I received a box of mixed Cuban cigars in the mail a couple of days ago sent all the way from Singapore from Mike; the greatest friend that I’ve yet had the pleasure to meet. And I opened them yesterday afternoon and this is what I found:

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I anxiously kept an eye on my watch all afternoon waiting for the big hand and the little hand to meet in that proper alignment that millions of us around the world look forward to; the celebration known as Happy Hour. Laying out the cigars, I felt like Fester Adams, recollecting him as his nervously hopped around his precious possessions. A big decision lay before me as I tried to chose the perfect first cigar.

I raced downstairs and grabbed an ice cold Modelo out of the fridge, grabbed a shot glass of most generous proportions (this is Mexico after all), a bottle of Herradura Blanco, and decided on the Romeo y Julieta Limited Edition 2009.

I put on Dave Brubeck’s immortal piece of jazz ‘Time Out’ and after sinking into my chair out on the terrace, gingerly cut the wrapper and fired it up. It was immediate beefy goodness.

I’ve mentioned it before but it is worth saying again that cigars have more in common with all those things culinary than they do with those vulgar addictive cigarette things. Smoking a great cigar is like eating the finest Texas mesquite grilled Porterhouse steak. And after you burn down an inch or two and enough of the oils from the aged tobacco have been pulled into the cigar you reach that sweet spot which is kind of akin to hitting the tenderloin piece close to the bone. And depending on the cigar, that sweet spot can be a mile long.

I smoked that Romeo y Julieta down to the nub. It was so small that I finally had to let it go because it was burning my fingers.

Thanks again Mike. Your gift is greatly appreciated.

PS – A further note on cigars. Many people don’t realize it but cigars (properly taken care of) age like fine wines. There are humidors in the world that are still stocked with pre-Castro cigars.  We’re talking Cuban cigars that are over 50 years old. At this point in my life I am seldom covetous of either things or experiences but I think it would be a great pleasure to smoke one of those cigars accompanied by a brandy of similar provenance.

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