Thursday, December 31, 2009

Paul Garmirian Gourmet Series

Well here it is the last day of the year and I've got a little time to spare before we take off for the evening. Not sure what our final itinerary will be, but I'm sure we'll go out to dinner, then maybe to the Tabacco Patch and meet up with the gang for some festivities, then more than likely we'll head up to the Snoqualmie Casino to celebrate New Year's Eve. But right now I'm enjoying a pre-festivities cigar and a glass of rum. My tobacconist gave me this cigar the other day and since it's kind of a shorty, I thought I'd have time to smoke it before I had to get ready.
Paul Garmirian Gourmet Series - Yep, never heard of it, but I'm about half way through it right now and I like it! A very smooth and flavorful cigar. Packed just perfectly and it's lasting forever. I'm trying not to rush it, but I do indeed have to get going pretty quick. The burn started out just a little uneven, but that's the only flaw I've found so far. Would I buy a box of these? You know, I think I would. I don't have a clue as to how much they cost, but I'll be sure to check it out next year. ;)
My rating: 9
To everyone that follows this blog, my sincere thanks and I hope that you and yours have a very Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Hoyo de Monterrey

Remember how we had the freezing cold temperatures around Thanksgiving, well the other day, just a few days before Christmas, it was almost 60º in Kirkland. Of course it was raining, no, I take that back, the sun did come out for a minute and that's when we went for our long walk. Crazy weather though...

So on Saturday night we stopped by the Tobacco Patch after dinner at the Cactus Restaurant. Cactus is still my favorite Tex-Mex restaurant on the Eastside, but there's another restaurant that is a close second - the Matador over in Redmond, both have GREAT food.

Anyway, I forgot to put a cigar in my coat pocket before we left, so I had to buy one this week. The Patch has a BIG selection to choose from, probably one of the bigger selections in the Puget Sound area. Finding a cigar to smoke is easy, finding a cigar that I want to smoke is what takes a little time. Sure I could pick a Zino or a Davidov, but I don't like spending that kind of money unless it's a VERY special occasion. So this week I found a Hoyo de Monterrey. The label looked a little different than the other Hoyo's that I've smoked, so I thought I'd grab this one - the price was right!

The Tobacco Patch is a gathering place for Aficionados, people from all over the globe congregate here. I think that's why we like coming down on the weekends, there's always an interesting conversation, plus it's always nice to see your friends.

So what did I think of the Hoyo de Monterrey? Meh... nothing special, but not worth throwing away; little harsh, draw was OK, nothing in the flavor department. You know I think I've smoked quite a few cigars that tasted just like this one, in fact I've smoked so many of them that I'm starting to think that they're all coming from the same factory, just a different label on them? Who knows, maybe I'm dreaming. Anyway, it's not the greatest cigar, but for the price I guess it was acceptable. Would I buy it again? Not a chance.
My Rating: 7

Well my friends, hopefully I'll fit one more review in before the year is up, but until then I'm wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas from all of us at the Kirkland Cigar Club!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Vertigo Club

My lovely wife and I were invited to The Vertigo Club in Seattle last Friday by my friend Herman, an upstanding member of the club and President of the 10-7 Habaneros Club in Tacoma. Thank God it didn't snow that night, because there was no way I was going to miss this event. Herman told me that he'd be there after 6 PM, so anytime after that would be perfect. Well, at 6 PM my beautiful wife was still getting ready to go, and seeing how it was Friday night I knew that the freeways were guaranteed to be backed up from the Eastside into town. No worries though, it was Friday night and technically there was no rush.

The trip into Seattle was no big deal, we used the carpool lane and breezed by all the backups, so around 7 PM we arrived out in front of the Club on First Avenue. You can't miss it really, they have a big neon sign out front that says "Vertigo building". Anyway here's the trick, you don't enter at the front door, you have to go around to the back of the building and look for the "red door", which we found with no problems. There were quite a few nice cars parked here, so I knew that this had to be the right place. We walked up to the door and noticed that there was a security card reader located where you might find the doorbell. Just for the heck-of-it I pushed on the door and it opened, the knob was locked, but somehow the door didn't close all the way from the last person coming in or out. Sweet, we're in. Not so fast... There was another door with that same security feature. I tried the door - LOCKED. I looked around for a doorbell - None. Hmmm? So I knock on the door. Nothing. I know we're in the right place because I can faintly smell cigar smoke, plus I hear people talking and having a good time. I knock again and again. No dice. Amazing that they couldn't hear me knocking? My wife says "let's give up and go to the Casino, it's freezing out here." And indeed it was, probably only 30º or so. I could have kicked myself for not writing Herman's phone number down. JEEZ! OK, PLAN B... My office is only 5 minutes away, so we blast down to the office and I go inside and get Herman's phone number off my computer. Mission accomplished, we're back on the road in no time. I called Herman and told him the story, he said he'd meet us at the door when we arrived.

Herman, who is dressed in his custom tailored fine velvet smoking jacket, greets us at the door and apologizes for our inconvenience. I told him I'm a dork for not thinking of bringing his number along with me. He takes us up the stairs and into the main room of the club. Now I know why they didn't hear us knocking earlier, everyone is on the second floor and this is a BIG place! When we arrive upstairs, Herman introduces us to group, maybe 15 people or so, and everyone is pleased to meet us. We venture over to the bar, which has just about every kind of booze you can think of, including my favorite, Rum. Herman tells me to pick anything I like - boy, talk about a kid in a candy store! I pour myself a glass of VERY old rum and my wife chooses a red wine. Thank God there's a table full of delicious hor d'oeuvres over to our left, I had taken my wife out to lunch earlier in the day, but I'm sure my head is going to start spinning if I don't eat something soon. I stroll over and sample some of the food - excellent selection of hams and cheeses!

OK, so now I'm ready to really enjoy this place. First let me say that the room has kind of a 1920's feel to it - exposed wooden beams in the ceiling and worn red brick walls. There are comfortable leather sofas and chairs everywhere, plus a couple of card tables on both sides of the room. You'd really think you were in the 1920's era, except for the big screen TV that's on the wall.

Herman asks me what I'd like to smoke? I told him that I brought a few cigars with me, but he insisted that I try something different. . He takes me over to the far wall of the place where all the lockers are located, not just any locker, but a temperature and humidity controlled Spanish cedar locker, each with a custom engraved personalized name plate on it. Very snazzy. He unlocks his locker and tells me to go ahead and pick something. These lockers are big enough to put at least 20 boxes of cigars, maybe more, and believe me Herman has a load of stuff in his locker. I choose the "Aroma de Cuba". Never heard of it and definitely never smoked one before. A perfect choice. We walk back over to the bar and I pour myself a different flavor of rum - good stuff indeed.

From what I remember of this cigar, it was an absolute keeper! Definitely one to add to my favorites list. Herman has good taste, that's for sure. Smooth, medium bodied cigar with a perfect draw. I'd rate this cigar at 10, but I think I better smoke another one, just to double check; all the booze might have clouded my judgment. ;)

One of the other members wanted to show us around a little more, so we ventured over to the meeting room. He opens the French doors and there's a long mahogany table with more leather chairs all around. On the wall is a trophy mounted Elk's head - somewhat fitting for the surroundings I'd say. Anyway, nice place for conducting business, very comfortable room. Next we head up a short flight of stairs and down the hallway where there is a nicely appointed bathroom, kind of reminds me of some of the law firm bathroom that you'd find downtown - yes, very nice. Continuing down the hall is the office and further down is a full kitchen, all very nicely decorated and furnished. Lastly, we walk to the end of the hall and find a door that leads out to a big balcony. I see a lot of potential for this spot.

Back inside and at the bar, I lite up one of the Oliva's that I brought - believe it or not I couldn't get it to draw properly. I tried just about everything to open it up, but nothing seemed to work. Very rarely do I give up on an Oliva, but I didn't want to waste any more time on a dud of a cigar. No problem, there are an abundance of cigars in this place. Actually I don't remember what I smoked next, mainly because that last Cognac that I had was making my head spin. Back to the hor d'oeuvres table pronto!

