Tag Archive for cigars

Photo Friday: Vice

Yep, I’m going to do Photo Friday again. I’m stubborn like that.

Vice

Every man has to have a couple of vices lest he go insane

I kicked off the New Year with my friend Mark, who also happens to be a distant cousin by marriage, a fellow cigar aficionado, and a fan of many of the same books and movies I enjoy. We went into town for some barbecue, then hit a local watering hole with a heated, cigar-friendly beer garden. He gifted me the fine cigars you see with that glass of Jameson above.

Last year, I shot 36 weeks’ worth of Photo Friday entries. This year, I’m aiming for at least 40. Yes, all 52 would be better, but it’s not worth beating myself up over it. I have gotten better at carrying my camera in my messenger bag, even if I haven’t actually pulled it out for a while (barring family events), so that will help. Now it’s just a matter of keeping my eyes open and, ideally, getting out and about a little more.

Semper Fi

Semper Fi: Mark is also a Marine veteran

To that end, I’m working on a side photography project. This will be a simple one using my Android phone, which I have on me all the time. The damned thing is like a leash, so I may as well put it to use.

I’m still working out how simple or complex I want it to be, but you’ll see more of it on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr than you’ll see here. Feel free to hunt me down on any or all of those services.

And do feel free to send comments my way. I’m doing this for fun, but I’m also looking to improve my game.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday: The Mecca of Cigar Shops

I’m going to cheat again. I didn’t have my camera handy, and I’ll talk more about the weekend surrounding this shot later, but check out this humidor:

Belicoso Humidor

I swear I heard a chorus of angels when I walked in.

This is from the Belicoso Cigar Lounge in Orland Park, Illinois. I can’t even begin to imagine what it cost to put this place together. I’m told it was at one point the largest humidor in North America. The front of the store, the lounge proper, was also very elegant and outfitted with small tables and chairs, and they served coffee and espresso. It had a fair crowd for a Sunday morning, too.

This is the kind of thing I miss about not living in the suburbs.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Smoke Blog: Diesel

I had a fantasy football draft this evening, so while I was out screwing up my team I decided to light up a Diesel, a cigar brand I’d never tried before. Its torpedo shape and rich, dark brown wrapper looked interesting enough, and it had a nice, full-bodied scent, so I clipped it, grabbed a matchbox, and carried it outside with the laptop.

The humidor’s running a hair hot and humid due to the weather and our reluctance to fire up the A/C this year. Heck, I haven’t added water to the puck since Spring and it’s still averaging high seventies on both temp and humidity, with an occasional spike into the 80-82 range. I blame these conditions for the initial lighting issues I had with the Diesel.

Once I kept it going, though, it produced dense smoke and had a smooth, easy draw. I’d call it full-bodied in flavor, if somewhat unremarkable to others in its category. It burned clean for an hour and a half, and the ash demonstrated its good construction. It did canoe a bit, but given I was largely distracted by the laptop and the draft chat, I’ll take the blame. Near the end I started to compose a brief review in my head, thinking I’d tag it as a good, if not great, smoke for hanging out.

Then I stood up.

Wow. The buzz came rolling in like a heavy wave. I don’t usually pursue cigars just for this effect, but this it pushed the Diesel near the top of my smoke list for celebrations or after a tough day at work. One of these and a good craft beer would make a potent combination, something I’ll have to keep in mind in the future.

I should add this is one of several cigars I received in a “bombing run” from my cousin Mark and his friends in Ward B at the Cigar World community forum. They heard my humidor ran empty through the summer and decided to fix the problem for me. Thanks to their willingness to help a brother when he’s down, I’ll be equipped well into the fall, if not longer. I thanked each of them directly, but I’ll have to make the time to jump into the forum and thank them again soon.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Smoke Blog: Avo #3

It’s been quite some time since I blogged a cigar, but as good as the Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real may be, there’s only so much that can be said about them. Now that I’ve finished that box this summer, I felt it was time for the next great smoke.

