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The Dude Herf!

As usual and by popular request, follows a short journal of my recent travels. :-) 

I try to visit as many clients and friends as possible during the course of the year and meet up with many friends in Havana, 3 or 4 times a year. Of course, being a mail order Havana cigar merchant and not a retailer with shops, I don't meet as many clients as I would like to, on a day to day basis. So, I decided to cross the pond to the West Coast of the US and over the course of a week I managed to enjoy smokes, drinks, fine food and wonderful conversation with over a 100 clients and friends in Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles. 

I arrived in Chicago after an 8 Β½ hour flight on Tuesday 10th July and certainly needed a good Havana cigar fix! .... My friend Rami Ron picked me up from the airport and certainly didn't disappoint me handing me the most beautiful Dunhill Estupendo immediately as I walked out of customs which certainly hit the spot. :-) 

The afternoon was spent very pleasantly with our US partners Cigar King at their retail outlet in Skokie, Chicago which must be one of the most impressive retail cigar shops I have ever seen. 

A combination of wide screen TV, deep leather armchairs, an enormous walk in humidor, pool table and clearly apparent superb personal service had me truly amazed and impressed. 

If you are in Chicago, don't hesitate to drop into Cigar King for the finest range of non Havana cigars in my opinion available anywhere in the world at absolutely incredible prices...... they are the best! - http://www.cigarking.com 

A very pleasant evening was spent at Mortons Steak House in Chicago with friends including the charming Mitchel Hirsch, the owner of Cigar King, my partner in the US. We shared some wonderful Dom Perignon 1990 Champagne accompanied to perfection with some wonderful pre embargo Havanas including some Upmann Noellas and some pre embargo Henry Clay Elites. 

The steaks were the biggest I have ever seen, the cigars were some of the best pre embargos I have ever experienced and the company was a true delight. 

During my stay in Chicago, I also met up with my dear friend Matt Rousey whom I know from the ICG newsgroup and had the pleasure of spending the entire day and evening with him, including an excellent tour of downtown Chicago and its cigar merchants...... thanks Matt that was a great herfing day! 

A wonderful dinner herf was put on for me by the two Bernies from ASC and their many friends that were a pleasure to meet. The evening was spent at Al Capones Hideaway in Saint Charles, Illinois, which believe it or not was an original 'SpeakEasy' back in the 20's and 30's owned 'by Al Capone'! ...... Bernie and Bernie and friends, thank you for a most memorable evening, I hope the H. Upmann Connoisseur No. 1's were enjoyed by all. :-) 

I also had the pleasure of meeting up with other friends in Chicago including Joe P, Chris and Michael O, and others, and spending time at the beautiful Four Seasons Hotel Cigar Lounge which is certainly a highly recommended watering hole and cigar haven forAficionados......... 
thanks Joe, for a great evening as well as a wonderful city tour, hope to be able to visit your very own Cigar Lounge one day soon. :-) 

From Chicago ........ to LA! 
5 hour flight and of course who else would meet me at the airport but Joe Gellman, who so kindly writes reviews on my Havanas for my website! Joe greeted me with a Davidoff Chateau LaTour which was the perfect greeting to say the least. Full flavoured, rich, complex, 
yet spicy and not overpowering, I was almost in Heaven. :-) We slipped into his Mercedes Sports and straight off to a Kosher Chinese Restaurant for a bit of lunch, which was excellent. 

The evening was spent with perhaps 30 or 40 friends at Schatze's in Santa Monica. This restaurant not only has a superb menu but a beautiful dining area outside where cigar smoking is welcome if not encouraged. 

There were many 'faces' from my favourite newsgroups on the internet including Jenny Green (Filly), Gordon Soladar (GDS Cashcow), Kelly Kimura (Poker), which made the evening all the more enjoyable. I think we rolled out of there at about 3am in the morning. Having smoked some fine Aged Saint Luis Rey cabinet selection Regios and caught up on so much news that can only be done face to face and not over the internet. 

Saturday was spent herfing in style at Kelly's (Poker) house with the biggest barbecue herf I have ever known, as well as the biggest steaks I have ever seen! That said, Kelly has one of the most wonderful cigar collections I have ever seen and is the most incredible, gracious, hospitable and generous host. As well as the amazing tres leche cake that was made for me (which I enjoyed immensely!) the food, wine, rum and just about every other drink imagineable was served and enjoyed amongst many, many guests at what I understand is quite a regular weekend herf. 

Attendees included: Jenny (filly), Starlet, M3Pete, Cyrus (Cydog), Carlton, Jesse, Jeff (Jeffe), Rene, Barry, and many others and a wonderful afternoon was had by all....... To say the least. Thanks Kelly - You are a star!! :-) 

My evening was spent with my good friend Cyrus (Cydog) at the Garden of Eden Nightclub in Beverly Hills which I'm told is the most trendy place to hang out in LA. Together with a truly Bridget Jones Diary style hair raising drive in Cy's Mercedes Convertible (!) and a good 
fight at the end of the evening, just after we left, with the LAPD and their helicopters providing additional entertainment ....... A night to remember!...... thanks Cy! 