As the evening went on, we had an opportunity to get to know more of the other people that were there. Everyone was having a good time. I mean really, what could be better than enjoying a fine cigar, drinking your favorite beverage, conversing with fellow Aficionados and most importantly - BEING INDOORS! I was in heaven....

I can't tell you what a great time my wife and I had at the Club - it was fantastic, but what really made it special was the way the Vertigo Club members treated us - you guys are truly great people!

Thanks again Herman for inviting us and showing us a little of "La Dolce Vita." It was a Gran Evening indeed!

PS - Bill, that was the best coffee that I ever tasted!

Monday, December 7, 2009

New Toy

I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving Holiday. Mine turned out to be much better than expected, especially since I didn't have to go to work on Friday! My wife really did a superb job!
So anyway, the weather here has turned cold, not the normal Seattle cold, but Eastern Washington cold - temperature this morning was 24º and clear. BBbbbbrrrrrr...I'll gladly take the cold over the rain any day. (true Seattleite)

Speaking of cold, I bought a new toy - a patio heater. We were over at Home Depot the other day and I saw a stack of them in the middle of the isle on sale. I looked at the price and thought it might be a mistake. So me being the extremely cheap person that I am went home and searched for what they should cost on the web. Yep, this was a mighty fine deal, so I returned to Home Depot the following day and I went down the isle where I saw them before and "oh, oh.... where are they?? Dang, did I miss out?." I asked one of the salespeople if he knew if they had any left and he said that he thought he saw one out in the gardening dept. Sure enough there was one sitting out there all by itself waiting for me, and it was still on sale!

Which leads me to the cigar that I smoked last night in the frigid weather out on my deck. It had to be in the 20's, maybe 30º at the most, but it was cold. I grabbed a bottle of Bass Pale Ale from the fridge and a cigar from my humidor and headed outside. First things first, I turned on the propane for the patio heater and fired it up - Amazing, it works! This definitely will change whether I smoke on the deck or in the garage, no more freezing my butt off! Definitely a good buy.

The cigar that I'm smoking tonight I've actually reviewed before back in May while we were in sunny Mexico: Oliva Serie O Maduro. I rated this cigar pretty high the last time I smoked it, so I'm looking forward to enjoying it again.

I'm not sure if it's the cold weather or just the cigar, but it feels a little too firmly packed this time. The wrapper looks just the same though - a little rugged and oily. Before I lite the cigar, I grab my bottle of beer that's been sitting on the deck railing - talk about ICE cold! I best hang on to it so it doesn't freeze.

I single hole punch the bottom and lite it up. What was my first thought? Meh... This must be a different cigar, it doesn't taste anything like the cigar that I smoked in Mexico. Or, maybe it tasted just the same but when I was in Mexico I might have had a bit too much to drink? Anyway you look at it, I didn't think this cigar was worthy of the rating I gave it last time. Not as smooth, the draw was a little rough, the firmness kind of bothered me and towards the end it started to get a little harsh, not that lovely Oliva cigar that I'm used to, NO WAY! Don't get me wrong, it is a good cigar, but not a great one and not one that I would likely buy again. (although this was a freebie)

My Rating: 7.5

PS - I'm looking forward to this Friday night, my wife and I are invited to the exclusive Vertigo Club in Seattle. (Thanks Herman!)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cabaiguan Belicoso Fino

My wife and I stopped by The Bravern the other day, that's the new "hoity-toity" mall in downtown Bellevue. Nice complex, but did you know that it's an outdoor mall? Shopping in the rain, oh yeah, I really look forward to that...

Speaking of outdoor malls, we were also out in Redmond at the Town Center - yes, shopping in the rain, but this place isn't so bad because I'm able to escape to the cigar store.

Which leads me to the cigar that I picked out: Cabaiguan Belicoso
Ever heard of it? That makes two of us. That's basically why I chose it. So the other night after a big dinner, I decided to try it out.

The Cabaiguan is a really nice looking cigar, at least in my opinion it looks good - good color, good size, pyramid shape, not too firm to the touch, just right. So I lite it up. Nice draw, smooth, billows of white smoke, maybe not sweet like an Oliva, but very enjoyable. Only minor complaints was that the burn was a tad uneven and towards the bottom quarter of the cigar it started to get a little harsh. Still worked OK for me though. I've read a few reviews on this cigar since I've smoked it and you'd almost think that I smoked a different cigar - the reviews I read rate this cigar pretty poorly. I must have found the jewel in the bunch, because mine turned out to be pretty darn good. Even my better half liked it.

So, my rating: 8

Turkey Day coming up - I've got the day after Thanksgiving off this year. Yes! This is the first time in 32 years I've taken it off.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Just Like New...

Just like new...

I decided to wipe my computer clean over the weekend and reinstall the operating systems. It's really not that big of a deal, but I can see why people would pay someone else to do it for them - it's WAY too time consuming. In my case it was even more time consuming because I have a Mac AND I also run Windows XP on it. 

Here's a list of what needed to be done: 
  1. back up files before the install
  2. Install Tiger 
  3. Install Leopard
  4. Install Snow Leopard
  5. Install system updates and patches
  6. Run Boot Camp
  7. Install Windows XP Service Pack 2
  8. Install ALL updates and patches (OMG!)
  9. Connect and reinstall peripherals (printers, fax, scanner, hubs, serial adapters, etc..)
I think all in all, it probably took about 8 hours to complete, of course I wasn't sitting in front of my computer the whole time, but I did have to continually restart it. The part that took the most time was installing all the updates and patches for XP. Sheesh! That was never ending. You'd think that you could install all the updates at the same time, but noooooooo, only so many updates and patches will load, then you need to restart your computer and load the next batch. Jeez, that was never ending!

One thing that I did differently this time was to use Boot Camp instead of Vmware Fusions to install and run Windows XP. I'm glad I did too. I love Boot Camp compared to Fusions. XP runs GREAT! I guess I never did need to run both operating systems at the same time, which is one of the pluses to running Fusions.

So now I have an almost brand spank-me new perfectly running laptop. Unfortunately my son uses it occasionally for his studies at the UW, so it's just a matter of time...

Anyway, I did manage to smoke a couple fine cigars during the process. Friday night we stopped by the Tobacco Patch after coffee at Zoka's. BTW, Zoka's is conveniently located right next to the Patch, but had it not been raining I would have gladly walked across the street to either Starbucks or Caffe Ladro, both have better coffee in my opinion. The Patch was pretty dead, but that wasn't going to stop me from my Friday Night Cigar. I lit up an Oliva G Churchills - one of the best cigars on the planet! 

Saturday night after dinner at The Slip in downtown Kirkland, we buzzed up the to the Snoqualmie Casino. I don't think I've ever seen it rain so hard on the way up there; torrential rain! Luckily this place has a great valet service and the front entrance is fully covered, so no worries on staying dry. 

The casino mails us coupons all the time, either for a free buffet or exchange for cash. This time we'll use the cash coupon. Speaking of cash coupons, my mom told me the other day that whenever my sister goes to the casino she takes her coupon straight to the cashier's window and cashes it in, then turns around and walks right out the front door. Winner! ;)

After a couple of hours playing the slots, we decide to call it quits and go have a cigar in the Lit Lounge. The place is packed, but my lovely wife spots a group leaving their table just as we walk through the door. Good timing! I order my favorite rum (Pyrat) and my better half orders a cappuccino, which by the way are not made in the bar anymore, the waitress has to walk over to the restaurant to have it made for us. Good service!

I was cheap this weekend (when am I not?) and brought a cigar with me, I didn't feel like paying $$ for a cigar at the Lit Lounge, especially when I've got plenty at home. Can you guess what I brought? You guessed right! I've got a ton of these Oliva's that I've got to smoke before I buy anything else. For me that's not a problem - I could smoke these any time of day. (all except the Cain cigars, which are deadly to all humans)

All in all, it was a pretty nice evening...

