Deep in flavor. Deep in your mind.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Kap's Lock Picks 12.01.15

PORTLAND MEADOWS
Noon PST Post

1: 4 Golden Storm Cat
2: 6 Vertical Lift
3: 1 Osmosis
4: 3 Boots Gray
5: 6 Striding for Gold
6: 6 Mr. Shobiz (E)
7: 7 Halo's Quest
8: 6 Memphis Mobster
9: 8 Decisive Fact
10: 7 Master Bubba

"Don't bet the dough dough."
IT'S CYBER MONDAY, gentlepersons -- but not for a whole lot longer -- so head on down NOW to my good pals at CIGARS CITY and fill them stockings, Goyim!

Mailbag Monday for 11.30.15

I'm hanging my Chanukah lights. Not a lot of time to chat. Where's my ladder? Here's yer Mailbag.
"How can I break into handicapping horse races?"

I whole-heartily embrace your decision to play the ponies. There remains no better way to make a million bucks, so long as you start with a billion bucks. Especially if you play my picks.

Start with this 'simple' three-prong attack:

  1. Settle on playing a single racetrack - get the story of the track. Know the riders and trainers, in particular.
  2. Stick with two year-olds. Overly-simply, the fastest horses are more likely to win here. 
  3. When in doubt don't. Failing that, go with the bigger barns. They usually get the first pick of talent.

Always remember: don't bet the dough dough.
"What does 'Don't bet the dough dough mean'"

It's a reminder I leave at the end of every pick/tip sheet I post. Means: don't bet the bread money. Might also allude to an extinct bird.
"What's the difference between herring and sardines?"

Canned-wise, seeing as that's the extent of my passable knowledge: not a heckuva lot. Often they're the same fishes under a different label in a different can.
"What's the most important aspect in your cigar grading?"

So important that it near goes without saying, is construction. Without a decent draw and a cigar which remains cigar-shaped -- ya got nothing. All the nuances and complexities mean nada if you can't get to them.

Beyond that, and more a pet peeve of mine, is don't dare me to smoke. Don't flavor bomb or nicotine blast me with a nose burning and/or head spinning stick. I don't often eat steak, and when I do, I don't drown it in ketchup. Too, please do not threaten me or challenge my 'man card.' I ignore threats and if you worry about keeping yer man card -- you're a boychik.
"Can you post more pipe tobacco reviews?"

Yes. Too, I should. Lastly, I shall.
Whilst I have yer att'n:
PORTLAND MEADOWS
Nov. 30th - Noon Post

1: 8 Chickadee on Fire
2: 3 Alliwannabeisgone
3: 2 Thinkin of Girls
4: 4 Quattro Dude
5: 3 Caymus Kat
6: 7 Cat King
7: 9 Curlew Slew
8: 8 Grand Destination
9: 2 Kiri's Gal
10: 5 Dubonnet
I KEEP FORGETTING TO REMEMBER:
Please, please, PLEASE ALREADY! Check out the Yiddish musical styles of one Mr. Anthony Russell. Nu? He's performing at The Kennedy Center in Washington, DC this coming March, epis!

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Covadonga Doble Capa King Corona - Cigar Review

PROLOGUE
1:00pm-ish
I don't see why me ordering an order of dry white toast needs to constantly be commented on by every server I order from ever. I mean, I didn't comment on your coffee being drek, latest waitress to quip "Big eater, huh?"

Although I suppose I just did.

Nevertheless, I cannot recall the last time I had an opportunity to smoke a Barber Pole. Therefore, I'm considering this a rare and somewhat festive treat.

THE CIGAR
Covadonga Cigars
Doble Capa King Corona
Habano Ecuador/Candela wrapper (Barber Pole)
Dominican Ligero, Nicaraguan Viso, Capote Ecuador
7 x 58
Courtesy of and big thanks to: Covadonga Cigars.
PRELIGHT
This thing is most likely big enough to be used as an actual barber pole. DYK: my actual barbershop does not have an actual barber pole; and this irks me to no end? I am nothing if not a traditionalist. Ah, but the cigar...

Hefting it, it does seem a tad on the lighter side for a stick its size. A quick Charmin test confirms a soft+ to -medium packing -- evenly so throughout. There are veins that rise up on the Habano and Candella portions of the wrapper, but none so egregious as to threaten a redirect of the burn. The Candela is evenly complected and as green as Kermit's deriere. The Habano is a deep chocolate with darker low-lights throughout, with just a trace of sheen and no tooth to speak of. Foot tobacco has a lively reddish note with strawberry blonde highlights and shows a less than dense packing.

Schnoz notes from the shaft are overall a mildly sweet tobacco with a bit of hay. Clean grassy notes and a light chocolate get added at the foot. I clip the well affixed cap and a cold pull is quite a nice dose of cinnamon and a deeper tobacco than I expected from the nose whiff. The grassiness on the cold pull is very crisp and might even have a sprig of mint growing up through it. Very clean and sweet overall.

LIGHT
Toasting the foot lets loose an aroma of sweet grasses and seasoned hardwood, a nice balance. First hot pull is a crisp hardwood and sunlit grass pull on a toasty wheat bread tobacco note off a -medium at best draw resistance. Second hot pull is retro-haled and gives a nice roasted black pepper zing that drops to the palate and into the finish. Said finish is gaining legs and is a good medium length now. The pepper fades as a dark chocolate comes in there. Third hot pull and the dark chocolate and a subtler version of the pepper are there, as well. Under notes of sweet grass taking on a hay vibe and some muted red spices which are mainly sweet.

Mouth-feel shows great moisture content and carries a bit of a sweet spice zing on the tongue, but nicely so. Profile is medium at this early point. Body is a slightly toasted light cream. Burn is even ribbons on a medium burn-line through both wrappers. Ash is a pale to medium grey and minimally flaky. The way this 58 RG fits in the smoke-hole is phenomenally comfy, and I'm no fan of anything larger than a 50, in general. The kind foot-smoke lets me dangle it from my lips as I type.

Overall smoke output is -medium and the room-note is creamy chocolate of a sweet hay backing with clean grassy note intermingling. A non-smoker might very well tolerate this offering. If they disagree, please simply ignore them. That's what they're there for.
ACT I
Black pepper mutes kindly on the retro-hale but remains flavorful. A white pepper comes in on the draw which consists of milk chocolate, toasted wood, and hearty toasted whole grain bread. Occasional sweet grasses bordering on both floral and herbal -- quite lush, really. Mouth-feel/body is medium+ on a thickening creaminess that is toasted and laced with cocoa. Flavors and strength are medium but I expect they will rise up to meet the body shortly. Finish is creamy chocolate and toasted note counter balance of hardwood and bread. There is a slight herbal vibe at the very end of its medium+ length. This is a very enjoyable and completely accessible sans boredom offering from Covadonga. I do believe they have a new fan in me, and I am already looking forward to their other sampling.

The two samples were sent with a nice note explaining their delay -- although I saw no delay -- it would seem Mr. Rolando Reyes leads an all familial staff and, well, G-d help him there. Or perhaps I inflict my family on his. I can't even get my clan to clean up after dinner. Ingrates.

I roll the ash off at an inch and its quite powdery and loose. The newly growing ash seems a notch paler. There is a burn-line bugaboo involving the Habano, but I'll wait as long as possible to allow it to self-correct. The Candela burns a good bit easier.

At the end of the opening act, there is no change to report as to flavors. Zing has left the palate and again was never unkind. A slight dryness has set in on the mouth-feel, but nothing requiring a sip. Profile is a medium+. Output and room-notes are unchanged, and I do believe the burn issue has resolved itself. A small dose of cedar sets in and I do again believe that to be the somewhat drying aspect. It's a nice added flavor dimension which finds and enhances the creaminess.

ACT II
The Habano hits a second bugaboo and the ash is a bit ugly on account of the two hiccups, but holds. The construction softens a notch or two and the smoke output pours liberally. Ash begins to flake here, there, and everywhere. My schmatta/handkerchief begins to kvetch at its workload from my lap. It's becoming a -full smoker but remains a kind one. The good news is if a non-smoker were to complain, you might not see them through the chocolaty sweet clouds.

Cedar has really amped up and too, a leather appears and the flavors have noticeably deepened on the back of an increasingly earthy tobacco. Chocolate is dark now, and richly so. Floral notes hide, but grassy ones come in occasionally. Bread is darker and heavier. Sweet spices are quite nice and are maturing well. Finish lasts well to the next pull and is bordering on chewy with notes of cocoa and bread and sweet cream.

