Friday, October 31, 2014

Yes! I have been remiss. Or: Lord of the Rings, part the second

This happened: 

Yes to all your questions. 

Yes Hamo, who made Valentino's ring, created this for me. He gave it to me and then we ran ran ran to Miami for a thousand million pounds of festivities and and fun fun and more fun. So I owe a about uppity gajillion blog posts from that, plus other ones plus...gah!!

Remember Valentino's ring? With the sapphires and diamonds?

Mine has rubies to match my totally-natural red hair!

Yes, there's a funny story. There's always a funny story with us!!

At one of the super awesome parties, a super nice lady (Hi Menrry!) complimented Valentino's ring. Her husband (Hi Eloy!) said, "Wait! I have a picture of a necklace like that!" And then he pulled up this picture:

"Hold on a minute," Valentino said* and came over to where I was hanging with some awesome LOLAs.** He grabbed my hand and we ran across the party like we were in an '80s Brat Pack movie. 

We skidded back to his original position and he pointed to my necklace. "This one?" he asked. 

They laughed politely. I may or may not have 1. Snorted 2. Screamed 3. Both.*** you know. Because I'm a classy broad. You can take the girl out of New England...

Yes, We sent them in Hamo's direction and you should head there too! 

Yes, it is perfect and wonderful and I get zillions of compliments on it.****

Yes, you should get one--a ring, a necklace, a moneyclip (which Valentino will be getting soon) or something else! 

So yes, you should call Hamo at 339-222-6100 and let him design the perfect piece for you!!

No, he didn't ask me to write another blog post about him!! Want to know more? Check out the October 16 blog post for all the deets about him and his amazingness!

One more picture, just because I can. 

*We're going with the omniscient narrator  for this story. Accept it with willing suspension of disbelief. 

**Ladies of the Leaf. Hi Kimberly! Hi Tee! Hi Tee! <--another funny story, and some of the nicest people ever. 

***If you guessed #3, you get a prize. 

****Of course, much to Valentino's chagrin, I don't revel in talking to strangers or attention that I don't seek out, so I guess this necklace is my arch-nemesis because it makes those things happen. But it is so pretty that I will forgive it all its sins. I'm pretty sure Valentino feels the same way. Hope so, anyway!!

Words of Wisdom #32

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Words of Wisdom #29

One of the best series ever. Don't even try to disagree.
Plus, an amazeballs movie.
And, if you must know, yes, I read the book too.
“A good cigar is like a beautiful chick with a great body
who also knows the American League box scores.”
M*A*S*H, Klinger, Bug-Out 1976

Friday, October 24, 2014

Words of Wisdom #29

“If your wife doesn’t like the aroma of your cigar, change your wife.”

Photo Finish or: Lots of Fun, Darling

You've probably noticed by now that the pictures of me on this blog are few and far between.* There's maybe one? I'm just not photogenic.  Apparently the animated faces I make throughout a conversation make me look like:
1. A crazy person
2. Someone who needs to be locked in a time machine and sent back to the time before George Eastman was born.

Or, when I'm trying to look pensive, thoughtful, dare I say enchanting, I allegedly look like I'm in pain. So yeah, there's that.

Sometimes I like to think of other things that LFD can stand for.
Loads of Fabulous Dancers? Let's Find Daisies?

Anyway, the other day, we headed to Broadway Cigars for a La Flor Dominicana (LFD) event, and of course we went, because:
1. Cigars
2. Broadway (Hi Bobby! Hi John! Hi John! Hi Sal! Hi other people whose names I've forgotten because school is in session and there's only so much room in my noggin for information!)
3. John Gallogly, the LFD Rep** who I realized I'd never actually met in person, although Valentino had the pleasure. But we are Facebook friends; that counts for something, right?
4. Sons of Liberty
5. LFD.

Let's freak out the people with OCD and look at these points out of order.***

#5. So we have a love-love-love-love relationship with LFD. Remember the Mysterioso shenanigans? The Mysterio adventure? The salamon situation? And the recent Litto Gomez games?

Is it insane that I'm a little bit in love with a cigar brand?****  I will admit to being brand loyal and charmed by the inner workings of a small business with a big reputation for creativity and excellence. Plus, as we've chatted about time and again, I love an interesting backstory. So, yeah, LFD.

