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!)