I roll off the inch+ of now more oily ash in order to address an increasingly sloppy burn. The new ash is a tick darker and even denser. Still, it's as big a flake fest as an off-Broadway production. Construction-wise, the packing has ceased its softening. The near reset has been accepted nicely. Fun smoker, this.

I'm on my porch and decide to yell out "KEEP PORTLAND WEIRD." A car honks back at me. I realize my jeans are unzipped. I sit back down. Fun smoker, this. Also, I'm not in Portland.

Dry grass, that's hay right? It's sweet and now plays a larger role. Coffee beans come on and my mouth is a bit dry. I retouch the Habano before it goes too far astray. I realize it's hard to take burn notes too seriously on a barber pole offering. Sweet spices mute. Notes are of earth, wood, cocoa, and coffee. Healthy black pepper on the retro-hale. Finish has simplified but not shortened -- well, perhaps half a tick -- and is less chewy bread topped with creamery butter (no more cream) and a hint of chocolate. In that particular order, thank ya.

A smoke which begs for company and makes me wanna tell a story. A funny one. I know of none to tell in mixed company. This Covadonga would pair great with a Three Stooges short. Profile teases and tickles at full. I giggle and ash flies around me, dancing in the dense smoke.

ACT III
Toasted bread backing that showcases primarily notes of earthiness and cocoa. Coffee is in the underneaths with a bit of remaining hardwood and less sweet hay. Moisture level moistens to a -medium. Mouth-feel is a pat of butter. Black pepper ebbs and flows on the retro-hale. Construction holds. Smoke remains full and cool. Room-note is the same as mentioned already. I'm approaching the band and don't foresee more to report. I'll enjoy it to the nub and already have a toothpick at the ready.

Did I mention I had lunch out today? Oh, yes. The toast and drek coffee. My wife and I met up at a diner with her brother and his lady friend. I was told I behaved well. I can always tell when that's the case -- because I get bored. This cigar was a welcomed bit o' fun. A sugary note hits as I grab the toothpick.
NOTES
Stogie done right.

PAIRINGS
Cuban coffee, hot cocoa, Three Stooges, accordion music, Rum, Rum poured heavily into hot cocoa.

FINAL GRADE
****B****

EPILOGUE
2:20pm-or so
Today was the close of the Bing Cosby season at Del Mar and also the last day of the Churchill Downs fall meet. (Or yesterday was, as I'll post this tomorrow). I'm wearing two layers of thermal underthings and I need to find some warmer weather. Or, more likely, another layer. Ruby Vondella, my Dachshund, is wearing a sweater and keeps barking about a southern road-trip. Poor thing.

Time marches on, a fun cigar eases this truth.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

MBombay Kesara Pyramid - Cigar Review

PROLOGUE
This ain't the oldest blog out there. It's well under a year old and its cigar focus is even a tad younger than that. From the beginning, however, I've wanted to write a review of Mr. Shah's beautiful offerings. So when he called me to do so, I was on cloud eight. It's like cloud nine, but with more Donald Trump supporters and less ethical barbers... nothing is perfect. Except for just maybe --
THE CIGAR
Bombay Tobak
Kesara Pyramid
Ecuadorian wrapper & binder
Peru & Dominican Republic fillers
7 1/2 x 54 (at its widest shaggy foot)
Courtesy of MBombay Cigars and Mel Shah.

PRE-LIGHT
The now famous and dare I say iconic Persian rug inspired 2 1/2" wide band rips upon removal, as does the more normal yet same intricate background patterned under-band. So much for memento collecting. The band, the pyramid shape. The shaggy foot. I feel so far from home. It's a feeling I've grown accustomed to.

Cats out east in my Brooklyn roots respond to being called by a "psss psss psss" sound. Here out west, they are called with a high-pitched rolling of the tongue. It's a regional thing. Sack/bag, pop/soda, Teeth, no teeth (Howdy to my W. Virginia, now former readers) ... But this exotic stick is even more foreign than mere regional dialect. I refuse to judge it on that, however -- lest Donald Trump's policies begin to speak sense to me and I begin building literal and figurative walls. I went through a phase, years ago, of smoking beedis -- I'm reminded of them as I roll this MBombay offering in my hands and wonder as to what sound I'd use to call it over.

As I roll it about, I first notice its imbalance of weight due to obvious reasons of shape. Then I notice the uber smooth hand-feel of the even complected cocoa with dollop of cream complected wrapper. There is a greenish undertone to it and nary a vein to be seen, and none at all to be felt. Seams are tight if not invisible and even. The shaggy foot introduces a lively red. Squeezing the stick, it shows a -medium firmness and evenly so.

Schnoz time yields very mellow tobacco from the shaft with a light, sweet hay backing. There are hints at mild exotic spices. At the shaggy foot, I pick up additional subtle red spices and a sweet note of vanilla. I clip the cap and a cold pull gives me sweet vanilla and warm red spices and I don't normally single it out, but in those red spices, I'll say Saffron. Hey, if the stuff is good enough for Pharaohs to use for ceremonial washings prior to entering sanctuaries and other consecrated places -- it's good enough to mention here. Especially since this cigar is named for it. The cold draw really emphasizes the odd shape, as you know right away that some smoking needs done prior to allowing the thing to comfortably hang from yer smoke-hole. It's a bit like pulling from a pipe, actually -- regarding a steadying hand. The draw gives just the very least bit of resistance. Another cold pull shows a green herb undertone.
LIGHT
Toasting the foot, which I leave untrimmed, lets loose sweet grass notes with a floral backing and maybe a slight trace of macadamia. First hot draw gives a hay backing that features sweet green herbs and grasses and mellow spices. The finish has a bit of raw sugar to it. Second hot pull is retro-haled to the addition of sharper spices, but no pepper and a heightened greenery that hardens to a fresh cut wood. A third hot draw shows a light cedar moving in with some cream.

Mouth-feel is very nice, sweat and creamy but light and not sickly. Profile this early seems -medium. Burn is surprisingly even off the near inch of shaggy foot. Draw is -medium. Smoke, cool and kind. Foot-smoke is of medium+ output with a fresh hay aroma. Room-note is all that and a vanilla hint. The smoke actually looks creamy -- but don't ask me to explain. I'll allow the cumulus clouds around me to field any follow-up questions you might have.
ACT I
As the shaggy foot ash clumps off expectedly, a new savoriness is added and I smack my lips. Wonderful balance of sweet and savory here. The finish is mainly a sweet one and of medium length but amping up. A couple of pulls into this segment and it settles into a hardwood/cedar one/two primary punch of deceiving complexities. Hardwood is a still fresh almost green oak that grows from sweet green grass and fresh hay. Cedar is sweetened with vanilla roasted cream notes. These meet in the finish, now of medium length that is at once sweet and fresh. Wonderful mouth-feel. On a retro-hale, the green notes launch into dried and roasted herbs and the cedar picks up a seasoned note.

Construction holds well and the burn is mainly even and when not, is self correcting. Burn-line is medium+ thickness. Ash is pale to dark grey in an even-ish ratio and quite flaky -- I lay out my schmatta across my lap.

As the opening act closes, herbal notes come in on the draw, as well and head straight to the vanilla cream. The two flavors dance, taking turns with the lead. The backing is a wonderfully mellow and inherently sweet tobacco that begins to spin off a nicely brewed blonde coffee note.

Profile is medium. Body is a light yet complex creaminess where herbs and vanilla hold. Draw resistance has upped a tick to medium. A slight crack in the wrapper shows near the cap, but is cosmetic only. Ash clumps off as I set the MBombay carefully in the tray. It exhibits a more oily feel than I expect but is still quite powdery. Foot-smoke's output slows but its characteristics remain unchanged. Coffee moves closer to the front; green stuff downs a notch.

ACT II
Greenery doesn't mute for long and re-emerges on a sharper pine needle note. A whole grain and toasted bread gets intoduced as a nice under-note. There's a white pepper, albeit slight, on the retro-hale now. Sugar cane note builds some steam and all flavors roast in balance. Ash again misses the inch mark and its construction is unchanged but a tad warmer. Profile-wise, we're at medium still, but body ticks up to + on a denser mouth-feel of heightening vanilla and thickening sugar cane. A draw consists of those notes and a seasoned cedar with a hardwood going to the further back. Finish is sweet spices from the draw's end and a coffee, blonde, with cream and sugar.