Monday, November 2, 2009

Padilla Series '68 Corojo

We stopped by the Tobacco Patch on Friday night for a quick cigar - it hadn't rained all day, but as soon as I lit up my cigar it started pouring. UGH... Couple of the guys broke out their umbrellas and the rest of us tucked up under the building awnings. Still got a little wet, but a good cigar and a great bunch of Aficionados made it all worth the effort. Extra little treat was watching all the people in their Halloween costumes walking over to the Irish Rover Restaurant for the Halloween party - some of those costumes were hilarious!

Anyway, as you know I've been complaining about the weather ever since I got back from my trip to Central America, but this weekend it finally stopped raining. Saturday was OK, but Sunday was absolutely picture-postcard perfect outside. It was so nice that we walked down to the Kirkland marina and smoked a cigar out on the dock.

Which leads me to the cigar that I chose to smoke out on the dock:  
Padilla Series '68 Corojo

I liked it - Terrific draw, perfect burn, smooth taste, packed nicely, what more could you ask for? It's a little stronger than a Cameroon, significantly stronger than a Connecticut, but not even close to a Ligero. I think you get the picture. It turned out to be the perfect cigar for an amazingly beautiful Sunday afternoon. I have a feeling that might be the last of the nice weather days though.

My Rating: 8

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

Don Pepin Garcia Cuban Class

Pouring down rain outside, plus it's only about 46 degrees, you'd think it was late November already. Two weeks of this stuff since I've been back from Central America - I'm strongly considering going to Brazil for Christmas/New Year's, at least it's guaranteed to be warm there.

Friday there was an Oliva cigar event over at Rain City Cigars in Georgetown. Since I'm within walking distance and of course you already know that Oliva cigars are my favorite smoke, I couldn't resist checking it out. I arrived just after 3 PM and the shop was already full of Aficionados looking to score a good deal. The Oliva Rep had quite a nice selection displayed on the long counter. I noticed a price list taped to the window - 20% off boxes. OH BOY! I picked out a box of Oliva Serie G Churchill's - the price was right, plus my humidor is nearly empty. I bought the box and the Rep gave me 6 additional cigars, plus a nifty Oliva baseball hat, a guillotine cutter and some NUB matches. NEAT O!

So as I'm sitting here typing away in the garage, I'm smoking an Oliva Serie O cigar and drinking a nice hot cup coffee - good combo on this crappy weather night. Great cigar I might add, but in all actuality I wanted to tell you about the cigar that I smoked on Friday night down at the Tobacco Patch. I've seen this brand many times and I've heard that they're supposed to be pretty good, so I thought I'd try one for myself.

The Don Pepin Garcia Cuban Class cigar is not all that special, I'll tell you that right now. It started off a little harsh, but surprised me and really mellowed out about a third of the way into it. Good draw, not the best burn, but I then again I never had to re-light it. Now that I think of it, there was a very, very light drizzle on Friday night, that might have caused the uneven burn. Had this cigar not started off as harsh as it did, I would have loved it, but since I'm judging the total package I'm not real thrilled about it. I'm starting to think that I should just shut up and stick to Cameroon wrapped cigars? Nah, that wouldn't be any fun now, would it...

Off the top of my head I can't think of another cigar to compare this to, maybe a Rocky Patel Corojo? I can't remember... Old age sinking in?

My Rating: 7.9

PS - This Oliva Serie O that I'm smoking is EXCELLENT!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cuban Stock Royal Selection

We're back to our typical Fall weather pattern - rain, with a chance of more rain. Currently it's drizzling, but that will change to showers, then to light rain, but downpours are likely. We've got a million different ways to say it's raining here. Sheesh!

Anyway, on a brighter note, while it wasn't raining, I picked up a few cigars out in Redmond. Yes, I know I should have bought them in Kirkland, but I was at the Mall with my lovely wife and it was just too darn convenient to buy them there. By the way, this cigar store has a pretty good following for their Sunday afternoon cigar get together out in front of their store. I might have to stop by some time if it's not raining too hard.

So what did I find? A Cuban Stock Royal Selection. Why this one? Well, it kind of sticks out from the rest. Now I know why cigar companies put multiple cigar bands on their products - they want their cigar to be noticed! And that's just what happened. The dark brown color, the multiple bands, the box press, no cellophane wrapper, all contributed to my decision. Very rarely do I buy a cigar that doesn't have a label on it, however, I've been thinking about experimenting... (blind taste test)

Last night after dinner, a BIG dinner, my spouse and I grabbed a drink and headed out to the deck to try out the cigar. Surprisingly it wasn't all that cold out and it wasn't raining!

This cigar has an unusual box press, not square, but rectangular, kind of feels like you're holding one of those big yellow carpenter pencils in your hand, it's got that kind of shape to it, just a little shorter. The wrapper is a rich dark chocolate brown, nice feel to it as well, not too firm, and of course it has the two labels that stick out like neon signs. I gave it a single hole punch and lit it up. Not bad - medium to maybe full bodied flavor, but nothing like the Cain Ligero that I smoked a few weeks back. I knew right off that I would be able to handle this cigar OK. Even my better half said it was good! Unfortunately I don't think that I'm going to add it to my list of favorite cigars. Don't get me wrong, it's a good cigar and the burn and draw are absolutely perfect, but it's just not as smooth as the cigars on my Favorites list - very, very close though.

My Rating: 7

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

14 Days, 12 Cigars

Just back from 14 days on a cruise ship, sailing from Los Angeles to Miami, via the Panama Canal. What an experience!


Could not have asked for a better vacation - absolutely amazing!

So you're probably wondering if I smoked any Cuban cigars along the way?
Not this time... I found that the "legitimate" Cuban cigars are cheaper back home, plus I'm too cheap.

Most cruise ships have some sort of cigar lounge or a designated spot to smoke cigars/pipes after a certain time at night, but this boat was probably the nicest - open all the time, nice comfortable arm chairs, few tables, nice selection of fine cigars, plus you could order whatever you liked from the bar. There were always people here and we got to know most of the regulars - heck, every night for 2 weeks you'll definitely get to know someone! Great group though, always a good conversation going on. Kind of reminded me of the gang back home at the Tobacco Patch!

So what did I smoke while on the boat?
A variety of Oliva, Cohiba, and Romeo y Julieta cigars - all on my favorite list. The Oliva's I brought from home, but the Cohiba Churchills and the Romeo y Julieta Reserves I bought on board. Good price too!

So why 12 cigars in 14 days?
Well, one day was a travel day back home, so cancel that day for cigars, but the other day off was on the way back to Miami from Columbia - beautiful warm sunny day, but super windy, thus the swells were quite high and the ship was rocking pretty good. My lovely wife got seasick.... I thought it best to stick around in case she needed anything. Nice guy, eh?

Side Note: One night on the boat, one of the entertainers was a hypnotist. He put on a really good show, nothing too crazy like you see sometimes, but when the show was over he said that he would be giving a seminar the next afternoon on self hypnosis and how you can loose weight (big item on a cruise ship), stop smoking, sleep better, etc. etc... We decided to go - heck, we're on a boat, we've got plenty of free time. Anyway, we show up the next day and the hypnotist gives a little talk on hypnosis and it's benefits, then he tells us that we're going to watch a little video to help you loose weight. He also said that the short flick would have subliminal messages in it as well. OK, I'm ready. Now first off, both my wife and I aren't overweight at all, but being on a cruise ship all you want to do eat, so we thought this might be something of interest. Anyway, we watched the self hypnosis video with the subliminal messages and follow all the directions that the video gave us. When it was over I thought that it was no big deal - relaxing, but I doubt anything will become of it.
That night, dinner time, we decide to go to the buffet instead of the main dinning room. I'm looking at all this food on the buffet tables, good food, but nothing looks appealing to me. WTF? Am I sick? Depressed? What's up here? I settle on a few pieces of cheese and some dried appricots, maybe a few walnuts on the side. Excuse me, but what planet am I from again? Too funny, that stupid hypnotist thing worked. For the next few days I was rarely hungry like I usualy am, plus I slept great. This is one of the few cruises that I've been on where I didn't gain any weight. Amazing!

