Saturday, November 17, 2012

Join us December 7th for a Foundry Release party!

December 7th, the Finck's Cigar Factory Outlet store on West Ave is having a Release Party for General Cigars' newest blend, the Foundry

As usual the Finck's will provide beer and excellent company as well as great deals.

Thomas and I will be there, as we have been looking forward to this for months.

Be there or be square ;)


Oh, here are some pictures we took tonight at Tobacco Haus (they had some already for sale so we picked up a couple tonight -11/30)

The cigar is not burning oddly the Caylay size is an angle cut figurado. Very unique cigar with very unique flavors, it is like nothing we have ever smoked before.

Meet us at Finck's we will be there... with goggles on ( as in wearing some, not his daughter who goes by the nickname Goggles) anyways... see you there!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Wok n Roll in San Marcos

Wok N Roll on Urbanspoon

Hello! Val here!

I am writing this one solo, since I am the only one of us who has been there.

I needed dinner before class one night, and I haven't been really impressed with a lot of the food around my college campus, so I whipped out my handy dandy phone and looked up somewhere else to eat. Wok n Roll caught my eye, and since it had a decent likability rating, I thought I would give it a try.

I have been there twice. Overall I would say it is pretty good, but best to get there during their happy hour specials before 6.

The first time I went, I tried a little bit of everything - I had edamame, beef teriyaki appetizer, a customized hand roll, and some sushi. Overall I would say the sushi is pretty good - not the best, but great for the price.  Note - the price is for 2 pieces.

However, I went a second time and the food was just as good, but it wasn't the happy hour and I paid about the same as the time before that, but with about half the amount of food.

I would say their prices are great during happy hour, but a bit high for the rest of the time.

The sushi is very tasty with good texture, the beef appetizer is tender and very well marinated, and they have melon ramune! It is a favorite of mine from when I lived in Japan for a summer.

The edamame needs some work - it is a little too firm.

The atmosphere is so-so - very cafeteria like. The pond is interesting, the way they use an upside down fish tank to bring up the water level, but overall the decor is kind of blah.

They supposedly have wifi, but I was unable to get it to work on my phone.

The service is usually polite, though the second time they brought me my sushi with no soy sauce, and I had to get it myself.

So if you are in San Marcos at lunch or before 6pm, this is definitely worth checking out.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Finck's 2nd Annual Lone Star Cigar Bash April 2013!

Finck's Cigar Factory Outlet just announced that the 2nd Annual Lone Star Cigar Bash will be April 27th at 3pm at Pedrotti's North Wind Ranch.

Tickets will be available soon!

Here is a link to our blog posts about this year's cigar bash.  The Finck's say that this one will be even better!

Be there or be square


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tasty German Food and Pastries

Fork & Spoon
651 Interstate 35 Business
New Braunfels, TX

Monday - Tuesday 7am - 3pm
Wednesday - Friday 7am - 3pm, 5-10pm
Saturday - Sunday 8am - 3pm, 5-10 pm
Food: 4.5/5
Service: 5/5
Atmosphere 4.5/5
Overall 4.7/5

Hello! Val here! We had noticed this place, and the attached bakery a couple months ago, on one of our trips to Tobacco Haus, however they were always closed on the nights we would go by there, because we tended to get there late. However a nice person we met at Tobacco Haus (Toby of Toby West's Auto Repair) encouraged us to make a point of trying it.

She said:
Today we decided to go out to dinner with our daughter, Goggles, and I remembered the suggestion. We went in, and were sat down right away. The interior was rather charming, much like New Braunfels itself, it had a mixture of old world feel and new construction, natural polished wood and corrugated metal.

Our waiter Roger was energetic, enthusiastic and very funny. He was happy to explain, with some amused sarcasm, anything on the menu. Really, we had a lot of fun chatting with him, and he was always quick to make sure we had everything we needed. The drinks were refilled promptly, and Uwe, the owner, was also ready to jump in and help out.

People like Uwe are why we do what we do here at "...and that is what he/she said" - people who work hard, create a business doing what they love, and share their dreams with the community. He is very knowledgeable as a person and as a chef, and his son works with him as a talented chef himself.

Jaeger Schnitzel
I had the Jaeger Schnitzel, which tends to be the first meal I order at any German Restaurant. It was very tasty, it came with steak fries and a brown gravy with onions, chopped pieces of bacon and mushrooms in it. It was a thinner sauce than the gravy-like sauce I see at many places, but that meant it soaked into the steak fries well, which was rather tasty. At first I was unsure of the sauce, as on its own it tasted different, but once tasted on the meat, it complimented the crispy breading and the tender pork quite nicely. A very balanced flavor with just enough salt to not need any, nor to taste overly salty. The only thing that would make it better would be to have some delicious German fried potatoes with onions, and I think next time I will order the golden Yukon roasted potatoes and see how that tastes.

