Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nero's rotating dining room discovered in Rome

Archaeologists in Rome have unearthed what they think are the remains of a circular rotating dining room that belonged to the Emperor Nero.

They say it was probably his banqueting hall that imitated the earth's movement so he could impress his guests.

Cities in Sound has three wonderful Audio Guides around Rome: From the Forum to the Colosseum, The Spanish Steps and the Trevi Fountain and The Award winning Heart of Rome Walk

More details and Video report on the latest discovery click here.

Smoking Cigars in the rain in London?

Sautter of Mount street is a charming little traditional Cigar store in Fashionable Mount Street Mayfair.

It has been selling Cigars since Desmond Sautter started his business 50 years ago and developed a world wide reputation as a the pre eminent supplier of pre Revolution Cuban cigars in London.

It is the second cigar store on The Cuban Cigar Walk London and as part of the celebrations for their 50th year Johnny Burman has produced a range of umbrellas so that you can smoke your cigars even in the most inclement London weather.

There is a choice of three umbrellas but this one caught our attention because it has a hollow handle with a spring loaded mechanism which is designed to accommodate one of your finest cigars so you need never be without a cigar what ever the weather.

For more details please visit the Sautter web site

Sunday, September 27, 2009

A great home for your Cigars in London - The Ultimate Humidors - Part Two

While I tramp the streets of London in search of cigars and stories and likely locations to include in my Audio Guides I frequently make extra ordinary discoveries. I recently visited the Tom Tom shop in London where four of the Hunters and Frankau / Linley limited edition humidors are currently on display. They looked great in the pictures but they look totally stunning in the flesh. 

They are due to move on soon and I will try to keep track of them and let you know where they are but I thought you might like to see some pictures. To see part 1 of this Blog item and more details on these amazing humidors follow this LINK

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cigars over London - Huge cloud of Havana smoke spotted over London

Recently a group of Cigar smokers who first met on the UK Cigar Forum on the internet got together to walk the Cuban Cigar Walk London and then in the evening smoking cigars by London's river Thames to celebrate one year of the forum's existence.

A group of 20 completed the Audio Guide and for the first time we used radio head sets which ensure that everyone hears the guide simultaneously.

We lunched at the wonderful Red Lion pub in crown passage and many bemused passers by could not understand why the old gas lit alleyway was filled with vast clouds of cigar smoke on a quiet September Saturday afternoon.

We ended the walk at the Churchill Museum Cabinet War rooms and a group of 14 of us made our way into the museum where you can see Sir Winston Churchill's war time head quarters and the remains of one of his exceptionally well chewed cigars.

In the evening we met up with a larger party at a great pub calledhe Doggetts Coat and Badge on the South bank of the Thames overlooking Blackfriars Bridge and proceeded to produce huge clouds of Havana smoke.

One of the advantages of smoking cigars with a group from an internet forum is that everyone posts a note to tell you what they smoked and of the 12 that smoked here are the details:

They smoked a total of 54 cigars

The most cigars smoked by one person was 8 (Lascau)
20 different brands and 44 different types of cigars were smoked of which over 98% were Cubans

I did a quick check and the most popular brand was Hoya de Monterrey with the most popular cigar being the R&J short Churchill

The full list of cigars smoked was:
Hoyo De Monterrey -Petit Robusto, Epicure Especial, Regalos, Depute, Epicure No 2, Double Corona
San Cristobel -Moralles
Juan Lopez - No 2, Petit Corona
Cohiba - Sublimes, Esplendidos, Robusto, Siglo IV, Siglo V, Genios
Cuaba - Distinguidos
Ramon Allones - Corona, Small Club Corona
Montecristo - No 2, No 4, Sublime, Edmundo, Open Regata
Bolivar - Royal Corona, Petit Corona, Belicosos Finos
El Rey Del Mundo - Demi Tasse
La Auro - Leoninos
Partagas- Charlotte (1998), P2, D4, Lusitanias
Por Larranaga- Belicoso Extra
Punch - Petit Corona, Double Corona
Romeo & Julietta - Short Churchill, Dukes
Trinidad - Fundadores
Upmann - Magnum 48
Vegas Robaina - Famosos
Non Cuban - OPUS X, Placeres Reserva, Dunhill Petit Corona

As you can imagine the smell on that terrace was wonderful and the few drops of rain didn't spoil a great evening.
Same time next year everyone?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Trinidad Robusto T launch seminar at Boisdale

A short while ago I wrote here that I had seen the new Trinidad Robusto T cigars at Davidoff in London which is one of the stores on the route of the Cuban Cigar Walk London, and today I got to sample one in illustrious company on the wonderful cigar terrace at Boisdale

And what a great evening, when you consider that these cigars retail for £21 each, we got a cigar a glass of the new house no 4 claret and an extremely instructive introduction on this great new cigar from Simon Chase of Hunter and Frankau for just £25. 

There were only 10 lovers of fine cigars at this inaugural Monday evening event and Simon started the evening by giving us a potted history of the Trinidad brand, which is named after the beautiful 16th century city of La Santisima Trinidad which is on the south coast of Cuba and is a Unesco World Heritage site.

Simon explained that Trinidad cigars were first released to the public at the beginning of 1998 but long before that they had been Havana’s mystery cigars having been first produced at El Laguito, the Cohiba factory , but in very small quantities for distribution by the Cuban Council of State.

Cigar Aficianado confirmed their existence in it’s first issue. Trinidads became the holy grail of cigar enthusiasts, mainly because they were almost impossible to obtain. Prices rocketed and it did not take the cigar industry long to decide to fully launch the brand.