Even with the up-ticking, this Kesara is a very mellow smoke. It is, though, just shy of smooth on account of complexities and a building retro-hale of sauteed white peppers. At the midpoint, a touch-up is required, as half the stick decided to not hold lit. A suede note comes in as we head into --

ACT III
A cup of joe stirred with a leather spoon. There is now a walnut vibe to the finish as it all becomes a tad less sweetened. Then, just as quickly, green comes back in and all that was a late-ish yet impressive transition. The roasting remains in a very cool temperature and the vanilla rises. We're back to a cedar vanilla cream affair, but in a more mature and only slightly less complex manner. White pepper rises to near forefront. Coffee hides. The walnut was but a dream. Sweet spices lead from the back and more exotic spices carry to the finish which meet a creme brulee served in cedar bowl and torched perfectly. It's a long finish now and the profile rises evenly to a medium+. Not you, strength. Yer still a medium. Evenly balanced, nonetheless -- and superbly so throughout.

Construction remains the same firmness as ever and always, no small feat for a pyramid. Smoke output at both ends hits a sweet and mellow crescendo. Grassy notes come on heavy and sharpen the profile and finish in a cleansing sort of way. Burn squirrels a good bit but corrects sans re-touch. A slight crack appears just ahead of the burn-line but smokes through cleanly.

Ends on a very herbal note sweetened by vanilla and laced with sandalwood. A sandalwood foot-note is at the conclusion, as well.
NOTES
I wish the ash held. Complex but easy to enjoy. Exotic but not foreign. To answer my question at the onset of my prattling on, it'd most likely answer to the same call as does a "Merica" cigar. (Which sounds a lot like me begging my wife to use our Visa card.) Although it might accidentally speak using the metric system on occasion. Charmingly foreign. Calls the trunk of its car the "boot." Aw.

PAIRINGS
A white wine would be nice. A Chai tea, perhaps. 2.37 deciliters of blonde coffee. Practically begs to be paired with any kind of Rum.

FINAL GRADE
****A-****

EPILOGUE
I am back from my exotic adventures and require a cheeseburger, fries, and slice of American Pie. AMEN. The stories I can tell. First, a nap.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Kap's Lock Picks SPECIAL Clark Handicap Clark Handicap Tip Sheet

CHURCHILL DOWNS
Race 11 5:35pm ET gate
Grade 1 Horses 3 & older
9 furlongs Dirt

One of the oldest American races, dating back to 1875. Named after Colonel M. Lewis Clark -- founder of the Louisville Jockey Club which built Churchill Downs.
ENTRIES
1 Keen Ice (KY) C. Lanerie/D. Romans 3/1
A 3YO colt by Curlin who finished an unassuming 4th at 2015 GrI Breeders Cup Classic on his last outing and before that won the 2015 Travers Stakes passing a too pressed by Frosted, American Pharoah. If events line up, he just might pick his bone with Effinex.

2 Looks to Spare (IL) V. Lebron/G. DiPrima 30/1
This 5YO gelding ran 6th 2015 GrII Marathon his last time out at Keeneland; coming off a coming way off 5th place nonthreatening finish at Belmont's GrI Jockey Club Gold Cup. You can expect a mid/late finish here. Won't figger.

3 Mr. Z (KY) R. Santana/D. Lucas 15/1
3YO colt and AP Indy sib ended up 6th at the 2015 GrI Breeders Cup Dirt Mile and prior to that, 4th in the GrII Pennsylvania Derby. Simply out of his league in this field. Next.

4 Frivolous (KY) J. Court/V. Oliver 15/1
A 5YO mare who ran 5th 2015 GrI Breeders Cup Distaff and prior to that, 4th at the 2015 GrI Spinster at Keeneland. Slight chance here with the fellas. Better chance would have been going after a repeat on Thanksgiving Day's Falls City Handicap.

5 Protonico (KY) J. Laparoux/T. Pletcher 8/1
4YO colt finished 5th last out at the 2015 GrII Fayette Stakes, coming off running 8th at the GrI Woodward Stakes. He'll be mentioned for whatever reason, but won't factor in this Grade 1 field. At one point, he had it. At this point, he don't.

6 Hoppertunity (KY) M. Garcia/B. Baffert 7/2
Lightening has as much of a probability chance of striking the same spot twice, as it does once. I give you gentlepersons last year's winner. Once you roll Snake Eyes, you're just as likely to roll Snake Eyes. Odds reset. Although horses are alive and capable of comfort zones. Speaking of comfort zones: this 4YO colt and son of Any Given Saturday, placed in the 2015 GrII Fayette Stakes his last time out. Before that, he placed at GrI Awesome Again. Hasn't placed better than place since 1/15 GrI San Pasqual at Santa Anita. I'd plunk a shekel on show -- and if I win -- get most of that shekel back. Could put the jump in Bridge Jumper if you have 100k or so in yer top drawer.

7 Shotgun Kowboy (OK) M. Berry/C. Trout 20/1
A 3 YO gelding with a lot to prove and a chip on his shoulder. Won his last three times out in lesser fields including latest 2015 Oklahoma Classics Cup (RS), before that GrII Oklahoma Derby, before that an allowance race -- all at Remington Park. Has a shot here, but M/L odds might not be worth the risk. Worthy of mention is that the colt's never finished out of the moolah. Will do OK early, and would be nice to see this affable horse to do OK in the end as well. Could happen.

8 Effinex (NY) M. Smith/J. Jerkens 5/2
Here's a 4YO colt with almost as much to prove as Shotgun Kowboy, but more along the better established lines of securing a 'signature win.' Another AP Indy sib, he finished 2nd at the GrI 2015 Breeders Cup Classic and before that 3rd in the 2015 GfI Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont. His last win came at the GrII Suburban Handicap 7/4/15 at Belmont. I can't say I like him to find that win here, but he could figure -- more at the race's beginning than at its end, as I see him challenging early then falling back.

9 Race Day (KY) J. Valezquez/T. Pletcher 7/2
Won 2015 GrII Fayette Stakes his last trip but before that got 9th at the GrI Forego Handicap at Saratogo. Without getting into the particulars, and to simply make a point as to why I wouldn't recommend looking here, in the 4YO colt's last half dozen trips, he's finished 1-9-6-1-1-3. Without an abundance of neither rhyme nor reason. Although stepping up in class at to his lone GrI go, netted him a 9th place finish.
FORTUNE TELLING
Box 6-7-8
Alsos 1-4
Gentlepersons, don't bet the dough dough.
-- But do check out Cigars City.
For all your celebratory & consolatory cigar needs.
Tell 'em Kap sent ya!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Kap's Lock Picks SPECIAL Hollywood Turf Cup Tip Sheet


DEL MAR RACETRACK
Race 7 5pm ET post
Grade II Stakes 3YO and up
12 furlongs Turf

Used to be a Grade I race. Used to be run at Hollywood Park Racetrack. Lotsa things are used to be things. Fortunately, I am still gorgeous.
ENTRIES

1 Class Leader (KY) Santiago Gonzalez 120 John W. Sadler 20/1
The 4YO colt finished 2nd at his last outing 2 months ago (tired a bit in the stretch, coming off rail) at the King Pellinore (Santa Anita) coming off a Del Mar Pacific Classic 7th place finish (coming off 1 post) prior to that. Most successful coming off the pace, this post position won't suit him.

2 Up With the Birds (ON) Drayden Van Dyke 124 H. Graham Motion 4/1
5YO horse is one to watch. Coming off 10/18 GI Canadian International Stakes show finish with J. Valazquez riding for the first time. Before that and 8/15 4th place finish at another GI Arlington Million -- won by The Pizza Man. If ponies have a memory, now might be a great time to exact revenge.

3 Danas Best (AUS) Victor Espinoza 120 Philip D'Amato 20/1
This 6YO gelding doesn't seem to be a factor here. Last outing was 6th finish at King Pellinore and before that, 5th at GII Del Mar Handicap. Espinoza is set to be his 4th jockey in last four starts.

4 Quick Casablanca (CHI) Tyler Baze 122 Ronald L. McAnally 30/1
7YO is seemingly in decline, finishing 6th 5th then 2nd in the Pellionore, GIII Last Tycoon, & San Juan Capistrano Stakes respectively.

5 Procurement (FL) Corey S. Nakatani 120 Thomas F. Proctor 20/1
5YO is simply in over the ol' head in this company. Finished 8th (Del Mar AlwOC 8/22) in his last outing, 3rd prior to that (SA Allow 3/15/14)

6 The Pizza Man (IL) Mike E. Smith 126 Roger A. Brueggemann 5/2
Problems abound for the race favorite 6 YO Gelding. The Pizza Man won't have his regular rider Florent Geroux, has seen the canceling of a planned trip to run in the Nov. 29 Japan Cup on account of a lung infection, is coming off a 5th place finish in the BC Turf, and finished in show at last year's Hollywood Turf. In short, I don't see it, gentlepersons.

