Cigar Aficionado

Around the Fire

It was 11:30 p.m. last Saturday night. I was sitting on a low, stone wall that surrounds an ancient fireplace in the backyard of my house in Westchester County, New York. I had a half-smoked Tatuaje Taino in one hand, a glass of 1977 Taylor Fladgate Port in the other, and the sweet aromas of my fellow cigar smokers (including my wife puffing away on an OpusX PerfeXcion No. 5) mingling with the aromas from the fireplace.

Yes, the caption on that photo would be: The Good Life.

The occasion was another gathering of a small gourmet club that my wife and I joined about a year ago. Once every three or four months, the dinner takes place at the home of one of the six couples in the group. The host chooses the menu, or theme for the night, and each couple cooks a dish assigned by the host. We’ve done Thai, Indian, Southern, among others. My wife and I chose French, but with a twist; it would be a night of regional cuisine from the Burgundy region, one of my favorite areas of France.

The menu consisted of Gougeres, those yummy little puffs laced with Gruyere cheese; Beef Bourguignon; Chicken Breasts in a Tarragon-Pommery mustard sauce; a Galette Lyonnnais (potatoes and onions and “lots of butter”); a Salade Frisee Aux Lardons (bacon and croutons); a cheese course with two Burgundian cheeses, Langres and a triple cream Delice de Bourgogne; and a Tarte aux Pommes (apple tart) followed by a warm chocolate soufflé, the latter not exactly exclusively Burgundian, but that point, who cared. Every chef hit a home run.

I also took the occasion to dig into my cellar for the red wines, a 2002 Nuits St. Georges aux St. Julien and a 2003 Corton Renardes, and found two white wines from the same communes to match against them, a 2005 Corton Charlemagne, and a rare white Nuit St. Georges Les Perrieres form Henri Gouges. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be very difficult. The 2003 Corton Renardes was showing the best, but both of the whites were also spectacular. But, of course, you’d have to choose any of those over the absolutely perfect 1977 Taylor Port.

The piece de resistance was the fire and the cigars. Everyone was still sitting around the table on our patio when I snuck out and lit the fire. The cigars had already been fired up: some Padróns, the OpusX and my Tatuaje. After I sat back down, someone said, ”Oh, look, the fire,” and pretty much en masse, the entire table moved out to stand around the flames, and the conversation and laughter continued for another 45 minutes.

A great night? Absolutely. It may also be the last night for outdoor dining in many a month, or at least a night warm enough that you can count on being outside. So, the memories of our Burgundy gourmet club dinner will remain all winter. And, I will be reminded how the cigars capped off the great night.

"Thats a great story with which I can relate over and over again. What is the magic in fire that draws us to it and accelerates relaxing conversation? I'm certain that we've solved the worlds problems a million times over around a fire pit, or smoker, or grill." —September 21, 2007 17:52 PM
"About this time last year I purchased a cast-iron "fire-pit" and it has proved to be one of the most gratifying purchases I've made. Many a weekend night during the fall (and even winter), after dinner we've found ourselves gathered around the fire with drinks and cigars.Cigars around a fire are the best!" —September 21, 2007 16:03 PM