Sunday saw me, Jenny and Starlet take an early morning flight to San Francisco (thanks Jeffe, goodness knows nobody could have organised the tickets but you!) to meet up with my friends from Cigar Family as well as the San Francisco Cigar Society and my dear friend Marcia (Cigarqeen) from ASC whom I last saw at Boondoggle in Vegas. Brunch was at Greens on the Marina in San Francisco which was a most delightful and enormous brunch the likes of which I have never enjoyed before and the herfing continued in style at the Canterbury Hotel attended by too many people too recall but to mention a few Kaju (looking like a gangster!), SFDuke, BMW Bruce, the Snyder brothers, Michael Kelson, Sergey, and many others. 

Unbelievable drinks, eats and smokes and I hope all the people attending enjoyed the 1995 Saint Luis Rey cabinet selection Churchills that 
I handed out, I know I did! 

Marcia I can't thank you enough for a most wonderful afternoon. 

The evening was spent with Glenn, Starlet and Jenny at a wonderful Italian restaurant in SF before the flight back to LA. 

Thanks Glenn for organising the entire itinerary of my day in SF, it was better than I could have ever expected. 

Monday was spent having breakfast at Nate 'n' Als with my friends Sandy and Barry enjoying a real LA breakfast of Bagels and Lox. 

Monday afternoon was spent with my friend Barry and his incredible Corvette convertible cruising past Malibu and Venice Beach, as well as taking a terrific tour at high speed through the valleys. Lunch was of course spent at a most excellent restaurant Il Forno with my friend the G Man! Whilst smoking some fine pre embargo Dunhill Don Candido's and enjoying some fine Italian Amarone 1996. 

Thanks Joe, what a wonderful lunch. 

Monday evening was spent with my friends Barry, Jenny and Starlet at the Toluca Lake Tobacco Company which is a most excellent cigar store with a very comfortable lounge attended by the charming proprietor Caesar Milch who is most knowledgeable on not only cigars but antique accessories, including cutters and lighters, a collection of such beauty, I have never seen before. 

Hospitality, second to none and a must for all visitors to Los Angeles. Caesars shop is located at 10143 Riverside Drive, Toluca Lake, California and his phone number is 818 505 8367 The rest of the evening was spent just a couple of doors away at a very top notch Jazz Club and Wine Bar. 

Flew back to Chicago on Tuesday and was surprised to be greeted by my friend Rami yet again graciously offering a Davidoff Chateau Margeau and enjoyed to the last ΒΌ inch before boarding my flight back to rainy London. :-( 

Well it looks like I've got the travel bug yet again! Yes, I travel at least a week in every month but I think my next trip will be to the East Coast and I'd love to get together with my friends, ASC, ICG, CF and other NG's. So I look forward to hearing from you and sharing some fine smokes with you. :-) 

If I've missed out a personal thank you or mention, please forgive me, as it is unintentional and I can honestly say I enjoyed a most wonderful week and sincerely thank every one for a most gracious welcome which I hope to reciprocate in London over the coming months.

Click on the picture to view a larger image
Girls! Sheesh! Girls! And More Girls!
Marcia - CigarQueen! Bruce Marks Hehehe! More Girls!
Smokeymo Driving Barrys Vet 'Men in Black' 'The 3 Snyder Brothers'
SF Duke, Smokeymo, Kaju David Snyder G Snyder, Smokeymo and 
Mr Sea
G Snyder & Smokeymo Smokeymo & Kelly Barry & Smokeymo
Talouca Lake Tobacco Company
Barry & Steve Myers
Mitchel Hirsch & Smokeymo (The Two Mitchells at Mortons) Smokeymo helping out
The Valleys Mitchell & Rami at Al Capones The Chicago Mob
GDS Cashcow, Starlet, G Man and Ted Hirschberger Smokeymo and the G Man! Smokeymo, Poker & Filly
Carlton, Jesse, Rene & Smokeymo Michael Kelson & Smokeymo Frank Seltzer, Cydog and Smokeymo
Starlet, Rene and Frank  Mike (SLR), Tom Matkey and Deem  Barry Victor
Kelly & Jenny M3Pete and Smokeymo Jesse
Jenny, Kaju and GG in SF Kaju, Smokeymo and GG in SF Herfing at the Canterbury
Michael Kelson er.... did I mention the Girls!!! Caeser from Toluca Lake Tobacco
Cyberdawg! Matt Rousey & Smokeymo Matt Rousey with Bolivar 1
Bernie Torvik Smokeymo with Bolivar 1 Bernie Hildebrandt
Joe P, Mike O'Connor, Chris O'Connor, Smokeymo
at The Four Seasons Chicago