One night earlier this year, after he had just enjoyed a meal at a restaurant in Huntington, West Virginia, J. Eric Ruegg had an epiphany.
He was siting in a warm, quiet loft at the bar, when he lit up a cigar; a Gran Habano 3 Siglos Gran Corona. What followed was nothing short of achieving an elusive "total consciousness," something that inspired him to write about it for the Cigar Advisor newsletter. He wrote, "Its flavors were truly spectacular and tantalized my taste buds into submission. It was an ebb and flow of rich, aromatic bliss. While I had difficulty singling out any one particular note from another, underneath a predominant tone of cedar, I tasted what seemed to reference baking spices."
A couple weeks later, he cooked a pork tenderloin for he and his wife, and the combination of the aroma of the fennel bulb slices, crushed fennel seed, and black pepper rub for the pork, and the backporch cigar he enjoyed afterward (a Perdomo Reserve Cameroon Robusto) got him to thinking about flavors and the interplay of those flavors of the food with those of the cigars. "I remembered the 3 Siglos," he wrote, "its cinnamon, I remembered the pork tenderloin and its fennel, its anise flavors, I thought of the Perdomo on the porch, its desperate flavors wishing to escape to freedom, what were they? I only knew that they shared some of the spices of these confluent events."
I had to talk to this guy.