I’m headed to Cuba in a few days, and I’m trying to brush up on my Spanish. Usually I get an international data plan, and I’m able to use google translate, xe currency, google maps, etc., on my phone (which I really can’t recommend highly enough if you want to get off hotel property and really see a country). Americans can’t really get an international plan or local sim card in Cuba, so I’ll be traveling sans interwebs. I googled, “Spanish phrases for cigar smokers” but couldn’t find a good resource. So despite the fact that I don’t speak Spanish and am therefore unqualified, I’ll do my best to provide a comprehensive phrase sheet for tourists seeking cigars. Lets start with the most useful phrase:
Do you speak english?
If that doesn’t work, keep reading. Lets go in chronological order, so we’ll start with finding a cigar retailer. Let me point out that I use puros and cigarros. In my experience, one term may work when the other does not, depending on the country, person, etc. If you try both, you’ll likely succeed.
Where can I buy cigars?
¿Dónde puedo comprar puros?
Excuse me, where is a cigar shop?
Perdone, ¿dónde está una tienda de cigarros?
Where is a cigar bar?
¿Dónde hay un bar de cigarros?
Do you know its name? (you can type it into google maps, or better ask the next person)
¿Sabes su nombre?
This way? (one would point while saying this)
How many blocks?
Can you show me on this map?
¿Me puede mostrar en este mapa?
Can you show me on my phone?
¿Puedes mostrarme en mi teléfono?
Now that we’ve found the shop, lets pick out some sticks. You’ll notice that I did not include any phrases about authenticity. If you have to ask, they’re fake. If you ask, they’ll say they’re real. Most cigars sold in touristy areas probably are fake. I’d get on google and do a little research before your trip if you don’t already know how to spot fakes, and how to find authorized retailers. This advice mostly pertains to Cuban cigars, but I’ve heard that fakes of NCs are becoming more prevalent. State run stores, high end hotels, Duty Free, and retailers affiliated with Habanos SA are your best bet.
Hello, I’m looking for some cigars.
Hola, estoy buscando para algunos puros.
May I enter the humidor?
¿Puedo entrar en el humidor?
I’m just looking, thank you.
Sólo estoy mirando, gracias.
I prefer mild cigars
Yo prefiero puros suaves
I prefer medium strength cigars
Yo prefiero puros de fuerza media
I prefer strong cigars
Prefiero puros fuertes
What do you recommend?
¿Qué recomienda usted?
Is there a larger size?
¿Existe un tamaño más grande? (más grande?)
Is there a smaller size?
¿Existe un tamaño más pequeño? (más pequeño?)
Can I see more sizes?
¿Puedo ver más de las tallas? (más tamaños?)
Do you have the brand, Montecristo?
¿Tiene la marca, Montecristo?
Can I buy a box?
¿Puedo comprar una caja?
Can I buy a single cigar?
¿Puedo comprar un cigarro?
Do you have packs of three? Five?
¿Tiene paquetes de tres? ¿Cinco?
Do you have vintage cigars with more age?
¿Tiene puros de la vendimia con más edad?
What year is this from?
¿De qué año es esto?
May I see the box code?
¿Puedo ver el código de la caja?
Do you have limited edition cigars?
¿Se ha limitado puros edición?
After selecting our cigars, we’ll need to check out.
How much for this?
¿Cuánto cuesta esto?
Do you take credit card?
¿Toma la tarjeta de crédito?
Do you sell cigar cutters or punches?
¿Venden cortapuros o punzones?
Do you have matches?
Do you sell lighters?
Can I have the receipt?
¿Puedo tener la cuenta?
Thank you very much
Smoke em if you’ve got em.
May I smoke?
¿Se puede fumar?
May I smoke here?
¿Se puede fumar aquí?
Is cigar smoking permitted?
¿Se permite fumar cigarros?
Do you have a light?
Do you serve drinks?
¿Sirven las bebidas?
May I have an ashtray?
¿Puedo tener un cenicero?
Perhaps we’d like to return.
What are your hours?
¿Cuáles son sus horas?
Are you open tomorrow?
¿Está abierto mañana?
Are you open Sunday?
¿Está abierto el domingo?
What is your phone number?
¿Cuál es su número de teléfono?
