While we roamed around Pennsylvania, waiting for the CigarFest kick-off, we donned our fancy-pants clothes and headed to To' Makao Fine Cigars in Bethlehem, PA. I actually begged (and not in a lady-like manner) for the Band of Merry Caballeros to agree to go to this super-great ticketed event.
Owner Franklin Pichardo is one of the nicest, sweetest, kindest people in the Universe. We met him in Miami this past October at Cigar Cellar, owned by SuperFriend Rhea Planes. (We were in town for the Havana Nights fundraiser,* organized by another of the universe's most awesome people, Berta Bravo.**)
On this pre-CigarFest night in April, though, former Opus X roller Franklin celebrated the visit of his long-time mentor and friend, Carlito Fuente.
|Naturally, Will needed to be the center of attention,|
even though it was Carlito's birthday.
When we first arrived, we received some of Franklin's hand-rolled cigars, both gorgeous and delicious:
During the evening, Carlito told us about his first meeting with Franklin and how he had grown into the amazing man we saw before us.
|Great picture by Valentino.|
Franklin was in tears and speechless, as were we all.
|Mike, the Honorary Caballero (left), |
Carlito, and Caballero #2 at the event.
|Our hero and Carlito, |
who is one of the most gracious men on the planet.
(Our hero's not to shabby himself.)
|Fuente Fuente Opus X Love Affair***|
|A beautiful cigar, made by an extraordinary man and his company.|
Of course Valentino won the grand prize, a Fuente Fuente Opus 22 unfilled gift box, which Carlito then signed, and told him to select any ten cigars from the Fuente lines.
In case you didn't know, this limited box, when filled and sold, raises money for the Cigar Family Charitable Foundation, "a thoughtful cause dedicated to providing substantial humanitarian impact to communities in the Dominican Republic."
If you happen to be anywhere near Bethlehem, PA, you MUST MUST MUST (MUST MUST) visit Franklin's shop. Tell him we sent you.
|A very Fuente collection. The Opus box, a box of Opus X Love Affair, |
and a variety of cigars, purchased at both Franklin's shop
and an earlier jaunt to Cigars International.
(Photo by Valentino.)
|And then photo by me of the same stuff.|
*This year's event, "A Fuente Family Affair" is on October 30. We're planning to be there. You should join us.
**Berta deserves her very own post, and will get it soon. Yeah, she's that great.
***The person who names the Fuente cigars should be sainted. Or knighted. Or something wonderful for the best cigar names ever.