Normally the Avo line is out of my price range (single, celebratory smokes excepted), but I found a great deal at an online store and pounced. I would prefer to visit a brick and mortar cigar shop, but I don’t always have that luxury out here.

Plus it’s damn hard to turn down a savings of nearly 50%.

The Avo is every bit as good as I remembered and then some. Their smooth draw and solid construction make them a joy to hold, and they produce plenty of silky smoke. The bold, earthy flavor gives way to a creamy finish with a hint of leather. This finish survives to the next puff, but is far from overstaying its welcome.

In short they are worthy successors to my beloved RyJ Reserva Reals, if not superior. I’m on my third from the box and it’s just as pleasing as the first. If this continues, I won’t hesitate to order the next box.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Smoke Blog: Romeo y MacBook Pro

The Only Way to Write

Originally uploaded by MikeOliveri.

I’ve often thought about taking a laptop out with me when I smoke, but the battery in my old Dell laptop is down to about 10 minutes of juice and I’ve gotten out of the habit. Yesterday it dawned on me I’ve got a shiny new MacBook Pro in my bag and I get over three hours on a charge, so I thought it might be worth trying again. I grabbed the laptop, my new Xikar lighter, and a Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real and headed out to the patio.

For starters, the cigar was excellent. I’m down to three Reals from last year’s box, and this cigar reassured me I made the right choice in purchasing another box of them on Friday. The creamy wrapper and full (yet smooth) flavor was a genuine pleasure, and I had no problem sitting with it for damn near two hours, smoking well past sundown. The finish on the Reals is very gentle, and this one left me with a heady buzz.

Even better, I got several hundred new words written on Top Secret Novella. I rewrote the opening yet again, and I think the story will be stronger for it. The cigar didn’t get in the way at all as I punched the keys, and I trusted the sturdy Real not to drop premature ash onto my keyboard.

I don’t feel the need to smoke a cigar every time I write, but it sure doesn’t seem to hurt me any. I’ll be trying it again in the future, I’m sure.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On

It’s all over the news, but for those of you who haven’t heard yet, there was a 5.2-5.4 magnitude quake in southern Illinois this morning, and yes, we felt it up here. Given I’ve already fielded one phone call and a couple emails from friends who don’t live in the region, I thought I’d go ahead and post a note saying yes, everything is fine here. I appreciate the notes of concern!

The quake shook our house pretty good, and I wasn’t sure if some heavy vehicles were rolling through (highly unlikely on our street) or if it was indeed a quake. It woke the Wife and I, but the kids all slept through it. I’m sure that’ll be the big topic at school today, though.

Not that I’ll hear any of it; I took a vacation day to hang out with John, who is at that tail end of his vacation. We’ll be hanging out, browsing places full of big, shiny, electronics like Best Buy and Fry’s, and no doubt dropping by to visit New Trends for a cigar. If I’m really lucky, one of them will have the new Canon Digital Rebel XSi in stock.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Smoke Blog: La Gloria Cubana

I’d never heard of La Gloria Cubana before I received this robusto in a set, but I’m always willing to try something new. This particular cigar had a rich, brown wrapper and a sturdy feel. A hint of spice came off the cap when I lit up. My first impression was good.

That didn’t last long. It took some doing to light this cigar, and that spicy flavor intensified and stabbed at the tip of my tongue for a minute or two. Next it refused to smoke evenly, and insisted on canoeing after a few attempts at solving the problem with the lighter.

I was just about to chuck it in the fire pit when it mellowed. Halfway through, the burn evened itself out and the bitter spice went away. Despite the canoeing early on, the ash clung on at an awkward angle for nearly half the smoke before a wind gust knocked it off.

The cigar was much better from there on, and I smoked it down to my fingers. It seems strange to me that the characteristics could take a 180-degree turn halfway through, but that’s exactly what this La Gloria Cubana did. I’m wondering if the tip dried out for whatever reason, or if it was just a bum smoke. I did struggle with my humidor over the winter, but it’s been fine for weeks now, at least a month or so.

