Posted: Mar 10, 2009 4:41pm ET
This weekend we pushed ahead the clocks and, at least in the northeast, got a beautiful early taste of spring. On Sunday, I cleaned off our outdoor table while my wife sautéed some grey sole, and the family had our first outdoor lunch of the season. We got a bit fancy for a lazy Sunday afternoon, doing the full spread with the fish entree, some sauteed green beans in olive oil, some fresh Italian bread and a bottle of wine. Who could blame us for getting excited? The temperatures hit 70 degrees. After months indoors, it felt about as good as you can imagine.
Posted: Feb 27, 2009 1:06pm ET
Cigar barns can be pretty darn big. They can also be pretty darn expensive. Making a sizeable one out of wood, the way it’s done in Connecticut and in Nicaragua, can cost $250,000 if you’re building it in the Dominican Republic. As my brother would say, that’s a lot of ‘scarole
, especially in this economy.
Posted: Feb 20, 2009 4:12pm ET
My shoes were dusted with a thin layer of reddish brown dirt. My bare arms were being baked by the tropical sun and the smell of curing tobacco was in my nostrils. I was back on a tobacco farm.
I took the long drive from Santiago out to Mao today with a group of about 30 other people here for the final day of the ProCigar Festival. Some went to see a rum distillery, others to see where chocolate is made and others still to a Davidoff tobacco field (which I saw last year). We were headed to Copata, the farm company in Mao where General Cigar Co. grows most of its Dominican tobacco. I was last here some four years ago when the project was in its infancy. Today it’s a mega-complex and one of the most impressive tobacco farms in the world. It’s partially self sufficient—in addition to growing filler, binder and even wrapper tobacco, the 1,200 acre area grows vegetables, trees, produces a natural pesticide, has a fish farm, all kinds of livestock, a three million gallon reservoir and too many other things to mention here.
Posted: Feb 19, 2009 3:34pm ET
Last night was opening night in Santiago at the ProCigar Festival. I was sitting in a gorgeous setting, a table in the middle of an old estate once owned by a pal of former Dominican dictator Trujillo. Each table was resplendent with elaborate exotic plants, some as tall as a yardstick. Everything was green, orange and white, the entire setting for some 175 people set beneath a canopy of bright white, blowing in the gentle evening breeze. I was enjoying an Aurora 100 Años Lancero and patting my belly, which was sated on roast pork, roast goat, yucca, plantains and other Dominican delicacies.
Posted: Feb 18, 2009 4:21pm ET
The Airbus swooped down from the clouds, revealing the lush, tropical landscape below. Fields of yucca, plantain and tobacco covered the land, flanked by mountains brimming with trees, each one cloaked by thick mist.
I’m back in Santiago, and it feels good.
Posted: Feb 3, 2009 10:27am ET
I like to think that I’m no Sally when it comes to the cold weather. I’ve lived in the northeast for my entire life, and winter can be pretty cold up here. But recently I encountered temperatures that kept me from enjoying a cigar—even for a very short time.
Posted: Jan 29, 2009 3:48pm ET
I met one of my sports idols on Monday night—Joe Frazier, the former heavyweight champion of the world. Frazier was being honored by the Friars Club in Manhattan. I took the subway uptown, checked my coat and walked up the narrow, steep staircase to the Lucille Ball Bar. I grabbed a cocktail, and there he was, holding court in a corner table—Joe Frazier.
Posted: Jan 20, 2009 3:31pm ET
Last week I dropped in on Ernesto Padilla. I’ve always enjoyed Ernesto’s smokes (his Padilla 1932 La Perla is my go-to short cigar) and I needed to see his new base of operations. Like several Miami cigar guys, he is interested in rolling cigars in the United States.
Posted: Jan 17, 2009 12:51pm ET
Yesterday in Miami I stopped at El Rey de los Habanos Inc., the tiny Little Havana fabrica where Pepin Garcia, his family, and 11 cigar rollers make some of the best cigars on the U.S. market. Pepin splits his time now between Nicaragua (where he has a much, much larger operation) and the U.S., so I was happy to catch him stateside during my too-short visit to south Florida.
Posted: Jan 15, 2009 4:21pm ET
I flew into Miami this morning, leaving New York’s LaGuardia at the crack of dawn, just as an Alberta clipper was moving into town with some snowfall and dropping temperatures. I’m in Miami for a very quick visit to meet with some of the town’s cigar executives.