Posted: Dec 22, 2007 12:27am ET
I’m back in my hotel room after a long, full day in Miami. I started in Hialeah, at a cigar factory/shop I had never visited before called Flor de Gonzalez. If you want to try a smoke made in the United States, you don’t have to limit your search to 8th Street. Flor de Gonzalez makes very good smokes in a small space about one mile from the Miami International Airport. The Gonzalez family has about five rollers—three were working today—making cigars, and they’ve done fairly well in Cigar Aficionado tastings.
My second stop was with Puros Indios, now known as Reyes Family Cigars. I sat down with the newly named president, Carlos Diez, and I found out something new about him--He’s a New York Giants fan. (Go Big Blue.) I was originally supposed to meet with him and his grandfather, Rolando Reyes Sr., but the elder Reyes was under the weather.
Carlos has some new plans for his grandfather’s company’s brands. He showed me the new logo for the company, and explained how they are working on a new brand called Premier. As far as Puros Indios and Cuba Aliados, the names may change. Stay tuned.
Carlos and I spoke for a few hours, and toward the end he took me to his storage area, where he has all kinds of old cigars. A lot of cigarmakers aren’t big believers in cigar aging, but not Carlos. He handed me a gorgeous Cuba Aliados Piramide No. 1 from 1988. You’ll be reading about that 20-year-old beauty in an upcoming Connoisseur’s Corner in Cigar Aficionado.
I spent the rest of the day with Ernesto Padilla, who I was interviewing for Cigar Aficionado. Ernesto has a number of great cigars, including one of my all-time favorite small cigars, the Padilla 1932 La Perla. This 4 1/2 by 40 cigar comes in boxes of 50, and it’s rolled by Pepin Garcia in Nicaragua. They’re little flavor bombs, just packed with taste.
Padilla and I grabbed a bite of Cuban food at Versailles, one of Miami’s great Cuban restaurants. I had the lechon asado (roast pork) and he opted for the fried pork chunks. (What—you thought we were going to have salad?) As we were leaving, Ernesto noticed jazz trumpet legend Arturo Sandoval, so we went over and said hello. Arturo, a man who really loves his smokes, had a few Fuente Fuente OpusX cigars tucked in his breast pocket.
Ernesto and I had a long interview, talking about his father, Cuban poet Herberto Padilla, his cigars, which are made by a variety of manufacturers, even his bulldog. You’ll read about the details in an upcoming issue.
After the interview, it was time for dinner, so we headed out to a new Miami restaurant, Il Gabbiano, located on the water on Biscayne Boulevard. It’s a new place, but it’s owned by a team that was once part of New York’s wonderful Il Mulino, a first class Italian restaurant. The sausage arribiata was a great starter, and the osso bucco was delicious. So was the risotto. And the restaurant has a huge outdoor seating area, and no one blinked when we lit up Padilla Signature 1932 cigars.
It was another great cigar night in Miami. I’m feeling a little full after the lunch of Cuban food and the Italian dinner. Maybe I should hit the gym in the morning.
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