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Not only did the ensuing conversation result in my smoking a fine cigar, but it culminated in an evening I would not soon forget. It so happens that Avo Uvezian performs regularly at the main hotel resort, and his cigars are featured throughout the resort shops.
That evening I made it a point to show up at the hotel lobby. Much to my pleasure I met Mr. Uvezian, who quickly bestowed on me a couple of fine cigars, including his new offering, the XO, Intermezzo.
He posed with me for a couple of pictures, we talked about his passion for cigars and the passing of his friend Zino. I stayed on to hear his troupe perform some very fine music.
I believe that most of the enjoyment and pleasure of smoking a cigar comes from the cerebral experience. In this case, a truly fine cigar was enjoyed so much more because of the surrounding cerebral experience, its fine construction, superb tobacco, his company and the way I obtained it. This was truly a memorable smoke.
He is a gentleman, and I was glad to be a cigar aficionado that evening.
Charles G. Marchese
Brooklyn, New York

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Dear Marvin,
I have just returned to my office in Chicago after my last 1994 trip to New York City. I feel rather upbeat because the trip was a success from both a business and personal perspective. The business that I needed to attend to was completed and exceeded my expectations. In addition, whenever in New York City I make every effort to visit with old friends. This trip I was able to do so.
On Thursday evening, a fellow cigar fanatic and I made plans for dinner at the Assembly, near Rockefeller Center. My friend stated that it was listed as a cigar-friendly restaurant. Through an oversight, either my friend's or the Assembly's, we were placed at a nonsmoking table. We enjoyed our meal, two large and tender filets done exactly to our specifications, medium rare. (So exactly done were the filets that when we finally cut into the center, which was dark red, the escaping warmth was visible.) The Assembly host, Tim Brown, stopped by to see that everything was to our satisfaction. After assuring Tim that the food was more than that expected of a great steak house, I inquired if cigar smoking was allowed and if it was limited to the bar area of the Assembly. Tim very enthusiastically stated that cigar smoke was allowed in the dining room as well as the bar. I then pointed out the No Smoking sign above my head. His response was that he would take care of that and we would be able to enjoy our cigars.
After we completed dinner and ordered Cognacs, we asked our waiter to have Tim stop by the table and explained why. The waiter's response was that we would probably be asked to move to the bar area, and that he would begin preparing a table for us. This was an acceptable solution, and my friend and I agreed. A short time later, Tim delivered an ashtray to the table and asked us to enjoy our cigars. After preparation and cutting, we lit our cigars. My friend's was a Romeo y Julieta Corona. Mine was a Punch Double Corona. We proceeded to have the perfect conclusion to a most enjoyable restaurant experience. The Assembly has earned the honor of being recognized as a cigar-friendly restaurant.
I truly enjoy Cigar Aficionado and hope someday to meet you in a cigar-friendly restaurant.
Patrick Jasper
Chicago, Illinois

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Dear Marvin
A group of seven friends and I, all seniors in colleges scattered throughout Pennsyl-vania, get together when we come home to enjoy a good smoke. Our smoking parties began innocently with a few cheap, handmade cigars and took off as if they had a mind of their own. Following our sophomore year, the gang and I were getting out at least five nights a week to meet at a local park and enjoy the higher-quality cigars that one of our buddies had discovered. My first quality smoke was a Don Diego (I still have the band).
Near the end of that summer, we decided that to secure the smoking bond we'd established, we'd spend one night camping out, smoking cigars and enjoying the friendship. We labeled it the "World Series of Cigar Smoking." The night would not be complete, however, without our first taste of the fabled Cuban ci-gars. We devised a plan for a day trip to Canada "to see the Falls," we told our parents. Early on a warm August morning, we set out from Tyrone, Pennsylvania, on "Operation Cuba."
Once in Toronto, we wandered the streets for nearly an hour before seemingly stumbling upon the Havana House. We were overwhelmed when taken to the humidors upstairs, where we saw hundreds of the finest cigars in the world. After browsing for several minutes, we each chose four cigars. I chose a Montecristo, an H. Upmann, a Romeo y Julieta and, of course, a Cohiba.
We stopped at Niagara Falls on our way back and avoided a potentially unfortunate run-in with the border patrol by the skin of our noses when returning to the United States. We had placed the cigars in the trunk, but while at the Falls, my friend said that we should keep them with us in the front of the car because, though not always, the border patrolmen sometimes check the trunks of vehicles returning to the United States. I felt they'd be fine where they were but eventually agreed. We placed the cigars in plastic bags underneath our arms. It just seemed like something smugglers might do, and we were so excited.
When we reached the border, the patrolman asked if he could search our trunk. You can imagine the combination of fear and excitement with which we were overcome--we'd just missed having our treasure possibly confiscated. In retrospect, we may have gotten off with as little as a warning. But at the time, with nearly 20 Cubans distributed throughout the car under the arms of four young cigar smokers, it seemed that no punishment could have been too severe, were we to be caught. Once across the border, we were so proud. We really thought we'd accomplished something.
I had exchanged my share of memories over a good cigar before, but at the "World Series," with the Cubans for which we'd traveled so far and gone to such great lengths, the stories flowed more freely than ever, and, by all means, the cigars never had tasted so good.
We went to Canada again the next year and will certainly make the trip again this summer. Cigars, adventure, camaraderie and memories--that's what it's all about.
Kerry Naylor
Tyrone, Pennsylvania
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