Cigar Aficionado

Payback Time

I’m the commissioner of a fantasy football league in my town. One thing has remained constant since it began four years ago—I haven’t won.

Not since that first, smoky draft where Mr. Priest Holmes was my No. 1 pick and led me to the No. 2 spot in the league have I even threatened to win the damn thing. This year I finished in seventh place out of 12 guys. That’s bad enough, but it comes with an extra dose of insult—tonight, dinner is on me.

We have a tradition in our football league that the bottom six managers buy dinner for the top six at season’s end. Finishing seventh is bad enough, but now it comes with the added expense of a steak dinner for all my buddies who finished ahead of me. Most of the years I’ve been on the winners’ side, but this year my luck has run out.

Dinner is actually a great time. While I see most of the guys in my league on a regular basis, I only get together with some of the guys twice a year, on draft night (where we smoke a few dozen cigars and drink a few beers as we make our picks, insulting every one) and the year-end dinner.

Tonight, as with last year, we’re dining at Blackstones Steakhouse in Norwalk, Connecticut, which is centrally located for those of us in the league. Blackstones is a great place, with fantastic appetizers (I distinctly remember a shrimp on an appetizer plate last year large enough to be scary), serious steaks and top-notch service. They give us a back room so we can make plenty of noise and not bother the rest of the house.

I’m getting a bit worried about the bill, however—a little while ago I received an email from my friend Tim, one of the guys who is eating for free. “FYI,” he wrote. “Just ate lunch at 11 a.m. and have only liquids planned between now and dinner. Timmy will be very hungry!”

Last year, I ate for free and Tim was one of the buyers. He has payback in mind. Not good.

Our post-dinner cigars will probably be puffed back at my house. First, I have a box of Winston Churchill Marakesh. They’re made by Hendrik Kelner in the Davidoff factory in the Dominican Republic, and they rated 87 points in the latest Cigar Insider. They’re medium bodied, so they shouldn’t hurt the guys who don’t smoke as many cigars as I do. For the boys who want something with a bit more oomph, I’m bringing some one-year old Padilla Miami 8&11 Churchills. The cigar rated 88 points in Cigar Insider back in 2005, but I’m betting that this box, dated February 2007, is going to be smoking in the 90s. I’m a big fan of Padilla’s and Pepin’s cigars.

Dinner will be fun, even if I’m paying. Now I’m off to my email account—I have to try to convince Tim and the other winners that they should eat a few loaves of bread this afternoon. Wish me luck.

"As a Jets & Islanders fan, let me pass onto you a few words that I have become quite familar with, "There's always next year!"" —February 1, 2008 15:20 PM
"Dave, I wish you luck." —February 1, 2008 07:31 AM
"David,I enjoy watching the videos on the site. The one called "How to light a cigar" was really informative. Would you mind sharing the make and models of lighters you used for this video? I especially wanted to know the double flame cigar and the torch you guys were using.Thanks!" —February 14, 2008 19:38 PM
"Dave,I enjoyed your article about Little Havana. I would like to recommened a few other good restaurants to you. Casa Juancho(Spanish), Los Ranchos(Nicaraguan),Porcao(Brazilian) and Casa Paco(Cuban/Spanish). Those are all excellant.I live in West Virginia but every time I visit Miami I try to go to those places. My all time favorite was covered in your article....Versailles.Thanks, Rafael" —February 11, 2008 20:24 PM
"Rafael, thanks for the suggestions. I think Casa Juancho was in the story, but I need to try the others you mentioned. I'm with you on Versailles. I was just there again about a month ago, and had the lechon asado (roast pork). Nice stuff." —February 12, 2008 16:13 PM