Posted: Dec 23, 2008 2:31pm ET
There’s snow on the ground, the New York Giants are in the playoffs, and the family is gathering for holiday meals. It’s hard to top this time of year.
I’m sitting in my office, puffing on an old El Rico Habano Double Corona (it has aged very well—you’ll read about it in an upcoming Connoisseur’s Corner) and wrapping up a few final tasks before heading home. The office is closed for the rest of the week, and I’m taking a few additional days of vacation to spend some time with my family. I’m looking forward to the break.
Tomorrow night my wife and I will host Christmas Eve dinner. I’m half Sicilian, so that means a big fish feast. Traditionally it's called the Feast of the Seven Fishes, and while we don't always get all the way to seven, we will this year. For starters we’ll have a cold spread of shrimp cocktail and crab claws, which are two of my favorites, plus some marinated mushrooms and peppers. My dad is making stuffed clams, which should be great, and my brother, a chef, is making octopus. He also bought some scungilli, which he’ll probably cook up in a chowder. My wife is making branzino under a salt crust, which she does very well. It should all be delicious.
After dinner, I’ll head downstairs to my basement with my dad and my brother. The basement is my little getaway, with a few couches, a big TV set and plenty of cigars. Best of all, it’s smoker-friendly. We’re going to fire up some Padrón Serie 1926 40th Anniversary Maduros that look just about perfect for a Christmas Eve smoke. My dad enjoys a little Port now and then, so we’ll have some of that while we puff.
My wife and I will spend Christmas morning at home, and I’m looking forward to watching our little boy tear open his presents. (He’s as excited as a kid can be right now, which brings back great old memories of growing up.) That afternoon, we’ll head to my brother’s house to rejoin the family and have another great meal. I have an El Rey del Mundo El Vikingo, the Regional Edicion Cuban smoke made for the Baltic region. It’s an impressive looking cigar, one that I’ve never tried. A friend in the cigar business gave it to me over the summer; it looks like it will be just the thing to fire up after the big rib roast he’s cooking.
I hope all of you get to spend some quality time at home with your families this holiday season. Drink some great wine, dig out a special cigar from your humidor (go ahead, you deserve it) and relax for an hour or so while puffing away, hopefully with some relatives who enjoy cigars as much as you do.
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