Monday, March 30, 2015

Partagas 898v 1998


The wrapper is colorado colored. Matt surface and due to the 898 package no pressing. It seemed to be a bit hard rolled but the first impression has nothing to say about the draw how I saw it e.g. at my Montecristo "C" which are all hard as a rock but have a fantastic draw. The smell of the cigar itself is a tremendous intensity of pure tobacco and leather... Wow!

So I lighted it up, cutted it and take the first puffs.... Draw is tight, too tight to be perfect but still ok (it went better after the first half inch).

The first impressions: leather, very intensive, black pepper, also some earthiness... and surprisingly a subtle sweetness like honey... I only knew this before from the Por Larranaga, here it was nearly the same sweet taste... It was embedded perfect in this strong flavor and came up every now and then during the first third.

In the second third it even get's intense.... leather is still there, woody tastes came up and the earthiness rose up more.

The last third was, also as the time before, really a perfect balance of the different tastes... the earthiness vanished (but came back during the last puffs) and in front of a background of wood, leather and tobacco the palate became more and more herbal... also black pepper came back... it was some kind of "grand finale".

I had an interesting experience: this cigar was full of flavors like I know it from much older cigars.... let me call it "vintage flavor"... who has smoked an older cigar (like 20+ yo) knows what I am speaking of. It reminded me tastewise a bit of the Palmas Grandes from the 80s that I have, but still stronger....

Conclusion: Very good cigar...

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

03/20 - Whisky and...ribeye steak


Two years ago the regulars' table of the SSMC started in cooperation of Moses and the Restaurant Gemsle... generally a good idea but in the meantime Reto and myself decided for several reasons to continue it on a private basis. Our first evening of that kind was our Bruichladdich evening back in December, which was really a blast with a lot of high quality whiskys...

The next evening was really overdue but because of different absences we haven't been able to fix it on an earlier date. As we all love a good piece of meat, the choice for the main course was easy. After some chicken the last time, I decided for a some nice ribeye steak, some sugar snaps and rosemary potatoes were the perfect sides. Cucumber filled with crabmeat, some shrimps and cheese as a light starter... a homemade Crème Brûlée as dessert.

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Bowmore infused Brats as an appetizer

Cucumber cups filled with crabmeat and cheese

Ribeye steak

Cremé brûlée

And now the question about the whiskys. As we agreed we should enjoy some higher quality whiskys, therefore I'd a close look in the cabinet with the open bottles.

I thought about some different whiskys than the usual peaty stuff I always pull out and ended up with the following, call it coincidence or not but they're all Duncan Taylor bottlings:
  • Macduff 1969

  • Caperdonich 1972

  • Glent Grant 1970 (Reto brought a 1971 Cross Hill)


But finally I couldn't resist the call of Isaly and also took out the Laphroaig 21 yo. from Silver Seal, a stunning whisky which would be the perfect company for the desert and a 22 yo. Ardbeg from G&M, distilled in 1974.



Reto also brought some stuff with him...
  • Glen Grant 1971 Cross Hill Selection

  • Russenschnaps, the 8th club bottling of the Whiskyclub Regensburg which is a sherry matured Lagavulin


  • Some different Scottish beers, of which we had the Nessie's Monster Mash during dinner

Finally I've to say it was a good decision to continue this kind of "event" on a private level. The food was good and the whiskys outstanding... can't wait for the next time!



Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Buckboard Bacon


Curing meat is an old and traditional method to preserve meat for storage. Not really necessary nowadays anymore but it's still done for the taste... cured and hot-smoked ham which turned into a buckboard bacon is really a delicious thing.

For the first test I took a piece of pork neck of approx. 1.8 kg, I didn't want to make it too big for the first time, just in case that I wouldn't like it.

For the curing rub I made a mixture of pickling salt, black pepper, brown sugar and some herbs, applied it to the meat which went to the 0°C shelf in the fride for about 2 weeks. After the curing process it was watered for approx. 2 hours to wash out a good part of the salt and left open in the fridge over night.

For the smoking I used some beech wood, glazed it with some maple syrup and added some marjoram... just keep it simple. The temperature was approx. 100 °C for the smoking time and I took out the meat at a core temperature of 63 °C, cooled it down and sliced it up...

My doubts regarding the taste were totally needless, the whole BBB was gone in a short time... and I repeated it with two pieces of meat 2.5 weeks later... instead of maple syrup and marjoram I used two different rubs... Onion Bomb and Red Dust. Different than the first one but also very tasty!