I hope this helps you out. Again, I’m not a Spanish speaker, just a traveler who likes cigars. Most stores that deal with tourists will have someone who can speak some English, and even if not, you usually only need broken Spanglish to get your point across. I’m sure my translations contain some mistakes, but just use it as a guide, and good luck. I hope it helps y’all out.
Thank you for bearing with me
Gracias por su paciencia conmigoby rsiv with no comments yet
My mom was complaining about her personal trainer at McLean Racquet and Health kicking her butt. I bought her a foam roller off amazon to help her with the soreness. I’m not sure she ever used it. Fast forward a few months, perhaps a year, and I’m feeling pretty tight from my first row of the season, even four days and a massage later. I’ve had some muscle issues after a fall, and then again after rowing last year and some high diving off a boat. I remembered giving my mom the foam roller, so I went to her work out room in my parents’ house and stole it back. When I bought it, I did a lot of amazon research and went with a very knobby and firm roller. Smooth ones are common, but the one I bought was the third most popular on amazon, and one of the best rated. I haven’t tried a smooth roller, but the knobby one is very effective. I not going to lie to y’all though, pain = gain. If you get the extra firm and knobby one, you’re in for both a lot of pain, and a lot of gain. Lets see if I can scare you with some black and white pictures:
If you have a low pain tolerance, you may not use this thing more than once. My back and shoulder pain is pretty significant though, so I’ve been using it pretty regularly. It really does loosen you up.
The first two videos show the same moves, so only watch one of them.
For the guys:
For the ladies:
To really work out my issues, which are upper back and shoulders (also, for HB):
by rsiv with no comments yet
All I had on the agenda this Sunday was smoking some ribs. I woke up this morning to Sunderland v Cardiff on the DVR. This is the last game I’m able to watch this season, as I’ll be in Cuba with no internet access for the remaining three games. Sunderland is still at risk of relegation, but currently outside the relegation zone. If I was going to be in town, I would not miss a single second.
I bought my dad a smoker for xmas, and he said he wanted to have some ribs on Sunday. We’ve smoked before, but he wanted to see the process again so he could do it on his own. He had Nationals tickets on Sunday and couldn’t be there to see my process first hand, so I figured I’d write up the steps so he can read it in case he wants to smoke solo. I hope its of help to you as well. I’m no expert, but that means anyone can do it. Here are two more resources to get you going (click here and here).
A lot of people have been finding my site by searching for House of Cards related material. I figured I’d give this post a HOC slant to see if I can’t generate some more traffic. Frank Underwood is from SC, but the ribs hes seen eating look to be covered in a sweeter tomato based sauce not typical of his region. FU would more likely prefer South Carolina mustard based sauce or maybe even North Carolina vinegar based sauce (see link below for more detail). I’ll give y’all my NC style sauce recipe. I don’t like mustard sauce, but my wife loves it. I did find a good SC mustard sauce at the store, which my wife found to be delicious. Mostly, I’ll explain how to make your own Freddy’s ribs (spoiler alert), now that DIY is your only way to get them. I found a great resource on the details about Freddy’s ribs here.
This post contains instructions for a basic smoke with no preparation. I went shopping right before smoking. Nothing was brined, marinated, or required any extra time or effort. The prep time for the smoker and ribs was about 15 minutes total. My cook time was 4.5 hours, but as you’ll see below, its a leisurely 4.5. My goal with this post is to show everyone the easiest way to learn to smoke ribs. Once you get the basics down, the sky is the limit.
To start, you need to buy a Weber Smokey Mountain smoker (not the smallest one). Its the best of the best, and if you don’t believe me, do a little research and check the amazon reviews. I have a fraternity brother that does competition smoking, and the WSM is what he and his competitors use.
First we went to Balduccis to get the baby backs. I love a place with a real butcher.
