Sunday, January 30, 2011

Punch London Club Maduro

Cigar: Punch London Club Maduro

Shape: Petite Carona

Country of Origin: Honduras

Length: 5"



Wrapper: Ecuadoran Sumatra

Filler: Honduran, Nicaraguan, Dominican (Piloto Cubano)

Binder: Connecticut Broadleaf

Price: $4.50

This is not a cigar for beginners. Punch has a reputation for smack you in the face cigars, and this little rocket does not disappoint. If you are a fan of stronger cigars then this little guy would be a great inexpensive addition to your smoking line-up. If you are just getting into heavier cigars, or have never smoked a maduro, I would not recommend this for your first. Don't get me wrong, I like this little cigar pretty well, but it is not for the faint of heart, and more than likely your wife or significant other will not appreciate the pungent aroma. This little guy has a very nice bitter sweet chocolate aroma when unsmoked. It is fairly well constructed, but a little soft. The appearance is not bad either, but the wrapper is fairly vienny and not overly oily. It lights well, and burned even enough for the entire smoke time, which was around 30 minutes. The ash was sturdy, but not dense enough to win any records. The flavor was pleasant, but predictable for an inexpensive little maduro. It was spicy and leathery throughout with earth tones at the start. What really struck me about this petite carona was the smoke. The smoke was a nice white color, but the surprise was in how incredibly thick the smoke was. The smoke from this cigar was so thick that it would cling to my face when I exhaled and I almost had to shake it off at times, and it didn't just dissipate either, this smoke hung in the air like a blanket, continuously moving and twirling about with a slow lazy ease which seemed almost ethereal. Needless to say, Shaylen and the dogs were not very appreciative of this quality, but I found it rather amusing to watch. So all in all the Punch London Club Maduro isn't going to win any prizes for beauty, or outstanding taste, but the smoke itself will obscure it's competitors. Here is my final score:

Appearance: 6/10

Aroma Unsmoked: 8/10

Construction: 7/10

Flavor: 7/10

Smoke: 10/10

Overall: 7.6

Fondest Regards,

A little Linguine, a little Crab Mushroom, aaaaaay fuget aboud it!

So I have been on a recipe epiphany for the past few weeks, coming up with some great new ideas that have turned into truly delicious meals, and I would like to share two of my newest and most delicious creations with you. Enjoy.

Linguine with Bacon & Mushroom Cream Sauce

1 box of Linguine, we prefer Barilla
1 lb. Bacon
2 8oz. Sliced Mushrooms
1 Pint of Heavy Whipping Cream
1 Stick of Butter
1/4 Cup of Sour Cream
Salt, Pepper, & Garlic Powder to taste

Cut your bacon into bite size pieces. Brown the bacon and mushrooms together in a large pan until the bacon is cooked but not super crisp, and the mushrooms and soft. Drain the excess grease from your pan and then return it to your stove top. Add the whipping cream and the stick of butter to your bacon and mushroom mixture and combine until the butter is melted and the mixture has become creamy, probably around five minutes over medium high heat. Taste your mixture and then season to taste with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. By this time your noodles should be cooked, so drain them, but do not rinse them, and then add your noodles to the cream sauce and combine. Enjoy.

Crab Stuffed Mushrooms

4-6 Large Portobello Mushroom Caps
1 Container of Whipped Cream Cheese
1 Cup of shredded Swiss or Gruyere cheese
The Juice of 1 Fresh Lemon
8oz. Lump Crab Meat
Panko Bread Crumbs
Olive Oil
Salt, Pepper, & Garlic Powder to taste
Parsley & Paprika for garnish

First I have to tell you that these are amazing, addictive, and extremely rich. Take your crab and go through it making sure to pick out any remaining pieces of shell. Rinse your crab and pat dry if you have purchased pre packaged crab meat. Combine your cream cheese, Swiss or Gruyere cheese, lemon juice, and crab meat. Salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. Let set up in the fridge for approximately 30 minutes. While your crab mixture is chilling take your mushroom caps and clean them thoroughly remembering to remove any stem pieces present. Brush the outer parts of the mushroom caps and place them onto a baking sheet. Pour a small amount of olive oil into the bottom of your mushroom caps and then fill the caps with your now chilled crab mixture. Melt 1/2 stick of butter and combine with about a cup of panko bread crumbs. Sprinkle the buttered crumbs over the top of your filled mushroom caps and then sprinkle them with parsley and paprika. Bake at 350 for 30 to 45 minutes or until the bread crumbs are golden brown and delicious. Serve hot and enjoy the rapture that will follow.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and let Shaylen and myself know about your experiences making them.