The essence of the original cigars was taken by Raul Valladares who is a Master blender of tobacco, known as the ‘Maestro de Maestros’ (Master of Masters), he softened the flavour to produce an aromatic fragrance with a medium flavour.

The new Trinidad Robusto T was announced at the Festival del Habano in February 2009 and has just landed in England.

The Trinidad Reyes has been one of my favourite cigars for a while now, I find it extremely complex and tasty without being too strong and overbearing.

It’s big brother the Robusto T has the same complexity but is more muscular. Simon took time to explain to us the way the cigars are constructed and why we should anticipate different strengths and we worked through each third of the cigar due to the construction of the cigar and it’s filler.

I always learn something when I smoke a cigar with Simon and it’s not surprising with the years he has spent in the business but what also helps is that he is such a charming host.

If you are in the London area I suggest you quickly get the details of a future event and try it for yourself.

The next event is on the 26th October between 6pm and 7pm at Boisdale and will include the Bolivar Petit Belicoso (5’’ 52 RG) and a large glass of Hennessy 1982 Grand Champagne Cognac to drink as you smoke.

With the masterful Simon Chase to host the event, talk you through the background and history of the brand and the new cigar, I can't imagine a better place to be on a cool Monday evening in October than on the Terrace of Boisdale under the heaters with some good friends and a warming drink.

For more details and to get tickets go to the Boisdale web site  You can also register here for updates on future events.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Every office should have a Cigar Park?

It's not an uncommon site to see people standing outside an office having a quick cigarette. But if you are a cigar smoker you normally make your pleasure last a little longer than a 5 minute break.

While I was visiting the office of Hunters and Frankau recently I spotted a wonderful device in their 'Out Door Smoking area.

If you smoke cigars you might like to consider getting one of these your office.

Each of the cigars is held on it's own little numbered 'shelf' and there is a small roof to keep the rain off.
So you can enjoy a cigar break throughout your working day.

What a great idea, every good office needs a 'cigar park'.

Cuban Cigar Walk London

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Beautiful little now you see me, now you don’t Humidor

Walking around London, smoking great cigars and meeting wonderful people, what could be better? And it’s what I do for a job.

I am currently getting ready to do a group audio walk of the Cuban Cigar Walk London where we will be taking a group of about 20 around the four cigar stores in Mayfair and St James.

I popped in the oldest store on the walk, JJ Fox and Robert Lewis. This store first opened it’s doors in 1787 and it has so much history they have even opened up the ‘Cigar Museum’ downstairs. It has lots of great history including what are reputed to be the oldest cigars in the world.

The first cigars were shipped to London in about 1830 and in a case at the far end of the museum you will find two glass cabinet containing cigars of the La Cabanas brand and these are some of the first cigars shipped to the UK and it is believed that these are probably the oldest cigars in the world.

Having supplied cigars to England’s Royal Family for many years the list of past customers is long and distinguished and includes Tsars of Russia, Lord Salisbury, Bing Crosby and the Bengal Lancers Regiment.

As I entered the store the staff were demonstrating the most exquisite Humidor or cigar case, to me it looked like something out of a Harry Potter film.
As you will see from my pictures it has a small knob on the top which when turned rotates each individual face of the case to reveal holders for three cigars.

I was quite captivated by this wonderful little treasure. You can see many more fascinating objects like this at the Cigar Museum at JJ Fox and Robert Lewis which is on the route of the Cuban Cigar Walk London.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Venice opening times!

I visited Venice this summer and saw this great sign in a shop window which captures a very relaxed Italian attitude to commerce.

Although we do not have Audio guides for Venice yet, if you are visiting Italy we have three wonderful Audio guides for Rome including the award winning “Heart of Rome” Audio guide where you will discover the best ice cream in the world.

To hear samples and to find maps of the three rome audio guides follow this link:
Cities in Sound Rome Audio Guides.

I tested them all recently and have some snippets of information to give if you are heading for the eternal city so keep watching my blog for new posts in the near future.

Alfred Dunhill's little devil - The Tweenie Devil

The Cuban Cigar Walk London visits four of the finest retailers of Cigars in London including the new home of Alfred Dunhill at Bourdon House.

Built between 1723 and 1725 Bourdon House is the former home of the Duke of Westminster, the Grade 2 listed Bourdon House is an oasis of Luxury and calm in the hustle and bustle of London’s Mayfair.
If the weather is fine there is a court yard where you can have a coffee and enjoy your cigars purchased from the wonderful humidor in the basement.

On the wall of Alfred Dunhill’s stylish London home, outside the exclusive Alfred’s Club you will see a polished brass plaque bearing a strange looking mystical figure. This is the Tweenie Devil, a sign of Alfred’s devilish sense of humour.

In 1893 the young Alfred Dunhill took over control of his fathers business making all of the accessories that the carriage owning Gentleman of the time required.

But although he was only 21 years old, Alfred quickly realised that the invention of the motor car posed a serious threat to business.

He changed the name of the business to Dunhill Motorities and started to produce a wide range of luggage, waterproof coats, in fact all of the accessories required to make the motor car luxurious and exclusive.

On the boot of Alfred’s own car was the Tweenie Devil, a grinning figure thumbing it’s nose at all those left in it’s wake.

Today it is possible to get a pair of Tweenie Devil cuff links from Alfred Dunhill stores. I have a pair and they never fail to start a conversation.

To hear a sample of the Cuban Cigar Walk London go to The Cities in Sound Web Site.