Using a smoker is much easier than you’d think. First you get some charcoal started in a chimney. I’m a proponent of the minion method, which basically just means you put the hot coals in the center of some cold charcoal, and let it burn from the inside out to keep the temperature constant throughout the smoke. When you add wood, I used apple and hickory, you don’t need to soak it. Just add 6-8 pieces for a 4-6 hour smoke. 4 hours is about all you need for ribs. I don’t even use a meat thermometer when I do ribs. Thats how easy it is, and how hard to mess up. I like to use some water in the water pan, but experts are pretty split on the issue. I get a good bark even with water, and it keeps things moist, so I don’t see any drawbacks (google for more info). Then you just put the middle and lid of the smoker back on, and you’re in business. The temp will creep up, and if you hold steady anywhere between 220 and 250 degrees, you’re golden. You adjust temp using the air vents. I start about about a quarter open, and slowly open them up until I’m in the smoke zone. You want to start by adjusting the top vent, and then if you have to, adjust the lower vents. Small adjustments are key.
Once the grill is set, you need to get the meat on. Plain mustard provides a great adhesive surface for a dry rub. The mustard really doesn’t change the flavor profile, so don’t worry about that. I do have a favorite rub, but I just found this one at the grocery store today. Stubbs is pretty easy to find, and it was pretty good. Once I got the dry rub on the ribs, I put them on a rack (optional), and started smoking them.
Next I started on a carolina style bbq sauce. I followed the previous link fairly loosely. I used about a cup and a half of apple cider vinegar, and another cup and a half of distilled white vinegar. Then I poured a little bbq sauce in. I also shook in some of the dry rub. Thats really all there was to it, and it turned out great. Once the flavors meld a little, it will be even better.
If anyone reading this thinks smoking ribs looks difficult, I’ve included the following to show you just had hard it really is… While smoking, I decided to compare Maker’s Mark to Virginia Gentleman. I poured a glass of each. I really had to concentrate to pick a favorite. They’re both very drinkable. The Maker’s is more complex, and has a slightly better nose. I really expected more of a difference between the two. I’ve never been a huge Maker’s fan. For mixing, I’m going with the gentleman. For drinking straight, see my other brown sauce posts for my favorites. I also had a Fuente Hemingway short story maduro. If you’re a cigar guy, you may know what I mean when I say sometimes a cigar is just on. Perfect age, humidity, etc. Everything was right with this one, and it was a wonderful smoke. Its one of my favorites.
Putting in a hard days work…
I enjoyed the spring day. But I did monitor the temp a few times. It was pretty easy with my remote display. I really can’t stress enough how easy it is to learn to use a smoker. Especially with ribs, you can get a good result your first time, and then really fine tune your abilities without much investment. Don’t be afraid to take it up as a new hobby.
My parents got home from the Nationals game, and my dad and I watched the Wizards in the playoffs on the DVR. Once the ribs had been on about 4 hours, I pulled them off, put them in tin foil, and dressed them. I put a store bought bbq sauce on one, butter, and dark brown sugar. On the other rack, I mopped on the homemade vinegar based sauce, added a little butter, and even a sprinkle of brown sugar. I topped it with another quick shake of the dry rub. Then I put them back on the smoker, and let it run a little hotter. After 30 minutes the sauces had caramelized, and the ribs looked amazing.
Store bought bbq:
Then we looked over the details about our upcoming trip to Cuba.
It was a great, relaxing day. I hope my instructions inspire you to give smoking a try. It really is easy. A lot of sites will overwhelm you with detail. Take it from me, you do not need to be detail oriented to make great ribs. I really think most people can turn out better ribs than most restaurants just by following my directions. Just check out some youtube videos, and my links, and you’ll be able to end up with some really amazing ribs.by rsiv with no comments yet
I just finished reading The Ian Fleming Files: Operation Armada, and The Ian Fleming Files: Operation Parsifal by Damian Stevenson. Stevenson’s work answers a question I’ve often asked myself. How does one create a better thriller character than James Bond? I think the short answer is that one can not. However, Stevenson has found an interesting loophole. He created a series of novels that are part origin-story for Bond, and half historic fictionalization of Fleming’s intelligence career. Essentially, these are Bond books, but with Ian Fleming as the main character. The books have femme fatals, Walther PPKs, eccentric villains, booze, exotic travel, and plenty of thrills. To keep this post short, I’ll summarize thusly: If you haven’t read the original Bond books, start there. If you have and are looking for more Bond summer reading, check out Stevenson’s take.by rsiv with no comments yet
I just got an email back from a customer affairs associate at Sazerac. She told me that the label has changed, but the product has not. Click here for the original post.by rsiv with no comments yet
Friday morning I headed down to Richmond International Raceway. I met a buddy at Chick-fil-a for some chicken minis, then on to Richmond.