7 Ganesh (BRZ) Alex O. Solis 126 Richard E. Mandella 8/1
6YO is worth a looksie. New Jockey on his back, but in last three outings with Prat finished in the money 8/22 Del Mar Handicap GrII (3rd), 5/24 GrII Charles Whittingham Stakes at Santa Anita (2nd), 4/25 Last Tycoon GrIII at Santa Anita (2nd). Seems okay running behind and in a field this size, with this position -- there should be plenty of opportunity to do so. Good chance to factor, not to win.

8 Power Ped (KY) Mario Gutierrez 120 Neil D. Drysdale 20/1
If you throw out the 5YO's last start where he finished 8th in the 10/18/15 GrI Canadian International. Prior, he finished 2nd in the 9/14/15 GrII Kentucky Turf Cup & on 8/22/15 GrII De Mar Handicap ran 4th. He's in comparable company here ad looks to finish in/near the moolah.

9 Texas Ryano (KY) James Graham 120 Carla Gaines 10/1
This  4YO colt is on the upswing. One to watch here, for certain. Finished in the moolah each of his last three runs. The latest a win on turf at the 9/27 King Pellinore coming out of the 6th post well off the pace and wide out. Will figure heavily. Previous races were a 3rd 7/16/15 and then 2nd 8/14/15 place finish at the allowance levels.

10 Generoso (URU) Martin A. Pedroza 124 Paulo H. Lobo 30/1
6YO horse is coming off an 8th place finish in a Santa Anita 10/12 allowance optional claiming race. Prior to that came in 13th on 3/14 at Hipodromo Argentino De Palermo. One would think he's here for a reason -- but whose?

11 Southern Freedom (KY) Martin Garcia 120 Jerry Hollendorfer 20/1
A 4YO colt who's going the opposite way as is Texas Ryano. Finished 5th behind TR at the King Pellinore and being ridden again by the same jockey, in Garcia. Might lead early, but looks to finish toward the back of the middle.

12 Power Foot (KY) Tiago Josue Pereira 120 Neil D. Drysdale 20/1
6YO horse who reads a bit out of its depths here. Last outing was a 4th place showing at GrIII Last Tycoon on 4/25. Finished show in two GrII stakes prior. (3/21 San Luis Rey and 2/7 San Marcos at Del Mar) My guess is he'll return to form at 'home' and finish in the middle of this caliber field. Looks like they tried getting him a win at a lower level, and he didn't have it in him.

13 Wanstead Gardens (ON) Gary L. Stevens 120 Neil French 20/1
A 4YO colt with erratic results at lower levels. Not an easy crowd to step up into, this. Either I got a funny feeling here, or the tuna melt I just ate is laying on me wrong. 

14 Big John B (FL) Rafael Bejarano 124 Philip D'Amato 3/1
Is it fair that I'm dismissing this 6YO gelding on account of his latest performance, never firing at The Breeder's Cup Turf, finishing 10th? In this particular group, I believe so. That said, previous two outtings were wins 8/22 GrII Del Mar Handicap and 7/24 GrIII Cougar II Handicap. My gut is: when pressed, folds.

15 Flamboyant (FR) Brice Blanc 120 Patrick Gallagher 20/1
The middle of the pack is calling this 4YO colt. Breaking from the parking lot should make him listen to said call. Might not make the mid, actually. Finished 6th, 7th, 6th in previous three outings at 8/22 Del Mar Handicap GrII, 4/15 Santa Anita AlwOC, and 11/29/14 Hollywood Derby GrII. Why is there virtually 0 action on who finishes last?

16 Bird E House (KY) Gonzalo Nicolas 120 Michael Pender 30/1
Somewhat of a wild-card, this 4YO gelding. G. Nicolas returns to ride after winning his first time out in BEH's latest go, 8/20 in a starter allowance. Prior to that, ran 8th on 8/1 in a claim. (Both runs at Del Mar.) Not seeing this gelding having the nuts, as it were.
Trifecta Box 2-7-9 
Also Figures 8-13-16

As always and ever -- don't bet the dough dough.
While yer at it, have a great Thanksgiving surrounded by those ya love.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Kap's Lock Picks 11.24.15

PORTLAND MEADOWS
Noon Gate PST
1: 4 Rockport Birdie
2: 5 Boss Dancer
3: 7 Gilly Gone
4: 7 Three Sixteen
5: 7 Some Storm Cat
6: 3 FIRST FLOWER
7: 6 Blastitary
8: 5 Timber Titan
9: 2 Cash Gaming
10: 1 Saint Lemone
Gentlepersons, as is always my advice, don't gamble the dough dough.
And don't gamble on your cigar. Get an LH Premium Cigar from Cigars City HERE.


A Review of Recent Grade A Cigar Offerings

"A-yyy!" 
- Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli
I'm back with another reviews review of cigars you shouldn't miss, miss. Littered with alliteration, was that. Herein you shall find all the recent stogies I've rated -A to A+.
Without either further ado nor adon't -- gentlepersons, GRAB THESE STICKS:
(Smokes are links to my review. Great read, every one o' them.)

YE OLDDE 'A' LIST
Nomad Esteli Lot 8613 (B+)
Why are you still looking at yer computer??? Go support yer local B&M and stock up on these sticks. Or, keep looking at yer screen and hit up my good pals at Cigars City.

Valentia San Andres - Cigar Review

PROLOGUE
4:29pm
Why not just check out my Twitter @iamkap?

THE CIGAR
Valentia San Andres
Negro San Andres Madura (Mexico) wrapper
Peru VISO binder
ABAM Ligero Dominican Republic & Nicaraguan VISO fillers
6 x 56 Grand Toro
Courtesy of Valentia Cigars
Do please check them out, gentlepersons.
PRE-LIGHT
Rugged but refined comes to mind. As does further regrets as to foregoing a career in hip-hop, I mean did ya get that rhyme? Hot dang. I give band removal a crack and lemme tells ya: this is a company that securely affixes its bands. I suppose I'll be smoking tonight's VALENTIA offering for all the world to see. Maybe I should run out and buy a NIKE shirt to wear while I do. Ah, as to the band, it's the same as the other two Valentia offerings, this time on a white backdrop. Good solid branding there. 

Complexion is a nice darkness with depths that go even darker. There are two/three bulky veins that don't strike me as threats to construction, and also strike me as germane to the plot of the cigar. There's a nice toothiness and sheen to the barrel. There are low-lights of midnight colorings . Overall, a very dark chocolate or roasted coffee bean hue. Tobacco at the foot is a lively multi-hued brown from tan to rich brown.

Hand-feel is rugged but nice, with a light bit of oils that don't entirely gloss over a nice roughness via tooth. A 56 RG is typically past my girth comfort, but I'll survive. The ruggedness of the leaf is in its proper context at a larger size. Charmin test is a medium+ firmness with a tick down at a midway soft spot.

Schnoz notes at the shaft are barnyard and compost with cocoa traces. At the foot, I get a compost as strong as straight manure (not a bad thing) and a marshmallow bit of niceness. 

I clip the cap with a freebie cigar cutter that ain't worth its price (does that count as a review?) and I get cold pull notes of cinnamon laced S'mores. The draw is -firm. Can I please make with the smoke, already?

LIGHT
Toasting the foot lets loose an aroma of tossing graham cracker crumbs into burning leaves. Pull is just this side of sucking chrome off a fender. Fist hot pull is of smoldering seasoned wood. Very toasty and quite comfy. Some hints of cocoa and coffee beans at the finish. Second hot pull is retro-haled to a black pepper balanced with molasses addition to the remaining toastiness of seasoned wood caught slow fire. Ash is -medium to medium+ grey and quite as dens as the draw would indicate. Foot-smoke is sweetly cocoa on a barnyard backing and of medium+ output. Burn is even enough and burn-line showcases a very thick wrapper on a razor thin burn.

Marshmallow appears on the finish which this early has quite a decent form. Barnyard, compost, and cocoa are there, too. The draw is deep earthiness and hardwoods, all toasty and nice, an undertone note of graham. A hint of very dark chocolate is there, as well. Somewhere in-between draw and finish is a vegetal inkling that has in my mind become a Valentia calling card. The retro-hale offers a strong and darkly sauteed white pepper addition.

