15 December 2008

Benito vs. the Cigar: CAO Brazilia & Sopranos

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.


Dirty said...

Thanks for the notes on the CAO Sopranos. I've always avoided this stick because the show branding is really goofy. Sounds like a decent stick though...

Benito said...

The Sopranos is expensive, and some say it's overpriced, but I think that it's an excellent cigar. My preference is to have a great cigar once every week or two rather than a half dozen cheap cigars per day.

Same thing with cheese. I'd rather have an ounce of Roquefort than a pound of Velveeta, even if the Roquefort is pricy.

Dirty said...

But is the Sopranos expensive for what it is?

Like you, I don't mind a pricey smoke, but I still want value for the price.

Don't be knockin' Velveeta! That's a fine processed cheese food!

Benito said...

Well, I think a Sopranos is good for a special occasion, or if you want to treat yourself--certainly not an everyday cigar. But it's delicious, and anyone that's a fan of CAO certainly ought to try it.