Monday, April 26, 2010

04/25 - First asparagus in 2010


Winter was long but the first asparagus that is grown in Switzerland is available since app. 2 weeks now... on Sunday evening we had the first for this year...

Fried potatoes, a grilled steak and - of course - the asparagus with some Sauce Hollandaise... and not to forget some chilled white wine, in this case a bottle of 2008 Brauneberger Juffer-Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese from the Moselle region.




Ah... that was really good and I finished this nice weekend with another glass of the wine and a '98 Partagas Lusitania....

Life could definetly be worse.


At this time I can only quote a line from a song by R.E.M which said: Living well is the best revenge. Very true words....

Sunday, April 25, 2010

04/24 - It's a beautiful day...


I think this song was written on a day like this..... you'll know what I mean when you see the pix which follow later in this report....

Two weeks ago I got a message from our friend Dave who's in Germany jobwise and asked if we could meet in Kreuzlingen.... it seems he enjoyed his stay in January when he and Dan'd been here...

We met at Portmann's shop around 12 and smoked our first cigar. We, that was Marcel, Dave and myself (Alex joined as later at the Seerhein, Ralf waited for us at the lounge). Very soon we decided that we don't wanna spend the whole day in the lounge and so we took the ride over the border to settle down at the "Seerhein".





What do you wanna more: blue and sunny sky, temperatures around 23 °C / 73 F, a nice location directly beside the River Rhine, good company, good food, cold Hefeweizen and some nice smokes....

The perfect ingredients to make a beautiful day to a perfect day....

Dave took a 3.5 hour ride from Landstuhl to Kreuzlingen, it's always amazing to see what kinda efforts people make to meet fellow smokers.... people that they sometimes only know by activities on boards on the internet.... In this case we met before and unfortunately Dave didn´t have the time to meet Tanja and me when we'd been in the States, but luckily he had to work in Germany again.

The sun was shining bright all the time and I hope that either Marcel or Dave got sunburnt.... my teint is good this morning, but Marcel looked some kinda red... no big difference between face and shirt in the evening...







Later we changed the location and moved back to the lounge.... the temperatures'll go down after the sunset and so it would be more pleasent to take a seat in the comfortable armchairs...



Some more cigars ended up in smoke and we all agreed that we had a very nice time together with good conversation....

My cigarwise highlights of the were a '96 Montecristo Especial No. 1 and the Cohiba Pyramide Reserva from 2003... both very unique and enjoyable....

Dave it was again a pleasure to meet you and I'm looking forward for the next time when you're here. As promised yesterday we'll go to Vaduz to Marc Portmann's shop and if the weather is fine we can maybe smoke some more cigars at my home on the balcony... then you can enjoy the view with which I'll make you guys envious again in  the next months...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

BBQ and Sushi


During our stay in the US we enjoyed some really good food for dinner..... I want to pick out two things: BBQ at Famous Dave's and Suhsi at Hibachi (I didn't make any pix at this fantastic steak house...).

Famous Dave's (we'd been in the restaurant in Delaware) is a paradise for everybody who loves meat, so it was the perfect place for us...

You come in and you know what it is about. BBQ, meat, pigs, chicken, ribs... did I forget anything?








We visited it twice. First time we took the Feast for two, a combo which gave you a good impression of the food they have here: Spare ribs, grilled chicken, fried beans, coleslaw, pulled pork and corn muffin. The meat was perfect, prepared to the point in the smoker.... and surpisingly the corn muffin was something that I really liked.... Never had it before, but I'll have it again for sure...



At the second visit we both concentrated on what we liked the best from the feast... Tanja took a portion of the pulled pork, I stuck to the spare ribs....

What I shouldn't forget are the different sauces that they offer.... 5 different styles:
  • Rich and Sassy
  • Sweet and Zesty
  • Georgia Mustard
  • Texas Pit
  • Devil Spit
They're all not bad, but the last two ones - having hints of spiceness - had been my favorites....

Dave won several prices with his BBQ'd meat and also his sauces.... some of the trophies can be seen in the entrance area of the restaurant....



Another evening, another restaurant. This time Hibachi Japanese Steakhouse in Downingtown.

I like Sushi... and I like big portions.... but Rob did forget to tell us a little detail: the Sushi roll you order, is a ROLL and not only two pieces of the roll as we are used to get over here at the places. Tanja and I made our first order and we wondered a bit about the big plate we got....



But we managed it.... and there was enough place left for some more culinary highlights.

I LOVED the Red Dragon Roll... looks a bit unusual with the sauce on top, but it was really delicious....



This opulent meal was a perfect basis for the cigars which followed it.... but that's another story....


Sunday, April 18, 2010

04/17 - Cuban tobacco legend died - RIP Don Alejandro Robaina


The legendary Cuban tobacco legend Don Alejandro Robaina (20.03.1919 - 17.04.2010) died in the age of 91 on his farm in Cuba.

For many cigar smokers this will be a very sad day. He was the only living person who had a brand with his own name.

"He once told me he was a millionaire because he had a million friends all over the world. He had a big heart and he treated everyone the same," said a friend of the family.

A more detailed report from Reuters can be found here: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE63G1YJ20100417

R.I.P.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

04/16 - Bruichladdich Vertical Tasting


Yesterday I met with 6 other guys for our third Whiskytasting at the Griffins Business Lounge in Kreuzlingen. This time the topic was: Bruichladdich Vertical Tasting.




