New cigars! Great cigars! I am positively beside myself with joy and happiness!

I generally associate anyone or anything written containing more than one exclamation point to be excessive hyperbole. Writing as such is generally unforgivable. But not in this particular case.

And I believe I have only used the phrase ‘beside myself with joy and happiness’ to reference only the truly extraordinary: minor miracles, time spent with my daughter, you get the idea. However, to say it again, at this moment I am verily beside myself with joy and happiness!

Why? Because I just received my long awaited for and much anticipated package of cigars from my dear and truly amazing – generous to a fault – friend, Mike. I found I was dancing around the package singing some nonsensical refrain that had its long forgotten origin from childhood. It was a pirate style song where the captain and crew roar together in unison, joyously celebrate the finding of an immense treasure. (Childish perhaps, but therein lies the root of true joy.)

Insert – Mike: words alone cannot express my gratitude. If I could, I would be on the next plane to Singapore tomorrow to give you a big hug and an embarrassingly big kiss (and I don’t as a general rule kiss men).

For my few readers out there let me explain.

I’ve learned several valuable lessons from my friend, Mike over the years (7-8?) – that’s how long I’ve been following his blog and what might quite possibly be the best set of blog posts that exist in one place on the web today. I’ve read every single word he has ever posted. He’s that damn good. And he writes about the real world – stuff I am interested in – in a honest way.

Note: I’ve tried to read other people’s travel posts, thoughts on food and culture – stuff I am interested in – and without question, their single biggest failings, one and all, is their shared banality. It is impossible to write good and original prose if it isn’t honest. If it isn’t original – from the heart – it’s not honest.

Switching gears. Two valuable pieces of advice that I have received from him recently were life-changers, albeit minor, but life-changers nonetheless.

First, he advised me to be ‘mysterious and aloof’. I was vacillating on how best to treat my loathsome ex-in-laws at my daughter’s recent wedding and that was the winning strategy I employed. I would have never thought that up on my own, so thanks Mike.

Second. I gave a rather modest review of the cigars I took to the wedding – great white ash, even smoke, great draw, overall good flavor, etc. – but I dinged them slightly for lacking a lengthy (and personally most important) sweet spot. That’s the part of the cigar that I can best describe as tasting like the best porterhouse steak on the planet.

Mike replied with a quiet but firm suggestion that I needed to look for other flavors in a cigar and not just focus solely on the size of the sweet spot. Damn! Was he right, or what? I brought a leftover box back from Oregon and concentrated on enjoying each remaining cigar based on those merits and I have to say that my enjoyment factor more than doubled.

Those Olivia Series V Melanio Robustos were some seriously fine smokes and my bias made me initially over look the proverbial tree for the forest. (Did I say that right?)

But Mike was partially to blame. Yes, that’s true. This package of cigars wasn’t the first that he had sent me. One package contained many extraordinary sticks, like 2-3 of the remarkable Cuban Cohiba Behikes. Have you ever smoked a $100 cigar? I know I hadn’t. But perhaps the most amazing cigar I’ve ever smoked – also included in one of those packages from Mike – was one of the legendary Cuban Partagas Lusitanias. That cigar was grilled porterhouse from start to finish. I smoked it down to where it was literally burning my fingers. I wanted to take the remaining half inch stub and roll around on it like dogs sometimes tends to do on a highly attractive dead, smelly animal; it was that damned good.

I’ve often told my daughter¬† – who has now herself experienced a limited few of life’s greatest pleasures – is that having the absolute best of anything can ruin a person for everything else. Example. Once you’ve had sushi carved delicately table side from a living fish served up on a bed of ice (west coast of Honshu) there is no sushi second place (anywhere) that comes even remotely close.

But as my inestimable friend Mike has reminded me, [even after the best] you need to find your way home again.

And that is precisely what I am going to attempt to do with each and every different cigar he sent me in this latest collection.

Mike precisely told me that he wanted to send me a few of his favorite non-Cubans so that I might find new and other flavors in cigars to appreciate. Awesome. I was beginning to learn that lesson from the remaining few Olivia Robustos but I look forward to continuing the challenge by way of comparison.

Thanks again, my friend. Expect me to write a review for every single last stick you sent. And for that I too am grateful. I love writing about food, drink, and cigars. And now I’ve got plenty of new stock to write about.

PS – Happy Hour starts in forty minutes. That means a fine cigar and some decent booze. Cheers one and all!


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