We got to the tailgate at about 12:30. That gave us about 7 hours or so of tailgate time. We hoisted the flags and got to partying.
The above three posted for an impromptu best dressed competition. CW (center) was mistaken for a professional fishermen at the Chick-fil-a. It made his day.
I had some lunch, the sun was shining, but then the skys quickly turned. We waiting out the downpour under the canopies.
My friend Bolt always rocks the socks and, “shower shoes” look. My buddy RP always gives him the business about it. Too bad he wasn’t around to see them in the weather.
The rain stopped for the most part, and he headed in. We had to wait out some more rain under an overhang with maybe 200 other dedicated/hammered fans. It let up again. They dried the track for what felt like hours, but they finally let them run.
Some of us got a little sleepy, and called it a night early. The first time Almang passed out in the stands, we have him a ton of crap over it. Now, its so commonplace that nobody really even noticed our buddies dozing.
Despite the weather, a great time was had by all. I only get to see some of these guys a few times a year, so I love being able to catch up. This was the first year I listened in on the radio a little. I thought that really adds to the experience. My college friends move, get married, have kids, etc., but I hope we keep doing the Richmond races for years and years to come. If you haven’t seen a NASCAR race live, you don’t know what you’re missing.
by rsiv with no comments yet
Tomorrow I’m headed to RIR for the busch series. A bunch of the guys still get together for one or both of the Richmond races each year. The shorter, cheaper, busch race is always an easier sell, and if you haven’t been, its usually crazier too. Here is a playlist I’ll be listening to on the way down and at the tailgate:
My wife got a new app called timehop. It sends you pictures from years pasts on the same day the pictures were taken. She just sent me these two from the race two years ago. If you have seen my followup post (the next one), Bobby Light, CW, and Bolt won best dressed this year. BL and CW would have won two years ago as well. I’m going to have to download timehop. Pretty cool.by rsiv with no comments yet
I’ve been a patron of the Virginia ABC stores since the day before I turned 21 (2nd Question). If you’re not familiar, ABC stores are generally state run liquor stores. For hard to find bottles, I generally have to make a run to DC or MD, where liquor stores are privatized. This is not very convenient for me, and rare bottles are generally expensive bottles, so I did not often venture out for booze. This all changed a few years ago when a buddy of mind was clerking for a judge in Alexandria. Said judge purchased bartons vodka by the crate (don’t know if the dude was an alcoholic, and its not particularly germane). He did this at Magruders in DC to save money. For example, a handle (1.75 l) of makers mark is about $62 at the VA ABC, but $54 at Magruders. Thats $8 in your pocket. I might spend that much on gas, so I generally try to stock up when I go. I also don’t usually buy makers (except for parties, as its often requested, and widely enjoyed), but I think Magruders uses it as a loss leader because its often on sale, and heavily discounted. A better current example is grey goose vodka. $69 at VA ABC, $45 at Magruders. Thats $24 bucks in savings. Magruders recently went through an ownership change. In the past, almost every bottle (handles always did, and still carry the best deals) was as good a deal as the grey goose is currently. Now, you have to pay a little more attention. Even so, on handles, I’d estimate that you’re saving an average of $9 a handle on top shelf liquor. If you need to stock your bar, or you’re having a big party, there is no better place to stock up than Magruders.
Another thing we learned from a judge in Alexandria, is that Very Old Barton is a very drinkable bourbon. At the time, despite being very much into bourbon, we hadn’t heard of it. When I first learned about it, I read that VOB was the number one selling bourbon in Kentucky. I can’t be sure if that was true, but here is a VOB sales accolade from THE expert. I was quite interested, and after giving it a try, I was very impressed. Here is a review that I basically agree with. To summarize, VOB is good, its not great, but for the price, it can’t be beat. My guests drink a lot of my bourbon, so having a good house bourbon is of the utmost importance to me. No one but the uninitiated turn up their nose at VOB, and even they quickly realize their mistake.