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Liechtensteiner Brauhaus Club Beers


Craftbeers are getting more and more popular in Switzerland, I was really impressed by the variety we have here when attending the Craftbeer Festival in Rapperswil last year in September. One beer that I tried there was from Liechtenstein, in the meantime I tried some more of their so called "Club Bier".


Club Bier 01 - Coffee Stout

Very dark colored, almost black with a nice head. The smell is dominated by dried fruits and coffee based on a moderate sweet background. Very smooth and cerealy in the mouth, dark roasted coffee with some fruitiness and aromas of toast. A good balance of bitter and sweet notes. Long lasting in the mouth with a fruity and pleasantly bitter aftertaste.

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Club Bier 02 - Alpen Pale Ale

Amber colored with a quickly vanishing head. The smell is full of hops, also some bread dough and caramel. The aroma of the hops continue in the taste, very floral, hints of honey and exotic fruits. The finish is more on the dry side (but not unpleasant) with some floral and hoppy aromas.



Club Bier 03 - Bock Stark

Reddish-copper colored with a small and stable white head. Caramel, citrus and nutty flavors in the nose. A very pleasant bitter-sweet flavor with hoppy aromas. The finish is characterized by fruit and caramel.



Club Bier 05 - Wiesnrausch (bottled one day before drinking)

Copper colored with a golden shine, the head is very stable and long-lasting. Citrus, wheat and yeast hit the nose. The wheat is one of the base flavors in the mouth, added by some fruity aromas, maybe banana... very creamy in the mouth. Slightly sweet aftertaste, very creamy...


Friday, March 06, 2015

02/25 - Ich bin ein Berliner


A few days back I met with two friends for a smoke in the QN Lounge in Effretikon, a really nice smoking spot. One of the guys is living in Berlin now since a few years but he was in Switzerland for some business, the perfect chance to meet after a long while.

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One part of our conversation was - of course - about cigars. New releases - just a handful of them will have a RG of less than 50 - and the biggest joke of the actual festival, the Romeo y Julieta Wide Churchill Gran Reserva! This cigar was considered by all three of us as one of the worst new released cigars and now they make it even a Gran Reserva! Even though Cuba is still a communistic state, HSA seem to be  the biggest capitalists on that planet... squeeze out of it what you can get... For me I can say that those boxes can rott on the shelves...

Back to some positive things... I'd some nice smokes... the El Rey del Mundo Choix Supreme from 1998 was stellar... what a fantastic smoke. The other one... Partagas Series D No. 3, EL 2001... definitely an outstanding good cigar!


Saturday, February 28, 2015

02/06 - 02/17 - Green lights in the sky


A totally unusual location for us to spend our vacation: the cold North during the winter time. But there was a reason behind it... we wanted to see the Aurora Borealis, the magic green lights in the sky which means that you've to go north if you wanna have a realistic chance to see them.

So we left Switzerland in February 6 and took the flight via Amsterdam to Bergen where we boarded on the MS Trollfjord which is one of the post ships of the Hurtigruten. Luckily we'd one of the bigger cabins but even 13 m2 can be really tight with all that stuff you need for the time of the journey.

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The MS Trollfjord




A look at the bar

Leaving Bergen

After the boarding we immediately rushed to the dinner and later we could watch the ship leaving the dock and starting the trip to Kirkenes which would be the return point of this trip. After passing Florø and Ålesund (where we made a city walk to see some of the Art Noveau buildings) we continued our way to Molde. This was the first stretch of open sea called Stadthavet and it welcomed us with the first hurricane, unfortunately not the strongest one we'd on this trip. As it's the first we got an official certificate a few days later, winds up to 40 m/s and waves of 12 m, within the next days it's even more!!

A walk through Ålesund

We continued the trip northward and passed the ports of Rørvik, Ørnes, Bodø, Stamsund and Svolvær, some stretches of open sea, survived a few more strong hurricanes and passed the Arctic Circle on day 4 at 07:12 am. Later in the morning there was an official "ceremony" on deck to celebrate this crossing, all the passangers were baptized with some ice water (being poured in the neck), Neptune spent us a visit to do that... ;-)

Crossing the Arctic Circle

Icewater for the ceremony

The flag which survived 4 hurricanes

Baptizing the passengers

Meeting the MS Nordkapp

Meeting the MS Nordkapp

Lighthouse Kjeungskjær Fyr

The passing of the tight Raftsund and the look in the famous Trollfjord was during the late evening hours, totally dark and stormy with some snow and hail... no chance to take pictures but luckily we could see it on the way back. The route led us over Harstad and Finnsnes to Tromsø where we had another excursion and everybody was waiting eagerly to some of the Northern Lights which have been hidden behind the clouds the days before.