"La Flor Dominicana burst on the scene in the middle of the 1990s cigar boom. Known first as Los Libertadores, the brand was met with the same skepticism that most of the other new brands encountered, both in the marketplace and among industry old-timers. But something changed very quickly," according to an article in Cigar Aficionado.

"The attitudes of the owners, the husband-and-wife team of Litto Gomez and Ines Lorenzo-Gomez, were clear from the start: they wanted to learn about the business and about cigars. Instead of copying the behavior of some of the newcomers, which might charitably be called arrogant, Gomez and Lorenzo-Gomez buckled down, spending time with some of the wisest people in the cigar business. They moved carefully, growing slowly and methodically as they acquired more expertise, better tobacco inventories and, finally, their own factory."

"'A lot of people thought that I was crazy to start in an industry that was typically in the hands of people that had done this for generations,' says Gomez, staring from beneath the brim of his trademark Montecristi Panama hat. 'If you were an outsider, you had to prove yourself. Twelve years later, we’re honored to be considered a part of the cigar industry.'" [source] As an obsessive researcher, I can appreciate the desire to know the world you're jumping into before lining up for that swan dive. I also respect the idea of finding a mentor or seeking the knowledge of those who have led the way; the newcomers who think they know better than their professional elders--and this can be in any industry: cigars, food, writing...*****

If you're not familiar with the story of Litto and Ines Gomez, you neeeeeed to learn more.

The whole place is like the coziest rec room you've ever been in,
with the coolest and most interesting people.

#2 Broadway Cigars in Providence, RI: This is kind of like our own personal Cheers,****** We're always welcomed and we always feel welcome. This makes us have a giant happy.

The Perfect Storm: Whiskey and cigars!

#4 Sons of Liberty Spirits: "Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker." From the Rhode Island company's website: "We started with a couple questions: "Why is no one distilling single malt whiskies from the beers we love?" and "Why are there so many seasonal beers, but no seasonal whiskies?" With a spirit for innovation, we set out to create a line of whiskies the world had never seen." Anything that tastes alcoholy makes me make a face that causes Valentino to erupt into stomach-aching laughter convulsions. And then usually he begs me to take another sip so everyone else can see the face. Naturally, I do it because it brings everyone else So. Much. Joy. So, yeah, that happened. But everyone else seemed to really enjoy it. If you're in the area, pick some up!

#1. Cigars: Do I need to really say anything here? That's what we're here for!

Valentino started with this little darling, the LFD Reserva Especial El Jocko*******:

"This special 'Reserve' blend consists of a flawless, Ecuadorian Connecticut seed wrapper that surrounds Dominican Piloto Cubano longfiller and a rich-tasting Nicaraguan binder. The result is an exceptionally flavorful cigar that is full-bodied with an intriguing complexity. A 'must try' for more experienced cigar smokers." [source] The problem, although I am using that term incredibly loosely because it's really no problem at all, the problem with an event is that I can't get right up in Valentino's grill and bogart his second-hand smoke. Luckily he purchased a few of these so I'll get another chance. Wheee!
He also purchased a bunch more, and then I did, too, for... oh. Shhh. Nevermind!
#3: Our fab LFD rep, the one and only John Gallogly! Sure, he's super cool and fun and sure does know all the things about cigars. But the man has mad selfie skillz. I can even prove it. Look! A photo of me that doesn't make someone call 911!
And then there were two pictures!

*Of course there are many many many of Valentino, and that's fine.  He's the face of the blog. I'm the nutty scribe. I'm perfectly happy with that arrangement.

**Who, to clarify, is not my personal LFD representative, regardless of what I think.

***I can hear the screams of anguish and angst from here! Bwah hahahaha!

****Shush, you.

*****The only things I know about. Well, those and cupcakes. And rainbows and unicorns. But that's all I know.

******Without the alcohol unless you bring your own.

*******Crazy name? Yes. Story behind the crazy name? Of course! "[I]n the late 90’s a man by the name Jacko Headblade visited Litto Gomez’s farm and factory in the Dominican Republic to check out upcoming products and tobacco.  While on the farm Jacko attempted to ride a neighbor's donkey, Gomez commemorated the harsh event by naming both the donkey and the cigar El Jocko." [source]

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Words of Wisdom #28

“Fresh air makes me throw up.
I can’t handle it.
I’d rather be around three Denobili cigars blowing in my face all night.”
Frank Sinatra

Monday, October 20, 2014

Words of Wisdom #27

“Man, the creature who knows he must die, who has dreams larger than his destiny, who is forever working a confidence trick on himself, needs an ally. Mine has been tobacco.”