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Cain Cigars (Oliva)

I was down at the Tobacco Patch and my local tobacconist gave me one of these Cain cigars. He told me to be careful, they're pretty strong. A fellow aficionado near by concurred, he told me the Ligero leaf will sneak up on you....

The Ligero totals for this cigar are as follows:

32% Esteli Ligero
25% Condega Ligero
25% Jalapa Ligero

Ligero = Full Bodied kick-ass

OK, so you're wondering why I even have this cigar in my possession? Besides that it was given to me, I couldn't resist the challenge of seeing how good or bad this cigar was. Would I put it out after the first few puffs, could I handle this Ligero blend? Well, just to play it safe I decided to smoke this cigar at home.

Anyway, Sunday was a beautiful day, temp in the mid 70's and a cool breeze out of the north. Yes, Fall is in the air. I'd already completed most everything that needed to be done for the day and my lovely wife was away at the Mall - perfect opportunity to try out this Cain cigar. I was going to smoke it out on the back deck, but this late in the afternoon the decks are in the shade, so I moved to the garage instead. I didn't want the garage to reek of cigar smoke when mama got home, so I opened up the doors (3 car garage) and let that warm afternoon sunshine air in. Boy it was nice out too - what a great Summer it's been! If only it could be like this all year long...

Back to reality - I sat down at my work bench and flipped on the TV. There was a film on PBS, one that I'd seen before, but every time it comes on I've got to watch it again: "Alone in the Wilderness" - a video of Dick Proenneke. Absolutely amazing film - you will be mesmerized watching what this guy can do and has done in the Alaskan Wilderness. Unbelievable...

So I'm all set now. I poured a glass of Brandy and punched the end of the cigar with a single hole. The wrapper looks nice, a few little dark dots on a somewhat rugged looking stick, no soft spots. I take a sip of Brandy and lite it up. OOOhhhh, nice! This is a really good cigar - full bodied taste, no bite, smooth as silk, billows of white smoke, great draw. Jeez, what's up here? This bad boy Ligero isn't supposed to taste like this, is it? Excellent smoke. What a surprise!

After a while I finish my Brandy and I think to myself that it might be wise to grab something to munch on and possibly get something else to drink. I grab a bag of pistachios and a glass of lemonade, terrible combo, but perfect for the garage. Half way through the cigar it's still holding up perfectly, and so am I. God, I'll definitely have to buy some of these. I've had to re-lite it twice, but that's no big deal - taste-wise, it's still just the same as when I lit it.

OK, so I kind of knew that at some point this cigar would jump up and bite me on the butt, but it didn't actually hit me until I was totally finished with it and typing away on my computer - BAM! Oh man, the room started spinning - better lay down for a minute. Well, I laid down for about an hour. That Ligero blend had a delayed reaction for me - Thank God I wasn't in public, I probably would have passed out. YIKES!

Overall, my rating for this cigar is a 8.9. I would have given it a 10 had I not started feeling sick. Seriously, it's kind of like drinking too much, at first you feel great, but later you feel like crap. I think if I had only smoked half of it, I might have been just fine. Oh well, live and learn...

PS - I'm heading South this weekend; 14 night/Panama Canal cruise. Hopefully I'll be able to find a legitimate Cuban Cohiba this time. I'll keep you posted!

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Nat Sherman Suave Torpedo

It's turning out to be a great weekend - temp was near 90º yesterday and it looks like it'll continue for a few more days. What a complete turnaround from last weekend, yes the Holiday weekend, where it did nothing but rain. Generally speaking, this has turned out to be one of the better Summers, of course after the winter that we had, 17 snow days compared to the usual 5, I think we kind of deserve a nice Summer.

So last night, Cigar Night, we went down to the Tobacco Patch to see what was happening downtown. First we had to stop by Caffe Ladro for dessert and a mocha. By the way, I noticed that the downtown Tulley's was closed down the other day. I'm not sure if it's closed for good or just being remodeled - all the windows were covered with paper. So that means that in a 2 block downtown radius there are only 4 coffeehouses now. What will we do! Anyway, we had our dessert and brought the mocha over to the Patch to drink while I enjoyed my cigar.

So what did I think about the Nat Sherman Suave? Well, I thought it was going to be a super mild cigar, mainly because the wrapper is so light in color, but it turned out to be an extremely smooth medium bodied smoke - I liked it! It had all the qualities I like - great taste, excellent draw, volumes of smoke and no bite. The only issue I had with it was that I had to re-lite it a couple of times, not a big deal, but kind of inconvenient. Now you might be asking yourself: "Why did he pick this one?" Well, I didn't actually, it was given to me - I would have never picked a cigar with this color wrapper. So my new motto is: "Never judge a cigar by it's wrapper." Heck, never judge it by it's label either!
My Rating: 8.5

Till next time -

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

One good, one bad...

You know I don't think I've ever smoked a bad Oliva cigar, but I had my first one over this past weekend. I couldn't really tell you which variety it was since the label has no distinguishing features. (other than the Oliva name)

But what I do know is that this was really a crappy cigar. It had a bite right from the get-go and it never stopped. UGH!! I got this cigar with a 5 pack sampler that I bought from CI. I should really know better than to buy samplers - there's always a terd in the bunch. Oh well, the price was right.

Anyway, now on the brighter side, I did smoke one really nice cigar, one that I would recommend: Sol Cubano Connecticut. (made by Oliva)

This beauty rates in the top 10 on my Cigar Favorites list. I thought it would be similar to the Oliva Connecticut, but it turned out to be a stronger, more flavorful blend. If you hold this next to the Oliva CT, you'll notice that it does indeed have a darker wrapper, but boy is it a smooth blend. I loved it! If you like Oliva's, you're going to really enjoy this puppy. It's pretty special.

My Rating: 9.5

On the restaurant front -

Stopped by the 13 Coins in Seattle on Monday, we had lunch/breakfast with some friends from out of town. I haven't been to the Coins in years, but it hasn't changed a bit, it's still one of the best restaurants in Seattle. My dad used to have an office in the building next door, I still remember having lunch with him when I was just a punk. Yes, this place has been around forever! I still love it - the food is always perfect!
Also, I found the best place on the Eastside for Pho - I Love Pho in Factoria. Some good friends took us there on Sunday night. I recommend the Beef Pho with extra beef. MMMMmmmmm.... Mighty good, especially if you know how to add all the condiments to it. Be careful not to add too much hot sauce.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Rocky Patel Corojo Especial

Not bad, a little tough on the draw at first, but a quite flavorful, actually improved as it went along. The only problem, if you consider this a problem, was that it lasted forever. No kidding! After an hour and 45 minutes I had to call it quits, I just didn't have time to finish it, and there was at least another 30 minutes left.
Would I buy one of these again? Actually this was given to me by my local tobacconist, but I might, especially if I have the time for it. For a medium bodied cigar with a BIG ring size it does pretty well, just be aware that you'll have to puff it kind of hard at first to get it burning, but after 15 minutes or so it'll be drawing perfectly.

My Rating 8.5

Side note: Stopped by Zeeks Pizza on Saturday night. Not big on pizza anymore, but Zeeks does a good job. My lovely wife and I split a "Jimmy the Greek/Dragon" pizza. Oh man, that was good. Those damn jalapeños are addicting! Nice cold beer to wash it down made for a perfect dinner. Swung by the Patch afterward and smoked an Oliva O Maduro - Yes, a perfect evening.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Oliva Master Blends 3

Another beautiful weekend in the Pacific Northwest, not too cool and definitely not too hot, but I think Fall will be here soon - the breeze out of the north has a slight nip to it and some of the leaves on the trees are already changing colors. I'm not a big fan of early Fall, especially if I'm planning on dinning outside - the bees (hornets, yellow jackets, wasps, etc..) drive me nuts! This is the time of year when they really start to come out too.