Fondest Regards,

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Cao La Traviata Divino

Cigar: CAO La Traviata

Size: 5 x 50 (Divino / Robusto)

Wrapper: Habano (Ecuador)

Binder: Cameroon

Filler: Dominican Republic and Nicaragua

Strength: Full

Price: $6.50

First I want to say that I am a big fan of the CAO brand, and the La Traviata was no exception. This extremely affordable cigar went above and beyond many cigars that I have had, and was extremely pleasant to smoke. The appearance of the cigar itself is quite nice, with a classic old world style band, even color, and solid construction. The initial smell of the cigar was sweet and pleasant. Upon lighting the flavors of coffee and anise were immediately present with just a touch of pepper. This little beauty mellowed out after only a few puffs and was extremely consistent throughout with flavors of tea and coffee. The smoke was a milky off white, and was thick, but not overwhelming. The Divino burned perfectly even the entire smoking session, and did not become overly harsh or hot even when I neared the nub. The ash was consistently thick and light gray, and only fell from the cigar when prompted. I smoked this cigar down to ashes, and had a wonderful time doing so. I would definitely recommend the La Traviata to CAO enthusiasts, experienced smokers, and novices alike. The La Traviata would satisfy the full bodied enthusiast and would be an excellent choice for those smokers who are ready for their first dalliance into fuller bodied cigars. I am rating the La Traviata Divino as follows:
Appearance: 9/10
Aroma unsmoked: 9/10
Construction: 10/10
Flavor: 9/10
Fondest regards,

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Staying Warm with Shay's Cheesy Potato Soup!

Well friends, the White Death is upon us again today, and with an overnight low of 6 degrees Fahrenheit, we must make use of our comfort foods!
I tweaked this recipe a few months ago and I thought I would share it with you all, just in case you are FREEZING like us! It is important to remember that these are guidelines, and you must always taste your cooking, and make it your own!

Shay's Cheesy Potato Soup

-1lb. pack of bacon, chopped

-2 medium-large white onions, diced

-1-2 cloves chopped (or 1-2 tbsp minced) garlic (in a pinch, you can skip this and season to taste with garlic powder later)

-3/4 c. white wine or domestic beer (may omit if you don't like this flavor)

-5lb. bag of red potatoes, diced. You may peel if you like, but I don't.

-2 2lb. cartons of chicken stock

-1 2lb. "loaf" of velveeta

-2 pints heavy whipping cream

-1 bunch green onions (for garnish, may omit)

-Shredded cheddar cheese (for garnish, may omit)

Chop up a pack of bacon and fry it in a LARGE stock pot. Remove the bacon from grease and set aside.

De-glaze the pot with some (no more than 3/4 cup) white wine or domestic beer.

In bacon grease, cook two chopped onions until they begin to become translucent. Add garlic towards the end of this phase, but not too early (so you avoid burning it).

Add chopped red potatoes, and add enough chicken stock to cover them (usually at least 1.5 large cartons, might be up to 2).

Cook the potatoes.

Add chopped velveeta and heavy whipping cream. You will add the heavy whipping cream as needed/to taste. The amount you need will vary based on how much bacon grease you end up with, how much of everything else you used, etc. Basically, you're aiming for creamy, rich, and unhealthy!!!

Let ingredients mix thoroughly.

Season to taste with salt, pepper, garlic powder, etc. At this point, you may want to add some of the shredded cheddar to thicken things up, or make it more cheesy.

Serve topped with bacon, shredded cheddar, and green onions (if desired).

We Poor Connoisseurs like to enjoy this with soup accompanied by "Cheddar Bay" Biscuits. (You can find the biscuit recipe on a box of Bisquick, add some shredded cheese to the dough, and then top with garlic butter and parsley.)