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Litto (Gomez) Shuffle

Valentino and I had to run out of town today, and that journey just happened to take us in the direction of Old Firehouse Smoke Shop in Fall River, MA (and lunch with my parents--Hi Mom! Hi Dad!) and we just happened to stop in to say "Howdy!" to Wyatt.

Hi Wyatt!

Oh, and shop proprietor John Brandt! (Although one of us may or may not have greeted the dog first. That person may or may not have been me.)

Okay, full disclosure. John had something we wanted and as far as we have been able to figure, he's the only one who has them. I guess you could say he's our supplier.

Now, lots of folks have the Small Batch Litto Gomez. But John, John has the 2010 batch. (That's Batch #3, if you're keeping track.) We had picked up a couple (one to smoke and one for the humidor) a while ago just on a whim (okay, and a recommendation). Valentino smoked it at an event at the Connecticut Valley Tobacco Museum and swooned. (I'd like to pretend he was swooning over my awesomeness, but we all know it was Litto.)

Let's back up a second. In case you didn't know, Litto owns this little cigar brand called La Flor Dominicana. Hahaha--not little. One of our most super favorites!* I love all their cigars. Even the ones I haven't met yet! You may remember this gem. Oh! And guess what! One of our favoritest cigar friends is John Gallogly, our LFD rep!** Hi John!

According to Traveling Stogie, "Production of this cigar is limited to 30,000 packed in crates of 104 cigars which limits distribution to about 285 crates... [T]he plants used for this production cigar are grown on a blocked off section on farm where only the premium leaves are used."
Just now, before he lit it, Valentino tested the draw and said, "This is something. This is something that I can't place." Naturally, I asked the internets for help because you can get anything on the mighty mighty internets. And there it was. "Was it sourdough?" I asked, pretending I knew what I was talking about, but really, the genius belongs to the folks at Traveling Stogie. (Thank you!)
With Dominican filler and binder all nestled together with Dominican Sumatra, our new toro love*** has a gorgeous reddish hue on its shapely 6.75 x 52 self.
Hello, my pretties.
I'll admit, when I first saw them, I was perplexed. The tobacco leaf veins stood out and left the texture bumpy and craggy. This was completely different from the traditional smoothness of the cigars I'd encountered thus far. But it had personality. And charm. And a beauty I couldn't quite describe. Kind of like Ray Liotta. (Don't judge. Use your imagination.)
And now, as I sit here at Habanos with the gang (Hi Lauren! Hi Brian! Hi Nathalie! Hi Dave! Hi Sarah!**** Hi Mike! Hi Lexxie! Hi Doc! Hi Doc's cousin whose name I've already forgotten!*****) (Oh, Hi Valentino! XOXO), I get to second-hand smoke all its deliciousness. Its primary taste is leather, reminiscent of its look, accompanied by cedar and an underlying sweetness of molasses and cocoa.
When we picked up six today, I looked at the remaining dozen or so (maybe 18? Math is dumb.), and I'm still thinking I need to go back and get the rest. You guys know how I get about limited editions and "When they're gone, they're gone."
I mean, how can I not want him to be this happy for as long as possible?
Again, I'd like to say it's my awesomeness, but it's all you, Litto!
Mom and Dad! We'll be shuffling over there for dinner soon!

*I came, I bought, I'm actually wearing the t-shirt right this second!

**Technically, he's not OUR rep, but...well, you know. He exudes awesome. And he takes a hell of a selfie!

***Yes, yes, we know we are fickle. But we have so much love to give the cigar world. There's plenty for everyone! Don't worry!

****I'm going to post this before you get here. You'd better come or...I don't even know what will happen to the internets. They may be permanently broken. And then Brian and I will have the sad. Probably other people too.

*****Sorry! Lauren makes a hell of a drink!

The Crux of the Matter* <--Note the first sparkle!

We're sitting at the Mr.J's Havana cigar dinner in that seekrit location and the featured cigars are those by Crux.

"Who?" you ask, and rightfully so, because if you happened to spend the summer smoking old favorites, you might have missed this newcomer to the cigar scene. This past June, they launched the Passport, Ninfamaniac, and Skeeterz, followed quickly in July with Classic and the Bull and Bear.