Anyway, this was an Oliva weekend for me:

Friday: Oliva G
Saturday: Oliva Master Blend 3
Sunday: Oliva O Maduro Robusto

All three cigars in my opinion rate in the high 9's, but if I had to choose the best out of these three I'd say the Master Blend was the winner. It seems to be slightly richer in taste, maybe a tad stronger, and the burn was perfect, of course all Oliva's have a superior draw as well. They are by far one of the best brands on the market and I find that I compare all cigars to them. Jeez, you'd think that I worked for Oliva!

On a side note - Friday night we went out to dinner at the Crab Cracker in Kirkland, we go there once a year to see if it has improved any. Well, it hasn't, in fact the prices have gone up and the food quality has gone down. I was surprised that the place was as busy as it was too. I think my standards are too high, but I hate paying that much money for bad food. Luckily they had Manny's on tap, so I ordered the 22 oz. glass. MMMmmmm... good beer! I was dying to tell the waitress that our food was terrible, but believe it or not she never asked how it was. Maybe she already knew?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Graycliff G2 Yellow (Pirate) Torpedo

I was out in Redmond on Saturday afternoon, my lovely wife needed something at the Mall for the party that we were having on Sunday, so I decided to tag along. Generally when I go to this Mall I like to stop by the Fine Wine & Cigar shop - heck, why else would I go to the Mall?
Interesting fact - I can spend the whole day shopping with my wife going in and out of stores with her, but when it comes time to go into a store that I want to check out, you know like an electronics store, cigar store, etc... she won't last more than 3 minutes. Go figure?
Anyway, while I was at the Mall I jetted over to the cigar place and looked for something different in their humidor. "Ah ha! What's this? Graycliff G2? Never heard of it - Perfect!" I bought it - $8, no worries.
So after I was done with the BBQ on Sunday, I grabbed a cold beer and my G2 and headed out to the deck. Beautiful Sunday afternoon, clear skies and temp near 80. I've never heard of Graycliff cigars before, so I was curious if this was going to be any good? Just looking at the wrapper, the color was a deeper shade of brown, not Maduro brown, but yes this might be a little strong brown, plus the wrapper was just a little rugged looking, not that fine smooth wrapper like you'd find on an Oliva Connecticut. Anyway, I lit it up. OK, so this cigar is indeed a little stronger than most cigars that I smoke, but there's something about it that I kind of like. The draw is nice and the taste is good, but I'm also getting a little buzz, so I slowed down a bit and got a little snack from the kitchen. A couple of times I wanted to put this out, but I just couldn't do it - that full bodied taste was just on the edge of being too strong, kind of like eating spicy food, you just can't seem to get enough of it, even though your hair's on fire. One little item on the negative side was the uneven burn, plus now that I think of it I had to re-lite it a couple of time. It happens...
Overall I don't think I'd buy the Torpedos again, but I might try one of their other varieties.
My Rating: 7

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Kirkland Javaholics

Another new coffee shop just opened up over the weekend - Zoka Coffee. Kirklanders need their coffee fix in a bad way and luckily there are 5 coffee shops in a 2 block radius to serve them:

Caffe Ladro (on Central)
Zoka (Central & Lake St)
Starbucks (Lake St)
Kahili (Lake St)
Tulley's (Lake St)

Not surprisingly all the restaurants that are adjacent to the above coffee shops also sell specialty coffee drinks. What makes it even more surprising is that if you move the coffee measuring stick out just a few more blocks, you can easily add an equal number of coffee shops to the list. How do they all stay in business, that's what I'd like to know?
So you're probably curious which coffee shop is my favorite? Well, my favorite Starbucks is actually up the road a bit in Houghton. For some reason their coffee (mocha) is better than any other Starbucks that I've been to. As for the above joints, probably Caffe Ladro is the best with Zoka a very close second. Zoka gets a few points taken off just because their coffee shop is freezing cold. (doesn't anyone know how to adjust the thermostats at these places?)
BTW, the only reason I mention coffee is because I usually have a mocha with my cigar when I'm at the Tobacco Patch. Kind of nice to have something sweet to drink, especially if I'm smoking a kick-ass cigar.
So Friday and Saturday nights I smoked a couple of Oliva cigars (Serie O and G), which are in my opinion the finest cigars on the market, but on Sunday afternoon I smoked a Rocky Patel Connecticut. We had friends over for lunch, well I should probably clarify that and say that our friends brought lunch over for us. Nice friends, eh? We have it way too easy.
Anyway, after a BIG lunch my friend and I grabbed a couple of cigars and headed out to the deck. I had the RP Connecticut and my friend had the RP 1992 Maduro. I don't know why, but when I first picked this cigar out of the humidor I thought for sure it was an Oliva. Nice surprise.
Out on the deck the sun had broken through the clouds and it was starting to warm up, which was good because in the morning it looked like it was going to rain. Just to give you a visual, my house is built on a ravine and our property butts up to a greenbelt. When you're out on the back decks it kind of feels like you're out in the woods. It's pretty nice, especially since we're so close to downtown.

Anyway, I'm not going to go into great detail here, but I'm going to tell you that I highly recommend the RP Connecticut. I thought it was going to be a super mild smoke, like the Oliva Connecticut, but it turned out to be just right for me - not too strong, but definitely not too mild, plus a perfect draw. Now I wish I could tell you that I tasted cocoa or peppery flavors, but honestly my taste are just not that refined (yet?). I'll say that it was an extremely smooth cigar with no bite and the draw easily produces billows of full smoke, which is right up my alley. I totally enjoyed this cigar from beginning to end and I'm going to add it to my list of favorites, of course it was the perfect afternoon for lighting up - spectacular lunch, good friends, sunshine, great conversation, what more could I ask for?

My Rating: 9

PS - Anyone see the bike races on Sunday downtown? The Kirkland Criterium? Very impressive for Kirkland!
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Monday, August 3, 2009

Seafair Weekend

Remember last week when I said that it was 88º in my house and I thought that was unbearable? Well now 88º doesn't sound all that bad since it got up to 94º in my bedroom on Wednesday. In fact, 88º seems almost comfortable compared to 94º. When I came home from work on Wednesday night (19:00 hrs) it was 104º outside - that's frickin HOT for us Seattleites. Luckily it has cooled back down into the 80's and low 90's, which in my opinion is absolutely perfect weather conditions for the Pacific Northwest.

On HOT Wednesday I also received my shipment of cigars from CI. I ordered a sampler of Oliva and Rocky Patel's, good timing too, my humidor was starting to collect dust. Anyway, I didn't smoke any of the new shipment this weekend, my neighbor had left a couple of Macanudo's on my doorstep the other day - he felt bad that his dog (golden retriever) keeps stealing shoes out of my garage and burying them out in front of his house. That was too funny! I have great neighbors!

So this was Seafair weekend and the Blue Angels were in town. I brought my camera to work one day and clicked off a few shots. Very impressive to watch! I'm just like a little kid when I see them fly - I especially like it when they kick the afterburners on and you can really feel the thrust of their engines. OMG, the thunder those engines make is unbelievable!

Back to cigars, on Friday night I smoked the first Macanudo cafe cigar that my neighbor gave me. I've smoked them before and they're pretty good, not real kickers, but relatively mild cigars, plus the price was right. I had the second one on Sunday night and I've decided that this is NOT a cigar that I would go out of my way for. It's just not, how would I say this, special enough. The draw was OK, but you had to work it to get the volumes of smoke that I like. The taste was somewhat mild, but no complexity to it, kind of like drinking a Miller beer compared to a Micro brew. (Miller drinkers - it's just an analogy!) I'd say that this was an ordinary cigar, a cigar that you'll smoke, but not one that you'll remember. So sad...
Anyway, I'll have to rate this one a 7.