Goggles here:

Curry wurst
I had the Curry Wurst -
It was very very tasty. Or as I put it at the time, OMNOMNOMNOM
The serving size was good - 2 pieces of bratwurst, they were cooked well without being dried out, and the sauce was excellent. The sauce was a dark golden curry sauce, that was savory and slightly spicy, with a nice warm feeling in my tummy. Very tasty.
The steak fries were lightly salted and very good when dipped in the sauce.

Okay... last time I hand the keyboard to a teenager (sigh)

Pumpkin Turtle cheesecake
This is Val again...
I wanted dessert, as I had been sitting across from the bakery counter throughout the meal. I tried the Pumpkin turtle cheesecake. Thomas got the bienenstich, and Uwe also brought us some of his cream cheese mandarin orange cake and his punch cake (his personal favorite) to try.

I loved the pumpkin turtle cheesecake. It had a softer, creamer texture than I expected from a cheesecake, almost like mousse. It was delicious and had a good balance between the spices, sweetness and the pumpkin, and the caramel and pecan topping complimented it nicely. The cheesecake was more expensive than the other desserts, but it was a very large slice. I would say it is definitely a dessert worth splitting with someone special.

 I thought the bienenstich was a bit dry, but I have never had it before, so I would not know what to compare it to. The almond topping was excellent with a carmelized flavor, and Thomas and Goggles seemed to like it.

mandarin cake on the left, punch cake on the right
I thought the mandarin cake was light and tasty, with an interesting blend of flavors.

I have to agree with Uwe's assessment though. The punch cake is incredible, and I wish I had ordered a cup of coffee to go along with it. It was a wonderful mix of flavors, with vanilla and chocolate and marzipan and some type of alcohol, but I am not sure what. It made me want to sit outside with a cup of coffee and a fine cigar, and I plan on doing so some Saturday afternoon.

Uwe mentioned that the mandarin and the punch cake are much lower in sugar than the other cakes, that I believe he said it would take 43 pieces of punch cake to equal one piece of the Italian cake's sugar content. I thought that was interesting, because both of these cakes were sweet, but without the sinful richness of the other cakes. If you want a smaller dessert that won't leave you feeling guilty about over indulging, I would recommend one of these.

Overall we found the food and the company to be delightful, and it's location makes it the perfect place to have dinner or brunch before heading to the Tobacco Haus for a cigar. We will definitely be returning.

Old World  charm with a Texas twist.

He Said:

We've been looking for a good place near the Tobacco Haus to grab dinner on our occasional night out and were interested in The Fork and Spoon/Theis Bakery for awhile. They were just closed fairly early.

Like Val said, we met Toby having cigars and he let us know his friend Uwe was going to be open later. We were popping up to New Braunfels to do some research for one of her Architectural reports and stopped in here for dinner.

I have to be careful at dining establishments to avoid beef or seafood exposures. They have a varied menu and follow great food hygiene. Robert (our waiter) was ready with information about the dishes and was very entertaining. My glass never got empty and he was conversational without being intrusive.

Speaking of the menu: it was a great mix of some fusion dishes and Old World cuisine. I got the vienna schnitzel to contrast the jaeger schnitzel Val was having and the curry wurst Goggles got.

Vienna schnitzel
Thomas and the bienenstich

This schnitzel is schnitzel at its purest. Just a quick squeeze of lemon and the pork steak.

The crust was just crisp enough and kept the pork moist. Uwe's balance of spices were masterful. The only thing that would have made this better would have been some German fried potatoes instead of steak fries. However, even the fries were well done: very crispy without being over cooked.

This plate came with a salad of greens with croutons and a great Bleu Cheese dressing.

After enjoying our main dish, dessert was in order. All the cakes, pies, and pastries were sitting there beckoning us to eat them. So, after getting the lowdown on everything, I decided to get the bienenstich. Two layer of firm cake with a toasty almond topping separated by whipped cream.

To be honest, it was different at first. But, after a few bites I was hooked. Taking a bite of everyone else's dessert settled it, come here at least for the bakery. Uwe sent us samples of a couple of his desserts to try. This man knows his baking!

As I paid the bill I nearly got some cheese or bacon rolls that were over at the bakery side of the restaurant. But decided I needed to save something for next time.

Goggles really liked the cheesecake

We got a chance to chat with out Host and he is truly a great guy. He came to Texas from Germany and loves his community. He has worked hard to get where he is and still loves his job. Another reason to try and eat local.

Fork and Spoon on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 19, 2012

CAO Concert Event at Finck's Cigar Factory Outlet

Val here!

We had a wonderful time tonight at Finck's Cigar Factory Outlet on West Ave. They hosted Ricky Rodriguez of CAO cigars, promoting the release of the CAO Concert.