At the dinner, we were given the first three and we jumped right in! We're nice like that!

First up? Passport, which comes in three sizes: the toro (6 x 48,which Valentino happens to be smoking right this second**), 5.5 x 44, and 7 x 40. The wrapper is Ecuadorean, the binder and filler from Nicaragua, which perked Valentino up before he even lit it. After all, as you must know by now, my guy is the #1 fan of Nicaraguan tobacco. 

True story.
When Valentino first toasted and lit the Passport, I waited patiently, slowly slipping the sangria that accidentally wound up in front of me. (That happens a lot at cigar dinners, for some reason.) He didn't make the "This is effing good," face that occasionally occurs upon the first puffs. But because this was something brand-spanking new, he took the time to savor over a third of the cigar (and I waited patiently, savoring one half of the sangria) before making the proclamation that it was pretty darned good.  Definitely worthy of some quality time.

I wasn't sitting directly next to him, poking him and annoying the crap out of him, like I usually am, not unlike a pesky mosquito (or should I say "skeeter"<--see what I did there?) and because there were so many guys smoking different cigars from Crux, I didn't get a chance to enjoy a good second hand smoke, although I did manage to capture and rein in an occasional chocolate and tobacco taste as friends stopped by our table to chat. Sangria makes me chatty.

Valentino said the Passport was hovering on the high-end of medium/low end of full.*** He also said he was getting a variety of flavors as he progressed through the tasty stick. The chocolate was an actual thing--not just my subliminal cry for dessert. He also picked up some cedar and citrus, along with pepper and leather. I continued drinking and accidentally stopped listening.

As the dinner portion of the evening ended, the raffle began and this happened:

Valentino won a travel humidor loaded with Crux cigars, compliments of the company. Thanks, guys! Our hero, along with the three other winners, and (L-R) Cigar Rep Mike Ferraro, Mr. J's Havana's Mark Feeley, Mr. J himself [Paul Joyal], and Tom, son of Mr. J! Huzzah! Congratulations! And if you must know, I also won--a table-top lighter offered by Mike! Thanks, Mike! Thanks all you super awesome guys! Signed, the token girl at the cigar dinners! XOXO
When the festivities wound down, we headed home, but then accidentally wound up at Habanos, where Valentino tried out the 7 x 33 Ninfamaniac, which comes in natural and maduro, although we only had a natural handy. The Esteli, Nicaragua filler and Indonesian binder are lovingly wrapped in Habana Jalapa. had this to say about the Ninfamaniac's unique shape and taste: "There isn’t much problem burning through the closed foot of the cigar and establishing a somewhat firm but certainly acceptable flow of air that produces more than enough smoke. I do find myself adjusting how much of the cap to clip off in an attempt to preserve some of the pointed head while also ensuring there is enough of an opening to enable adequate air flow. There are touches of sweetness on the palate in the early going, along with some dry soil notes and a certain tangy zing that I’m inclined to think is coming from the Indonesian binder."

He finished that one, smoking it right down to the finger-burning nubbin and we didn't really feel like ending the evening (even though someone had an 8:00 class and had no right even being awake at that time!), so he fired up the third of the evening, the 4 x 32 Skeeterz--perfect for when you want quick and delicious. (Heh heh)  It has the same filler, binder, wrapper elements as the Ninfamaniac, although because of its unique size and shape, offered up a completely different smoke and experience.

Let's go to Halfwheel for the info about this one, because 1. I know he smoked it; I saw it happen, but I have no memory of any other sensory information about it other than seeing the smoke; 2. I forgot to ask Valentino to tell me descriptive words about it, and he's smoked umpity gajillion cigars since then. I've been a bad blogger.****

"Starting into the first third I’m immediately greeted with notes of fresh hay, a little licorice, a touch of light black pepper and some spice. Despite the earlier soft spots the draw is a little on the open end but still well within the ideal range. The smoke production from this little cigar is billowing and plentiful when drawing and drops down to almost no smoke coming off the foot a few seconds after setting it down. Less than an inch into the cigar and the black pepper has ramped up, coming more to the forefront to join the hay and the overall sweet spice while the licorice from the beginning has completely disappeared."

Yeah. What they said. If I were a really good blogger/reporter, I'd get him to smoke another so I could take in the experience and give you a first-hand report. But hahahahahaha. No. (He's out doing man things right now, so I couldn't ask even if I were so inclined.)