Just a side note, we went out to dinner with some good friends on Saturday night, Indian food at Kanishka Restaurant in Redmond. I've never been there before but the food was fantastic! My wife and I devoured everything that was put in front of us. I guess this is our new favorite Indian restaurant on the Eastside. Anyway, after dinner we went over to our friend's place for dessert - OH NO, how could I possibly fit any more food in my stomach? Well, I did. She made a cheesecake that we couldn't refuse - it was delicious! After dessert we went out on their deck for cigars and drinks - my friend chose an Arturo Fuentes cigars out of his humidor for me and brought out a bottle of Grand Marnier liqueur. Perfect way to finish off the evening. I would have reviewed this cigar as well, but honestly I ate and drank so much that night that I don't remember if the cigar was any good. I must be getting old...

Have a good week my fellow aficionados!

Monday, July 27, 2009

3 Cigar Weekend

Rarely in Kirkland does the temperature get above 90º, but later this week it's going to top 100º. You're probably thinking "So what?" Well, probably 99.9% of my fellow Kirklanders don't have A/C in their homes, surprisingly most of my neighbors do, but I don't. It was 84º in my house when I went to bed last night. That's hot, isn't it?

Anyway, I met a real nice guy from Dallas at the Tobacco Patch on Friday night, he was in town for a few days on business. I talked to him for a while and he offered me a Epernay cigar from his travel humidor. "Epernay? Hmmm, never heard of it." He told me they were good cigars, plus you know me, I'd never turn down a freebie. I thought that was pretty nice of the guy. Since I was already smoking a Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real, I put this in my pocket for another night. BTW, the RJ Reserva was excellent! This one was one of the larger ring sizes, so it easily lasted an hour. Mild to medium taste and smooth as silk. Very nice indeed.

Saturday night we had friends over for dinner, well actually they brought the food, so we just had to show up - pretty nice friends! Have you ever had an East Indian pizza before? Neither had I, but this was a real treat! Picture your favorite Indian sauce on top of nan, or in this case pizza crust. MMMmmmmm, plus they serve it with a type of Tzatzika sauce on the side, which really helps to mellow out the heat. Yeah, these pizzas were probably 4 or 5 Stars on the heat parade. HOT stuff, but the kind of hot that makes you want to eat more and more. Make sure to have plenty of cold beer on hand if you try one. (Can Am Pizza)

After dinner and dessert we moved out to the upstairs deck for cigars, which of course my good friend brought along as well. He gave me an Avo 80th Anniversary Limited Edition Belicoso. I'm not entirely sure if I've ever smoked an Avo before, but boy I sure liked this one - just a perfect cigar to top off an outstanding dinner. Kind of strange, but earlier when we were eating dinner outside on the lower deck, it started to rain, not real heavy, but enough to say "WTF?" It had been so nice all day long too. Anyway, the rain passed and the stars were out again, we kicked back, sipped on some rum and enjoyed.

Sunday afternoon it was HOT outside, so my lovely wife and I decided to walked down to the waterfront and sit in the sun and kick our feet in the lake. We were going to go over to the marina, but it was kind of busy, so we walked down to what I call "Jake's Beach". It's the first Park south of the marina, nice big dock and some cement stairs that lead down into the water. My dog was such a chicken, he'd never jump off this dock. In fact, I use to take him to the end of the dock and jump in the water just to see if he would follow me into the lake. Heck no! He'd run all the way back to the shoreline and swim out to me. Crazy dog.

Anyway, getting back to cigars, I brought along with me the cigar that my Texas friend gave me on Friday night: Epernay Illusione. Slightly dark wrapper, but not black, packed a little tight, but not too firm to be concerned about. I lit it up as I sat on the dock. First thoughts - Hey, this is pretty good! I'm surprised that I've never heard of this brand before, but then again, there are so many brands out there that it's almost impossible to know them all, kind of like beer. I sat back in the hot sun and puffed away. What a nice smoke! Probably a medium cigar with a consistent taste from start to finish. Great draw too - billows of smoke, just the way I like it.

My Ratings:
Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real - 9 (moved up from last review)
Avo 80th Anniversary Belicoso- 9
Epernay Illusione - 8.9

Anyone see that Tango event over in the gazebo at the marina on Sunday? That was pretty neat!

UPDATE: 88º in my house tonight...

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Unexpected Treat

Gorgeous weekend in Kirkland! Perfect weather for being outdoors and soaking up the sun. Temp was probably in the mid 80's with a nice breeze out of the north. I think we're getting our payback now for all the crappy weather days we had this past winter. Heck, just a few months ago there was snow on the ground!

Couple of events downtown - Kirkland Uncorked Festival(wine) and the Kirkland Classic Car show. I didn't have time to see the car show on Sunday, but I did wander down to the marina on Friday and Saturday and listened to some music, ate a little food and of course smoked a couple of cigars.

Friday night I walked over to the Tobacco Patch with my lovely wife, stopped and got a mocha at Starbucks first - got to have something sweet to drink. I brought along with me the last of my Perdomos; Perdomo Reserve 10th Anniversary Champagne.

I'm not going to go into great detail here, but one complaint about this cigar is the label - it's WAY too big. It takes up the whole bottom third of the cigar. Yes, it's a pretty label, but jeez, why so big? So the cigar itself was good, not superb, but good enough to keep me happy. Maybe a tad on the strong side towards the end, but a little sip of mocha usually smoothed everything over. With all the different blends of Perdomo cigars on the market, this isn't one of my favorites, so I doubt I'll buy these again.
My Rating: 7

Anyway, Saturday rolls along, we do our normal stuff, plus we went down to the wine festival and ran into some friends - always run into people we know downtown. Saturday night we buzz back down to the Patch for a quick cigar. It's a little cooler tonight since the northerly breeze has picked up a bit - Mama is cold, so I doubt we'll stay too long. I didn't bring any cigars with me, so I went into the store to grab something that I hadn't tried before, or at least not recently. I picked out a Por Larrañaga. Wasn't all that expensive, big ring size and I think it had a Connecticut wrapper. This was a pretty fat cigar, so I gave it a punch instead of a straight cut. I lite it up and smoke it for a bit. "Hmmm? This has kind of a tough draw?" So I give it a straight cut to see if it improves any. Maybe a little, but I still had to work it to get any substantial amount of smoke out. What made matters worse is the wrapper started to peel off. YIKES! And it was coming off in a way where I couldn't hold it together with my fingers. WTF?
Anyway, I didn't really care for it...

So on to Sunday night - we went over to our friend's house for dinner. Another beautiful evening. These guys have a really nice place with a fantastic view of the lake, mountains and the Seattle skyline. Started out with appetizers and drinks, then a spectacular dinner and wine, and finally dessert. I was soooooo stuffed, but it was absolutely delicious. Anyway, to top off the evening my friend showed me his humidors - he has two. These aren't the little humidors like I have, these are actually pieces of furniture, the type of humidor that holds hundreds and hundreds of cigars. WOW! He told me to take anything I like. I'm not used to seeing that many cigars in one place - jeez, kind of makes you dizzy. Anyway, I see the jewel sitting on top - Montecristo No.2 Torpedo (Cuban). Oh man, you have got to be kidding me? So I grab my trophy and headed out to the deck. My friend brings out a bottle of Remy V.S.O.P. Cognac and a couple glasses. We lite up our cigars, sip our cognac and relax to the terrific lake and mountain views. The sun had gone down not too long ago, so there was that beautiful red glow above the Olympic Mountains. But anyway, what an evening! Plus, when we were out on the deck we watched the ISS (International Space Station) fly across the skyline. Now how cool is that! We finished our cigars and stepped inside for a late night coffee. This was probably one of the most enjoyable evenings I've had in ages, really a great time. Unfortunately I didn't get to bed until about 12:30AM. Oh no, again!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Perdomo2 Limited Edition 2008

Another great cigar weekend! It started on Thursday night with a La Gloria Cubana cigar. I’ve never tried one of these before, I’ve seen them many times and been tempted to buy them, but I never thought they’d be any good. Well, this cigar turned out to be an excellent smoke, really surprised me! I’m not going to rate this as one of my favorites, but for the money it was well worth it.
Friday we drove up to Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver, BC, (Canada). We had a wedding to go to on Saturday afternoon.
Interesting fact - I was born in Seattle and I’m a true Seattleite, but there is one city that is prettier than Seattle on a clear blue sky day: Vancouver, British Columbia. I kid you not. If you’ve been in BC before, you know what I’m talking about.

