Smoke attendees, fresh off a complete morning of educational cigar
seminars, soon discovered that the Lunch with Rocky Patel segment of the
weekend would not only afford them a chance to refuel their bodies, but
to tack on to their cigar bounties, as well.
For the third straight year, Cigar Aficionado opted to have a cigarmaker take over the luncheon portion of the event. As the Big Smoke crowd filtered into the dining hall, they were greeted by members of the host cigar company, Rocky Patel Premium Cigars, including newcomers Nish Patel, Rocky’s brother, and Nimish Desai, Rocky’s cousin.
Nish and Nimish, who were soon joined by Rocky, greeted each event-goer that walked through the door and handed them what appeared to be a book. The faux leather-bound gift was no novel, though, but an elegantly designed sampler pack of cigars. A see-through window on the cover, which opened like a book and closed via a hidden magnet, revealed the four cigars nestled inside.
Included in the package was one reigning Top 25 cigar and three cigars, all Toro sizes, that debuted at this summer’s cigar trade show.
Inside was a Rocky Patel 15th Anniversary, our No. 19 cigar of 2010—the nutty smoke is rolled with a triple-seam cap and sports an Ecuadoran wrapper that covers an all-Nicaraguan inside.
Next to that was the new Rocky Patel Fifty, a limited-edition smoke, a Xen, which is blended by Nish, as well as Thunder, Nimish’s cigar.
As guests took their seats they were served a glass of red wine, a Rodney Strong Symmetry Meritage Alexander Valley 2008. The appetizer for the luncheon was a baby iceburg lettuce salad topped by hickory-smoked bacon lardons, crumbled aged California bleu cheese, pickled red onion and a buttermilk ranch dressing.
Aficionado executive editor Gordon Mott stepped to the podium to
introduce the luncheon’s host. Mott spoke about Patel’s quick growth in
the industry, which he said was a result of Patel’s commitment to hard
work. He also joked about Patel’s affinity for the nightlife.
“He’s a man who works hard and plays hard,” said Mott. “He’s a man who understands what the good life is all about.”
And with those words, Rocky took his cue to take the podium. As he spoke, the entrée was served. The main course was an Angus filet dusted with porcini mushroom powder and completely wrapped in thick-cut smokehouse bacon. The succulent cut came with horseradish mashed potato on the side, seasonal vegetables and a foie gras laced truffled demi-glace.
Patel talked about the state of the cigar industry today, hitting on the important job the Cigar Rights of America does fighting for the right to “smoke, sell and enjoy a legal product.” Patel went on, explaining why cigars are a completely different product from other forms of tobacco.
“Over 300 different pairs of hands touch tobacco to turn it into a cigar,” said Patel. He emphasized the cigarmaking process by showing a video of all the steps companies like his take to produce cigars. The video showed how tobacco plants are grown from a seedling, manicured in the field, harvested by workers and, finally, rolled by torcedors.
Rocky then gave the podium over to his brother, Nish, who spoke about his Xen cigar. After him the audience was addressed by Nimish, who gave a rundown on his new Thunder smoke.
was then served; a slice of chocolate pavé cake that featured a thin
layer of walnut fudge brownie filled with chocolate coffee mousse atop a
While diners ate the savory sweet, CRA executive directer Glynn Loope delivered an impassioned speech about the importance of H.R. 1639. The legislation aims to remove the FDA's jurisdiction over the premium cigar industry by amending the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
Despite their full stomachs, the crowd let out a few approving hollers as Loope spoke.
“Don’t think of yourself as a cigar smoker,” said Loope. “Think of yourself as a cigar voter.”
And with those resounding words, the luncheon ended.