Most importantly, ENJOY! Also, if you take a statin-blocker, you might want to double up your dose before this meal!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Diamine Lavender Fountain Pen Ink

Diamine Lavender is a great color! This is a lovely shade of purple that is nice and cheery without being over the top or in your face. Diamine's take on lavender is perfect for Spring, but is also dark enough not to be an annoyingly difficult to read novelty ink.

This ink behaves really well, though may be just a bit on the dry side. The drying time was very acceptable, and on Rhodia, Lavender exhibits no feathering or show-through. There is some shading, but in the grand inky scheme of things, it is not going to win awards for it. This ink is definitely NOT waterproof!
This ink is a good middle of the road purple, not too red or too blue. As far as red/blue qualities go, it compares well to the Purple Varsity, but Lavender is obviously lighter in shade.

All in all, this ink has become a quick favorite. I procured this one in an ink sample exchange, and I definitely want a full bottle when the time comes. Yet another winner from Diamine!


Sunday, January 9, 2011

I'm fixin' to get edjumakated.

School starts tomorrow! Yikes!
I know most of you don't care, but just in case Statistics is as difficult as I am afraid it is going to be, I may not be able to update as frequently.
I do have a few inks that should arrive tomorrow: Private Reserve Daphne Blue, Diamine Hope Pink, Syrah, and Kelly Green. With all of those excellent new colors to play with, I am hoping I will not abandon you, we just might not get to see each other as often as I'd like.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

We could all use a little "hope" in 2011.

Okay, misleading title, I know, I know.
This is just another fountain pen ink review... but it is for a very, very, very, PINK ink!
Diamine Hope Pink, to be exact.
Hope Pink is just about as pink as you can possibly get an ink, and I love that! I'm pretty sure I have had my hair this exact color before. The color is great, not too purple, or too red. It is bright and happy without being annoyingly in-your-face (in my opinion, anyway). I wanted to find a pink that was the same color as my pink Pilot Varsity, and this ink is almost identical to it.

This ink behaves well in just about every respect. It is not waterproof, but doesn't claim to be. It flows nice and smooth, with no feathering on Rhodia paper.  The dry time is about average.
I was slightly disappointed with Private Reserve Rose Rage, but where it falls short, Hope Pink picks up and soars!
I purchased this Diamine ink as a sample from The Goulet Pen Company, and I most certainly want to get a full bottle!


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Diamine Jade Green Fountain Pen Ink

When I think "Jade" green, I think more along the lines of this color:
This Diamine ink is not that color, but it is indeed fabulous. (Wouldn't an ink that color be great too???)
A Google Image search shows that the actual Jade stone varies wildly in color, and a few examples do exhibit the color of this ink.  Having learned this, I can't quite say that this ink has an official misnomer, but it could be confusing. To me "Jade Green" is "lime" green, that borders on chartreuse depending on the lighting.
That said, I still love this ink, and now that I know to research examples rather than buy ink based on names, I did purchase this ink because it looked like lime green.

The color, again, can best be described as a lime green. It is very bright, but stops just short of neon. This color would likely be considered too "loud", and perhaps even obnoxious by more conservative fountain pen users. If you have trouble reading bright or light inks, this would not be a good choice for you. I am posting both photographs and a scan, but the color in person seems much more like what the photographs show. The scan is too light and too yellow, and adjusting it did no favors. This ink does lean a little yellow, and thus looks chartreuse in some lighting. It is not an annoyingly obvious aspect of this ink, but it is there.

This ink is about as well behaved as they come. Great flow, no feathering, and no bleed-through. The dry time seems a bit lengthy in my test, but I don't notice it when writing normally (like you do with say, Noodler's Black Swan in a flex nib). There is noticeable shading using this Safari B nib, and it really adds a nice touch to the overall appearance of this ink on the page. I suspect that in a dry, fine nib, that this color may be too light to read easily.

This ink is NOT waterproof, but makes no claims to be.

Since this ink is so light and bright, I decided to do a "highlighter" test with it, where I just scribbled it over a black Sharpie Pen sample. I think I could work, especially if loaded into an appropriate tool.

(Scan of written review)

I ordered this ink as a sample from The Goulet Pen Company, and I wholeheartedly intend to buy a full bottle. I love this ink, and now I am craving some Key Lime pie!

Happy 2011 readers, and may your writing adventures be fun!