The place was PACKED!
I forgot to get some pictures outside while it was still light...
 I was too happy enjoying the brisket and goat.
Thomas seemed to enjoy the Shiner they had on tap.
 I have never had much of a taste for beer,
but lucky for me Finck's sells soda, so I was a happy girl.

CAO was generously giving customers samples of the new cigar, and once I ate, I sat down with some good friends to enjoy it. The wrapper was smooth, with fine veins, no obvious flaws. The wrapper is a Ecuadorian Habano Rosado, with Connecticut broadleaf binder and Nicaraguan and Honduran fillers. The Concert is an homage to CAO's roots in Nashville, TN.

The pre-light draw was mildly sweet, and when I lit the cigar, which lit easily, it had a nice draw.  The flavor was interesting. It started out mildly spicy and earthy, with an odd flavor coming up towards the end of the first third. It turns out, I had never tried a cigar with a hay-like flavor before.  During the 2nd third, the hay-like flavor came and went, weaving under and around the strong earthy flavor.  I was not sure how I felt about it all, until I got to the last third. The last third was just fabulous. The flavors all came together just right and the Nicaraguan earth and leather flavors came to the fore.

Pros: The last third had an incredible flavor, the first two thirds were pleasant and a bit different from my every day cigar. This is smack in the middle of the medium range in strength and flavor, so it should please a wide audience.

Cons: Note - I believe most of these cons will disappear once the cigar is aged for a while in our humidors. We will try another one in a couple of weeks and give more information then. The cigar was a bit moist, as it is very new, and towards the last third mine split a bit.  It didn't split so much that I couldn't finish the cigar, but it might have been an issue if it was further up the cigar. Also because of the moistness, I had to relight it a few times, and others in the room seemed to need to do the same.

Overall: Overall I feel that the flavors in the last third show the promise in this cigar, and I look forward to trying it again. This needs some time in a humidor to age a bit, not uncommon with newly released cigars I have tried. Out of all of the non-flavored CAO cigars, I like this one the best.

We had a wonderful time, thanks again for hosting a fine event!  If you want to know what is going on at your local Finck's, check out their site at:

Thomas: Trying to catch up...

I was running late getting to the event because things had been busy at work.

By the time I arrived the parking for Finck's was full and I had to park in the lot behind theirs. Be aware if you go, don't park on the street to the side of the shop. The Castle Hills PD will ticket you.

Once inside it was like a family reunion. Old friends and new friends, free food (BBQ brisket and slow roasted goat), free beer on tap (Shiner Bock) or can (Budweiser) and plenty of deals to be had.

The Guys and Gal from CAO were uber friendly and ready to talk details about their new cigar, the CAO Concert. Ricky was very outgoing and ready with cigar knowledge and quips. THE give away was a Concert table top amp that was iPod/MP3 player ready. Way cool!

The cigar itself was interesting. Had some earthy notes with a bit of grassiness or hay notes that kept it interesting. Flavour and strength were smack dab in the middle of medium while flirting with mild for a few puffs and then Full a little later. The Concert would be great with a little age on it and with a strong coffee I think.

Thank You to the fine folks of Finck's and CAO for pulling off a great party!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pho Hai An- When you need your Pho Phix

She Said:

Thomas brought me to this restaurant on one of our early dates. We have been eating here semi-regularly for the past 2 years and find it to be a great place to go when we want a quick, inexpensive, but tasty meal.  We usually get excellent service, and they are very willing to tailor the food to your tastes. Most recently I had some fried rice and summer rolls, but my usual is the sesame chicken which is crisp and mildly sweet (I know, not Vietnamese, but still tasty).

The biggest downsides to this restaurant are the hours - they aren't open very late, and the atmosphere.  They have been around for a while, and their look is very cafeteria-like in respect to the tile floor and cheap furniture, and I could certainly do without the television playing sports. The lighting tends to be very dim, and they rely mostly on the windows and mirrors to keep the place lit.  On one hand, kudos for energy efficiency, on the other, it would feel less dingy with more light. Still, the delicious food makes up for the lack of atmosphere, and while I would not choose this location for a romantic evening, it is definitely good for a meal and a good conversation.

He Said:
This post is a little late. We've been busy about the house for various reasons and have been remiss on getting the blog updates.

This is one of the first restaurants I ate at after moving to San Antonio 15 years ago and still keep coming back for the "at home" service and food. I love Pho. But, with the onset of my beef allergy, I can't indulge in it anymore.

If you've never had Pho, it is a thick, rich full flavored beef  soup with fresh veggies and noodles with a variety of meats available. Pho Hai An does it right. With the little side tray of additional herbs, lemons, peppers, and other garnishes so fresh you'd swear they were picked fresh that day.

Now days I get the other items on their menu and sometimes dip into their Chinese selectons (all of which has that Vietnamese/French colonial twist).

