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