Anyway, Friday night I was lucky enough to have time to smoke a Cohiba Maduro. We went out to dinner at the Boathouse Restaurant, which is located right on the water in Horseshoe Bay. Not bad food, unbelievable views of the mountains and water, plus the temperature was in the 80’s. Absolutely perfect! I must admit that the Cohiba Maduro was a bit stronger than my normal smokes, but it was worth every puff. I’m glad I ate that big dinner though. Thank God....
Saturday was the wedding and afterwards we drove back to Kirkland, so we didn’t get home until late Saturday night. Yes, no cigar on Saturday.
Sunday night we had friends over for dinner. I cooked up a little something and my better half made the dessert. I thought everything turned out quite good, except it was pouring down rain outside. I guess the grass and plants needed it.
So this brings me to the cigar that I smoked last night: Perdomo 2, LE 2008. My fellow Aficionado had the Perdomo Patriarch Pyramid, both dark wrapper cigars. I brought out a bottle of Pyrat rum, Balvenie scotch and a bottle of Brazilian moonshine. We started with the sweet rum and lit our cigars. My LE was perfect in every way - burned right on the money, excellent draw, billows of smoke, smooth, not exceptionally strong, and a taste that would continue to surprise me the whole way. No complaints, of course I was feeling no pain with all the booze that I brought out. What a great evening though, didn’t get to bed until 12:30 AM, on a Sunday - Holy Cow, I had to get up at 7:00 AM. too! I was dragging all day, but it was well worth it. In fact, I think I might be doing it again next Sunday?
My Rating: 9

Monday, July 6, 2009

4th of July

Great weekend! I think this was the warmest 4th of July that I can remember. Temperature in the high 80’s, a little humid, not much of a breeze, but perfect nights for enjoying fine cigars.
Friday night we had dinner at Trellis Restaurant, which is located in the Heathman Hotel in downtown Kirkland. Excellent restaurant, great food, nice wine list, outdoor seating - we ate outside since it was so beautiful out. After dinner we walked over to the Tobacco Patch, it’s only a couple blocks away. I wanted to try out the other Patagas cigar that I had left in my humidor. I was curious if this one would be as bad as the last one I smoked?

We showed up at the Patch and greeted the gang, the usuals were there plus a few extras. I pulled out my Partagas cigar, guillotined the end and did my little flame routine. First few puffs weren’t too bad, but I also didn’t have a real good feeling about it. I smoked a bit more and said to myself “this isn’t looking good.” One thing I noticed about both Partagas cigars is that they’re packed too tight. Sometimes this works out OK, but overall I don’t like them packed this tight, just makes for a bad draw. Anyway, this cigar turned out to be almost as crappy as the last one I smoked. Luckily the conversation with my fellow Aficionados kept my mind off what I was smoking so I was able to almost finish it. Yeah, I’m not buying those again.
Saturday, 4th of July, busy day, started off with our morning 4 mile walk. We were dog-sitting my neighbor’s dog, so we took her along with us. God it was HOT outside! Got back home and did the normal stuff around the house. We were going to a 4th of July party later and I needed to bring a salad, so I buzzed down to the supermarket and grabbed a few ingredients. This was going to be good!
The party was out in Sammamish, a buddy of mine that I grew up with invites us every year. Lots of people, tons of food, loads of booze, what more could you ask for? The party was great and the salad that I brought was a hit as well, but of course I ate and drank too much. (ugh) We decided to leave around 9:30PM, it might be possible to make it back to Kirkland to watch the fireworks. Sure enough, we make it back home at 9:55PM, I grab a cigar and we walked downtown. I thought for sure that we might miss seeing the fireworks close up, but we lucked out and they didn’t start blasting them off until 10:10PM. It was a GREAT show! I’m so glad that we made it down there in time.
After the fireworks we walked over to the Patch, it’s just around the corner from the Marina where the fireworks were. The place was packed. I brought along with me one of my most trusted cigars, those who follow this blog will already know which brand it was. Can you guess? Yep, Oliva. This was an Oliva Serie G Churchill. Without a doubt one of the finest cigars on the market. I LOVE these cigars! I’d smoke them all time, but I’m always looking for a cigar that measures up to it. Luckily I have found a few. Anyway, great evening, didn’t get to bed until 1:30 in the morning.
So today, Sunday, another beautiful day, maybe a hair warmer. I got a ton of stuff down, went to Tukwila and bought some furniture, swung by the Redmond Mall and picked up cigars at the Wine and Cigar Store, stopped by Macy’s and bought a wedding gift for the wedding that we are going to next weekend. By the way, I’ll be up in Canada so I might have to skip next week’s edition of this blog. We’ll see...
So when I was at the cigar store today, the Perdomo rep just happened to be there with his goods on the table. I talked to him for a bit and noticed that he had a few varieties that I hadn’t seen before, so I bought 3 different ones and he gave me one for free. Tonight I’m going to smoke the Perdomo Grad Cru, Semilla Habano, crop of 2004.

My daughter came over to the house a little later and brought me presents from Columbia, she just got back from vacation down there. She showed us photos from her trip and I opened the bottle of Aguardiente Antioqueño that she brought me. Hmmm, this isn’t bad. Licorice smell, but it doesn’t taste like licorice. Interesting. I like it.
Anyway, I lit up my Perdomo cigar - the Maduro wrapper can be deceiving, I thought for sure this would be a little too strong, but it was smooth as silk for me, excellent draw and flavor up the ying-yang. I’d say it was a medium cigar +, not quite a full bodied, but probably the best Perdomo that I’ve smoked so far. The rep said that I’d enjoy this one and he wasn’t kidding. It’s a bit stronger than the Oliva Serie G, but not so much that you’d need to eat or drink something on the side. Truly a fabulous cigar and I highly recommend it. I love when I can end the weekend on a happy note.
My Rating: 9.9

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Ramon Allones 1837

Cigar Night on a Thursday?
My lovely wife and I took a long walk after dinner tonight and since it was still such a beautiful evening, we decided to have a drink and a cigar out on the upstairs deck. Neat-O! I usually don’t smoke cigars on a work night.
I opened a 500 ml bottle (big bottle) of Bitburger beer and grab a Ramon Allones cigar out of the humidor. This was one of the cigars that came in a sampler cigar box that I bought at Costco. You know the sampler boxes that I’m talking about, they put a few premium cigars in it and then they stuff it full of duds just to keep the price reasonable. Well, most of these duds I’ve never smoked, so I thought now was a good time to experiment.
First thoughts? Meh... This is indeed a dud. Little harsh, significant bite the entire time I smoked it. First couple of puffs were OK and the draw was great, but I didn’t like the taste and for sure I didn’t like the bite. Maybe it was too strong, but for me it was kind of a nasty cigar. I had to run back in the kitchen and grab something to eat just so I could struggle through this sucker. My wife didn’t much care for it either.
The thing about cigars is that you’ll never know how they’ll taste unless you try them, and that’s what I like to do... Of course if your taste are like mine, you’ll want to just skip over this one.
My Rating: 4

