Two months ago I tried the CAO Brazilia Box Press 5½" x 55, and I'll be honest, I didn't like it. But after hearing about how much everyone loves the Brazilia I gave it another shot. And I'm glad I did--it has flavors of chicory, cinnamon, and nutmeg, perfect for a winter afternoon. The rectangular box press shape is based on an old method of shipping cigars, in which pressing them in boxes before drying would result in a cigar with less excess room around the sides.
I shot it on a copy of Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software by Steven Johnson. An interesting look at how emergent systems form in nature, in software, and in human interactions.
A while back I sampled a CAO Sopranos Edition Boss, part of a licensing deal with the acclaimed HBO series. (I watched all the seasons, and swore furiously at the TV during the terrible final episode.) This torpedo cigar (7"x56) is made from a Brazilian wrapper, Honduran binder, and filler from the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Colombia.
Cigars are a lot like wine in many ways. With either, a pedestrian sample will merely taste like wine or tobacco. But a great one can be complex, and scent and taste associations can dredge up all sorts of memories. This one had a strong roasted chestnut aroma, which immediately transported me to the Galleria in Milan back in 1996. The Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is a 120 year old shopping mall right in the middle of Milan near the Duomo. I had my first roasted chestnuts there, purchased from a street vendor who was cooking them on a metal dish over a low propane flame. Later I had a seafood stew and a Gran Marinier-flavored crepe.
The book is Nassim Nicholas Taleb's The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, a sometimes dense tome about economics, statistics, randomness, and dealing with the unexpected. It's a great companion to the Malcolm Gladwell books.