601 Steel Girder Review

It’s that time of year in Florida, when things get cold. Now to be fair, if you’re from New England or the mid-west and you were to visit Southwest Florida, you would probably think the weather is perfect. For those of us who call Florida home, a high in the mid-50s is a cold day. We break out the patio heaters if we want to smoke on our lanais (that’s a screened-in patio for non-Floridians), and wear thick sweaters and our heaviest coats. As I get ready to smoke the 601 Steel Girder, I have the heater going and am cozied up with my electric blanket. And yes, it’s a bone-chilling 58 degrees.

CI-6ST-ANVM Size: 6 x 52

Wrapper: Nicaraguan Habano Oscuro

Binder: Nicaraguan

Filler: Nicaraguan

Strength: Medium-Full

Body: Full

The cigar is firm to the touch and has a couple visible veins. The aroma off the foot of a cigar has a lot of cocoa and the cold draw is distinctly cocoa as well.
First Third
I am greeted by a blast of peppery flavors from the initial half inch of the cigar, which is not surprising for a Nicaraguan cigar. The flavors do smooth out a bit as I continue, with some spices on the front of the palate and a lightly bitter wood on the finish
Second Third
The second third of the Steel Girder introduces some salty nutty flavors on the front of the palate. The finish has a slight metallic quality.
Final Third
The final third of the cigar has strong woodsy notes on both the front of the palate and the finish. The finish also brings back the strong peppery flavors from the first half inch of the cigar.
Overall Thoughts
601 single and box For the most part, the 601 Steel Girder has a fairly typical Nicaraguan cigar flavor profile. It is a stronger cigar in both body and strength, so it is probably best smoked later in the evening after a good meal. The cigar was solid in construction, with an even burn line, easy draw and no need for relights or touch-ups during the smoke.

If you are interested in lighting up one of these, you can order them online here.

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Posted by on January 26, 2015 in Review


Montecristo Relentless Natural Toro Review

Ahhhhh, the warm weather of Florida. It’s our first day back from visiting our families for Thanksgiving, and though it really isn’t the “frozen tundra” we make it out to be, there was some snow on the ground and the temperatures were far below what we’re used to at home. For me, that means at least 3 layers of clothing and unfortunately, enjoying only a couple cigars during our 5-day trip. So needless to say, I’m very happy to be home, reunited with my puppy (sleeping on my feet as I smoke) and enjoying a cigar. While up north, I made the mistake of smoking a couple fuller bodied cigars after not having smoked anything for a few days. I usually have a very strong constitution when it comes to smoking strong cigars, but they left me feeling a bit woozy so I’m easing myself back into things with something on the mild/medium side of things, a Montecristo Relentless Natural.

CI-MTR-MAGN Size: 6 x 54

Wrapper: Ecuadorian Connecticut

Binder: Mexican San Andres

Filler: Nicaraguan and Brazilian Mata Fina long filler

Strength: Medium

Body: Mild-Medium

The cigar is firm to the touch with no spongy areas. The wrapper is very smooth looking, with no visible veins. I’m getting a light earthy aroma with some cocoa off the foot of the cigar. The pre-light draw is mostly earthy with a bit of anise.
First Third
As I light this cigar, I get a lot of toasty flavors on the front of the palate. It may sound odd, but I can only describe the finish as somewhat bread-like in flavor. The cigar is producing some nice volumes of smoke and produces a full creamy feel in the mouth. I tend to smoke cigars a bit more quickly than some, and I find out early on with this stick that puffing too often is causing a slight sourness to develop on the finish. Once I start to take my time, the finish smooths out nicely.
Second Third
The transition into the second third of the cigar is very smooth, with creamy flavors developing on the front of the palate and some nutty notes on the finish.
Final Third
The final third of the cigar brings some woodsiness into the flavors both on the front of the palate and the finish. It’s a very smooth flavor though, and not harsh like some woodsy cigars can get.
Overall Thoughts
CI-MTR-MAGN5PK The Montecristo Relentless Natural was an enjoyable “welcome home” for me. Though milder in body and strength, the flavors were somewhat complex and very smooth. The construction was excellent, with an easy draw and a very consistent burn. Even though I walked away from the cigar for a couple minutes here and there, the cigar stayed lit. This would make a decent morning cigar with coffee, or first cigar of the afternoon or evening.