ANYWAY! You're probably dying to know who makes all these dandies.

Say "Hello!" to Jeff Haugen and Joel Rogers, co-owners of Tobacco Grove in Maple Grove, Minnesota!

Hello, Gentlemen! You've made our list of favorites! Welcome to the party!

"We have been retailers of premium cigars for over 20 years and have been truly blessed to be involved in selling a product that has done so much good for so many people. Cigars build friendships and community, uniting people from all walks of life. Cigars allow people to relax from the stressors of life, which allows us to sort out the challenges we face. Cigars allow us to celebrate the moments that matter most. Cigars reward us for our successes and help us accept our failures."

I know exactly what you're thinking: Penny***** needs cupcakes.  Ha ha ha. No.******

You were thinking, Sheesh! That's what Penny has been saying all along! The community! The friends! The culture! They're all favorites!

So...the moral(s) of the very very long-winded story:
  1. The cigars? They are good! Super good! And...
  2. The three we've had so far? Perfect for three different occasions: The "I want to leisurely hang out with friends" (Passport), the "I need to relax but I don't have a shit-ton of time" (Nimfamaniac), and the "Penny doesn't want to leave yet but the place is going to close and I don't want to fire up a cigar that I'm going to have to let die" (Skeeterz). Also...
  3. These guys? They're super cool and you definitely want to support them and their new lines of fab cigars. So...
  4. It's crucial that you try all the cigars in the Crux line.*******


*Sometimes these things just write themselves.

**And by "right this second," I mean this past Monday when I started this blog post. Sometimes, like a good cigar, they need to age a bit before they're released out into the wild.

***Glass half full, half empty. Whatevs.

****Yeah. Like it's the first time.

*****That's me, by the way, in case you haven't been paying attention--ever.

******I mean yes, I always need cupcakes, but that's not what you should have been thinking at that very moment!

*******See what I did there? Crux meaning the crucial point? Plus it's Latin for cross.********

********Yes, I studied Latin in school. And yes, I know my nerd-level just rose exponentially. Yay!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Serendipity Happens: Lord of the Rings

Serendipity: "fortunate happenstance" "pleasant surprise"

Serendipity: A pretty good John Cusack movie

Serendipity: A chocolate shop where you can get this ice cream sundae:

For a mere $1,000. [source]
Serendipity: One of my all-time favorite words and a favorite occurrence. I get sad when serendipity happens and I miss it!

The other evening, while at Habanos, Valentino saw someone wearing a Tatuaje shirt and asked our friend and fabulous bartender Nathalie (Hi Nathalie!)* if he worked for one of the cigar companies. She said, "No," but thought Valentino would enjoy chatting with him, so she introduced them.

As they chatted, Valentino noticed a magnificent ring on his finger--in the shape of an ashtray with a cigar and lots and lots of shiny elements.Naturally, my man swooned, because that ring, loaded with sapphires and diamonds gold and silver is effing gorgeous.

The man, Hamo Tavitian, told our hero that he DESIGNED it. He MADE it. (You guys! How cool is that?**) He showed Valentino pictures of other things--cufflinks, money clips, bracelets...and much more, that he's designed. You can see some of them here. Gorgeous, right?

Of course, I didn't know any of this was happening because I was home grading papers.*** But when he returned to the homefront, a mere six minutes away, he told me the whole story and showed me pictures. How could he pass up a custom-made ring? Especially one as super cool as that?

Now if I had been there, I probably would have been vying for his attention**** and he might not have even noticed the nice man and his shirt, and then...and then...

The next day, he made the call and ordered this baby:

It's a little reminiscent of that delectable dish above, isn't it?
(Humour me and say, "Yes.")

But wait! There's more:

Here's a funny thing: Let's call it serendipity light.  We were chatting with our friends at Rolling Stogies during the Providence Columbus Day Festival on Atwell's Ave...

Thanks for the day off, sir!!
...and one of the guys (Hi Joe!) said, "Hey, we just saw a guy with a really cool ring. It was kind of like an ashtray."

We were all, "Whaaa?" and "OMG!"

Here's another funny thing: We were at the festival 1. Because you know we love those things and 2. To meet up with Hamo to pick up Valentino's ring!

And here's a fabulous thing about this ring: It is custom-made, so even if another guy did have one, it would never be the same as our hero's!!

