Good Food, Great Cuban Cigars and the Grandest Company: Part I
At the beginning of this week we spent some time with Cuban Cigar experts which gave a deeper and more meaningful understanding behind the making of Cuban cigars. Over the course of two days we got to know four individuals who have a first hand insight into Cuban Cigars and Cuban Culture, painting it in the most majestical and magnificent light, despite its hard-comings and the tough times it has seen.
Despite the Encuentro Amigos de Partagas Festival ending on the Saturday, the festivities continued as we were fortunate enough to have some dear friends and very important individuals in the cigar industry join us on our journey to La Noche del Tabaco, an intimate party held by Brixia C.C., Cigar Club Colli Morenici and Miramonti Cigar Club in Cologne, Italy. These guests of honour included Juana Ramos Guerra, expert torcedor at the Hotel Riviera in Cuba, Zoe Nocedo Primo, director of the Museum of Tobacco in Havana, Ramon Iglesias Centeno, sculptor and photographer and finally Angel Miranda, producer of craft, bespoke humidors.
The time we spent with these experts in Cuban Cigars is something unlike no other, giving us exclusive access to the world of their craft and the very essence behind the making of them.
We set off on our six-hour journey to Corteno Golgi from Matelica in jubilant spirits, which didn’t falter all the way there. As we passed from the beautiful landscape of central Italy to the tip top of the country in the alps, everyone’s breath was taken away by the sensational views. Sunflower fields gave way to cobalt lakes reflecting the azure skies and mountains still with a dusting of snow on its peak in places stood tall and proud under the hazy sun.
We finally arrived at Albergo Miramonti in Corteno Golgi, a quaint village on the mountains and we sat for dinner, where we were able to really get to know our guests. (We’ll be publishing exclusive interviews and videos of these interactions on our Cuban cigar blog at a later date).
We enjoyed talking about many different Cuban cigars for sale over dishes like this Mussel Linguine, served with locally sourced white wine.
From the very beginning, Juanna Ramon Guerra (Jaunita) blew us away. One of the sweetest, charismatic people we’ve ever had the opportunity to meet, we magnetised to her constantly, as many others obviously do too. Her smile radiated the room and she spoke animatedly of her home town, Havana and told us tales of her job as a torcedor of over forty years. She is but a book of short stories herself!
We also spent some quality time with Zoe Nocedo Primo, who has been the director of the Museum of Tobacco in Havana for over 20 years- the director was a fountain of information and one that we drank from thirstily. A professor in History and Philosophy, Zoe was wise in her years and made us aware of just how much history and culture there is in the craftsmanship of tobacco, which we'll be talking about later.
Over the course of the day we were able to watch Ramon Iglesias Centeno in his element as he captured everything on his camera. Ramon has photographed many a legend, including Cuba’s revered tobacco grower Alejandro Robaina and it was very obvious that despite being a sculptor, photography is his first love. Nevertheless, that’s not to say he is not just as talented in sculpting as he is photography, creating unique and beautiful custom ceramic jars. In fact, we’re now very proud owners of some ourselves, which will definitely be holding our most prized Cuban cigars.
Ramona Iglesias Centeno feeling very comfortable in Albergo Miramonti's beautiful cigar lounge.
And finally Angel Miranda, who is the prestigious Cuban artist behind the most exceptional and inimitable humidors was one of a kind, just like his art. Evidently passionate about his work, he showed us many pieces and spoke with such animation it was impossible not to share his adoration of it, which of course we already did.
Our very first day with our Cuban friends ended with us smoking cigars in Albergo Miramonti’s cigar lounge before taking our Cuban rum outside and enjoying the fresh air of the alps- needed after the nicotine rush we got from the Cohiba we were smoking.
The evening was well spent listening to Cuban music and getting some very much need lessons in dancing from our Cuban friends. Tomorrow would include interviews with our guests and a tutorial in Cuban cigar rolling by the legend Juanna Ramon Guerra herself, amongst many other things. It was time to take our last toke on our Cuban cigars and get some rest.