Monday, 9 April 2012
Sketches from a cigar smokers album: Volume 2
Sat in my kitchen listening to Jeff Beck's fantastic There and Back (1980) I am taken to one of the greatest cigar challenges of my life. Like Beck's harsh album of guitar instrumentals, the Cohiba Churchill 2003 Edition that I smoked whilst on holiday in Rome was a hard hitting affair, packed full of rich flavours and an assault on the mental senses.
It had been given to my father as a present and, as he had chosen to give up smoking a number of months ago, it found its way in to my possession on the provision that I consumed it whilst we were in the Italian capital. Not wanting to disappoint I lit up on the afternoon we were there after a filling lunch of antipasti, artichokes and a plate of parpadelle con funghi washed down with a questionable white (not unpleasant but of goodness knows what origin!).
Dangerous and seductive, like the femme fatale out of an old Kirk Douglas or Robert Mitchum film, it remained consistent throughout its lifespan, before being extinguished with quite dignity. This was not a smoke for the faint hearted and worked well against the various glasses of differing grappa that the proprietor - who looked like she had been a fun-loving and racy lady in her past - providing a healthy mix of fire and brimstone.
The mark of a good cigar is that it remains consistent throughout the smoke and nowhere is this more true than with the renowned Cohiba. I would be lying if I said it was my favourite roll (that accolade will alway go to Bolivar) but it was a magical smoke and given the situation, drink accompaniment and company a memorable consumption!
It might come as a surprise to all and sundry that I am not the greatest adherent of religious holidays, to me they are fantastically convenient and much welcomed days off in a sea of intense work! Nowhere is this more true than 'Good Friday' and it rather makes me that it is sad that we do not have more public holidays of Fridays. Certainly, I feel that they would be more welcome that Mondays (not that I am complaining to much).
In one of those bizarrely delightful turn of events I managed to convince 6 good friends to come and share the delights of a Frida free from work partaking in a good meal, followed by a much needed session in one of the many watering holes that surround historic Wimbledon Common.
For this occasion a lighter, but prestigious cigar was required to celebrate the season and the Romeo e Julieta that I picked did the afternoon justice. Standing outside the ever-reliable Hand in Hand and the Crooked Billet I puffed away as I sank a few pints of Wandle Brewery's excellent Junction a rich, darker and maltier version of their popular and equally good Wandle.
Romeo e Julieta cigars remain a popular choice with many friends and foe (not that I have too many), and it is easy to see why, they have a lighter finish that most and do not require too much effort to smoke. They also have remarkable value for money compared to other Havana cigars, due to their fantastic longevity maintaining a remarkably solid ash for a good period of time.
What could be better on a public holiday? Good company, great booze and the best company that a Bloody Good Chap could hope for? I thoroughly recommend each and every one of you try it sometime for, in the long term such moments are so fleeting you cannot help but welcome them with open arms.