Profile for now is middle of the middle, medium. Mouth-feel is a softly sweet marshmallow fluff with a creamy but unassuming weight.
ACT I
That vegetal note comes up to be a player and rises to near green chile. I'm sitting around a campfire, roasting smores, after a Taco Bell run? OK! As long as some douche doesn't pull out an acoustic guitar. The pull is yet to loosen and I'm wishing it would, I feel as though I'm being a bit robbed of flavor. Room-note is a hickory coffee thing on a leather backing. Nice, but too much for a non-smoker to bear. Good.

The chocolate comes on good now, and the coffee notes go into hiding. The wood sharpens up a bit. Draw is that and still a graham thing, but that has subdued. The marshmallow ramps up. Finish is vegetal and desert flavors of marshmallow and chocolate with legs lengthening to -full. Tobacco is a rich compost and deep manure -- wear boots. Very nice mouth-feel with perfect moisture.

Ash is unchanged except in that it's an easy inch long. Construction has softened a couple of notches about an inch and a half away from burn. Burn stays mainly even and burn-line is razor+ to -thin. Profile remains medium. This offering is a slow-burner, gentlepersons. Allow some time. Perhaps some time after, as well -- for a trip to the dentist to replace any fillings that may have been sucked out.

ACT II
Cinnamon hides in dustiness at the draw, but attaches to the finish. All else sees the second act start exactly where the first ends. I suppose there is a literal truth there. 

Flavors are delineating nicely and developing their own complexities. Green chile vegetal flavors expand with floral notes. Graham backing roasts and allows a leathery under-note to peek in, even as it rises. White pepper allows through dusty sweet spices. Marshmallow toasts nicely and something like cotton candy attaches to it. Woods are seasoned oak and hickory. Chocolate is dove bar sweet and dark. Very complex and no bombing allows a nice dissection.

Ash gives warning and drops at a dense yet powdery two inches or so. Nice and cool, just like the smoke. Draw is still firmer than I'd like and I like some resistance. Still, all these flavors are coming through, so I'll file my complaints in the wastebasket. Finish is vegetal based with chocolate and marshmallow on it. Mouth-feel is creamy and again, the perfect moisture. I believe the newest addition to the Valentia line-up, is also its star. This is a very, very good sign for a developing company.

At the mid-point, the draw loosens a notch or two and a nice burst of sweet and warm spices flood my smoke-hole. The end of the transition ushers in a thin bit that has only a bit more weight than fizzy wisp. It makes me think of root beer and has an under-note of dark red to purple dried fruits. Very nice!

All else previously prattled on about, holds. I'm hungry. Will someone please tell the pepperoni pizza leftovers in my fridge to stop calling out "Ka-a-a-ap," at least until after this fine Valentia San Andres offering?

We ride on right into--

ACT III
Ash clumps off unexpectedly at an inch worth of denser more oily goodness. Speaking of goodness, thank goodness for my well-placed lap schmatta/hankie -- or my lap woulda been a mess. 

Flavors hit a crescendo and a bite almost occurs and then we taper off as a deep tobacco sets in. A very rich compost with hints of now syrupy dark fruits. The mouth-feel sharpens on account of the remaining bit of warm spices. These warm spices develop to include a hardwood and finally a cayenne sets in as I grab for my toothpick and carefully fold my schmatta into the back pocket of my Levi's; I am satiated.
NOTES
To my palate and humble opinion, this is simply the must-smoke of the Valentia line-up. There is a mellowing or even muting of nuances in the final act, but it is an enjoyable on account of a superior quality tobacco.

PAIRINGS
Pick yer poison, gentlepersons. A pip or few of chocolate or a hot cocoa to high-light desert aspects; or a cup of black coffee/cup of dry white wine to showcase other meanderings. Both aspects are in the stick. Split the middle by spilling cream and sugar in yer joe. Following it up with cold pizza worked nicely. Follow that with Alka-Seltzer.

FINAL GRADE
****A-****

EPILOGUE
6:20pm
I knew I'd be a sucker for this offering, as I'm a fan of what San Andres brings to a blend. Too, I have grown secure in Valentia's way of allowing the tobacco to do its thing. I did my thing; thank you for doing your thing, gentlepersons -- by reading my thing. I am thankful.

I'm certain I'll write at ya prior to Turkey Day, but have a thankful one, won't ya?

Another open-mouthed kiss thank you to the fine folks at Valentia for their kind samplings. You can view my full review of their well-constructed line by clicking on, you guessed it, Valentia -- over at my "Cigar & Fine Tobacco Index" to yer left.

And (again) do please pay them a vist HERE. Again, I must stress their fantastic customer service prowess.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Valentia Lucido - Cigar Review

PROLOGUE
7:05pm
I shaved my kid's hair into a Mohawk today. Please don't question my cool.

THE CIGAR
Valentia Lucido
Ecuador Desflorado wrapper
Indonesian and Nicaragua binders
Santo Domingo Seco and Ligero Habano fillers
6" x 56 Grand Toro
PRE-LIGHT
Clearly visible and not entirely even hewn seams. A small handful of medium+ sized veins which seem nothing beyond cosmetic. Cap is a bit crookedly affixed. Lots happening on the brown complected barrel. There's a orange undertone and separate yellow highlights hugging the veins. Too, there are hunter green low-lights. A quite densely packed foot shows a matte brown with strawberry blonde highlights.

Squeezing the Charmin, the dense foot tobacco is echoed evenly throughout in a still lively sponge -firm packing. The hand-feel is a dry one, but only in a not oily sense, not in a dead hot turd manner. There's a bit of velvet there and a lively enough sheen.

Schnoz notes on the shaft/barrel include a musty light sweetness. At the foot, I get more musty and the sweetness distinguishes as a light bodied sweet honey. Some malt essense is there, as well -- darned if I can tell which one yet. Some black bread, too, but that might be the malt messing with me.

Nibbling off the cap, I get my malt and it's chocolate on the cold draw. The black bread stays. The rest is tobacco and musty on a -tight draw. Another cold pull gives a vegetal backing.

LIGHT
Toasting the foot gives off bitter leather and dry compost notes. That's the majority of the first hot pull, too. There is also that vegetal vibe and it has roasted quickly. On the second hot pull, a bit of sweet grass comes in as does a hint of boiled nuts. Finish is a grassy note backing a dry black bread and pine nut flavor. Third hot pull is retro-haled and doesn't add a whole lot, but highlights a now toasted pine nut and a slight bittering of the vegetal. I detect no chocolate and/or malt. Finish is lengthy when considering the delicate flavor notes, but medium legged in the grand scheme of things.

Burn is even enough and its burn-line is razor-thin. Ash is pale to medium grey and seems to be building a nice even sheath. Foot-note is of pine nuts and suede and is of medium output. Room-note is sweet grasses and a hint of woodsiness. Volume of smoke is medium. Construction has evenly softened to a medium, and boy-howdy quickly.
ACT I
There's a tick or two toward and away from ribboning at the razor burn-line. Floral notes come in, mainly in a green manner -- not perfumed, but an ornate blossoming of leaves... or is that just what a flower is? I'll aways be a Brooklynite. Save your forestry queries for someone else. Smooth mouth-feel with a hint of clove on my palate. Very much milder of an affair than I expected.

Some strong hardwood notes, let's say oak, come on about an inch in. Still quite vegetal of a backing that ain't that far from being a fronting. I've lost the bread, but have kept the pine nuts. Something like an under-ripe honeydew is happening. Zero spices, sweet or hot. 

At the close of the first act, vegetal moves to a green chile and hardwood is certainly oak and becoming seasoned wood. Draw loosens to a medium+ and softening of the packing has ceased. Still a green smoke, but roasting nicely and picking up those complexities. Tobacco itself is a dry and light compost, a somewhat spent topsoil. Pine nuts roast too, and release a nice oily bit to the mouth-feel.

Profile is medium, we'll say. With all this vegetation, I'm feeling healthier already.

ACT II
I'm not an ash grower, but I am intrigued. At an inch and a half, at least, it's not clumped yet and I am not kid-gloving it at all. That said, I do pull my protective schmatta from my back pocket and lay it out on mu lap. 

Suede is back suddenly and quickly hardens to a still soft leather. I lose my nerve and roll the inch off at 1 3/4 of an ash. Deeper nuts are coming in now -- a pecan, raw. Musty notes come back from the dead and have a certain dusty baker's spice to them. Smoke output increases a notch as does a dry bitterness that is not unkind, but very much not moistly sweet. Finish ain't much more than a lingering of the draw, but sweeter. 