Mostly I get Bun, which is as close to Pho as I can eat. Fresh tender noodles with crisp veggies and lemongrass and your choice of different meat stuffs on top. If you want a quick, fresh, flavorful meal that is a little lighter than the Pho, this is your dish. I recommend bun with the grilled pork meatballs on top.

Don't forget to get the cafe su da or Iced Vietnamese coffee: strong chicory coffee served with sweetened condensed milk stirred in and then poured over ice! It's earthy, cool, sweet flavor is the perfect counter note to sriracha laced Bun...

I'll keep coming here as long as I live in S.A.

Service 4.5/5
Atmosphere 2/5
Food 4.5/5

You can find Pho Hai An at
4934 Windsor Hill
Windcrest, TX

Pho Hai An on Urbanspoon

Pinar Del Rio Event at Finck's

Val here:

We had a great time at Finck's (okay it is always a great time at Finck's) at their event for Pinar Del Rio Cigars. Abe Flores came out to talk about his newest blends, (for more information), the Pinar Del Rio Small Batch Reserves.  Abe shared his passion for cigars with humor and genuineness that made him a delight to speak with.

The Finck's as always were excellent hosts, providing beer, a friendly relaxing environment and top-notch customer service. The place was packed! Still though, everyone went out of their way to be helpful.

We looked forward to trying out the new Small Batch Reserves, as we very much enjoyed the PDR 1878 Reserva Dominicana and the Finck's Commerce Reserva Privada.

Thomas, loving maduro wrappers tried the maduro, while I took Abe's advice and had the habano wrapper. Both were very enjoyable smokes, and we picked up a few more to share with friends later on. It was hard to get a full impression of the flavor of these smokes, as it was very crowded and smokey (though not as bad since they added the new ventilation system - Thanks!) so a full review will have to wait until the next time we smoke them, but overall, I would say that these are definitely cigars we want to smoke again.

Thanks for a lot of fun, and we look forward to the next PDR event!

Thomas here:
Great time!!! Thank you, again, Finck family for making all of us feel at home. This was a great event. Having Shiner Bock on tap was a wonderful addition to your Hospitality.

The new PDR's were great. The Maduro was a full flavored, full powered, balanced and tasty cigar.

Abe and crew were a riot and informative.

Like Val said, a full review is forth coming as it was smoky and we couldn't get the full pallet of these cigars. Looking forward to the cooler weather and trying these with a late night Rebecca Creek Whiskey soon.

Friday, September 21, 2012

...And We're Back!

Val here!  Sorry about the long absence - things have been crazy here at the house - trying to get it in order because we celebrated my 10th anniversary of living in Texas!

It has been a long strange trip, and I love my family and tribe.

School has also been busy I am assisting an Art History professor on top of graduate classes, but I am learning a lot. It is worth it, but it does sometimes mean silence from us here.

Thanks for sticking around - wow! Over 3000 page views! Thanks everyone!

We have some great posts to look forward to. Tonight we were at Finck's on West Avenue for a Pinar Del Rio Cigar event with Abe Flores. We have reviews for the newer location of Schobel's, Pho Hai An and the La Gloria Cubana Artisenos de Miami. Stay tuned for more!


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Central Park Pizza - Downtown San Antonio

Central Park Pizza
136 E Main Plz
San AntonioTX 78205
(210) 223-4880

M-F 11 AM - 8 PM
Sat 12PM - 8PM

Service - 5/5
Food - 5/5
Price - 4/5
Overall - 4.25/5

She Said: 
So Thomas and I were visiting downtown the other day and stumbled upon a pizza place not far from El Mercado.  We almost missed it, but I found the fountain outside the courthouse to be utterly charming, and decided to stop in. Sorry - no pictures today - I forgot my camera.  But we will go back again, I am sure. 

Being from MA, I have a love for good pizza, which is hard to find in Texas.  All too often it is just not right compared to what I grew up with.  Over the nearly 10 years I have been down here, I have tried countless "NY style pizzerias" all of which were disappointing. Until this week.

We decided to get a large cheese pizza to share - in my opinion, you cannot tell the true quality of a pizza until you have tasted it plain.  Toppings are just that, toppings.  You can't have a good sundae with lousy ice cream, and a pizza that doesn't have the mix of sauce, dough, and cheese right isn't going to be that great no matter what you put on top of it. 

Drinks are free refills if you are dining in which is nice.  It took a bit for our pizza to finish in the oven, so I admired the building.  It is an older building, that has been refurbished - you can see where the drywall and plaster has been pulled away to reveal the original brick.  The floors are a nice hardwood and it is a pleasant place to sit an eat.  It can be a bit warm inside but if you go to the few tables all the way in the back, there is an ac unit right there.  Otherwise they have fans going and the restaurant isn't too warm. 