If this sounds like a cigar you would enjoy, you can order them online here.

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Posted by on December 3, 2014 in Review


Bow Tie Copper Label Robusto Review

A review of the Bow Tie Copper Label Robusto.

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Posted by on June 19, 2013 in Review


How to Make Cuban Coffee With a Stove-Top Moka Pot

This post comes to us courtesy of my husband, Jeff (@jeffjumper on Twitter). Both of us, but especially Jeff have loved a good Cuban Coffee (Cafecito), which until recently we could only find in Miami. We were also treated to Cafecitos when we toured the Perdomo factory in February 2012. Recently, Jeff did a bit of research on how to make these delicious treats at home. He obtained the Moka Pot he needed, and since has been making Cafecito at home on the weekends. After posting pictures on Twitter, he got multiple requests for instructions on how to make these and typed up these easy-to-follow instructions. The first part deals with making espresso and using the Moka Pot in general. At the end, you’ll find the tweaks necessary for making Cuban Coffee.

This is the Moka Pot we have, though there are Moka Pots with more capacity.


How to Make Cuban Coffee With a Stove-Top Moka Pot

A moka pot does not make espresso by modern standards, although it is espresso as it used to be before WWII.

Seasoning the pot (when it’s brand new or has sat for a long time)

  1. Clean the pot thoroughly–no soap or vinegar–just wipe it down throughly with a paper towel and water.
  2. Make a pot (or a few pots) of coffee using spent grounds and then throw it away.

Making a pot of coffee

  1. Unscrew the top part of the moka pot and set it aside. Take out the filter basket.
  2. Fill the bottom part of the moka pot with water to the pressure gauge line. This should be about 50ml for each cup the pot makes.
  3. Drop the filter basket into place and add coffee grounds.
    • Use 1 rounded tablespoon (approx 1oz) of finely ground coffee (espresso grind works fine for me) for every 50ml of water.
    • So for a 3-cup pot, 3 tablespoons of coffee and 150ml of water. (Some people say it’s better with 40ml/cup, so you can experiment.)
    • Do not tamp the coffee. The coffee will expand when the steam is forced through it, effectively producing its own tamp.
  4. If you find the grind is too fine, you can punch a few holes in the coffee grounds here to allow for aeration and for the water to seep through more easily.
  5. Screw the top part of the moka pot into place.
  6. Put the pot over medium-high heat (8 out of 10 on my stove works best) and wait.
  7. Rather than shut the lid, some people like to leave the top open and put an upside-down teaspoon over the funnel to keep the coffee from spitting everywhere. This allows you to see when the coffee starts coming out without the potential mess.
  8. My 3-cup pot takes about 8 minutes for the coffee to finish.
  9. Remove from the heat when you hear the throaty sound of the coffee sputtering. Take the pot off the heat at the moment it starts bubbling. Earlier, and you don’t get that tang to the taste. Later, and the taste turns bitter and nasty.
  10. Pour into an espresso cup and enjoy.


  • To find the right temperature for the stove:
    • If your coffee comes shooting out of the spout, your water is too hot.
    • If the water is just barely dribbling out of the spout, turn the temperature up a bit.
    • It’s better for the coffee to come out too slow than too fast.
  • If the water boils and escapes through the top but doesn’t condense and turn into coffee in the pot, the problem is usually the rubber seal that separates the lower and upper halves. Check for stray grinds on it. Replace if necessary.
  • If no water is flowing through the grinds, you may have too fine a grind and/or are tamping the grounds. Don’t tamp the grounds! Fine grounds packed tightly will effectively make a barrier which the water will have a tough time rising through.
  • You are trying to dance the line between enough steam pressure to get the water to flow without boiling the water. The slower you heat the pot up the slower it will brew and the closer to an acceptable water temperature you’ll get. During the 8 or so minutes it takes to brew with cold water, less than a minute of that time coffee is flowing into the upper pot.
  • Muck with your grind/fill (don’t tamp!!!) until you are grinding as fine as you can and not clogging the thing up. There shouldn’t be any steam sputtering out into the upper pot while the coffee is flowing.