I still cannot pry the band off and LOOK AT ME WORLD, I'M SMOKING A VALENTIA LUCIDO. As to its design, it's the twin of the Torpedo, with a grey backdrop, instead of burgundy. I keep waiting on the sour to go to a white wine, and I can't tell if it's happening, or I'm simply willing it on. 

At the midway marker, the ash darkens a hair and seems a bit more airy. A hint of brown sugar lasts for maybe two puffs, then clings to the pecan for another couple. All else is unchanged. Profile is still at medium. Finish still ain't a whole lot, but not unpleasant. Burn-line widens to -medium and ribbons more often, corrects more often as well. I take another shot at the band and yippee, it's off. Just a personal pet peeve of proper etiquette as I sees it.

Burn slows considerably and evens. Line is back to razor-thin. Seasoned oak, leather, and toasted nut mix pull out far ahead of the vegetal medley. Burn hastens and unevens considerably, I'll wait n see if a touch-up is needed. I roll off a good ash of inch. Very dense but a bit darker and drier and consisting of tightly spaced ladder rungs. I'm hoping that measure will prevent further straying of a bit of burn-line. 

Rye bread and perhaps rye malt is coming on. As the final act looms nigh on the horizon, a slight crack appears in the wrapper ahead of the falling back to burn-line runner. 

Still a medium profile and still of mainly unchanged but a bit more roasted. Foot and room notes sharpen but remain kind. More green chile hits there, perhaps some white pepper.

ACT III
Roasted white peppers add to a smoked sensation that's well shy of charred, but along those lines. With a heavier body, there would be a chewiness -- but there's not, so there's not. What was once a brown sugar gets heated and liquefies to a syrup. There's a trying of citrus that never quite comes on. On center stage is a nice roasted mixed nuttiness, leather, and a heavier bit of earthiness. Mouth-feel is a bit creamier in the final act, but mainly unsweetened. Finish is again a simple continuation of the draw and is of medium length.

Burn stays mainly corrected and wrapper hiccup gets smoked through with no additional damage. Ash regrows a notch paler sheath. Draw firms up a tick and if you pull too greedily, a bite threatens. The chew is nice and the smoke output is unchanged. Profile ends as a spot on medium.

Some mouth irritation happens at the band and beyond. Too, there is drool. But I do go to the band and beyond -- so that's mainly a compliment.
NOTES
See notes re: Valentia Torpedo.
I continue to be pleasantly surprised by the powerful restraint shown by this line.

PAIRINGS
Strange that nothing comes to mind as pairing completely well, or completely poorly here.

FINAL GRADE
****B-****

EPILOGUE
8:35pm
Today is Sunday. I shall wear sweats, eat left-over pizza, and watch horse racing on TVG all day. Why are you still here, gentlepersons? Please show yerselves the door. Have a great Sunday. Elsewheres.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Kap's Lock Picks 11.21.15

[You say this place is going to the dogs, like it's a bad thing.]

DERBY LANE
Gate Time 7:30pm (E)
1: 2Bmc Chelle 3Abs Like A Rock 5Rams Walt Henry 7Crackalacking
2: 2Bart's Dixie Rose 5PJ Bust A Move 7Yolo Stylist 4Se's Cashier
3: 3Lk's Che Chio 8O Ya Cruiser Max 1Edgy Eskimo 4Fly Bobby Jindal
4: 8PJ Crossover 2Fiesta Allen 5Flying Tulip 1Bartsjohnnybgood
5: 7Bart's Girl 2Lk's No Mistake 8Hallo Attraction 3Gypsy Guiseppe
6: 7Highly Classified 8Bart's Mistake 5Kiowa Spin A Web 4O Ya Fancy Free
7: 2Calypso 4Smooth Rebecca 5Kiowa Jsk Winnin 8Taildeann Duke
8: 2Gt's Gin N Juice 4O Ya Go Daddy 3Moonlight Crush 8Lk's Mc Clintock
9: 6Lk's Hi Voltage 8Hashtag Alexa 1Penrose Macie 7Mega Fizz
10: 1Wacka Doodle 3Turbo Dodge 4Braska Angie 5Fiesta Different
11: 7Faith N Honesty 8Mac's Needyounow 2Mega Burton 6Tmc's Medley
12: 2Penrose Kendra 5Barts Cyalater 4Barts Powerball 6Fiesta Volcano
13: 4Jw Evening Mist 8Mega Vision 5Barts Fancy Free 2Se's Truckdriver
14: 7Crew C Flier 5Jmb's Inflame 8Tb's Moxie 4Kiowa Dash Davis
15: 2Mac's Rand 8I Want Crazy 4Fiesta Belize 5Hi Noon Shazam
Best of luck, gentlepersons. And as always -- don't bet the dough dough.

Valentia Torpedo - Cigar Review

PROLOGUE
6:00ishpm
Mrs. Kap paid a visit to my barbershop today, got a faux hawk Pompadour with a hair tattoo on the side of her head and now I need a new barber. Also, there is talk of her voting in the upcoming general election. Times they are a-changin', for certain. I feel my flexibility in the face of all this, has earned me--

THE CIGAR

Velentia Torpedo
Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper
Indonesian binder
Nicaraguan and Dominican fillers.
6 x 52 Pyramid
Courtesy Valentia Cigars
PRE-LIGHT
Tight even seams, not hard veins but a goodly amount of them at the plus side of spider. This happens on an even complected golden tan with an occasional green/black freckle. Cap is a Pyramid whose construction would find the approval of a Pharaoh. Foot tobacco is densely packed and evenly so brown with a reddish undertone and dirty blonde highlights. There's a nice even sheen on the wrapper, and a lightly oiled hand-feel. As for ye oldde Charmin squeeze test, there's a medium firmness with a slight soft spot at the start of 3/3.

Schnozzola time, gentlepersons. I get sunlit hay and up-kept barnyard from the shaft/barrel and notes of citrus and sweet spices get added at the foot. I nibble off the pointed cap and get cold draw notes of very sweet spices, citrus, and a sunny hay backing. There is potentially some cedar there, as well, but I wouldn't bet the farm. This is all on a medium+ firmness of draw.

LIGHT

Toasting the foot sets off an aroma of seasoned cedar and sweet hay with a hint of citrus. Very nice light that shows a nice willingness minus wanting to cause an inferno. First hot draw is sunlit hay barnyard soil earthiness with grapefruit highlights and a sweet cedar influence. Finish is a sweet thing and builds nicely in a carry over of citrus and cedar. Second hot draw is retro-haled to add sweet spices, very flavorful and kind, with a hinted whisper breathe of roasted red pepper. A third draw is all I've already mentioned and toasted a bit more. Plus a slight creaminess enters on the mouth-feel, causing a medium body, flavors this early--I'd say -medium, and strength -medium, as well.

Burn is spot-on dead even with a ribboning so slight, I only make mention of it to flex my critic muscle. Ash is palest grey to medium low-light flecks that are mainly remnants of toasting. It's nicely dense and shows zilch flaking or lilting.

I cannot believe people read these wordy self-indulgent and pedantic reviews. Thanks for that, gentlepersons. Now head on over to Cigars City and buy a lil something.
ACT I
The draw opens to a medium. Smoke out put is medium+ and mellow. Foot-smoke is clean minus sharpness and is a nice simple sunny earthy hay, laced with the dashiest dash of citrus. There is a vague leather there as well, but if it exists, it does so crisp yet softly -- brushed like suede. Burn continues evenly and at a calm pacing. Burn-line is medium. Very crisp yet mellow, highly delineated flavors.

Flavor notes are: Nice mellow tobacco earthiness with hay notes, unassuming sweet spices, seasoned and sweet cedar, grapefruit, and suede -- in that particular order.

Finish is: nominal and short-legged but sweet with cedar and a lightly toasted vanilla that interestingly appears nowhere else in this offering -- yet, anyways.

Mouth-feel is creamy with a fantastic moisture level.

Ash clumps off on my schmatta/hankie laden lap at a mere 3/4" surprise and is quite powdery and warm to the touch.

Red pepper amps up but remains kind on the retro-hale. There's a dry note that I believe is coming off a hardening of leather notes. Sweet spices step up to a stride below red pepper, but offer a nice enough counter-balance. The burn unevens post-clump, but then evens itself out two puffs post that. Profile is -medium in terms of body (as the cream subdues a notch) and flavors. As to strength, it barely registers a light+. Don't mistake this Valentia as a weak smoke, however, it is decidedly mellow and kind with no shortage of flavors which remain nicely in step with its profile. Freight trains: 3. Run-a-way Freight trains: 0.