Ah, the pizza - what can I say?  This is easily the best pizza crust I have tasted since moving down here.  The sauce is just right - sweet with a touch of savory oregano, without feeling like you have to go in the kitchen with a tazer and tell the cook to back away from the oregano. The cheese blend was almost right for what I remember, but the cheese is melty and very good.  Overall Thomas almost didn't get to have any pizza, so I guess that means it was good, right?

I highly recommend them.  The staff is nice, the pizza hot and fresh and definitely different from most of what you can get down here. They also serve pasta and subs. 


Central Park Pizza on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 12, 2012

San Cristobal Elegancia - Cigar Review

Val here: At some point we got a couple of these cigars to try.  Our first attempt did not go so well, something was off with the sticks.  They were bitter in a way that didn't make any sense based on friends' description of how these cigars taste. However, a few words with the Ashton Rep had things as right as rain. 

We got the new cigars, took some drinks outside and sat down with some Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, one of our favorite ways to enjoy a smoke.

Felt the cigar - no flaws, nice wrapper with no large veins.  

Punch cut cleanly through the cap, and the pre-light draw was mild, but pleasant. 
The cigar lit and burned smoothly.  Not quite what I would call "razor edge" but very cleanly and did not need any adjustment. 

The cigar started off somewhat light, but built in strength from a mild to a medium cigar, with the flavor profile rising up into a nutty, earthy flavor with a touch of leather to it.  

Overall my enjoyment of the cigar increased as I continued smoking it, and this one makes it to my list of cigars to enjoy in the morning.  Smoking it made me think of sitting in my herf tent or an outdoor cafe with croissants and a cafe au lait.  Coffee pairs well with this cigar but I would recommend a well-rounded low acid roast, or a German coffee with cream and sugar. 
Thomas enjoyed it too.

I am not sure what was up with the first one I tried, but this is one cigar that I would heartily recommend giving another chance.  

Thomas here: We initially got these in and had both gotten bad cigars. So, we asked about and word got to the Ashton Rep for our area and he left us 2ea of 2 different sizes to make it up. (Ashton BTW, are always interested in customer service. Had some nice interactions with them before we started blogging)

So, Val and I head back to the Herf Tent after a rough day and fire these up. I tried to be open minded, but the memory of a bad cigar is hard to erase.

Frank and Dean were playing and the drinks were nice.  I was expecting a light cigar. The Elegencia lived up to its name. It was a finely balanced, truly pleasant smoke.

All in all it was one I could smoke down to a nub.
First off was the light Connecticut-ie taste of pre-draw with hints of something mildly sweet and aromatic. The first draws after lighting it were very mild and, okay. However, as the cigar progressed there were notes of "toastiness" and nuts with hints of leather that stayed predominant throughout the cigar.

After the first half the flavor and body started ramping up to the middle of medium almost reaching the bottom of "full".

Simply put this is a truly well tailored cigar and will be a regular for when I want something a little lighter. 

Tobacco Haus in New Braunfels

Hello! Val here.  I hope everyone has had a good 4th of July.  I am sorry we haven't been posting lately but between me learning about raising teenagers while attending grad school and Thomas' work being crazy busy, we haven't had the time to post!  But we are back!

So it is no surprise to those who follow us here on our blog that we are a big fan of local businesses in general.

While we do have a cigar shop we tend to frequent, variety is the spice of life.  Since I drive to school in San Marcos, I decided to look up cigar shops in the area.  One came up, but closed for a while, and I am unsure if they are reopened.  Another that came up was Tobacco Haus in New Braunfels.  It is right off of I35, and easy to get to. Full of curiosity, I decided to visit them.  The feeling is very different from my usual lounge which is a cigar humidor that features a small lounge, this is a BAR with a decent sized walk in humidor.

I don't normally frequent bars.  They tend to be noisy, crowded and full of drunk people, which makes me a bit punchy.  Thomas kinda is the same way.  This... was not that.  It was the opposite of that.  It was dark and quiet and has a gorgeous copper covered bar that I want to put in my back pocket and take home with me except I can't because it is as big as my livingroom and won't fit in my pocket and stealing is wrong and bad.

This is the life - good cigar, coffee and kahlua, and an awesome copper bar. Seriously I want one...

There was a nice lady there that helped me, whose name I cannot remember (please don't hate me nice lady). She helped me pick out a couple cigars and told me about what they do at the Tobacco Haus.  They have BINGO (i like bingo...) and trivia and (whatever, I have no idea how this game works - people should play sensible games, like Cribbage). Happy with my purchase, I headed home with the intent to drag Thomas there one day. They are open to midnight many nights and in this Texas heat, a place I can smoke a cigar in air conditioning is made of awesome.