You need to check out Hamo's website and then you need to contact him and then you need to get one and then you need to call and thank me and buy me a cupcake.*****

Lord of the Rings (and other lovely jewelry)

"I'm passionate about my work," Hamo said. "Jewelry is my first love and cigars are my passion--every piece of Design by Hamo jewelry is hand-designed and hand crafted by me. I hope you enjoy wearing it as much as I do making it." Trust us, you totally will.******

Note the H on the cigar. Hmmm...I wonder what that stands for...
(It's Hamo.)

Know what helps up the Cool Factor? It's as heavy as...a really, really heavy thing. So heavy that if I wore it around my neck for more than ten minutes, I'd become a C-shaped lady right-quick. But it would be worth it because everyone would stop and admire my lovely necklace, just like they admire his gorgeous ring.

Just so you know, Hamo creates a full line of men's and women's cigar-themed rings, cuff links, pendants and accessories with many various stones and metals including ruby, emerald, gold, silver and more. See just a small sampling here and here.

Let's take another look at this and swoon over the blue sapphires, diamonds, Argentinian silver, and gold. And you can't even see the ruby that's mimicking the lit end of the cigar.
Hamo's business is located in Boston, but that doesn't preclude you from chatting with him and maybe getting a little something--or somethings--for yourself, regardless of where you live. Or you could just happen to leave the website open on a page that just happens to have a picture of something you just happen to want. Because sometimes, just sometimes, serendipity needs a jump start.

*Hi (again) Nathalie!

**The Cool Factor is cranked up to a zillion!



*****Cupcakes are the world's greatest reward.

******We are incredibly trustworthy, if we do say so ourselves. And we do say so.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The day Valentino's cigar life changed forever (with apologies to Dickens and A Christmas Carol)

Once upon a time, a man named Valentino happened into Mr. J's Havana Shop in West Warwick, RI. As usual, the proprietor greeted him warmly and they chatted about the Ghosts of Cigars Past and gazed at Cigars Future, which would be ghosts soon enough--just wisps of smoke, the unique perfume all that lingers, at least for a short time.

Like a kid in a candy store, Valentino chose his cigars carefully and deliberately.  And then Mark said, "I thought of you the minute this came in. You're going to love it."

And like Ebenezer Scrooge at the end of A Christmas Carol, the moment the flame touched the fundadores gordo (7.5 x 46), his life changed forever. There was love in his heart, hope in his soul, and brilliance in his brain. Oh, I'm just kidding. That stuff has always been there. But smoking the nearly-perfect Joel Sherman 75th Anniversary from the Nat Sherman company intensified everything, making his world a little brighter, a little better.

The beginning of a new beginning.

Or so rumour has it, for I did not partake of this Most Excellent Adventure.

When we met up at the end of the day, he sang the praises of this Dominican filler and binder, with the light Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper, happily showing me the other two he'd purchased--and would probably never smoke. After all, this limited edition (2,500 boxes, ten in a box) would surely sell out quickly, so these would be saved for very, very, very special occasions.*

We've always** been fans of the Nat Sherman company; they exude class and maintain an amazing level of consistency in all aspects of the business. My introduction to all things Nat Sherman came in the form of a Mr. J's Havana cigar dinner, at which the amazing Michael Herklots introduced us to the fine details of blending and creating a cigar, as well as giving us a clear overview of the cigar industry. Oh, and provided us with delicious cigars, of course.

If we travel with the Ghost of Cigars Past, we'd see me, on that day, realizing a cigar really is more than a cigar--it's a community, a way of life, a way to connect with like-minded strangers, an industry composed of small and large businesses that care about their customers, an industry where you can share a drink and a laugh with those business owners.

Fast forward a bit and in July, I started to get excited about the Joel Sherman when the company released the info on the 75th Anniversary during ICPCA. I even told you all about it here!

Because he loved this so much, we took a trip back to West Warwick and purchased a box. That meant I would get to enjoy the cigar too.  And enjoy it I did. Valentino had earlier proclaimed it in his top three of all time. My turn had come (by way of second-hand-smoke) and I'd decide whether or not this was all hyperbole.***

It was not hyperbole. In fact, whatever the highest level of anti-hyperbole would be called, it was that.  He had earlier described it as the most amazing flavors, which didn't blend together like a rock band, creating one unified sound, but more individual tastes playing nicely together, side by side, some coming up for a brief solo and then receding, like an orchestra.