Grapefruit sweetens and picks up some darker pigmentation. Leather remains supple. Center stage are the spring day tobacco barnyard hay notes seasoned with sweet spices like a pie cooling in a windowsill. Red pepper stays kind and on the retro-hale only. I recommend retro-haling often, as it adds a nice dimension. Cedar comes and goes. Vanilla takes further rest. Creaminess is on the tongue alone as a mouth-feel and not quite a flavor note.

ACT II
I feel somewhat as if I'm sitting on a cedar bench in a sunlit English Garden. I feel as though I shouldn't be feeling that way. The band of this Valentia offering is a war-like thing on bold burgundy. Perhaps I am on leave. Perhaps I avoided the draft by wearing this floral pastel dress. The one thing that's lacking is the finish. Mostly ruby red grapefruit and light cedar with the thinnest hint of white floral notes and sweet spices. Very almost not there. Quite the hinted at affair.

Construction has loosened noticeably, but holds form. Burn continues its calm pace. Smoke output thickens and whitens and is a pleasing -full. Foot-smoke is unchanged. I'd say the torpedo shape is a brilliant touch, to funnel in the light flavors and strength. Ash looks a tad drier.

At the midway point, a retro-hale surprises me with sweet spices overtaking red peppers and an introduction of a separate and more sour citrus note -- a clean lemon. It's nice, but it too cleans away an already thin finish. Peppers are white now. Leather is back to suede. Creaminess is a barely holding on clarified butter. Smoke warms a tad and pleasantly so. Cedar roasts and subdues to a distant background.

Profile is a medium now, sans a still lagging (I ain't complainin') -medium at 'best.' Ash clumps off again without warning and might have made an inch. It's center is a bit more oily, but it's vastly warm powder and is a shade darker. Burn-line thickens to a medium. The smoke is drying a bit on an introduction of very light graham and a dry roasted amber malt. Hey! Strength is suddenly medium, I'm made to realize as a sideways glance off my porch woozes me wonderfully and I'm a hair farmisht -- which is a lot like dabbling in fanaticism. Smoke output amps up in a gentlemanly manner. Foot-smoke sharpens as a toasted nuttiness arrives.

ACT III
The biggest muscle thus far has been exhibited by the Indonesian binder and its corralling of the partially Nicaraguan filler. I believe that's also where the kinder version of cinnamon originates and come to think of it -- floral notes are back on board in their previous white fashion.

Ash clumps again at a half inch and its like it cares nothing for the welfare of my well-placed schmatta. Graham comes on in a more pronounced but subtle way. Construction is a pleasure.

Pleasure. smoking should be a pleasure and not a 'flavor bomb' or nicotine challenge. I have balls. They're right here under my pretty dress. I shouldn't have to prove it. This Valentia offering provides that nice and simple pleasure. Still, I'd kill -- or hike up my dress -- for a leggier finish. All notes remain as previously prattled on about, plus there is a returning bit of red pepper on the white pepper heightened retro-hale. At the band mark, the smoke remains cool. There is a very pleasant and quite mellow tobacco on my palate. It has golden hay notes and is now a bit yeasty in addition to faint malt. A very light honey attaches to the floral notes.

Burn is even till the cows come home and the comfortable with her body image non gender specific person doth sing.
NOTES
Nothing earth-shattering, but what thing is, and is also this garsh-durned enjoyable? A caveat you may wish to be mindful of, is a rather high sticker price. This guarantees a primo construction a pleasurable affair, however, as I cannot imagine a dud in a box. Especially when there are ten sticks per.

PAIRINGS

Lemonade. Blonde coffee. Chai Tea with plenny 'a froth and a dash of nutmeg. Handicapping the next day's dog races at Derby Lane. White chocolate.

FINAL GRADE
****B****

EPILOGUE
7:20pm
Now if you excuse me, I need to see to that fourth pairing option...

Go visit the Valentia website.
Like Valentia on Facebook.

PS: I should add that in my small dealings with these gentlepersons, they have been nothing but friendly, professsional, and courteous.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Ten Things You Mightn't Have Known About Curly

Lettuce begin, gentlepersons, with a brief bio of The Super Stooge:
"Curly Howard’s real name was Jerome Lester Horwitz. He was born to Jenny and Solomon Horwitz on October 22, 1903 in Bath Beach, a summer resort in a section of Brooklyn. He was the fifth and youngest of the five Horwitz brothers. Curly’s interest in show business grew as he watched his brothers, Shemp and Moe perform as stooges in Ted Healy’s act. After Shemp left the Healy act, Moe suggested to Healy that his kid brother Jerome was available and would make an excellent replacement for Shemp." - threestooges.com
1. Curly: Improvisational Comic Maven.
"If we wrote a scene and needed a little something extra, I'd say to Curly, 'Look, we've got a gap to fill this in with a 'woob-woob' or some other bit of business.' And he never disappointed us." Jules White (Ted Okuda; Edward Watz (1986). The Columbia Comedy Shorts)

"If we were going through a scene and he'd forget his words for a moment, you know, rather than stand, get pale and stop, you never knew what he was going to do. On one occasion he'd get down to the floor and spin around like a top until he remembered what he had to say." (Moe Howard on A&E Network's Biography)

2. Curly had a bum leg.
"When Curly was 12, he accidentally shot himself in the left ankle while cleaning a rifle. Moe rushed him to the hospital and saved his life. The wound resulted in a noticeably thinner left leg and a slight limp. He was so frightened of surgery that he never had the limp corrected. While with the Stooges, he developed his famous exaggerated walk to mask the limp on screen." (Joan Howard Maurer; Jeff Lenburg; Greg Lenburg (1982). The Three Stooges Scrapbook)

3. Curly was quite the athlete.
Accomplished ballroom dancer and basketball player. I know that at 5'5", it's hard to imagine Curly on the bball courts, but it was a different game then. One generation+ later, my dad was a touted center at 6'1" tall who played with his back to the basket. Some tidbits put you in a real sense of an historical moment, huh? As to his dancing chops, when you look at his physical comedy -- it's all there.

4. Curly's favorite Stooge was Shemp.
Curly was an introvert in his personal life, who came to life when on-stage, when drunk, and in the presence of big bro Shemp. He felt free to be himself around him, unlike his other big bro, Moe -- who oft wagged a quasi-paternal finger at Curly. Moe went as far as filing Curly's taxes and handling his finances and business affiars, for fear (well-placed) that Curly could not. It is worth noting that Shemp was a Hall of Fame neurotic, so judgement of Curly's own bugaboos was most likely scant. I picture a camaraderie therein.

5. Curly hated his schtik look.
Curly had thick, wavy chestnut brown hair and an impeccable handlebar moustache, prior to Ted Healy insisting he shave it all off. Curly was quite self-conscious about his cue-ball scalp, and usually wore a hat when he was in public. He especially felt it when around the fairer sex, but to be blunt, he'd have been better off if it turned their gaze away a bit more often. A bit less "In demand socially," as Moe put it, might have worked a wonder or two.

"I had to shave it off right down to the skin." Curly lamented (Maurer, Joan Howard; Jeff Lenburg; Greg Lenburg (1982). The Three Stooges Scrapbook)

6. Curly Howard: Canoodler Extraordinaire.
Perhaps it's more apt to say women were amongst his favorite forms of self-ruination, having been married four times. Throughout his life, Curly had a weakness for wine, women and song, and his wild life eventually did him in.

"Moe urged Curly to find himself a wife, hoping it would persuade his brother to finally settle down and allow his health to improve somewhat. After a two-week courtship, he married Marion Buxbaum on October 17, 1945, a union which lasted approximately three months. The divorce proceeding was a bitter one, exacerbated by exploitation in the local media. After the divorce, his health fell into rapid and devastating decline." (Joan Howard Maurer, Jeff Lenburg, Greg Lenburg; The Three Stooges Scrapbook 1982.)

7. Curly Howard: Dog Guy.
"Curly found constant companionship in his dogs and often befriended strays whenever the Stooges were traveling. He would pick up homeless dogs and take them with him from town to town until he found them a home somewhere else on the tour." (Michael Fleming The Three Stooges: An Illustrated History, From Amalgamated Morons to American Icons 1999)

"When not performing, he would usually have a few dogs waiting for him at home as well." (The Making of the Stooges VHS Documentary, narrated by Steve Allen (1984))

8. Curly's "Woo-woo-woo" came from somewhere.
Curly borrowed his trademarked "woo woo" from the soft-spoken comedian Hugh Herbert. Curly's unique version of "woo-woo-woo" was firmly established by the time of the Stooges' second film Punch Drunks in 1934; the only short which was written in full by the boys.