So when we went back, we met one of the owners, Mark, who is a really cool guy that hung out and talked with us about his business and cigars.  We like Mark.  His assistant manager is Amanda, who is also awesome (and not just because she makes me yummy coffee drinks) and we had a good time talking and drinking and smoking.  Thomas had to leave because Goggles was coming home, but I stayed to play bingo and won one of the games!

We have gone back several times since then, the staff is friendly and the customers pleasant.  The music is sometimes a little off, but it is a jukebox so it is only as good as the taste of the people feeding it. They have fun evening activities usually starting around 8pm, they are responsive to customer feedback and in general are a pretty righteous place to hang out.

 Thomas here finally. Work has been brutal, but that's Summer for you.

Val told me about the Tobacco Haus and I knew I had to try it out. A cigar bar with great ventilation, reasonably priced drinks, and free evening activities: What could be wrong?

We arrived as the one of the owners was getting his things together to leave and was more than willing to chat with us.

Mark has been in the cigar business for a long time and  The Tobacco Haus has been open in New Braunfels since 1996. It had previously been Downtown but moved to it's current location 5 years ago.

There is a 600 sq ft humidor with a varied selection of cigars and a big common room with plenty of high tables with a bar at the far end. Two electronic dart machines sit off to a corner and a jukebox with a wide variety of music sits opposite. Up on the walls are a variety of cigar paraphenalia (rare autographed boxes, cigar presses, autographed pics, etc.) and two big screen monitors that are usually on some kind of sports but with the volume turned off/down.

The bar is fully stocked with selections from "well" vodka all the way up to some nice scotch with an array of bottled beers from local Texas brews to imports.

The Tobacco Haus has chips and snacks, but no appetizer-ish foods. They will allow you to bring in your own, though. (There is a decent selection of carry-out in the area, a couple of which will even deliver to the Bar.)

For the card players they have Texas Hold'em Mon., Wed., and Sat.; Bingo players 6 games on Tues. and Thur.; with trivia on Fri.

Val and I have been here a couple times since and have grown to enjoy it. While it probably won't replace our regular shop, it is a great place to pop out to later in the evening to have a cigar and relax.

AND they have WiFi!

Smoking is allowed
They have snacks, beer, wine, coffee, soda and mixed drinks
They do NOT have food, but you can bring in take out no problem.
You CAN bring your own cigars, there is no fee, but let's not abuse that privilege.

They are located in the Marketplace
651 N Business IH 35 #535
New Braunfels, TX 78130
830-620-7473 (NOTE: website is somewhat outdated. Events are different than what is on the site)
I know that Thursdays they have Bingo, Wednesday was Poker, Friday was Trivia and that is all I remember.

Hours: M-F 10 AM - 12 AM
          Saturday 10 AM - 1 AM
          Sunday 12PM - 12AM

Friday, June 22, 2012

La Marginal: Home Cooked Puerto Rican

Last week we went out for Puerto Rican cuisine. I like it and Val has never had it so we ended up going to La Marginal for early dinner.

La Marginal
2447 Nacogdoches Rd.
San Antonio, TX 78217
Tel: (210) 804-2242
Mon-Wed 10am-9pm,  Thu-Fri  10am-1a.m, Sun 10am-6pm
4.5/5 stars.

He Said:
   This restaurant meets one of my requirements to be called a hole in the wall. It was kind of hard to find at first and is fairly small. But, this is a good thing. No crowds to fight and usually great food. Parking is tight but sufficient. We were seated fairly quickly after entering but it took awhile to get menus and drinks. I was going to call this "the review that almost didn't happen" because it took them so long to get to us. But, once Alanso saw we weren't being served he was very "on point" to make sure we were taken care of.

Plantano Loco
   The Decor: Interesting 3-d art on the walls makes the dining area feel open through the clever use of forced perspective and proportions in the murals. Almost could feel like you were dining open air on a quaint city street. There was music playing, but just loud enough to be pleasant and didn't intrude into conversation or trying to understand our server. Plenty of examples of cultural art to make it feel very festive without being hectic.

   The Service: Like I said, we almost left except our server, Alonso, saved the day by reading our body language across the restaurant. After he became engaged the service was top-notch. I'll ask for him our next trip. He is a young soft spoken man that knows the menu and cuisine like a pro and answered all of Val's questions concisely and showed no signs of frustration at all. The menu has very clear pictures of the different dishes to ease selection.

   The Food: After running through the menu with Alonso, I decided to get the Plantano Loco. It is a sandwich made of toasted plaintain slices around smoked ham, roasted pork, with a light touch of mayo and white cheese. This was served with yellow rice and crispy plantain fritters on the side. I got tea to go with.

The tea was strong without being bitter. A simple squeeze of lemon and it was good to go.
I started of with the yellow rice which had pigeon peas and little bits of pork mixed in with it. It was served compressed into a low cylinder shape that easily fell apart with my fork. The rice was moist and firm without being remotely hard or soggy, it was "right in the groove". The spices and peas balanced this out to a wonderful savory goodness.