The worst part about the ownership change was the price change in Blanton’s. Shown above for $60, it used to be hover around $47. The other day, I was in Silver Spring for a meeting, and swung by on the way home. I noticed they were fully stocked with the 6 year expression of VOB, which may be being phased out in favor of a no-age-statement iteration. I stocked up… I also got another value bourbon to try out. I’ll let y’all know how it goes.by rsiv with no comments yet
When I started this blog, I intended to do a lot of style posts (the pics above are from one here). I haven’t really got around to writing many, and each time I consider getting started, I notice that another blogger has beaten me to the punch. Sure, I have my own take, but this isn’t a style blog, and I’m no expert. I have a bunch of stuff I want to post about, but instead of expecting everyone to click the style category, I’ll try to keep it all together (at least for the time being) in one post. Maybe I’ll keep the style coming if this post is popular.
Start out by check out RCS’ Spring Wish List.
I have a JCrew version of his recommended shirt. Madras is a summer staple, but I thought I’d take it up a notch with the uniqueness of the pullover. International flair without being too far from traditional. Good pick.
I can’t say that I agree with the fleece pullover though. The utility of a fleece without a zip is suspect. I realize style and utility aren’t always congruous, but a good fleece can easily be found with a full zipper.
I also like RCS’ New Balances. Most tennis shoes look way too busy for my taste. Not even all plain shoes go well with shorts. I did go with an American theme to keep things interesting:
I think I might have to grab the golf glove RCS featured, and I already have a version of the wedge that is shown. I’m not in love with the shorts featured, and I thought I’d link to some more casual jacket options, but Tommy Bahama doesn’t currently offer the colors I got last season.
Lets talk about the white jeans. First off, yes, I have some white 501s. However, I rarely wear them because I found a better alternative. A year or two ago I came across this blog post:
It explains how to use rit dye (amazon or craft stores) and a washing machine to dye white jeans a cool shade of mint green. I bought another pair of white 501s off amazon, and threw some rit dye in the cart as well. In a few days, I had mint green jeans. The results are shown below. In some pictures, the white jeans are shown for comparison, and further down is a white linen shirt I also dyed mint green.
I bought the white linen shirt from LL Bean for $40 (last year they ran out, but this year they’re still stocked). Rit dye is about $5 a bottle. So for $45-50, you can have a linen shirt in any color you want. $55-60 for jeans. I’d recommend trying out a few old white shirts (cotton), etc, first, as dying is an art as much as a science. I didn’t re-read the whole DIY craft post, but basically, I like to pour about 4 oz or so of dye into a bucket of water (lined with a trash bag for easy clean up). The instructions given seemed to result in a good product for that girl, but I found that using more aqua and less apple resulted in a softer less grassy mint. Once you get your clothes about the right color (wet clothes are darker than when they’re dry), throw it in the washing machine and set it to warm or hot water. Thats basically it. Remember that you can always go darker, but its hard to go backwards. Less is more. Aim for a light shade, like a tea dye look.
Now that I’ve admitted to owning white and mint jeans, and crafting, lets talk about inseams and short shorts. I’m about 5’9. On me, 7 inch inseams end above the knee without looking extreme. Anything longer looks messy to me. Against my better judgement, enjoy a creepy thigh selfie that shows what a 7′ inseam looks like:
I also have some 5′ short pants from chubbies. I’ll let their website do the talking. A 7′ inseam looks classic but not unusual. 5′ inseams will be noticed. After a drunken morning at the pool at the Luxor, my friends and I have an inside joke/thing in which we have a, “small draw” competition. Its on-going. Its swim-draw specific (chubbies does make them), but perhaps I’ll try to expand the competitive field.
Here are some more short pant options from RCS. I’m considering the southern proper offering.
You can’t talk spring without talking sperrys. First, allow a rant about all the boat shoes with socks I saw this winter. If you think you need socks, leave the boat shoes at home. If you’re hard enough to go sockless in winter, go for it. I’m a gold cup man myself, but I recently found some unused but vintage perforated sperrys on ebay. My buddy RP, and another friend Rob both had pairs I envied, and I finally found some in my size.
All the things you love, but in a breezier package. It also helps with sperry odor. There are plenty of resources out there, but if you are doing nothing about the odor issue, you’re doing too little. I use odor eater insoles (changed every couple of months), cedar shoe trees when not in use, and in this case, perforation for extra breathability.