The Line-up was as follows:


  • Bruichladdich 1998 Oloroso Sherry Edition, 10 yo.

  • Bruichladdich 12 yo., First Edition, Ex-Bourbon Cask

  • Bruichladdich XV, Second Edition, Chateau Yquem Cask Finish

  • Bruichladdich XII, First Edition, Ex-Bourbon Cask

  • Bruichladdich 18 yo., Second Edition, Jurancon (Clos Urolat) Cask Finish

  • Bruichladdich Black Art 1989, French Red Wine Cask Finish


This range was all on a high level and nobody disliked any of them but there where two ones to be the best of the panel, I think it was a head to head race:
  • Bruichladdich XV, Second Edition, Chateau Yquem Cask Finish
  • Bruichladdich Black Art 1989, French Red Wine Cask Finish

Both showed a very interesting balance between the specific woody and salty flavor of the Whisky and the sweetness in the taste which was caused by the finish in the special wine casks.



Due to the fact that we also wanted to have some cigars with the Whisky I did some testing before and found out that the following would match very good:
  • ERdM Gran Corona (also other ERdM's would be fine): this cigar goes along perfect with the 10 and the 15 yo. which have both a certain sweetness (Sherry cask maturation and Chateau Yquem Finish) but also were a good balance to the Vanilla of the 12 yo.
  • Sancho Panza Belicosos: Due to the age the last three Whiskys had some more intensive flavors of the wood and saltiness, but also sweetness because of the different finishs (only the 17 yo. was from an Ex-Bourbon cask)... perfectly added by the Sancho Panza which has some saltiness, also some grassy flavors...


It was another great evening with a nice bunch of guys. We had a lot of fun to discuss cigars and whisky.... and enjoying both....

I have some more ideas for upcoming events.... but before I make anything public I have to think about it.... The last three events raised the bar and it'll be even more difficult to have another highlight...




Last but not least: a big thank you to Max who came from Austria (app. 5 to 6 hrs. ride) to join us... it was a pleasure to meet you again!



Thursday, April 15, 2010

New York - The Big Apple


New York City was the last issue on our sight seeing schedule and on Thursday morning we made the ride to New Jersey where we entered the train to get directly to Ground Zero where the new One New World Trade Center will be erected. A gigantic construction site, hard to believe that the building should be finished in 2012.






For Rob it was hard to believe to see this place now without the two towers, when he'd been in NYC the last time they'd been there. Even for me who wasn't familiar with the area it was a very strange feeling to stand now at that place where the two planes crashed in. 09/11/2001 is a date I'll never forget, it was two days before we took the plane to the Maldives for our Honeymoon.

From Ground Zero it was a decent walk down to the water, the place where all the boats leave for a harbor round trip or directly to the Statue of Liberty.

Where to go?


When you enter the Battery Park which is in front of the waterside you come across a big deformed sculpture. It is called "The Sphere" and is a large metallic sculptur by the German sculptor Fritz Koenig. Originally located between the two towers it has been damaged and was dismantled into its components. Six months after the attacks it was relocated to Battery Park on a temporary basis—without any repairs—and formally rededicated with an eternal flame as a memorial to the victims of 9/11.


Battery Park

We continued our walk throught the Battery Park and saw the very long queue which was waiting to get on the boat which takes you to Ellis Island on which the Statue is located. Crazy... I guess it took you minimum 2 to 3 hours to get on the boat.... We figured out the day before that you have to buy your ticket in advance (and they were sold out) if you want to go up in the Statue, in this case I wasn't unhappy about that. We decided to make a harbor tour which led us along the Skyline down to Brooklyn Bridge, approaching in a big bow in front of the Statue of Liberty where we could take a lot of pictures. To be honest: the Miss was a really nice view but the Skyline which could be seen was maybe more impressing... for me.... it's definetly a big difference to this all on TV or even live....











Feeling really hungry when re-entering the park we decided to take a Cab which took us to Katz's Delicatessen in East Houston Street. We'd been told before that we HAVE TO GO there, and I'm happy we did.

Y'all remember the movie "Harry and Sally"? The legendary orgasm scene? It was at Katz's.




The place was really packed when we arrived there around 2 pm and it took us a while to get the legendary Pastrami.... Some kinda corned beef which has been prepared in a Smoker and is served between two slices of bread.








Another crazy Cab ride and after a while we a arrived at Central Park. Wow... the complete contrary to concrete and noise..... people lying around in the grass, enjoying the sun... another day with temperatures above 27 °C / 81 F.... trees, grass.... very unusual to have it in the middle of this pulsing metropole....






After walking and hanging around there we decided that it's time to get back to the station. And then we made the experience on our own that you can can find in many tourguides: Try to get a Cab after 4 pm! Now I can laugh about it, but it in this situation you're only f'd up if every Cab you see is occupied or "Off Duty".... 30 minutes after the first attempt we'd been among the lucky ones to get one, which took us to the next station from where we took the train back to the parking garage.

A nice day. 3 big cities in 4 days, all completly different but all very interesting.

I know that we only saw a small part of that what all 3 have to offer, but as I said before: those'll be revisited some time in the future....