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!