Monday, May 27, 2013

Cigar Review - Tatiana Mocha

Val Here -

So continuing our enjoyment of cigars given out during the Lone Star Cigar Bash, we decided to try the Tatiana Mocha flavored cigar.

My feelings on this cigar are mixed - Thomas and I overall are not the biggest fans of flavored cigars, so do keep this in mind as you read the review.

Before I lit it, it had a good draw and appeared to be well made. The pre-light draw had nothing that remided me much of mocha coffee, tasting more like chocolate milk.

After being lit, the cigar had a clear draw and a dark grey, brittle ash.

I kept going through love/hate bouts with the cigar - at times it tasted like a bolder cigar, with the tobacco flavor apparent, and other times I was overwhelmed with perfumed smoke. You can taste the tobacco more clearly than in other flavored cigars, but not in a way that is overwhelming. At other times the perfume flavor gets so strong it is just unpleasant. In the end I had to put the cigar down after the perfume flavor/note wouldn't die down.

This is not a cigar I would choose to smoke again. If I had to smoke a flavored cigar, I would try the CAO Caramello Joe

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Cigar Review - Villager Talanga

Val here,

Since we got a lot of wonderful cigars from the Lone Star Cigar Bash, we are trying to review several of them as we go along this summer.

One of the first that we smoked was the Villager Talanga.

Wrapper: Talanga (Connecticut seed) Honduras
Binder: Jalapa (Seco Habana) Nicaragua
Filler: a blend of 3 Nicaraguan tobaccos

In looking at it, though there were a couple soft spots, the cigar appeared to be fairly well rolled and had a light, pleasant scent. The pre-light draw reminded me of cream and tea.

At first light, I got flavors of cream and spices, and something that was reminding me of white pepper or the taste you get at the tip of your tongue when you smoke something containing heather.

The cigar burned really cleanly, did not need much in the way of a touch up.

The second third of the cigar increased in spice, but not a pepper spice, something that reminded me of cardamom at the back of my tongue. It reminded me oddly of a chai latte.

Towards the last third the cream flavor mostly disappears and the astringent bitterness of the Connecticut wrapper comes to the fore. There are flavors that remind me more of tea and tannins, with an increased in perfume-notes, giving an almost wine-like taste to the cigar.

I was surprised at how cool-burning it was, I did not feel any heat until the cherry was quite close to my fingers.

Overall, I enjoyed this cigar, and it has a definite place in my morning cigar lineup. I was drinking this with coffee, but I remarked to Thomas that I thought it would be very good with either a chai latte or with some yerba mate tea with cream and honey.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Big Lou's Pizza

Big Lou's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Normally we don't post about places that already have a ton of good press already, but we just wanted to put it out there that we had lunch today at Big Lou's Pizza, and really enjoyed the crispy wraps (we got ours with ham) and the cheese pizza.

The chocolate cannoli was very good as well, it was freshly filled and crispy.

Their red velvet cake was also quite delicious.

Their cheese pizza had a very good crust, a sauce that was the right mix of savory and sweet and decent cheese, though the blend is still off from what I am used to back home. I would say that this is my second favorite pizza place in Texas.

Sorry no pictures, we were in a hurry because it was Thomas' lunch break.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Belated Report - Lone Star Cigar Bash 2013

Hey! Val here - just finished finals and grading... so here is our belated Lone Star Cigar Bash Report!
From Right to Left: Val, Bill Finck Jr., Emily Finck and Thomas showing off our donated ashtray

Thomas' father with his spiffy new bag

The Finck's outdid themselves this year. More vendors, 30 cigars, a beautiful nice duffel bag, cigar ashtray, Boveda bag and more! A very rewarding way to turn out for charity.

There were a lot of great deals, I think that Thomas and I wanted one of everything.

From memory, clock-wise around the room was: Finck's table,  Camacho, Casa Magna/Quesada/Pinar Del Rio, Perdomo, Ghurka, General Cigars, Oliva Cigars/Studio tobac, H. Uppman, Villager, Fuente, Xikar, Alec Bradley Ashton/Aroma de Cuba, Drew Estates,
Curivari, Miami, Torano, La Flor Dominicana and the Finck's rolling demonstration.

There were other cigar companies, unfortunately, grading a pile of essay exams seems to have an etch-a-sketch effect on my memory. Feel free to correct me in the comments.

There were a lot of great door prizes, including our custom made Lone Star Cigar Bash ashtray.

We spent a lot of time browsing the tables and talking to the vendors. Besides the cigars that the various cigar manufacturers donated, several representatives gifted us with cigars to try.  It is hard to really taste some when it gets smoky but the ventilation was much improved from last year.

The highlight of my evening though, was spending quite a bit of time discussing cigars and women cigar smokers with Cynthia Fuente and her daughter Christine.

I smoked 3 cigars during the event. The cigar donated by the Fuentes, The La Aroma de Cuba El Jefe, and then Gurkha Cellar Reserve.

I don't need to tell you all about the quality of the Fuente. It was well-made, and smoked beautifully.

The El Jefe was a very enjoyable cigar, at this size the filler flavors are even more apparent, and had a rich, full-bodied flavor. It is a bit too much cigar for me, lengthwise. I tend to prefer robustos, so I could almost cut it in half. Still, very enjoyable, and Aroma de Cubas tend to be one of my favorite smokes.

The representative for Gurkha allowed us to try the Cellar Reserve - it was absolutely delightful - man I wanted to buy a box of them after I tried it. This cigar burned smoothly, starting out with a white pepper and spice then building up to taste like tea and spices. It is a very short cigar, so it is hard to break it up into more flavors than that.
Gurkha had a reputation for expensive cigars in awesome packaging that perhaps did not live up to the presentation. They are turning that around with many of their latest offerings such as the Ghost, Red Witch and the Cellar Reserve.