If I can find some reviews saying they’re typically as good as the second half of the smoke, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy a few more. Until then, I’ll continue to stick with my Reserva Reals.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Smoke Blog: Don Tomas Cameroon Collection

Cigars with a Cameroon wrapper are very popular, but I tend to find their taste a little harsh, especially in the finish. I’ve been told maybe I just had bad luck with cigars or brands, or perhaps I just don’t like the blends certain brands use. I much prefer the Connecticut shade wrappers like my go-to smoke, the Romeo y Julieta Reserva Real, but I’ll continue to try Cameroon-wrapped smokes and see if I can’t narrow down the problem.

It’s with this in mind I lit up the Don Tomas Cameroon last week. It came as part of a robusto sampler pack I ordered a while back, and I wanted to give it some time in the humidor so there would be no lingering dryness from shipping that may affect the flavor. It lit easily, and the draw was fine. My luck with sturdy cigars in the face of spring breezes continued with the Don Tomas, as I had no trouble even as the cold started to numb my fingers. The cigar had a fine ash and produced thick smoke.

But there was that odd tang to the finish again. Not altogether unpleasant, but I found myself pining for one of my Reservas instead. Perhaps next time I’ll have to try a Cameroon with a beer or a glass of whiskey and see if that doesn’t level things out. I’m almost certain some good smokes I’ve sampled in the past have been wrapped in Cameroon tobacco, but it seems like when this flavor appears, it’s in a smoke with a Cameroon wrapper.

This week I’ll be visiting New Trends with John. I’ll have to chat up the owner, Mark, and see if he can offer some insight or tell me I’m just nuts. While we discuss it, I think I’ll have a nice Avo Classic.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Smoke Blog: Macanudo Maduro

Despite the chill winds Wednesday evening I grabbed a short Macanudo Maduro from the humidor and sat outside to smoke while I read a friend’s manuscript to offer him advice. Maduros are not always my first choice, but I do enjoy a good one from time to time and I could tell from the taste of the wrapper, even before lighting, that I was going to like this one.

I wasn’t wrong. This maduro had a bold flavor with a hint of chocolate, but lacked the bitter spice that accompanies many maduros. Its smooth, even draw held up to the stiff breeze with no sign of tunneling. The ash sustained itself until I tapped it off myself, and it produced plenty of nice, thick smoke to blow around. I think my daughter thought my lungs were on fire.

Next time I’m in the mood for a maduro, this Macanudo will do the job nicely.

As for the manuscript, I enjoyed it as well. If all goes well for the writer, maybe I’ll be blogging about it again by year’s end.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Smoke Blog: Sancho Panza

I bought a six-pack sampler of lonsdales from Famous Smoke last week, thinking they would be the ideal size for late winter and early spring smoking. Last night that proved a sound theory when I lit up the box-pressed Sancho Panza included in the sampler.

The weekend weather teased us, hitting about sixty degrees yesterday afternoon before plummeting back to the low 30′s today (we’re also expecting snow tonight and tomorrow). I took advantage of the weather break around 8:00 last night and sat out front. My hoodie held off the worst of the cool breeze, and I was only just starting to feel cold when I put out the stub of the cigar 45 minutes later. Perfect.

The Sancho Panza was a mild, even smoke, and not a bad choice for the first smoke of the year. It held up well against the wind, showing no evidence of canoeing or tunneling that I often see in lesser cigars in the strong winds around my home. I’m also impressed that it maintained the same characteristics from start to finish; no harsh taste on lighting or when it burned down low. In summary, the Sancho Panza is a pleasant smoke I wouldn’t shy away from in the future.

As for the smoking experience itself, I’d forgotten how calming it is to just sit outside and chill for 45 minutes or so. I pondered my karate a bit, and even wandered around the porch and driveway, dropping into stances and examining footwork. I worked up a mental draft of an email I needed to send my German publisher, Otherworld Verlag, including responses to corrections that needed to be made for the translated Deadliest of the Species manuscript. Finally, I got a good look at the stars speckling the clear sky for the first time in months.

All in all a great night for reflection and relaxation. I’m already looking forward to my next one!

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.