I like to support locally owned and established businesses whenever possible.  I also like to savor a good cigar now and then.  So when I was walking down Gay Street toward High Street the other night and passed the Don Rey Cigar Shop at 11 East Gay, I had to turn in and check it out.

As its name suggests, Don Rey offers premium cigars and tobacco products.  It is a relatively recent addition to the Coolest Street in Downtown Columbus, and I’d not visited before.  The shop has a nice, open space with a seating area and an extensive selection of cigars lining the walls.  I met the proprietor, a very friendly and extremely enthusiastic cigar aficionado who made some knowledgeable suggestions for me.  He also disclosed that he hand rolls his own cigars, from a blend of Puerto Rican and Dominican tobacco, right there in the shop and gave me one for free — which seemed pretty darned generous.

I’ve never smoked a cigar that was hand-rolled by a person I’ve actually met before, so I was intrigued to give the cigar a try.  I enjoyed it last night with a glass of wine, and it was excellent.  In fact, I’d say it is one of the best cigars I’ve ever puffed.

If you’re on the Coolest Street in Downtown Columbus and feel like enjoying a cigar, stop by Don Rey and try one of the hand-rolled offerings.  You won’t be disappointed.


First Cigar In A Blue Moon

IMG_4952It was a fine day — one that needed to be capped off with a fine cigar, an H. Upmann, courtesy of Burning Leaf Cigar Shop on South High, and a few Blue Moon Wheat Ales, as I finish the last few pages of Stephen King’s It.

Blue Moon.  An interesting name.  The title of a great rock and roll song from my childhood (bop-a-bop-bop-a-dang-a-dang-dang-Blue Moon), and the name of a diner that Kish and the boys and I used to frequent when we visited Mom and Dad’s condo in Stuart, Florida, years ago.  An odd coincidence, perhaps.  But then, life often seems like a circle.  Perhaps it’s not so odd that I like an adult beverage called Blue Moon, too.

It’s a memorable occasion when you enjoy your first cigar in your new place, on a bright, crisp spring day when your dogs are lolling in the grass.

Frenchmen Street

Tomorrow Richard, Russell, UJ and I are heading off to New Orleans.  On this “boys weekend” trip, our needs are few.

We want to watch live music at every venue on Frenchmen Street, from the Blue Nile to the Spotted Cat Music Club.  We don’t really care what kind of music it is, as long as it is live.

We want to visit the New Orleans Oyster Festival and eat oysters until we just can’t stand it anymore.

We want to eat Cajun food that is so hot and spicy that the collars of our shirts ignite spontaneously, without the need to add Tabasco sauce.

We want to drink Dixie beer that is so cold that it hurts your teeth to chug it.

We want to smoke cigars that are as long as a man’s leg.

Yes, New Orleans is in our future.  Our needs are few.

The Penny Chronicles

My name is Penny.

IMG_3645I am usually hungry.  When I am hungry, I look for food.  When I see something that looks like food, I take it.

Yesterday my hunting turned up a promising item.  It was brown, which is a good color for food.  My food in the morning and night is brown.  And it was in one of those shiny wrappers.  Usually those shiny wrappers are put on good food.  I’ve seen the old boring guy put this kind of thing in his mouth, too.  So when I saw it on the counter, so I grabbed it.

When I bit it though, it wasn’t good food.  It was dry and dusty and crumbled against my teeth.  It tasted bitter, too.  Yuck!  So even though I was hungry, I didn’t eat it.  That should tell you something about how bad it tasted.  That’s the last time I ever take the old boring guy’s recommendation!

When the old boring guy got home and saw the brown thing, he was mad.  I don’t know why.  I left it for him, didn’t I?

Bourbon Street, April 21, 2012, 1:30 a.m.

Few places in America, perhaps, can match Bourbon Street on a Friday night.  The flood of humanity, the debauchery, the awesome, unrelenting, potentially debilitating drunkenness — this is what has made our country great.

Well, perhaps not — but it certainly has made our country unique.  The opportunity to smoke a cigar, drink Abita Amber beers, and then toss gaily colored  beads to drunken, overweight people reeling down the street after midnight has to count for something.

Enjoying A Good Cigar

Last night Richard and I decided to splurge for the holidays.  On our way home from work we visited the Corner Beverage shop, bought some different kinds of beers, and also purchased two cigars to smoke while playing cribbage.

After we got home we took out the cribbage board, played a few games at the kitchen table, and listened to some music.  We cracked open the patio door so that we wouldn’t leave the kitchen too smoky and then lit up our cigars.  They were Padrons and were quite good — rich, yet not too heavy, and well-suited to accompany an IPA or a brown ale.

I quit smoking years ago, but I like to have a cigar now and then.  I don’t and wouldn’t smoke them regularly, but they are a fine way to celebrate a special occasion.  A good cigar, a friendly game of cribbage, some spirited conversation, and a well-made malty beverage are an excellent way to ease into the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.