared me to be polite, so I didn't say...
"What you talkin' 'bout, fool?" [source]

 
**Don't worry: We wouldn't have looked it up either, because...soccer. We don't generally hop on bandwagons.
This bandwagon looks kind of fun, though. [source]

***Europe was all, like, "Whaaaaa?"

****And me saying that something in the outside world is interesting enough to catch and hold my attention means it has got to be good!

In which I am Solely Responsible for my Son's Corruption (Part the First)

The other day I received this picture via text:

Yeah, he's going to need a better cutter.
I already got him a lighter because matches...too much work.

Along with the message "Well...am I cigar-ing correctly?"

I called him immediately, mainly because I was driving to work and the audio book* I had been listening to just finished. Starting a new one right away is like ending a relationship and starting a new one moments later. A small period of mourning must be observed.

Anyway, the other day he said he stopped by a cigar shop in his West Virginia town only to find them closed. Like, closed forever, not "Back in 5 minutes" closed or "On vacation" closed. Closed closed. Apparently he was all "Yay!" on his way there and "Boo!" upon his discovery.**

Then he found another humidor, which happened to be tucked into a liquor store. After a couple of misses (read: cigars that fell in the no-way-again category) he hit upon this Romeo y Julieta Vintage, which he loved.

He only recently started his cigar adventures because "Your blog makes me want to smoke cigars." Yay! Wait. Boo! No smoking! But then again, Yay!

His liking this RyJ makes sense. With an Ecuadorian Connecticut Shade wrapper, Mexican binder and Dominican filler, the Vintage is a "mild-to-medium bodied smoke," according to the company website. "The discerning*** smoker will never tire of this superlative cigar that is 'truly a cigar for special occasions.'"****

According to CI, "Introduced in 1993, the Vintage series is a luxury cigar, mild with a very round flavor and made in extremely limited supply."

Since I wasn't around while he smoked--well, on the phone, but obviously that's not helpful!--I went in search of a flavor profile descriptors, because I'm nice like that. "The cigar had a creamy, almost cappuccino flavor, with hints of cocoa that are just delicious," said the Stogie Guys. "I’ve found that in the past it seems as though mild cigars tend to burn a little hot, but this stogie also bucked that trend with it’s [sic] cool, easy pull. Combined with its flawless even burn and steady ash, this cigar was a true joy to smoke."

Don't tell him, but maybe, just maybe, a certain mom might be purchasing a certain box (or at least a shit-ton) of a certain cigar for a certain offspring. I'm not naming any names, though. Shhhhhh!

"Good night, good night. Parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow."
--Juliet (and me)



*The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness, the third book in the All Souls trilogy. Yes, you must read them in order. No, you will not be disappointed. Yes, I recommend the audio books. No, you will not fall asleep listening to an audiobook while you drive. Yes, I think that's a dumb statement when people say it.

**The apple doesn't fall too far from the tree.

***Well of course he is. See the sparkles above.**

****You know, like coming home to Mass for the first time in a year and a half.  If that ain't special, I don't know what is!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

In which Valentino Gets his Silk(y) Wish

I'm quite a tactile person. If we meet and you're wearing a soft-looking shirt, I may ask to pet it. Don't pull away in horror. Pretty please? The irony of this is that I have very little feeling in my hands,* so I probably can't actually get the full sensation of your soft shirt. Is that silk by the way?

Speaking of silk, or more specifically the J Grotto Silk Series...

Ooooh.  Pretty. Shiny.
And one of Valentino's Top 3 Cigars of all Time!

As you may remember, from me telling you a hundred million times, we love to visit Mr. J's Havana in West Warwick, RI and give Paul and Mark and Tom and Rob all our monies. If we could give them all your monies too, we would.

Located front and center, right where you would go to exchange cash or credit for cigars,** sit the J Grotto Series, J Grotto Series Reserve, and J Grotto Silk Series. (And stay tuned for the Anniversary Series--it's so close I can almost taste it.)

