After an engaging morning of smoking Cigar Aficionado's top three cigars of 2015 and listening to a multitude of cigar and tobacco presentations, Big Smoke attendees had built up a fierce appetite. They were ready to eat a hearty meal.
Filing out of the Mirage Hotel & Casino convention center, attendees took a short stroll down the hall to the Mirage's Grand Ballroom, where they were treated to a sit-down lunch with Oliva Cigar Co.
Entering the ballroom, patrons were given two cigars: An Oliva Serie V Double Robusto, and an Oliva Serie V Melanio Robusto. Guests took their chairs and were greeted by servers who placed at each seat a lettuce-wedge salad sprinkled with bacon, tomato and bleu cheese dressing.
During the meal, Cigar Aficionado executive editor David Savona took to the podium at the front of the ballroom to introduce José Oliva, president of Oliva Cigar Co., and invite him to the stage.
"Thank you all so much for being here," Oliva said. "There's no event like this in the world."
As the salads disappeared and Oliva continued, servers brought out the main course; a churrasco-style skirt steak with habanero sauce and chimichurri fortified with mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus and roasted baby peppers on the side.
Oliva spoke about his family's history, the company's growth in Nicaragua, and creation of the two lunch-pairing cigars: The Oliva Serie V and the Serie V Melanio.
"We introduced the Serie V in 2007," Oliva said. "We challenged ourselves with creating a smooth-tasting cigar that was also bold, and full-bodied. The Serie V was a great success."
Oliva then discussed how the Oliva Serie V Melanio came to fruition.
"In 2012, we wanted to keep the idea of the Serie V, but offer something new with its own identity, through a brand extension," Oliva explained. "We changed the wrapper. The Serie V Melanio is rolled with an Ecuador Sumatra wrapper...The result was another success for us, a very medium-bodied cigar. Serie V Melanio is enormously medium."
Oliva thanked the audience for attending the Big Smoke and joining him in lunch. As he left the stage, his words were met with applause, and cigar fans turned their attention back to their plates. Soft chatter and the sound of forks and knives filled the ballroom and servers arrived once more to pour Conundrum Red wine for the guests. For dessert, a large piece of strawberry shortcake, with coffee and tea offered as well.
The hearty meal was in order. When lunch was over, some guests retired to their rooms while others went straight to the slot machines and blackjack tables. Some even had plans to find a local cigar bar and maybe light up one of those Olivas. Either way, they'd all regroup later that night in the grand ballroom for the Big Smoke evening celebration.