Cuba Calling at Gwdihw, Cardiff

Gwdihw, one of the nicest live music venues I’ve been to, hosted what I believe to be Cardiff’s first Cuban cigar tasting event on the 23 August 2011. For those who don’t know, gwdihw (pronounced goody-hoo) is the somewhat onomatopoeic Welsh word for owl. I’m led to believe this is specifically South Wales dialect.

Random people 1

Arranged in conjunction with Cardiff’s Bear Shop tobacconist (in Wyndham Arcade in the city centre) and Reserve Brands (a division of the booze giant Diageo), this ticket-only event gave you the option to purchase a cigar at a slightly discounted price. Given this was something that I was pleased to have happening in Cardiff, I thought I’d go all out and try Continue reading

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Weekend cigar round-up

Bit of a catch-up post here as I’ve had quite a mad weekend. Not much detail I’m afraid…

Partagas Serie P No. 2 (box code TEB ABR 08; in humidor since 2 April 2009) on 20 August 2011. I’ve not had one of these for some time and it was pretty enjoyable. Lovely to the touch, perfect draw and the burn was spot on. Flavours weren’t as spectacular as I’ve had from some examples of the P2 but I wasn’t really concentrating on it.

Rafael Gonz├ílez Petit Corona (box code SEM NOV 08; in humidor since 28 June 2010) on 21 August 2011. I’ve found these variable up until now and this was bland and harsh. The expected flavour profile was present but seemed heavily masked. I’m probably just going to try and leave these alone for another year… Let’s see if it actually happens!

Bolivar Belicoso Fino (bought as a single so age unknown; my records seem to claim I’ve had this in my humi since 23 September 2009 though I’m sure I’ve bought another since then) later on the 21 August 2011. This was disappointing, considering how much I normally love all things Bolivar. I was at a barbecue and had had a couple of burgers and a couple of cans of Stella Artois, which probably weren’t the greatest accompaniment! It started out OK but just got too heavy. I suspect I was smoking it a little too fast just so I could go indoors as it was starting to get cold. A pity.

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HdM Petit Robusto | Bolivar Corona Junior

Smoked 12 August 2011.

It was the work barbecue today so I thought I’d take the opportunity to smoke a couple of cigars. I started out with a Hoyo de Monterrey Petit Robusto (box code GEA OCT 08; in humi since 23 September 2009). The flavours are really starting to come through with these now but it still surprises me how strong they are still. I’d have expected them to calm down a bit by now but they are still quite a hefty smoke.

Next up was a Bolivar Corona Junior (box code TEB JUL 07; in humi since 14 March 2011). I love my Bolivars and these are no exception! I’m a big fan of the Royal Corona but they can get rather brutal with the nicotine in the final third, so it’s good to be able to get the rich taste in a smaller package. The work events tend to end up in the pub so I find it beneficial not to have my head swimming from an overpowering cigar!

One thing that always surprises me is the reaction a Cuban cigar receives in public. People either seem to think you are wildly pretentious, or are will strike up a conversation due to the fact that you don’t see them around so much now.

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UKCF annual herf at The Prince of Wales, Moseley

If you like cigars and aren’t a member of UKCigarForums, pop on over and join.

Saturday 6 August 2011 was an attempt to get as many forum members possible meeting in one place. That place was The Prince of Wales pub in Moseley, Birmingham. A superb venue obviously designed to cater for smokers (greatly helped by Keith the landlord being a cigar aficionado himself), with such a mixed crowd that nobody need feel out of place. Apologies for the quality of the photos…

UK Cigar Forum Annual Herf 2011 image 1

Considering the majority of the London contingent were either on holiday or content to stay inside the M25, we did quite well on numbers!

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Vegas Robaina Famoso

Smoked 31 July 2011. Box code LPM ABR 08; in humidor since 20 January 2010.

Vegas Robaina Famosos

This was far more like the Famosos that I’ve smoked and loved previously, but it was still quite tannic. Considering this was now over three years old and they are quite a mild cigar anyway, I’m surprised at how much aging these still seem to need. Maybe mine are a one-off?

The hint of chocolate was present but very much in the background compared to some I’ve had. It was a bit of a ‘nothing’ cigar; perfectly smokable but not astoundingly good like my favourite Bolivars or Juan Lopez. Another cigar that I think I need to leave alone for some time!

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Golofina vintage cigar

I bought this a while back as part of a vintage cigar sampler. I believe the Golofina is a puro ie. rolled entirely from tobacco from one country; in this case, Jamaica. This particular cigar is believed to be from the 1950s, and has been in my humidor since 17 November 2010.