9. Curly's antics, in turn, were "borrowed."
On several occasions, Moe was convinced that rising star Lou Costello (a close friend of Shemp) was siphoning material from Curly. Costello was known to acquire prints of the Stooges' films from Columbia Pictures on occasion, presumably to study Curly. Inevitably, Curly's routines would show up in Abbott and Costello feature films, much to Moe's raised ire.

Funny how again we cast an anchor in time, here. It's funny to me that Lou Costello was a rising star while Curly was already an established one. It strikes me how much more current the Stooges seem, as opposed to Abbott & Costello. Your anchor may vary.

Worthy of note is that Mr. Costello's "borrowing" is a far closer facsimile than was Curly's.

10. Curly died in a facility bearing a fantastically Three Stooges-y moniker
Curly suffered several strokes between the years of 1949 and 1952, which confined him for long periods of time in hospitals and convalescence homes.

In December 1951, the North Hollywood Hospital and Sanitarium supervisor advised the Howard family that Curly was becoming a problem to the nursing staff at the facility because of his mental deterioration. They admitted they could no longer care for him and suggested he be placed in a mental hospital. Moe refused and relocated him to the Baldy View Sanitarium wherein he shuffled off to Cosmic Buffalo at the too young age of 48.
Thank ya, gentlepersons, for reading my hacked together ego-driven Stooge indulgences here. We shall in short time return to our regularly scheduled fine tobacco meanderings.

Diesel Rage - Cigar Review (& #Foodie Friday Egg-ed Wheat)

PROLOGUE
8:18pm
Today I went to Barnes & Noble. Before that, I almost bought a Navy Pea Coat, but it linted all over my shirt and I thought better of it. Another schmatta, I don't need.


THE CIGAR
Diesel Rage
Ecuadorian Habano Sun Grown Oscuro wrapper
Nicaraguan binder/fillers from Cuban seed.
5 x 56 box-pressed Torpedo
Courtesy of Cigars City

PRE-LIGHT
Not overly tight but even and well-appointed seams. An nonthreatening to anything beyond cosmetics large vein or two. Some smaller veins and occasional spiders, but not too many at all. Dark chocolate espresso roast bean complected and quite evenly so. Undertone hues of the burnt sienna variety. Tobacco at the foot is a matte brown with dirty blonde highlights. Cap isn't of the smoothest construction, but crafted well enough. Box-press is a rather vague one. Charmin-wise, the firmness is a -medium and even throughout.

Schnoz-wise, the shaft mainly gives simple notes of mulch/barnyard/manure. From the foot tobacco, some very nice rich chocolate notes with coffee bean under-note, get added to the mix. Nibbling off the cap lets me in on a quite airy draw, which consists of the foot's smell-notes and a creamery butter mouth-feel on a leather backing throughout. A cold finish goes back to barnyard and retains leather notes.


LIGHT
Toasting the foot releases some sharp leather notes and less sharp hardwoods. Light is a simple affair and catches easily and evenly. First hot pull is of peppers black and cayenne with a finish which eases down into bell pepper waxy flavor. Very sharp leather on the draw. On the finish that green pepper is joined by cocoa and a sweetness which hints at molasses. Second hot pull is retro-haled to show more cayenne and something akin to Asian spices. I'm getting an odd stir-fry feeling. Smoke is just this side of harsh, into the ol' smoke-hole and off the foot where a very sharp leather and waxy chocolate let rip. Third pull is a bit more airy than the first and has somewhat lazy draw notes coated in wax. There's a sharp leather, decent cayenne, and Asian spices and green peppers undertones to the expected Nicaraguan primary influences of mulch and dark sweet chocolate(although waxy). The finish is somewhat more captivating with hard leather, dark chocolate, a trying molasses, and a creamery butter mouth-feel that feels less a part of my mouth than is usual. As if I'm experiencing it through a waxy screen.

Burn is quick and even on a near razor burn-line. Ash is somewhat flaky pale-ish to near charcoal grey. Pack has softened already and the rounded edges, further round
ACT I
A vanilla tries now on the trying molasses, as cayenne amps up ahead a notch. Not very evenly balanced there. Those green peppers have gone and the Asian Spices remain unchanged. Chocolate looses some wax. A licorice seems to want on-board, but seems winded already as it runs behind. A sharp leather is what's running away from all else in something like a tantrum. Another green vegetable note is under there somewheres. There's an anise type thing on the predominately chocolate finish. The mulch sharpens throughout as it seems to cling to the leather.

The burn wavers a tad but self-corrects. Very fast burn. Retro-hale is an unkind cayenne and leather with a now sharp earth. The Asian spices are still there at the same notch, but falling back, nonetheless, to the green veggies. Ash clumps off unexpectedly but not very unexpectedly, at shy of an inch. Quite flaky with a bit of oily core. 

Profile is a -medium strength, medium flavors, medium+ body, as the butter heats to a creamy oil. Packing is loosening again a full inch from the burn.Flavors seem to be subduing now and threatening to mottle at the end of the opening act. An almost fizzy almost root beer seems coming on.


ACT II
Burn goes wonky, but not re-touch wonky. Burn-line is thin but thicker than a razor. Chocolate is nice but harsh'd by that sharp leather and earth forefront. Green veggies are done. Cayenne is roasting on the retro-hale and a clove is almost happening. There is an awful lot of near occurrences here; all hidden and/or thwarted by sharp primaries, again, of leather and earth and a not quite satisfying dark chocolate with re-emerging waxiness. I'm getting the bomb, not so much the flavor. Mouth-feel is drying up as the oils are leaving. I'm smacking my lips but not in an umami sense. Fizzy root beer vibes off an increasingly airy offering. 

At the half, some dark red to purple fruits also try, but don't. Molasses is barely holding on and getting bludgeoned foot its noble efforts. Some dusty exotic spices try, but get burnt for their efforts. The dark little thing in my ashtray is seeming more and more like Carla Tortelli, the bitingly angry Cheers barmaid. Now there was an over-rated show. 

Coming to the end of the second act, the burn slows and comes near to correcting. The ash is a bit less flaky. Profile is medium+ and all notes are not quite right on account of an imbalance of sweet and sharp. Smoke is voluminous, but not full and quite unkind. Ash fails to make it a full inch and is unchanged in consistency and complexion. Finish is weakening and is a sharp mix of earth, leather, and waxy dark chocolate -- some hardwood is reappearing but drying to the palate. Packing has ceased loosening. 

ACT III
A deeply toasted cream is at work now. Retro-hale is nearly ouchie-mama of sharp leather and somewhat cayenne powder and bits of dry red pepper flakes. Draw is leather and black soil, as the chocolate subdues. It's almost a headache inducing affair and deserving of its Diesel moniker in a poor version of the sense. Body is falling off and nothing, pleasant or not, exhibits a great deal of legs. The finish is a sharpness threatening on bite of leather, dirt, and diesel. At its very end, a waxy chocolate and nearly failed molasses are there. The cream leaves. An abundance of drool sets in and I start to spit. 

At the band, I decide not to reach for a toothpick. The roof of my mouth feels as though I've eaten a bowl of Cap'n Crunch sprinkled with coarse-ground black pepper. Oh, black pepper is HERE now. 

I'm tapping out.

Vigorously.
NOTES
Whereas the Rocky Patel Fifteenth Anniversary masters a limited array of trades, The Diesel Rage remains a jack of too many a trade. Funny, not haha but peculiar, how often this AJ Fernandez blend comes up short in developing notes. It's like an ADHD fella angrily failing at comprehending a Dickens novel. 

I hate penning negative reviews. 

PAIRINGS
A five minute head-start? Water. A baseball bat? 

FINAL GRADE
****C-****

EPILOGUE
9:20ishpm
I have been crazy busy this week, gentlepersons. Bear with me, please, my frenzied pace as I throw a #FoodieFriday yer way:
EGG-ED WHEAT
  • Take an egg, crack it in a bowl and scramble in a bowl. 
  • Soak a big biscuit Shredded What thing in it. 
  • Heat a fry pan and spray with PAM.
  • Toss in biscuit and pour remaining egg over top.
  • Gather in around biscuit and squish with fork.
  • Fry up till brown.
  • Salt and serve and YUMS.
Have a heckuva week!