Robaina's plantation

Tuesday 24 July 2012

Cohiba Piramide 2008 (cigar review)

                 This cigar came in  a box with four other torpedoes as you can see from the photos. It was released in 2008. This was the last of the 5 cigars that I smoked from this selection. Being a Cohiba fan, it took an awful lot of energy on my part to have held off this long before smoking this cigar. I'm glad I waited. I smoked this on the last long weekend in my city. It was cigar number 3 of 5 of the day.
                  It had a light coloured, slightly bumpy, almost veinless wrapper. The pre-light draw was woody and leathery. This stick was rock hard and had a slightly firm draw but was ok. The burn was almost even. Once I started smoking it, it became very woody and was a little better than a medium body. The burn was almost perfect and I don't quite know how to explain it but it was a very full medium body. The burn was perfect, very unusual for a Cuban. At about the quarter mark the ash fell on it's own.
                   Past the third mark, picking up hints of nutmeg but still very woody. This was a gritty cigar and a solid medium but building up strength close to the half-way mark. At the half-way mark the cigar was woody and earthy with a bang on perfect burn. Past the half-way mark the ash fell on it's own again and the cigar was beginning to taste a little bitter. Changed up again and by the time I got to the last quarter it was a very pleasant smoke.
                   As I neared the end I was getting strong wood once again and it was picking up strength. It was one of those done to the end smoke. It picked up strength as I neared the end and finally gave it up.
                    This was a very nice smoke. I'm sure it could have aged comfortably for a few more years but I couldn't wait that long and it's the only one I have. I wish I had a bundle of these smokes to sit on.

Monday 23 July 2012

Hotel Parque Central (Havana) Lobby & Cigar Shop

                 To say that Havana is full of cigar shops is an understatement. There are shops I'm sure I have yet to discover. Don't get me wrong, it's not a bad thing. One of these shops that no one hardly mentions is the one on the second floor lobby of the Parque Central hotel in Old Havana. I have never actually sat in it but have peeked in on a couple of occasions. I never see anyone there and often think this would be a great place to have a smoke and get away from all the confusion and noise of the city. It has a few comfortable chairs, a tv and a small selection of single cigars and a few boxes. I don't know if I would by my cigars from there but that's only because I have my regular places I buy from. If someone was staying at the hotel, this would be a good spot to start. The people that work there seem to be pleasant. One day I'm going to hide in this place and have a smoke. Here are some pics of the spot so you can judge for yourself.
                  I almost forgot to mention that this hotel has a rooftop pool and restaurant with an excellent view.  It's on my to-do list the next time I'm there. Someone mentioned the hamburgers are good on the roof. I must give it a try. Perhaps on my trip next week. If I go I will write about it again for sure and include some pics taken from the roof.

Address: Neptuno e/ Prado y Zulueta, Habana Vieja, Ciudad de la Habana, Cuba

Sunday 22 July 2012

El Aljibe Restaurant, Havana (cigar shop)

               For a cigar lover Cuba is a paradise. Not only can you smoke just about everywhere, you'll also find some pretty decent cigar shops in the most unlikely of places. I wouldn't find a kiosk selling cigars in a restaurant unusual but an actual store..... The 'El Aljibe' restaurant is one of these places in Havana that has a cigar shop on the property. There's even a tiny smoking area even though the shop fills with smoke the instant someone lights up. This is not a large shop and the selection isn't huge but you'll see by the pictures it's not bad and actually there's a pretty good selection of singles being sold as well as the boxes.
                So if you happen to be in Havana heading to the 'El Aljibe' restaurant and forgot your cigars....don't worry, you can buy whatever you need at the restaurant.

Thursday 12 July 2012

Castillo de Los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro (or Castillo el Morro) Havana

                     The Castillo del Morro sits pretty, guarding the entrance to Havana Bay across from Old Havana. One of the oldest lighthouses in Cuba, built in 1846, is on the fortress grounds. The fort itself was built between 1589 and 1630 by the Spaniards who were the rulers there at the time. This fortress, as well as others on the island, was designed by an Italian military engineer, Juan Bautista Antonelli. At that time it was built for protection from raids. There was a heavy copper chain that linked the fort to another across the bay in Old Havana called 'San Salvador de La Punta' or just 'La Punta'. It would block unwanted ships from coming into the bay. During the time that Havana was encircled by a huge wall, the city would lock it's gates at 9pm and whoever was out would be left outside the protection of the city until the gates opened in the morning. The firing of a canon from the Castillo would indicate 9pm or the lockdown of the city. The wall surrounding the city is long gone (you do see pieces of it in parts of the city) but the tradition of the firing of the canon at 9pm goes on. It's all done up with the people (actors) involved wearing period clothing (military outfits) and going through a long procession with a slow march to drums all the way to the canon. It's all very nice and touristy with the torches in the night, someone barking orders and the wide sweeping exaggerated movements when loading the canon. The canon actually fires, not a cannonball of course, so it's really loud. It can be heard across the bay which is what it was meant to do. The whole thing takes about 40 minutes. It's completely dark before 9pm so a regular flash like the one I have won't be any good. I no longer own one but a video camera with night vision could probably pick it up. If you go just for the evening canon shot, it's a nice way to spend a couple of hours before or after dinner. A quiet walk along a cobblestone street, through a souvenir market and past the restaurants (offering the usual Cuban fare) to get to your destination.
                  To enter the Castillo El Morro during operating hours costs 5cuc which gets you access to everything within the fort walls including the lighthouse. Apparently you can go up the lighthouse, which I didn't know at the time. The inside of the castillo is set up with various exhibits within the different rooms depicting the history of the time through artifacts and pictures. There's also a little snack bar and a 3 piece band playing the traditional Cuban music that all the tourists want to hear. I wasn't writing this blog at the time of my visit so I'm sorry if I'm a little brief on the details and the pictures aren't better. I can say that there was enough to keep me occupied for a good 40 minutes. The view of Havana from this side of the bay is alone worth the cost. The cab ride from Old Havana will cost you about 5-7cuc one way to get the fort.
                   While you're on that side of the bay and you've already paid to get there, you might as well go to the other fort 'La Fortaleza de San Carlos de La Cabana' or just 'La Cabana'. It's only 1/2 mile away and has a cigar shop that holds the worlds longest cigar at 36 feet. I bought my first 2 boxes of cigars in this store when I was part of a one day group tour into Havana. They were the Bolivar Belicoso and the Hoyo Double Corona. Not far from there you can also find the 'Cristo de La Habana' that was unveiled in 1959 by the then President Batista. It's a majestic 66 ft. statue of Jesus blessing the city of Havana. Hopefully the restorations are done if you decide to go and you can actually see it. It's had scaffolds around it for a few months now. I've never eaten around here but some people have told me 'La Divina Pastora' with views of the fortress from the patio has some nice dishes but I can't say from personal experience.

hours   8am - 8pm
fee       5cuc

The Lighthouse

El Morro taken from Old Havana

Plaza San Francisco and the Harbour

Old Havana

Entrance to the Bay

Entrance to one of the Exhibits

Walk to the Canon

Cristo de La Habana

La Punta