What a lovely evening it was yesterday, to take me away from what had been a challenging pre-Full Moon day, and forget about the world out there, at the Habanos cigar-rolling demonstration held at Luvey ‘n Rose. It made me realise how fortunate we are to have so much to experience in our beautiful city.
Luvey ‘n Rose was opened by Ignatius Claassen on Rose Street last year as an Art and Antique Lounge, and one of its attractions, in addition to its collection of art work and antique furniture offered for sale, is its good cappuccino, friendly barista, and nostalgic Buena Vista Social Club, which music is perfectly paired with the cigars they offer for sale. My father was a passionate cigar smoker, and it was worth going to Luvey ‘n Rose’s new home on Loop Street just to enjoy nostalgic sniffs of the cigar smoke-filled venue. Interestingly the attendees were predominantly men, but the women that were attended were passionate cigar smokers. I spoke to one lady, who confirmed that she smokes cigars regularly, but would never touch a cigarette.
Roque Perez Rodriguez has worked for Habanos S.A. in Cuba for the past 30 years, the company being a state-owned cigar monopoly in that country, controlling the promotion, distribution, and international export of cigars. To control the distribution of Cuban cigars, only one company per country has the distribution rights. Just as Roque demonstrated cigar-rolling to us, the Habanos S.A. cigars are each hand-made. We could buy the cigars at R200 each, and I bought two for my son, coming home for a visit and special occasion next month. I asked how long they would keep, and was told that Cuban cigars can be stored for 6 years, as long as they are in a 16 – 18 °C space, and wrapped in plastic. It is unbelievable how the cigar leaves, called the wrappers, are filled with off-cuts, which are held together with binders, and then tightly wrapped and rolled, can look so perfect when completed, each cigar slightly different in length. There was no better ‘advertisement’ of the cigars Roque was rolling than him smoking a very long cigar while he was doing the demonstration. He only speaks Spanish, but Rosie from Luvey ‘n Rose was on hand to translate our questions.
Charles Vieira works for The Cigar Company, ‘Purveyors of Cuban Cigars‘ the business card says, in charge of the Western Cape region. The business card lists 25 Cuban cigar brands his company distributes in South Africa, including Montecristo and Romeo y Julieta. He is accompanying Roque for the demonstrations around the Cape, one last one taking place today at Curiosity Hat in Somerset Mall. Charles is Venezuelan, and speaks with a lovely Spanish accent. He was nervous initially about providing information, due to the tobacco legislation, as suppliers and retailers may not be seen to be advertising tobacco products. He relaxed when I told him that it would go onto Social Media platforms. He explained the cigar making process, saying that cigars are blends, just as wines, different brands having different tastes, which is achieved by the cigar leaves used to make the cigars, the cigar-master having a secret recipe as to which leaves are used in the cigar blends – the higher on the plant the leaves are picked, the stronger the cigar is, while the lower leaves give a milder cigar. Charles told me that Cuban cigars are banned in the USA. The best-selling cigars in the world come from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
At the function Bisquit Cognac had set up a stand, and two friendly barmen from Barcode offered tastings of the noble cognac, the 30 year old being smooth, and absolutely delicious (and relaxing) with a few cubes of ice, removing all the stress of the day. We spoke about cognac and cigar pairing, both having a fresh, earthy, nutty, and woody taste. Brie, matured cheddar, and Parmesan cheeses had been sourced from Wild Peacock, and were offered with bread from Jason’s, strawberries, and grapes, a simple feats, and a good pairing between the cheeses and cognac.
Luvey ‘n Rose, 66 Loop Street, Cape Town. Cell 083 5577 156 www.luveynrose.co.za Twitter: @Luvey_n_Rose
The Cigar Company, Cell 083 719 7828 (Charles), Tel (011) 325-2085 www.premiumcigars.co.za