The plantain fritters were crisp and warm without being oily/greasy. The actual sandwich was awesome! The roasted pork had a caramelized, crispy skin and moist, tender, fall-apart meat. The ham was lightly smoked and firm without being tough. A light touch of mayo and white cheese really rounded this out.  Did I mention there were 2 of them in my order?

Val got a cross sampling of the menu and shared. I tried the fried Yucca which was crunchy and light and was completely incredible with their in-house made garlic sauce.
The hot sauce which came to the table was a great balance of spicy chilies, garlic, and other spices I didn't take the time to zero in on, they were in such a good balance.

Coconut Flan is the best.
The time for dessert came. They have several types of flan and other goodies. I got the coconut flan while Val got the flan sampler. My flan was firm, yet somehow light and filled with custardie goodness topped with a toasted coconut "crust" and drizzled with caramel with a flourish of chocolate sauce on the plate.

 Summary: I'm more than willing to put this place in our regular rotation and work my way through the menu. Everything was flavourful and more than yummy. I'd give it 4 1/2 out of 5 stars due to the wait and that it was a little warm inside. I'll say on that front though that it appeared they were having A/C issues.

She said:

First Woohoo to Thomas for starting his first post!  He is getting more comfortable with the Blogspot format and posting on his own more so let's encourage him :)

So I had never tried Puerto Rican food before, and I am a super picky eater and nervous about food that I know nothing about.  It gets more dicey when you wander into cultures with menus that involve words in languages you don't speak.

The atmosphere was charming.  The little houses they designed on the wall made the place feel cozy and charming and you could forget you were in a small restaurant in a strip mall.

After the long wait to get menus and drinks, I was really frustrated, but our waiter was considerate and conscientious.  He took the time to explain everything on the menu and seemed to enjoy my enthusiasm for trying some of the dishes.  I ordered a wide variety of items and shared them with Thomas and Goggles. 

El Bohio with crispy plantains
I asked him what he thought I should order and he recommended El Bohio ($10.99) "Tender marinated chunk pork with fresh garlic, pineapple and tropical spices, fried to golden brown garnish with red peppers and onions." Normally the peppers and onions would throw me off, but this dish was AMAZING.  The pork was crispy and well seasoned. If that was the only thing on the plate I would have been happy. 

I got the salad and the sweet plantains which were very tasty, but softer than the crispy green plantains.  The pork itself was to DIE for.  I normally don't gush but I haven't been this enthusiastic for a new ethnic cuisine since I spent a summer in Japan. I was not, however fond of the yellow rice with peas in it. Next time I will get the white rice. Goggles loved the rice, and got the same dish I did with the crispy plantains instead of the sweet. 

For some reason my normal skittishness towards something new was replaced with an avid curiosity that had me ordering a little of everything.  I ordered a Guava and cheese empenadilla (I thought it would be chopped fruit and cream cheese, instead it was all blended together and the flavor blew my mind - sweet and savory all at once)  Then I got an order of fried yucca.  It was interesting, kind of like mild potatoes and it was served with a very tasty savory garlic sauce that made me want to lick the plate.  I felt like a little kid taking delight in the simplest things. 

For dessert I ordered a combination of three different flan.  There was vanilla, Coconut, and coconut milk.  The flan was good, thick and creamy and filling without being heavy.  The coconut milk flan was not as much to my taste.  The texture was too soft with bits of shredded coconut in it, and something about the flavor did not sit well with me.  The rest of the table agreed.  The vanilla was lovely and simple, I liked it quite a bit.  Hands down though, everyone liked the coconut flan, which was basically the vanilla flan with a layer of toasted coconut on top. 

Overall this is a place I would be happy returning to, and they have brunch buffets that sound like just the thing for a nice weekend afternoon.

The service is good, I will chalk up us waiting to an error given how enjoyable the service was once the waiter came by, and he was very attentive the rest of the meal. The food is incredible, and reasonably priced for what you get. The flavors are unlike any of the other hispanic food I have ever tried.  If you have not tried Puerto Rican food you are missing out!

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Camacho Diploma - Scorpion an amazing Father's Day smoke

The Camacho Diploma Series
Vitola: Scorpion
Size: 6" x 54
Origin: Honduras
Color: Natural
Wrapper: Corojo Quinto Corte -
Binder: Corojo
Filler: Corojo
Shape: Perfecto

Drinks: Val had coffee and kahlua and Thomas had some Dalmore Scotch

She said:
Thomas had been telling me that he loves these cigars.  So, as a treat I picked up a couple, because I wanted to try his favorite cigar.

