Last night my wife, Jennifer, and I drove up to Matawan, New Jersey to attend a cigar dinner hosted by the Smoker’s Haven stores, Victor Vitale, Gary Macchione, with special guest Armand Assante. The dinner was held at Sterling Gardens, a banquet hall. Since smoking is forbidden indoors in New Jersey, they had set up tables outside on the patio in front of the building for smoking. Our $65 tickets covered a four course meal and two of the new Ora Vivo Armand Assante cigars, a 5 x 54 Robusto and a 7.5 x 58 Double Corona. I chose the Robusto for a pre-dinner smoke, which was spent talking to Victor about the cigars, as well as his Tortuga line. The 5×54 was a nice smoke. It’s on the milder side for a Nicaraguan puro, and the burn was perfect. I always marvel at a nice, flat ember on a cigar, it’s a testament to the blending and rolling art. It’s a sophisticated, complex blend that’s quite satisfying.
We sat down at our table with a non-smoking retired teacher with a screenplay he wanted to give to Armand, and three women. It turns out that two of these women were there because it was a cigar dinner primarily! We ended up making some new friends, I think. We had interesting conversations about all topics including cigars. We lucked out with excellent company. While we were enjoying the first course, which was a nice fruit plate with melon, pineapple, grapes and kiwi, Victor got up and talked about the Ora Vivo cigars, and answered cigar related questions from the crowd. He then introduced Armand Assante who shared his involvement and experience with the cigars. After a Caesar Salad, the main course was served. Jenn had the salmon, and I had beef and it was very good. Armand took questions about his career and films from the crowd after the main course was served. Several of us were chomping at the bit to get out to the smoking area for a cigar, this was, after all, a cigar dinner. I, much to my regret, missed the dessert, which was cheese cake. I love cheese cake.
I lit up the Double Corona which I’ve smoked before and didn’t regret missing the dessert quite as much. I think this larger size displays more sweet tobacco flavor than the smaller size I smoked earlier. It’s larger than I normally prefer, but it was a pleasant evening and I was among friendly and interesting company. The burn was also not as razor straight as the Robusto, but that hardly impacted the experience negatively. We ended up standing there outside until after 11 PM talking with Victor and Gary after everyone left. I admit that my biggest disappointment of the evening was that Armand didn’t hang around and have a cigar with us. My second disappointment was that they only took cash for box sales (Armand was autographing boxes. Not that I’m a sucker for celebrity autographs, but it would have been pretty cool, and the prices were decent for New Jersey). I know several people who would have bought a box if they had taken credit cards, and it’s very easy to do on modern phones these days. Other than that, it was a great evening out. We met some super people, smoked some tasty cigars and had a good time. It’s very fortunate that it was a relatively warm evening for early November in northern New Jersey. Thanks to the folks at Smoker’s Haven, Victor, Gary and Armand for the great evening.
We took a bunch of picture, none of which came out very well due to the lighting and lack of experience with a different camera. Fortunately Victor shared a few pictures with us. Click on one of the pictures for a slideshow. I’ll try to mooch more pictures and add them to the slide show.
That’s all for now. I think I may have to take a Tortuga for a walk this afternoon! Somewhere I came into possession of a yet to be released Tortuga 215 Reserva En Cedro in a rally nice classic corona gorda size. Until the next time,