  • If you use the pot every day, just a rinse with water after use will be all that’s needed.
  • If you let the pot sit for a few days without use:
    • The coffee oils will go rancid and you’ll need to scrub the pot out and re-season it.
    • Cleaning all the old coffee residue off with a wet paper towel will prevent the oils from turning rancid.
    • If you use it infrequently its probably best to wipe it clean after use, no soap, no vinegar, just water.
  • Allow to dry upside-down on a towel. Never screw back together when wet. This will trap moisture and make the inside of the pot gross and the next coffee taste bad.
  • The bottom part just holds water and doesn’t get covered with coffee oils. Water and vinegar can be used to clean it if the calcium build up gets too bad.


  • Sicilian coffee is made by adding a teaspoon of brown cane sugar per cup to the upper part of the pot before putting it on the stove. Stir after brewing.
  • “moka grind” coffees, fresh out of the package, are almost like wet sand–a bit clingy and damp due to the oils–but will dry out a bit in a week to be more like dry sand. The basic moka pot rule is to use a grind slightly finer than drip but not as fine as espresso. That said, espresso grinds I’ve picked up at the local grocery store have worked fine.
  • It is best to fill the moka pot to its full capacity. The coffee turns out better if you fill it up, otherwise the water doesn’t flow through the coffee grinds properly. Chill any extra coffee and make iced coffee.
  • Fresh coffee has a better chance of producing a good crema, but moka pots are not good at this and you shouldn’t expect a crema like you would get from a local coffee shop.
  • You can use a wider variety of coffee in a moka pot, both darker and lighter roasted than traditional espresso roasts, although the lightest roasts do better as French press or drip.

Cuban coffee (cafecito)

Make coffee the way you normally would above except with the following additions:

  • Measure out 1 tablespoon of sugar per cup of coffee into a Pyrex measuring cup (or anything else that you can stir rapidly in).
  • When the coffee starts coming out into the top of the pot, pour a quarter-sized amount into the sugar and put the pot back on the stove to finish brewing.
  • While the pot finishes brewing on the stove, use a spoon to vigorously stir the coffee and sugar in the Pyrex. You’re trying to make a paste. Get it nice and smooth and shiny.
  • Once the coffee has finished brewing and you’ve got your paste, slowly stir the rest of the coffee from the pot into the paste in the Pyrex.
  • Pour and enjoy.
  • Here’s a YouTube video that shows how to make the paste. It’s long (10 minutes) and winding, but the last few minutes at the end where he stirs the paste and pours the coffee into the Purex is very good:
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Posted by on February 11, 2013 in Uncategorized


Epicurean Gonzo Trabajador Review

A review of the Epicurean Gonzo Trabajador.

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Posted by on October 16, 2012 in Review


Off-Topic… Valentin Imperial Maya

I apologize in advance for my off-topic post and promise not to do this often, if ever again. As you may have noticed, I don’t do a lot of written blog posts. When I do, it’s because I’m very moved, moved enough to write something that I hope others find as interesting as I do.

Almost four years ago, my new husband Jeff and I took our honeymoon at an all-inclusive resort near Cancun, the Valentin Imperial Maya. It had been and remains the only all-inclusive resort either of us had been to. It made such an impression on us that four years later, we decided to do another vacation there again. I had vague memories from our earlier trip, but our main reason for returning was to have a relaxing vacation. We have both been very taxed lately and needed a week completely free of any worries or stresses. Having been back at the resort for just one and a half days I’m remembering a lot of the reasons we loved this place and learning a few new ones.

