Robaina's plantation

Friday 20 February 2015

Ramon Allones Superiores LCDH Exclusivo 2010 (Cigar Review)

               This cigar was originally released in 2010, 5000 boxes of 10 cigars each were produced. However, although it's not written on my go-to site for Cuban Cigar info, I'm assuming this is a re-release because this box was dated April 2013. The Cigar is considered a Corona Gorda and weighs in at 46 x 143 (5.6").
               I bought this box in Havana about a year ago. I've smoked a couple in the past and remembered them being pretty good, so when I saw a 2013 box, at that price, I snatched it up.
               The one I picked out of the box to smoke was as hard as a rock but had a perfect draw after all. The first half inch gave me an even burn with flavours of chocolate and earth, it was mild to medium in strength. Once I reached the first inch it was more earthy and was getting a little bitter. A little more into the smoke at it was earthy with grass. The bitterness had left by now and it picked up a bit of strength. The burn was absolutely perfect and I flicked the ash around the half way mark...smoking indoors, I didn't want to make a mess.
               Past the half the cigar started to mellow out again. In general it wasn't even remotely strong at any time. The burn went slightly off  and with a third of the smoke remaining it picked up strength again. Smoked it to near the end.
               A gem of a cigar that could use a little time in the humidor. It cost me 57.50cuc in Cuba, how could I go wrong. Now I have to resist not to smoke them all before their time. If you see any when you're in Cuba, pick them up, definitely a good buy. However, with what I've been hearing, you won't find this in Havana....Varadero is a better bet.

Tuesday 17 February 2015

Juanita Ramos Guerra (house roller at Hotel Melia Cohiba lcdh in Havana) My Interview

            This lady has won the hearts of many Cigar Aficionados from around the world, I know a few of them. An absolutely delightful human being that has such a positive aura about her that it's difficult to leave her side. I myself have not had the good fortune of knowing her a long time. I met her several years ago but didn't really get to know her until this interview. I've had friends rant about how spectacular her cigars are. After having smoked a few, they do deserve to be classified up there in the higher echelons of cigar classification but then it all becomes personal taste. What does that mean???....she rolls a really good cigar.
             Juanita was born in Havana on Jan.27, 1956. She was studying to become a teacher when just one year before graduation her father told her to drop out and become a roller. At that time there was a big push to have women rollers, before the Revolution only men were rolling cigars. In 1973 she graduated from roller's school and began working at El Laguito (The Cohiba Factory), a project that had been initiated by Celia Sanchez, Fidel Castro's right hand. Eventually Juanita even taught young rollers here. I found that all very interesting especially since I recently read a book about Celia Sanchez and knew a little about some of the projects that she was involved in, El Laguito included. Juanita is single at this time and has 2 children, both boys ages 30 & 39. Her mother is still alive but her father died recently, he was hit by a car at age 101. I've always seen her in a good mood and anyone I've seen interact with her has always seemed to sincerely enjoy her presence, I have now joined the ranks.
             Below,a list of a few questions I asked her. I hope you find her interesting, I did.

Q. How many cigars do you roll per day?
A. 30-35 per day, sometimes more.

Q. Have you traveled anywhere outside the country?
A. For reasons of work I've been to Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy and I lived in Russia for 5 years when my husband at the time was in the military.

Q. Do you have a favourite Vitola you like to roll?
A. I specialize in Robustos and Lanceros. I learned to roll the Lancero at El Laguito.

Q. Who do you see buying more of your cigars, from what country?
A. The Germans, Chinese, Italians, Canadians and Arabs buy more.

Q. Are you a sports fan?
A. I like Gymnastics but recently I've begun watching Baseball

Q. Who is the most famous person that you know of that has smoked one of your cigars?
A. The Prince of Qatar, Cesar Lopez (famous jazz musician) and Fidel Castro...who's cigar kept going out because he talks soooo much. He later assured her the cigar was excellent and that she did a great job.

Q. Name me 3 people you would love to smoke a cigar with that are dead or alive.
A. My son who is in the US, Alejandro Robaina and Fidel Castro

Q. How do you get your tobacco and who chooses the blend.
A. Head office sends me the tobacco and I decide the blend.

If you're ever in the neighborhood drop in and say hello, pickup one of her cigars and give it a try. You can be sure that they will be one of the better rolled cigars that you'll ever hold.

PS...there has been some talk of misconduct on the part of a salesperson in this store. I'm not commenting either way on that topic, especially since know nothing about that. I can tell you that Juanita has nothing to do with any sales of any boxed product and I've never had a negative experience here.

Hotel Melia Cohiba
Ave Paseo e/ 1ra y 3ra
Vedado, Havana

Monday 16 February 2015

Plaza San Francisco (Havana)

                        The Basilica and Monastery of San Francisco de Asis (where the Plaza gets it's name) were built at the end of the 16th century but a Square of some kind was here before that. It all started earlier that century when Spanish ships would stop on their way back to Spain. A market sprung up at that time, before the church, it was eventually moved to Plaza Vieja. Plaza San Francisco is the second oldest in the city. It has gone through some major restoration since the late 90's. The Terminal Sierra Maestra which faces the Plaza is where the Cruise Ships unload all the tourists. The Lonja del Comercio was the old Commodities Market, built in 1909, it was part of the restorations that were done in 1996. It's now used as office space for foreign companies involved in Joint Ventures with Cuba. The white marble fountain next to the church is called the Fuente de Los Leones (Fountain of Lions), it was carved by an Italian sculptor, Giuseppe Gaginni, in 1836. The statue in front of the entrance to the church is that of the "Caballero de Paris". The statue was made by Jose Maria Lopez-Lledin, it depicts a well-known, kind hearted street person who walked the length of Havana in the 50's, becoming quite famous. The Plaza faces the Harbour and gives it a sense of being very large. It's a beautiful spot to have a drink on the Patio of the Cafe Oriente, visit one of the Art Galleries or enter the Church and climb the Bell Tower for a fantastic view of the Plaza and beyond. This should be on the short list of places to visit in Old Havana in my opinion.

PS....there's also a bank here where you can exchange money or get some from you credit card.

Iglesia San Francisco de Asis

Taken from the front of the bank facing the Plaza from the west side

Casa de Cambio (bank)

Cafe Oriente

Hotel Palacio del Marques de San Felipe y Santiago de Bejucal

Art Gallery

Statue of El Caballero de Paris

La Lonja del Comercio

Statue in front of La Lonja del Comercio

Fuente de Los Leones 

Iglesia de San Francisco

Terminal Sierra Maestra

View from the Bell Tower of the Church