The appearance was very smooth, no prominent veins, slight bumpiness at the foot.  I don't usually smoke perfectos, so it always throws me off a little. The cigar was firm, no soft spots or inconsistencies, in all respects a well-rolled cigar. 
I used a cutter, and just barely took off the end of the cap.  I don't like using cutters, as I hate getting shreds of tobacco in my mouth.  The draw was a little on the light side, which worried me.  The dominant flavor I was getting was mocha.  I love cigars with this flavor, so had high hopes, and wasn't disappointed.

First third: The cigar had a strong flavor of coffee and mocha, with slight hints of earth and leather.  The draw was firm, but not too firm. I had some issues burning it evenly, but I am realizing it has more to do with how I light/smoke it than the cigar or the humidor.  I am still a relative rookie to cigar smoking.

Second third: The mocha and coffee faded into the background and a leathery sweetness came to the foreground of the flavor profile.  All in all very enjoyable and still well accompanied by my coffee drink.  The cigar was producing a thick viscous (in a pleasant way) smoke.  The wrapper was somewhat oily, you can see the dark ring and sheen at the burn line, but not so oily you feel the need to sand blast your mouth afterwards. I had no problem keeping this lit, and though the outer layer of ash is somewhat flaky looking, the ash held on for quite a while. I was impressed with how long it maintained its shape.
 Last third:  The mocha and coffee flavors have come back up, and the cigar is at full strength.  The mocha and coffee is now balancing with the leather nicely, the three flavors coming together very pleasantly.  It tasted like drinking the best cafe mocha from my favorite coffee shop in the North End of Boston, if the ring around the cup that protects your hands were replaced with fresh cut leather.  The ash finally fell at about the end of the 2nd third of the cigar.  I found myself disappointed that the cigar was coming to an end, though usually I only have the patience for robustos, and this was longer than that, I wanted more.  Unfortunately I had to give up smoking it after Thomas did not have a cigar holder the right size/shape for me to keep smoking it as it was getting too hot to hold in the last inch or so.

 Overall I found it to be an excellent cigar, and would rate it 5/5.  I want a whole box of these, but that will have to wait a while.

It burned well aside from my own issues with it, the ash was white and grey, and though flaky on the outside, held on well.  This cigar goes well with coffee and scotch, and next time I want to try it with a good 10 year port.

He Said:
I've had a couple of these before and they are in the "cloud" of my favourite cigars. I can't name any one. So Val asked my fave one day and this stick came to mind.
   Low and behold she orders us a pair as a surprise. So, after a rough Sat. we settle in after dinner for a Father's Day smoke on Sunday. I Decided to air it with another of my favourites: The Dalmore 12 yr scotch.
   Construction of the cigar was as perfect as I remember, good symmetry to the two tapered ends, very few veins in the wrapper, and a wonderful "toasty" golden color. My ceramic cutter left a clean sharp cut. The prelight draw was warm and with slight hints of spice.
   After a quick toast the end lit easily and neatly. The slightly tight draw opening up as the cherry moved beyond the cap on the foot.
   One of the things I love about this cigar is the obvious, controlled power to the blend. One friend likened it to driving a Jaguar XJ12. The contrast being a Rocky Edge and a Full Blown Hemi Charger. Similar power but with a more controlled edge..
  The spice wasn't present after lighting it. But a beautiful balance of leather, coffee, and oak-ish flavours. After about the first couple of inches it settled into strong earth and leather with just the barest hints of a sweetness that could be described as strong tea with a hint of sugar. which it maintained throughout the balance of the cigar. I'd feel the strength of this puppy start to sneak up and then I'd slow down on smoking it. Which is hard since it tastes so good.
   The only thing I regret about this cigar is that I currently don't have a holder the right size o finish it all the way down. At least I have the advantage of callouses and hands used to hot metal so I was able to smoke most of it. The flavor in the last 1/2 inch was robust and intense and I wanted to see how it would finally finish, nearly burning myself. "The good thing about callouses is you don't feel the heat till its too late. The bad thing is you don't feel the heat till its too late..."

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Toraño Exodus 1959

She said:

Val here, tonight was stressful, so I went to Finck's by myself to have a cigar.  I decided to check out the new Bandera Rd store, and it is very nice.  I love the ventilation in the smoking lounge, the air stayed clear.

Trey helped me out, and I picked out several cigars, and the one I chose to smoke tonight was the Toraño Exodus 1959, and it was outstanding!  Now this is what I was expecting out of all of the times my friends recommended the Toraño line of cigars.

The cigar was superbly constructed, firm with a nice dark wrapper.  I couldn't get much flavor on the pre light draw, but it lit quickly and burned well.

The ash held on very well and was about 3-4" before it dropped.  I didn't have to touch it up at all and stayed lit.  

The flavor started out somewhat mild and not very distinctive, but about 1" into the cigar the rich earth and coffee notes and a woody element to it as well and the flavor just got better and better as the cigar burned.  All in all it made my day, thank you Toraño!