Overall, I was really impressed, and had a great time. The only criticism I could give is that the food was almost identical to last time, and a variety of options would be nice. HOWEVER, their food choices did take into consideration Thomas' allergies. The other is that I wish the event were a little longer.

The other highlight for me was giving away the ashtray we made. Knowing that it was appreciated made Thomas and I really happy. Not only did the winner thank us, but his wife did as well and commented that everyone was stopping by to admire it.

This event more than doubled what they raised for Fisher House last year. I think it is incredible how generous the cigar community is when it comes to supporting our veterans.

Thomas here:
   I didn't think it was possible, but this year's Lone Star Cigar Bash was better then last year's: Great food, great people, and a great time. There were tons of great deals from all of the cigar companies and some wonderful door prizes as well. I was truly humbled that the ashtray we had made was so well recieved among all the other entries.

   The food was outstanding again and had a little bit of everything for everybody. The beer was cold and the samples from Rebecca Creek were smooth and tasty. Speaking of which, they announced the imminent release of a Peach flavored vodka that is flavored with peaches from Fredericksburg!

 When we got there it was nice to see that the layout of the tables was a bit more spacious and that a larger exhaust system had been installed. It got VERY smoky last year and it was much more pleasant this year.

All the reps were out in fine force more than willing to talk cigars beyond just what they had for sale. As Val and I walked around they each spent quite awhile just chatting with us and letting us know about New Stuff coming down the pipe.

In the handsome bag at the door was a wonderful selection of stogies, a commemorative ashtray, super spiffy hat (as modeled by me below), Boveda bag and humidifier, and more

 A hat so cool that it even looks good on my melon head.

 The Arturo Fuente company was represented by non other than Cynthia Fuente herself. She shared with us all the great things they are doing "back home" to spread education to children that would otherwise have to go without. In her speech she touched on the generosity and charitable spirit that the cigar community has and how touching it was that we all had turned out to help the Fisher House and the families it served.

This spirit of giving was evident throughout the event. Everyone got great deals on our cigars, but knowing it was going to such a great cause made us more generous as well.
In that vein, Val and I just felt the need to do something more than just attend. So we planned and created an ashtray for the event. An all metal patio ashtray painted to look like an ash stand cigar with the Lonestar Cigar Bash Logo on it. I was a little self conscious about it. Being the perfectionist I thought it was okay, but I had done better. Val's painting of the Logo was what really pulled it together... But the joy in the face of the fellow who won it really made me feel better about it. The fact that there was a crowd over at his table looking at it and oooing and aaahing made it all worthwhile.

So, once again, the Finck Family and their volunteers pulled off a great party for a great cause. I can hardly wait till next year!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Just Say No to Gas Station Chinese Food

Val here -

I love Thomas. Truly I do. However - I need to share a little story about the WORST DATE EVAR. (so bad I have to say evar instead of ever.)

A few weeks ago, in the midst of all my school craziness, we decided we needed a nice date night. I got myself all dolled up and ready to go. Our plan was to go to Tobacco Haus after getting dinner. We were both in the mood for Chinese food. Usually we will stop by the buffet place in the same strip center as Tobacco Haus, but Thomas said he saw a new flier for a Chinese restaurant on the door. Quik Wok. We should try the new restaurant in town.

Okay, why not? So I enter the address in my GPS and we head out - it isn't far from us.

We pull up to the shopping center that it is supposed to be in, but much to our astonishment it is not in one of the other spots in the building - it is actually in the Shell Station. 0.o

We are dubious - and he DID offer to go elsewhere - but ladies - you know how it is - you agree to go elsewhere and he points out how whenever he picks out the place you want to go somewhere I said that I was fine, lets just try it (Mistake #1)

The interior of the gas station looks immaculate, as if it has recently been painted, and the restaurant area looks clean, so we put in our order and we have to pay first (WARNING) we pay, and find a seat.

I needed the facilities, so I asked about them - I am warned that there is only one bathroom. I get the key - looking at it - the women's room had a paper sign over the door saying storage. The men's room was the only one for public use. I walk in and well - I have used public bathrooms all over the world and nothing has prepared me for the nastiness. The floor was decorated with a festive stream of toiletpaper everywhere. There was something sticky on the counter and the toilet seat was covered in urine and the toilet bowl seemed to be full of some white funky stuff. I backed out slowly, handed the key to staff and said - that is the most disgusting bathroom I have ever seen. He just agreed and went back to work - no apology, no offer to clean it.

I am now even more worried about the food.

When I get back to the table, I tell Thomas and he laughs - he takes me to the classiest places, doesn't he?

He offers to get me a drink - and comes back with a tall boy can of mountain dew. :/

The food comes out - and their staff were very nice - so I hate to say what comes next, but I have to be honest here.

I ordered orange chicken. It is one of my favorite dishes. I also got spring rolls - another dish I like for an appetizer. The spring rolls were greasy - and the fish oil, despite the red pepper flakes had very little flavor.

When dinner got there it was mushy. The chicken had poor texture and no flavor other than spice - There was one orange peel thrown in as garnish, but the sauce had no citrus taste - it was just so spicy that my mouth was numb.

A couple guys shuffle up to our table asking for change - while we are eating -

Then they started mopping. With strong bleach. Just in the restaurant area. Now I had mushy spicy bleach flavored chicken.

Then when I couldn't stomach any more the food hit my stomach and wanted out - but there was no way I was going to try that bathroom again - so we drove home in a hurry - needless to say we never got to Tobacco Haus and we were sick for two days.

So if your boyfriend takes you to gas station chinese food, for the love of all that is beautiful on this earth - accept his offer to go elsewhere.