Hello and much love my friends!

First and foremost, it is an honor and pleasure to be selected to talk about and share the “Cigar Culture” with the readers of Dining Out Jersey.

For my first article, I would like to introduce myself to you all, and share some of my 30 years of experience and infatuation with cigars.

It all started for me, 30 years ago. I was a scruffy young punk who had heard from some guy, that had heard from some guy, that up in Montreal, one could drink legally at the tender age of 18. And that my friends, is ALL the information I required to grab some buddies and take a road trip up to the mystical land of Montreal.

About six and a half hours later, we were checked into our hotel in downtown Montreal, and ready to party! After parking the car, I remember seeing a sign across the street that stated “Cuban Cigars”. I figured, hey, really classy and sophisticated people smoke cigars, and I can totally pretend to be one of them. Plus, the allure of smoking a FORBIDDEN Cuban cigar made it even more appealing to me. Naturally, my friends were in agreement.

I remember walking through the doors and being hit with that aroma. Earthy, woodsy and slightly sweet. There was a very distinguished gentleman standing by the counter in a suit with a cigar. I knew we could TOTALLY be this guy. We walked up to the store clerk, and with my horrendous French accent, asked for 3 Cuban cigars. I received a kind smile (clearly not his first rodeo in dealing with a bunch of kids from The States) as he asked “Which one are you looking to purchase son?” Honestly, I had absolutely no idea. I said we would like whatever the best ones were.

After standing there shocked, for what seemed like an eternity after discovering that we would need a substantial loan to purchase these finest Cuban cigars, we wound up purchasing 3 Robert Burn cigars. In the tube! So, I was still feeling pretty damn classy, at a fraction of the price. The clerk smiled, and said, “No matter what, make sure to NOT inhale the cigar smoke!” and wished us a good evening.

We took our bounty and headed to one of the local pubs. Legal drinking at 18. We could smoke cigars at the bar. This right here, this was living. This was ‘BIG’ time. I remember the big thing at the time was Molson XXX, the three X’s meaning three times the alcohol. It made perfect sense for a bunch of rookies to order those.

We grabbed our beers, and were now ready to show the world our classiness. Well, almost ready. So… who knew that you needed a cigar cutter to cut a cigar. Clearly not us. We were lucky that a couple of other patrons smoking cigars cut our cigars for us. One of the gentlemen was even kind enough to just GIVE me a plastic cigar cutter. Whoa, now I also owned my own cigar cutter. I am clearly on top of the world. I have arrived.

After drinking our Molson XXX beers, we lit up those Robert Burns cigars and were living the high life. Kings. Bad-asses. Classy. Until we weren’t. We learned the hard way about the “not inhaling” part that the cigar store clerk had specifically told us not to do. Let’s just say, I am pretty sure that I found the gum that I swallowed when I was 5. Holy cow, the teacher was right about swallowing gum! Who knew?!

And that, my friends, was my official introduction to cigars. And that was the moment my love affair began. Hey, not all amazing journeys start off with a bang, right?
In upcoming articles, I will share all the intricacies of cigars, tobacco, pairings, the cigar culture and the love and euphoria that it gives me and so many other cigar connoisseurs.
See you all soon!

Matty Rock, an avid foodie and cigar connoisseur, has been doing large scale promotional and tailored experiential events for over 2 decades within the cigar and food world. Keep an eye out here at Dining Out Jersey for events that Matty Rock will be hosting.
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