The "crest on the front of the box...was inspired
by a bass drum Sherman played when he was younger." [source]

According to HalfWheel, "The first third starts out with a great base of creamy peanuts, along with nice flavors of cedar, leather, white chocolate, earth and white pepper on the retrohale. A slight sweetness comes and goes, while there is a very distinct lemon peel note that starts about halfway through the first third and continues to grow stronger as the cigar burns."

I definitely noticed a creaminess throughout, but keeping track of each delicious smell and taste seemed almost impossible on this first go-round, especially since we sat on the porch and the wind stole away with the delicious flavors meant for me.****

 About the second third, Brooks Whittington of HalfWheel said, "An interesting buttery creaminess starts to invade the profile of the Nat Sherman product during the second third, combining nicely with a sweetness that tastes quite a bit like vanilla to me. Other flavors of peanuts, coffee, leather, earth and cocoa flit in and out, while the lemon peel tartness from the first third has actually receded quite a bit by the halfway point."

I couldn't believe we only had one spare before we'd have to open the box and I didn't want to negotiate what would constitute a very, very, very special event worthy of a Joel Sherman. So I went to a favorite online retailer and, using a 17% off coupon code, I purchased another box. Now we owned 2! [Added January 7, 2015. I think we have four and a half boxes now. Yay!]

Whittington takes on the final third of the 75th Anniversary, stating that it "continues the trend of evolving flavors with a hay note taking over dominance from the buttery creaminess that was in the second third. Leather, earth, chocolate, espresso and even a little cinnamon are all on display."

We've, of course, accidentally driven 40 minutes out of our way (a few times) since the initial Joel Sherman purchase and each time we do, another box sits on the counter of Mr. J's. And each time that happens, we pick up another one or two, because one day, they won't be there and we really will have to decide what constitutes a Very Special Occasion, one worthy of this cigar.

Yesterday, Valentino showed a true level of friendship. He gifted Cabellero #2 one of these precious sticks.

"Smokin a gift from my good buddy Caballero #1...a Nat Sherman ( Joel Sherman 75th),"
said Cabellero #2 on Facebook, when he posted this picture.

But given how happy it made our friend, I'm happy knowing it went to a good home.


And as the Ghost of Cigars Present, which has revealed itself in the form of the Joel Sherman 75th Anniversary, said, just a nub of its former self, "My time with you is at an end, Valentino. Will you profit from what I've shown you of the good in most men's hearts?"*****

Valentino burns his fingertips, unwilling to bid adieu to his new friend, but finally acquiescing. We retreat into the house, done for the day, as no other cigar can follow this one. "His own heart laughed; and that was quite enough for him."******

*I can't actually think of an event that would call for this kind of celebratory cigar.

**For the past few years anyway.

***Not that I was doubting him, but, you know, I just wanted to make sure.

****I shake my fist at you, Nature! I hope you enjoyed it!

*****This is where the apology to Dickens occurs.

******Here, too.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

All Hail Caldwell Cigars! And the Caldwell Cigars Dude! Huzzah!!

There we were, finally, at Broadway Cigars, one of our favorite places to hang out. Unfortunately on that day, getting there was a chore First, I was exhausted because working is stupid. Then I was exhausted from going to the Apple Store. (Is anyone ever NOT exhausted after going to the Apple Store?) Then I watched Valentino play Tetris with his loot from the Mr. J's tent sale. It looked a little something like this:


How can a girl get through the day with all that on her plate?*  So I fell asleep on the couch, trying to literally push away the migraine from behind my eye.** (Sleeping with a finger in your eye isn't nearly as difficult as you'd think!)

"You can stay home," Valentino said kindly, when I awoke like the beautiful, delicate flower that I am. (Shush, you.)

I probably would have taken him up on that offer if I hadn't sent him out on his own the previous weekend. "You go," I'd said, meaning it--not like the romantic partners who say "You go," but mean, "If you step foot out of this house without me, you're going to regret it for the next month, so you damn well better sit back down."*** I meant, "I am going to sit on this couch and watch HGTV until my eyes start bleeding and be happy about it." Because sometimes you just have to.

But! Long live the king beautiful princess! For she had risen! <--Me, in this scenario. And by "risen," I mean off the couch.