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Macanudo Robusto

I was lucky enough to smoke 3 different Macanudo cigars this weekend and surprisingly I liked them all! Very mild and extremely smooth, excellent cigar for just about any occasion.
Friday I smoked the first one over at the Tobacco Patch with the gang, Saturday at a party that we went to out in Kent, and today down at the Kirkland Marina - I’m not going to say that these are as good as an Oliva or a Casa Magna Colorado, but you won’t be disappointed with what you get for the price - it’s an fantastic cigar.
Beautiful weekend - temp in the low 70’s, a little breezy but not bad. As we were walking out on the dock today just before I was going to have my cigar, I noticed that there’s a new hotdog vendor down by the waterfront. “Wow, I’ve never seen that guy before? Maybe after my smoke we’ll grab a dog.” So we head out to the end of the dock with another friend (Keith) and sit down and enjoy the sun, boats and people. Great place to people watch. After the cigar we head back to the shoreline and the hotdog guy is still there. You can tell right off that he’s not originally from here - he’s wearing a winter parka. No kidding. I talked to him for a little bit, I didn’t ask where he was from, but I’m assuming that it had to be India or Pakistan from his accent. He’s kind of a nut case too, but in a truly sincere way. I order the Polish dog and my wife gets the all beef one. These dogs are grilled, not boiled, plus he serves them with grilled onions - nice touch. Anyway, the Polish hotdog is GREAT! My wife concurs. We will definitely stop by here again.

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Kirkland Cigar Club

Enjoy your week!

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Partagas Spanish Rosado

Today is Father’s Day, at least that’s what it says on the calendar. My dad passed away a few years back, my daughter is vacationing in Columbia and who knows where my son is. Thus, it’s just another day.
Since I’m not doing anything special, I grabbed a fine cigar and headed out to the deck. On the way I picked-up a bottle of Negra Modelo beer, some salami and one of my favorite cheeses. I’m ready. The Partagas that I’m smoking looks a little more kick-ass than what I usually smoke, it has a dark leaf wrapper and it’s tightly packed. I don’t see any imperfections or feel any soft spots, so I guillotine cut the end and lite it up. Not bad, I know this is a full bodied cigar from my first few puffs though. The draw is not bad, but you do have to work it a bit, also the burn is a little uneven. No big deal. I eat a little more food and sip my cold beer. Sharp cheese seems to compliment this cigar perfectly. I would have brought out the single malt, but I drank enough booze last night; we had friends over for dinner. Unfortunately these were not cigar friends, so today is the first cigar that I’ve smoked all week! Amazing!
Towards the end of the cigar the full bodied taste turn into kind of a nasty cigar, so I slowed down a bit and took my time trying finishing it off. I went as long as I could, but I had to say “bye-bye” to the last third of the cigar - I didn’t like what it was turning into. Too bad, I hate doing that.
Final thoughts - in my opinion this six inch cigar was just OK. I’m sure there are folks out there that must love these, but not me. Would I call it a silky smooth cigar, the kind of cigar that has that creamy smoke? Are you kidding me? This cigar would slap you just for thinking those thoughts!
My Rating: 5

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bolivar (Dominicana)

Another great weekend for cigar smoking. Friday after dinner we went over to my neighbor’s house for cigars and spirits. I brought the cigars and a bottle of Pyrat rum and my neighbor pulled out three bottles of Single Malt Scotch: Balvenie, Oban and Talisker. All three were excellent, but if I had to choose I’d take the Oban - smoothest by far. Luckily we live close enough to walk home - no way I could have drove.
Saturday, dinner at Cactus Restaurant in Kirkland - best Tex-Mex on the Eastside, consistently outstanding food! My wife and I love it!
So after dinner and drinks, we walked over to the Tobacco Patch to meet up with the gang and enjoy a fine cigar. It was a perfect night, temp in the low 70’s, blue sky, very little breeze. I brought along a Bolivar. Surprisingly I’ve never smoked one of these before. Guess I’ve always thought that they’d be a little on the strong side. Technically speaking, I’ve never seen anyone smoking Bolivars, so I really didn’t know if they were any good. I picked this one up at Rain City Cigars in Georgetown.
When I pulled the cigar out and showed my fellow aficionados that I was about to smoke a Bolivar, the first thing they asked was “is it a Cuban?” I replied back “I wish!” They claim that the Cubans are much better, which I don’t doubt, but since I’ve never smoked one of these before, I really wouldn’t know any better.
So I lit the cigar and puffed until it was perfectly lit - right away the flavor, the smoothness, the creamy smoke - WOW! This is GREAT! I really underestimated how good these Bolivars are. The wrapper is dark and has kind of a rustic look and feel to it. It’s not packed too tight and there was a little soft spot that I noticed, but boy, I truly enjoyed this smoke. My one little tiny complaint was that the draw was a little tough at first, probably my fault. I punched it a second time and that opened it up enough for the smoke to billow out. The whole cigar was absolutely perfect - smooth as hell, you’ll see what I mean if you smoke one.

I was over at Costco earlier today and noticed that they have a new sampler package of cigars - one of the cigars in the box was a Bolivar - Heck, I couldn’t pass this up, the price was too good, so I bought it. After dinner tonight I lit my Costco Bolivar up - Amazing! Just as good as the first one. Now I’m really curious what a Cuban Bolivar might taste like? Well, I might get my chance next month - I’m going up to Canada for a wedding. Yes, I’ll definitely be searching for one!
My Rating: 9.2

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

H.Upmann 1844 Cabinet Selección

Beautiful weather all week long, made it up into the low 90’s, but of course on the weekends is when it really counts and on Friday night it started to cloud up and cool down. We still had fun though. Friday night we stopped by the Tobacco Patch and said hello to the gang. I went into the store and picked out a Santa Damiana No.700 Cabinet cigar - I’m not reviewing this cigar right now, but I’ll just tell you that I didn’t like it at all. I didn’t even finish it, that’s how bad it was.
Saturday night we had a big dinner party at our house - I made “Feijoada Completa”. My version is somewhat Americanized, but personally I think it taste better than the authentic Brazilian recipe, much easier on your stomach too. Boy, I can eat a ton of this stuff!
So after dinner it was cigar time, I grabbed some glasses and a bottle of my favorite rum - Pyrat. Personally speaking, this is the best rum you can buy, don’t mix it with anything, just drink it neat. It’s so sweet and goes perfectly with any cigar. Trust me...
One of my friends brought a Sampler box of cigars along with him - he opened it up and asked everyone to choose something - I took the Montecristo White Label. I’ve smoked these before so I knew it would be perfect. I poured the rum, we made a quick toast, then we lit up our smokes. Jeez, what a perfect evening, even the weather cooperated!
Today I’m kind of dragging since I didn’t get to bed until 2 AM - maybe all the beer, wine and rum I drank last night might have something to do with it? Nah...
This afternoon the sun broke through the clouds and it warmed up enough to take a walk down to the Kirkland Marina. We go down there occasionally to sit in the sun and check out the boats. It’s a fun place to people watch as well. On a sunny day the place is packed!
OK, so I might as well tell you about the H.Upmann 1844 Cabinet Selección cigar that I smoked today. We were at the Marina when I lit it up. Right off I noticed that the draw wasn’t all that good., really had to work it. I let my wife try it and she said: “I don’t think there’s any smoke coming out?” So I put another punch in it. I could have given it a guillotine cut, but I don’t think it would have made any difference. The thing missing from this cigar was “taste” - it didn’t even come close to the Montecristo that I smoked last night. Surprisingly it burned very well and I bought it because the color of the wrapper, the label, the size and shape all looked like my kind of cigar. Looks can be deceiving though. I’m not going to say that this cigar was a total waste, I did finish it, but probably because I hate throwing away money. Cigars aren’t cheap, so sometimes you just have to put up with your bad choices. I’m not going to recommend this cigar.
My Rating: 3

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