But before there was a chance for the green light we had the dogsledding excursion and it's definitely a great experience. I've visited the dogsledding event in Splügen several times before but it's a different experience to be pulled through the snow by the dogs while sitting on the sled. The dogs that they mainly have here are Alaskan Huskies, looking very slim and untypical because most people are used to the Siberian Huskies and/or the Alaskan Malamuts.




Let's get ready...


Awesome view on Tromsø

The planned departure was delayed due to some repairs at the gangway, therefore the ship was still at the port when the bridge announced the sighting of the first Northern Light of the trip. I felt that nearly everybody rushed on deck 6 to the front of the ship but I was fast enough to be in the front row and have a good view. The Northern Light itself was like a big cloud, not too intensive and spread over a big part of the sky. The first one that I saw and really impressing... I was hoping for more and we've not been disappointed.




The trip was continued then to Honningsvåg, some of the ports between Tromsø and Honningsvåg had to be cancelled due to the problem with the gangway, where an important decision was made. Not only one... but two.

The first one was regarding the excursion to the North Cape which's also on our schedule: canceled due to the high risk of avalanches. Temperatures in the area were surprisingly high and above the freezing point. The second decision was much more important and had an influence in the rest of our journey: due to the very bad weather on the way from here to Kirkenes (winds of more than 40 m/s and waves of approx. 20 m) made the captain to change the route. We took the way back for a very quick stop to Hammerfest, which we skipped before, and drove then to the nice town of Alta where we stayed a bit more than one day.

Luckily Hurtigruten was able to re-organize the scheduled excursions, including our snow scooter safari, and so we dressed up in the morning for this exciting adventure. After a short introduction and safety training we started the tour through the wilderness of the Alta region. Breathtaking views, clear skies and icy tempetatures made it a memorable experience... and btw: riding a snow scooter is really fun! After a tour of approx. 2 hours we came back to the starting point of the tour where we'd the chance to get an impression of the local ice hotel. It's built within one month (December) and is open from January to the end of April... it'll melt away usually in May and rebuilt again in December... from water to water... a closed circuit.



Some "Anti-Freeze" at the icehotel bar

The traveling continued, the storms were over and we saw some really fantastic sundowns, especially while the passing of the Raftsund. We've been there in the late afternoon, it's luckily not dark as the last time therefore we'd the chance to have a view at the Trollfjord, a very famous fjord in Norway.

After the sundown we met another Hurtigruten ship on its way to the North, as always a special happening with the ship horns echoing in the mountains...

Sunddown in the Raftsund

Sunddown in the Raftsund

Entrance of the Trollfjord

MS Polarlys

MS Polarlys

Due to the perfect conditions during the day with clear sky and no clouds everybody on board was hoping for some Northern Lights... and again we all weren't disappointed. We saw some breathtaking Auroras, on some of the pix there's not only green but also a red shine... fantastic!






On the next days the weather stayed perfect, some kind of compensation for the first half of the trip... we passed beautiful areas, small cities and simply enjoyed the nature... One of the attraction which I want to mention separately is the mountain Torghatten. This mountain is located on Torget island and according to the legend "the hole was made by the troll Hestmannen while he was chasing the beautiful girl Lekamøya. As the troll realized he would not get the girl, he released an arrow to kill her, but the troll-king of Sømna threw his hat into the arrow's path to save her. The hat turned into the mountain with a hole in the middle." (Source: Wikipedia)



The Old Man and the Sea


Torghatten on Torget island

On the second last day of the journey we arrived in Trondheim in the early morning hours. We took the chance for a last excursion, the bus sightseeing with a stop at the Cathedral Nidarosdom, an impressing building... and it's not a Catholic but a Protestant church.

Trondheim in the early morning hours

Trondheim in the early morning hours

Cathedral Nidarosdom

Cathedral Nidarosdom

Cathedral Nidarosdom




The rest of the tour after the Trondheim stop was unspectacular and while we came closer to Bergen, the "Capital of Rain" the weather went worse and made it easier for us to say good-bye to this memorable trip. We had a lot of experiences... hurricanes and rough sea on one hand, beautiful nature and awesome Northern Lights on the other hand...