Lets talk Barbour. Today was a good spring day for barbour but its really mostly an early spring item here in VA. Further south, its probably more of a fall garment. I did a lot of research before buying my first barbour jacket. I’ll give you a hint of which I found to be king of the barbours.
Any guesses? Pictured above is the zipper to the game pocket on (but not exclusive to) the Barbour Beaufort. Why is the Beaufort the best? It looks good just out on errands, but its functional in the field. You may think the shorter length of the Bedale is more stylish, but if so, you’re probably a citified hipster because the Bedale does not have a game pocket. If you’re an equestrian, which is the only reason to own one, you get a pass (there are probably other good reasons). So why do you need a game pocket?
To hold your downed game. A non-hunter owning a Barbour is like a soccer mom owning an off-road SUV (overkill is American, I’ll concede that point). Take the generous pockets, they’re designed to hold your shells. When I went to get some pictures of my Beaufort, I found an empty in there.
The beaufort isn’t the only Barbour jacket with a game pocket. I bought my dad a vintage border jacket, which was insulated, and had a game pocket. So what else might you need to know before purchase? Sylkoil vs “classic” (waxed cotton). I only own the classic, and I like it, but you can check out both at an Orvis, or similar store. Sylkoil is a newer finish, which you recondition the same way. The upfront cost is slightly higher, and I hear the material is slightly nappier.
All joking aside, Barbour makes some good products. My sister doesn’t hunt, and no longer rides, but I did get her an awesome Barbour jacket from a saddlery for xmas. A vintage Barbour off of ebay can be a pretty good deal, as all waxed cotton jackets require occasional upkeep.
Now lets move on to a later spring/summer garment. Seersucker. I’m a fan. However, lets say you’re at a horse race or summer wedding. All the try-hards are out in their blue seersucker suits. So what to do? Go green or grey. Its subtle and classic. My suit shown above is from Indochino (more about the company here). Once you have the suit, you need shoes. In my opinion, you only have two choices (please leave the flipflops for the beach, or at least with shorts only). Bucks (another buck link) or saddle shoes:
I thought about taking another pic to hide the stain on the toe, but then I remembered that its spilled bourbon, and decided to keep it real, and increase this blog’s credibility.
So to summarize, check out some of the blogs I’ve linked to in this post (even more below) Try a classic southern look. Since I’ve already outted myself for crafting and owning white jeans, I’ll go the next step and admit to my bad taste in reality TV. I could tell you I watch for the southern architecture, plantations, and spanish moss, but we all know thats not the real reason. This spring, go for the T-Rav look:
Not the shep:
If you don’t watch, you don’t want to take any advice from Thomas Ravenel aka Charlie Croaker (I can’t be the first to make the comparison) save for fashion advice. Shep looks like a freshman after receiving his first order of vineyard vines. Everything is a size too large, and is sloppily thrown together. And in case you didn’t understand what a try-hard was when I used the term earlier, see that last pic.
Now, since I’ve already admitted to being no expert, and since I really only hit on the basics, here are some more links for those that are interested in knowing more than I:
Check out the Grey Fox. The pic above is from a spring/summer pinterest of his (I think from last year). I very much dig the look. There are many more to inspire you. His blog is geared towards men of a certain age, but what young man today wouldn’t benefit from a more classic, refined look. He also has a blue and orange post which will get you ready for summer blockbuster season. Check out another spring post here for even more inspiration.
Bowtiesandboatshoes has tons of seasonal posts, too many worthwhile to pick just one.
On when one can wear white, ad nauseum. Crazy. Rules are made to be broken.
I can’t/don’t generally golf in December, January, or February, so for it, its golf season again. How about some golf style.
Another favorite, but its down right now. I’ll try to remember to edit this and update it when its back up.
by rsiv with no comments yet
Met the wife at Clare and Don’s for lunch, and we sat outside. The meal was good as usual, but the weather was fantastic and they had some reggae bumpin. Put me in the mood for some more spring music:
I borrowed my mom’s convertible while she was out of town recently, and found out that 99.5 HD2 is pride radio. Its basically gay club music. Probably not mosts’ cup of tea, but it makes for great top down music:
by rsiv with no comments yet