Like the trouper my mom created in her own image, I put in my contacts--and even brushed my hair! Oh, the things I do for the people I adore!! Plus!  I was not going to miss the opportunity to meet up with Robert Caldwell, he of Caldwell Cigars!


 I'm so glad I rallied! I've added him to my list of super cool dudes.****

He and Valentino chatted for a good long time about man-things I can't even begin to understand, while I cozied up on one of Broadway's super comfy chairs and wrote furiously but funnily (not an easy combination) while soaking in the delicious cigar scents wafting around me.

Valentino jumped into the fray with the Eastern Standard Cream Crush:

A Churchill, 7 x 48. What's that?
You want to know who the distinguished man on the band is?
Yeah, wouldn't we all...
(Let's call this photo: Tired of Researching because Someone Needs a Snack.)
Let's work our way into that beauty: The wrapper is Connecticut Hybrid from Ecuador, grown in 2006. Below that, the binder is Dominican Habano (2005). Both are holding together the lovely and delicious combination of aged tobacco from the Nicaragua and Dominican Republic--Dominican Criollo '98 Viso (2008), Dominican Corojo Ligero (2006) and Nicaraguan Habano Seco (2007).

According to Robert, “The Dominican Republic is one of those treasures that hides in plain sight. There is so much fantastic tobacco, so unique and with such distinct flavors. Unfortunately, many don’t make it to market. It is impossible. Big brands are limited to the variety of tobaccos they can use due to the quantity of cigars that they have to make. A few bales of tobacco to the big boys is nothing. The purpose of Caldwell Cigars is to go wherever we must to find the most exotic flavors we can." These premium rare tobaccos definitely distinguish the Caldwell Cigars from its peers.

What does this all mean for the smoker--both first- and second-hand? Pure pleasure!

You know this is Crush from Finding Nemo, right?
Please say you knew that and got the reference immediately. [source]

I demanded***** Valentino approach the Throne of Creativity after he toasted and lit this lovely. It definitely lived up to its moniker, exuding creaminess that made me swoon, with undertones of spiciness and tobacco. A hint of cedar loitered just below that level of flavor but was incredibly subtle and satisfying--unlike another cigar I whiffed recently****** that screamed "Hamster cage!"

This is definitely a cigar I'd enjoy second-hand smoking any time of any day--definitely a keeper. As a matter of fact, recently we were in another shop and someone we didn't know was looking for something light and friendly.<--(My interpretation of what he said.) As he was standing right smack dab in front of the Caldwell selection, we recommended the Eastern Standard. He bought it! (You're welcome, Robert!)

In addition to the Cream Crush, the Eastern Standard line also includes the Dark Connecticuts Euro Express (5.5 x 44) and Corretto (5 x 50). Under the Caldwell name also comes the "Long Live the King" and "The King is Dead" lines. Additionally, Caldwell also shops his Seleccion Junior Varsity collection. Naturally, Valentino partook in a nice sampling of both lines, because 1. He likes supporting new and old cigar friends and 2. He likes cigars.


 You have to know by now that I love good friends and kind people and building strong relationships between friends and demanding good customer service, and respecting companies with the same values.  Before we even got to meet the man behind the Caldwell Cigars, I checked out the company website (::cough:: internet stalker ::cough::) and was greeted with this:

"Caldwell Cigars is a company built by friends for friends. We have labored to bring you the finest quality product with great attention paid to every detail. We are setting out to deliver to our customers special cigars using only the finest, most exotic All-Grade-A tobaccos we can find. We are in this for our love of the leaf******* and our drive to share with you the fruits of our labor."
As if that weren't enough, the website also proclaims, "Our business model is simple: Good Cigars, Great Friends and A Strong Conscious."
You know, that's not too far from my own motto: "Good cigars, great friends, and staying conscious."

The Other Duuuuude. [source]

*Shut up. I'm looking for sympathy. Indulge me?

**You want to party with me. Oh yes you do!

***Apparently this is actually a thing that people do. It makes me have the sad. 

****Yes, this is an actual thing. If you'd like to know if you're on the list, please send a self-addressed, stamped envelope to...

*****Actual conversation-- Me: T?  Him: Yes?  Me: Can I have some of your wafting flavors? Him: Of course!

******No, I will never tell you what that was because 1. We're a kind and friendly sort here and 2. I don't remember what it was.

Hey! He said the name of the blog IN the blog! [source]

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