Golofina vintage cigar

The reason why I decided on this one today (28 July 2011) was because I was doing my occasional check of all my cigars, to see if any are showing signs of storage problems. Unfortunately, there was the slightest touch of blue-green on the cap of this, so I thought I’d whip it out of there quick-sharp and smoke it. I realise everyone must be horrified at the thought of me smoking a mouldy cigar but it really was the slightest touch!

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Get Out While You Can

It’s not often I read a book that inspires me to tell lots of people about it. This is one of those books. Buy it from Amazon UK here.

Get Out While You Can book cover

A while back I posted a review of the MD-80 mini camcorder. I started getting increasing amounts of traffic from people searching for the instructions so I thought I’d set up a website just for those people. You can see that website here if you want: MD-80 Camera Instructions

It occurred to me that I could possibly make money off this, so I put up a few affiliate links (from Webgains) to some places that sold Continue reading

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Dorset Naga chilli

For yesterday’s dinner I had some Lincolnshire sausages left from a barbecue so I thought I’d make a hot sauce and have them with some pasta. On a recent trip to Tesco I’d stocked up on chillies, getting a couple of packs of the usual ‘red chillies’ which I believe to be Cayenne, some Bird’s Eye chillies and some I’d not seen before, the Dorset Naga. Now bearing in mind I eat quite a lot of chillies I think I can handle most of them. Having had a 7-pot chilli before and not having died I thought nothing more of it. Here is another Dorset Naga from the pack:

Dorset Naga chilli

My sauce contained two sliced onions, a cayenne, a bird’s eye and a Dorset Naga, some cumin, 3 cloves of garlic (crushed), some coriander seeds, some black pepper and a tub of passata. It was at this point I read the packaging and noticed that Tesco had labelled this with 6 chillies out of a possible 5 (!?) on their heat scale. I had to eat a slice. Well that was an experience that I would not recommend to the non-chilli-tolerant.

I had my dinner, pasta, sausages and three tablespoons full of my sauce. I actually needed a shower afterwards-no light glow on the cheekbones from this meal! Upon further reading, the Dorset Naga has been measured in at 1.6 million Scoville Heat Units, which I believe makes it the hottest chilli known to man. Bear in mind that the pure chemical responsible for the burn, capsaicin, measures at 16 million SHU, only ten times more…

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Books

This is not like my normal posts. Normal service will soon be resumed.

A thought just came to me while reading a friend’s Facebook status update. She mentioned about libraries and it occurred to me that one of the things I appreciated most whilst growing up was having access to my father’s bookshelf. I wouldn’t say there was anything particularly exceptional on it but they were mostly non-fiction. Not that I’ve got anything against fiction – far from it, but fiction does not generally impart knowledge.

They covered subjects that I would likely never have been exposed to through anything more than perhaps a passing remark, and even in this age of instant access to vast quantities of information through the web, there is nothing like a well-structured book written by someone who knows what they are talking about to give you a basic understanding of a new concept. Excellent as Wikipedia is, there is NEVER enough detail. As a child, I had little or no pre-conceived ideas that some new subject might not interest me, so I would happily pick up anything from a book on cacti, a first aid manual, a dictionary or anything really.

Probably about five years ago I got into the habit of buying secondhand books on eBay or AbeBooks about anything and everything that I became aware of and was new to me. This has led to some rather unusual subjects, admittedly, and quite a few of them remain unread as yet. In fact I think I subconsciously try to find books that are as obscure as possible just for the sake of it. I’ve actually surprised myself at how often I find the most unusual relevant to everyday life.

I deliberately buy secondhand (if possible) as I like that each book will have some unknown history, and also that the quality of paper used in softback books earlier than say about 1980 seems much higher than the paper currently used, which seems to yellow within about 3 years of manufacture. I have a copy of Jonathon Swift’s Gulliver from the 1940s that the paper is still nearly white in!

I think my reason for doing so is that because I enjoyed having my father’s books to stimulate my personal intellectual development, and as I believe that I will want children at some point later on in life, I would like them to have the same opportunity.

The reason why so many are still unread is that they will be there for the rest of my life, and when the mood takes me I just pick up something that will likely send my interests off on some unknown tangent. It is my ultimate aim to fill a room with books. My own personal library.

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Bolivar Royal Corona

Smoked 3 July 2011. Box code TEB MAY 08; in humidor since 29 May 2009.

After the excitement of the Partagas D4 from the day before, it was going to be hard to match up. While it didn’t quite blow me away like that did, it was still a very good example of a Bolivar Royal Corona.

I actually think these are a little underfilled as I’m sure the wrapper burn issues I get are down to a lack of contact between the tobacco. Strange…

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