Is there a bad time to have a cigar? My friend Matthew, on his last day of vacation with his wife, Karen, at La Sirena, my home in Mexico, thought that a late Friday afternoon was a perfect time. The doors to my office were open, and the sun was lighting up a spider's web of high-in-the-sky cirrus clouds and we had some special cigars from a friend in Mexico City. The moment was right.
Matthew and I have been friends for more than 40 years. He taught me to love cooking, and introduced me to the intricacies of French sauces, the subtleties of raclette cheese (which became a New Year's tradition for nearly 35 years), the joys of lightly sautéed foie gras and why craft beers are almost always more interesting. He was my first guide in appreciating wine.
Together, we have enjoyed so many great meals and great bottles of wine with our wives that it would be impossible to list even a fraction of them. I introduced him to the mysteries of Mexico, and the incredible pleasures of a fine, hand-rolled cigar. I never got him intrigued with golf, but then he never got me hooked on ice-climbing. We have watched our kids grow up and shared many of life's ups and downs.
A cigar in late January with the doors and windows open, after he spent a day reading on my upstairs deck, framed a lifelong friendship. We talked about some of our mutual friends, daydreamed about some wine tasting trips in Europe, and sketched out some ideas for future journeys. His cigar was a Trinidad Fundador from 1998, and I had lit up a Cohiba Millennium Reserve from 2000, in honor of the story I had just finished on Cohiba's 50th anniversary in 2016. I had a glass of Santiago rum 11-year-old in front of me, and he, in deference to a bit of a battle with a rumbly stomach, stuck to a glass of water. (Well, he did have a sip of my rum.) We stayed talking until dusk began to turn to night, and it was time to cook dinner.
We stopped long enough to pose for a picture taken by our wives, who have also been close friends for 40 years. They did not enter my smoke-filled office, so we posed out on the balcony, basking in the late afternoon sun on a late January day. There will be many more shared cigars, many more shared meals cooking together in the kitchen and many more vacations taken together. But why let a perfect moment for a cigar pass us by?