This resort has a beautiful cigar lounge. Prior to our honeymoon, Jeff and I would smoke mostly on weekends, and maybe one or two evenings during the week. The cigar lounge at the resort gave us a quiet place to go at night and ruminate about the day or whatever else we felt like discussing. We smoked every evening that we were here and when we got home, the ritual of after dinner smokes every evening continued automatically. I don’t think we even realized that our honeymoon was what got us into that pattern until recently when I tried to think back to when it started. Since we now smoke in the mornings (on weekends for both of us, every day for me since I work from home), we figured we’d try to do that while on vacation. We were a bit unsure about the resort’s smoking policies, but knew that the cigar lounge opened late in the afternoon and thought our balcony would give us a place to smoke. On this visit, we ended up with a first floor “swim-up” room which means we have lounge chairs just feet from the pool. We lit up a cigar on our first morning and not only did nobody complain, we had passers by say they enjoyed the aroma. We have since tried smoking poolside or while in the pool and so far, no issues. We have been very respectful and smoked only at the edge of the pool with an ashtray on hand. We don’t want to litter the gorgeous pool or pool deck with ash or tobacco flakes.

Something that has particularly drawn me to the resort this time are the people here. Everybody is so friendly, especially when I attempt to converse with them in their native language. I’d like to go on record and say that I don’t speak much Spanish. I took 5 years of Spanish in high school, oh, several years ago and have only had the opportunity to use my skills 3 or 4 times since. But the folks here appreciate the attempts and are extremely friendly. The waiters banter, and our poolside bartender Jorge spent 5 minutes or so talking to us about his life and family. He was very surprised to see a female smoking cigars, but suggested a couple of drinks he thought would compliment the cigars. He made us mojitos with Havana Club (Cuban rum) and told us he made them a bit stronger than usual so that they would go well with our smokes. It turns out he smokes cigars, one or so a month (cigars are very expensive here) and was thrilled when we gave him one from the stash we brought with us. The grin on his face warmed our hearts.

Another bonus about this resort is the food. Our friends who frequent all-inclusive resorts complain about the food quality. This resort has 8 amazing restaurants and they all serve excellent tasting food. We were at their Indonesian restaurant tonight, and had excellent lamb and duck dishes. The meat was very tender and the portions were just right. The Indonesian restaurant is styled with a kitchen that’s open to the dining room. I would have envisioned a hectic kitchen at this resort, and while every spot of this place is immaculate, wouldn’t have pictured a perfectly clean kitchen. This kitchen was immaculate. Every surface was spotless, and I noticed the 2 chefs washing their hands every couple of minutes. It wasn’t for show, they really are concerned about cleanliness. The dishes not only taste great, they’re also presented beautifully, similar to upscale restaurants we’ve been to at home. They’re also seasoned perfectly, not too much or too little. As a fan of Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares, I’d love to see Gordon Ramsey’s take on the cuisine and kitchens here. I’d like to think he would give them an enthusiastic vote of approval.

Some miscellaneous notes… Havana Club is available at all the bars. They don’t have the best scotch selection – Johnny Walker Red and Black is as good as it gets. They do have a sports bar that has NFL Ticket so we were able to watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game today.

For those of you still reading this post, I’m not sure why exactly I felt compelled to write this post tonight. Maybe it’s because we’d love to recommend this resort to our friends, especially friends looking for a cigar-friendly vacation spot. While we’re not surrounded by many B/SOTLs, we feel welcome and free to enjoy our cigars at most outdoor spots and the cigar lounge. It’s a great place to come to for a couple of days or longer to get away from the daily stresses of life and be around great people. Just one note of caution – we learned on this visit that you are only allowed to bring 25 cigars per person into Mexico. We brought about 40 each for a week (for variety, and heck we may just smoke them all) and got selected randomly for a customs sweep of our luggage. They valued our extra 30 smokes at $500USD and taxed us $100USD. It could have been worse, they could have confiscated our extra sticks, but just wanted to extend this warning.

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Posted by on September 16, 2012 in Uncategorized


Dona Flor CC Bahia Blend Robusto Review

A review of the Dona Flor CC Bahia Blend Robusto. Find out more about Dona Flor at

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Posted by on August 17, 2012 in Review