Valentino has always*** been partial to the Silk Series, an Ecuadorian Connecticut blend, usually purchasing the Gordo 6 x 60. "Partial" is too slight of a descriptor. How about whole-heartedly adores? How about it's one of his top three favorites? How about LUUURRRVES? What is the foundation of this adoration? The cigar has a million tons of flavor, he says (my paraphrase, of course). "It's like a full-bodied mild cigar. A full flavor for the Connecticut wrapper folks." In fact, he hearts it soooooo much that it made the cut and got to travel to Bermuda with us. Sadly (happily?), it did not make the return trip.

Horseshoe Bay.
Pinky swear, one of the most gorgeous places I've ever been in my whole life.
And with one of his favorite cigars? Heaven on Earth.

Paul Joyal said upon its release in 2012, "I was test-smoking samples for our new J. Grotto Connecticut boutique cigar, the latest addition to our previous cigars in the line. Suddenly, the word 'Silk' came to mind. I realized it was the perfect name to describe this cigar...the wrapper's silky smooth feel and appearance, along with its flavor...fragrant and delicate, but with a surprise fullness of lush flavor nuances." [source]

But don't just take our word (or Paul's, although he may be a bit biased) about its awesomeness (even though we're wondering why you wouldn't be hanging on our every syllable).  Our friend Jake Healey from Hanley's Ale House in Providence said, "Being a medium to full smoker, Connecticut wrappers are often similar to smoking air for me. I also prefer lancero and smaller ring gauge cigars since the binder and wrapper contain most of the flavor in a cigar. There are some smokes that I will only smoke in smaller rings because the larger versions of the same blend don't have the same amount of flavor. The J Grotto silk has always been one of my favorite Connecticut smokes because it lives up to the name silk. You get a lot of thick, flavorful smoke with each puff."

Since falling in love with the creamy earthiness, with some pepperiness, Valentino has frequently begged Paul for a lancero Silk. "How about now?" he'd ask every time we went into the store.****

"Now?"

Every. Time. Kind of like this:





"Now?"

And then behold, the angels sang.

""...and the angels said unto them,
'Fear not, for behold I bring you tidings of great joy...
the J Grotto Silk Series Lancero.'"

And the Silk Lancero was born.

Hello, friends...  [source]

We may have done a happy dance, but it wasn't nearly as fun to watch as a cute couple in a romantic comedy doing a happy dance. Or Snoopy doing a happy dance--although ours ended about this same way as this:



So we bought some--okay a box--of the 7 1/2 x 40, plus a couple to smoke so we wouldn't have to break the box open, because... It's kind of like buying a candle you like and never burning it because then it will be gone. So, yeah, we still have a full box of ten. Okay, not exactly like that because he's gone in and bought more singles to refill the box, if you must know. I guess we could just buy another box--but as you know, we're having a humidor issue.

Here's Jake again: "[W]hen Paul told me he was coming out with a lancero and I would be one of the first to try it, I was over the moon. The lancero lives up to the silk name by still providing the thick smoke it always does, but with even more flavor than the other sizes. It had an excellent nutty flavor that is far superior to most of the Ecuadorean Connecticut cigars on the market, and its Indonesian binder gives it a ton of thick smoke synonymous with the name. I highly recommend the Silk to anyone who usually goes for a heavier smoke but wants something a little lighter in addition to anyone who is a mild smoker but wants a thicker smoke. If you haven't yet tried it, make sure to get your hands on one!"

Or, you know, way more than one.

"The lancero is a heavier gauge silk than the others in the line," Valentino says. "More concentrated. More silky. It's a heavier silk.  It's a winter silk..." It's a Silk he's going to be smoking regardless of the season.

A dream come true.

The other day when we were leaving the shop, Valentino said to Paul, "Now you need a salomon."

Paul shook his head. "You're killing me, Val."



*Some people say I don't have any feelings at all. I call them students. And I say your grade stands.

**If cigars had a hard instead of soft C-sound, this would be one hell of an awesome phrase.

***Always since they were born and he discovered them.

****I will not reveal how many times this may have been. That's between us and American Express.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Words of Wisdom #14

If anyone ever needed a comforting cigar, it was this guy*
 
 
“A good cigar is as great a comfort to a man as a good cry to a woman”**
 
 
 
*Yeah, another Tony Soprano reference. So sue me.
 
**Don't go getting all crazy on me. You can't deny it's true.

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