travel

Texas Chapter CATS Fest Meet Up

img_0032Heck yeah! If your in Texas or even close to the state you won’t want to miss this one. Texas is having their official annual meet up this year at CATS Fest V in Bulvetde, TX (that’s basically San Antonio). Will be kicking things off Friday May 26th in the evening at the CATS pre-party and of course we’ll really be getting things going on Saturday May 27th at the event.

As usual the La Quinta is home base for everything and where the majority of us will be staying. Information on tickets and booking a hotel are available at the CATS Fest website: Catsfestival.com

For specific information contact your chapter officers and they will give you all the details on when and where we will all be meeting. Hope to see a ton of us out there this year!

The address for the event is:

401 Obst Road Bulverde, Texas 78163

The Palomino Santa Ana Maduro

image-4If you haven’t heard of Palomino Cigars then you are missing out. The Palomino family has been making cigars in the Cibao Valley of the Santiago De Los Caballeros Province of the Dominican Republic since 1965. What makes them different from the rest of the companies is not only that they make a wide selection of quality sticks but they only sell factory direct. What this means for you is that not only do you get a great cigar but, instead of paying the $9 – $13 a piece you can pick theirs up for around $2 – $3.

Now I know what your thinking already, “how can a $3 stick be good?” The answer…most of what you smoke could probably be sold for around $3 a stick if they sold factory direct as well. For the other brands you are paying for their advertising cost, their sells reps pay, retail mark ups, and so on. So that being said on to the cigars.

Since I like a fuller flavored cigar I decided I would try the Santa Ana Maduro. Inspection shows a well-constructed stick covered in a nice oily wrapper with minimal veins and is in the dark chocolate color realm. It is firm to the touch but just pliable enough that it will not crack if you like to bite the end of yours like I do when you smoke. The odor from the body is of chocolate and old leather with a hint of cedar and fruit. The odor from the foot is the same just more intense.

It lit easily and the draw was even and smooth. The flavor was earthy with a bit of spice with coffee on the back end. The flavor held consistent throughout the cigar. The burn was even all the way through and did not have to be restarted at any point. The ash held well and was near white. The cigar created ample, thick smoke that looked heavy but felt light on the tongue.

When you first get these cigars you might be skeptical but after this smoke I bet you will have no qualms recommending these to anybody. In my opinion for the cost of these cigars they are a great value and could easily fetch between $9-$13 a stick at a brick and mortar store.

Brand: Silvo Palomino 

Web Address: www.palomino-cigars.com

Rating: 4.6 out of 5

Tusker…A Taste of Africa

IMG_0459In 1922, Kenyan Brewery co-founder George Hurst was killed by an elephant during an African Hunting expedition. His legend lives on with a beer the brewery named Tusker, in his honor.

Tusker is the highest selling beer in East Africa and for good reason. Made with 100%, locally sourced, African ingredients. The spring water used comes from the Aberdare Mountains, the barley is from the Maasai Mara and Savannah, and the yeast is developed locally. All of this helps, as their website says, “Makes you feel closely connected to the brand’s origins and roots.” Considered a light beer, this lager is crisp and outdoorsy. There’s a hint of residual sweetness, but a mix of woodsy flavor. Its a common beer in Africa, and much better than our common beers of the United States. I had the opportunity to drink it several times while staying at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Jambo House Lodge. It’s served endlessly to their guests staying on the club level. Perhaps it was the atmosphere of an African Village, or being in the company of wildebeests, giraffes and zebras, but I very much-enjoyed Tusker and its distinct taste.

Interesting that East African Breweries Limited is noted as the best company to work for in Kenya. With great beers like Tusker around the factory, Id say it would be easy to love working there too.

I can’t give a review of a beer called tusker, without mentioning my favorite elephant foundation. The Daphne Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. This is an amazing foundation and elephant orphanage that raises elephants that have been orphaned by the killing of adult females for the ivory trade. However, baby elephants can’t drink anything but their mother’s milk for the first two years of their life. Through three decades of trial and error, Dr. Daphne Sheldrick created the only successful milk substitute for baby elephants. Her orphanage rescues baby elephants and raises them until they are able to live in Africa’s preserve with other herds of elephants, many of who are previous orphans from the nursery. For much more information or to foster an orphaned elephant visit www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org.

IMG_0458

Brewer:  East African Breweries Limited

ABV: 4.20

Rating: 4.4 pints out of 5

 

By: Cindy R.

 

Catching Big on Catch My Drift

Rogan 1My cousin and I wanted to take a fishing trip last weekend. While sorting through all the companies that offer this service we chose Fishing Headquarters based out of Ft Lauderdale Florida. They specialize in sport fishing and drift fishing. We decided to take their drift-fishing trip, as we had never tried this method before. We arrived for our 8 am trip and were greeted by a great crew. The captain seemed quite knowledgeable and helpful. We boarded the boat with about 50 other passengers. On board were a mixture of people from tourists, locals, families, and serious fisherman who came with multiple rods and all sorts of their own “secret weapons.” With so many aboard on board we wondered if we would be able to catch any thing, but we left the dock and headed out to the first drift point.

As we went out the crew went over the proper use of the rods and reels along with some other safety points. As we got to the drift point all the passengers lowered their lines to a depth just off the sea bottom. As we waited for our lines to pull the calls for “fish on” could be heard across the boat with passengers pulling up fish after fish, this excitement continued for the duration of the trip. The crew knew everything about the fish we were catching and the area, making the trip even better.rogan 3

As we continued the trip we stopped at several more drift points and caught a plethora of beautiful, delicious fish all while discovering how fun and different drift-fishing could be. The catch ranged from hogfish, mangrove snappers, and strawberry grouper to less edible and more beautiful Queen triggerfish.

rogan2The trip was enjoyed by all aboard whether you were southern boys having a few beers and trying to win the pool for biggest catch or the family on vacation enjoying fishing for the first time.

 

Rating: 4.6 out of 5 pints

Cost: $40 per person for 4hr drift fishing trip

Company: http://www.fishheadquarters.com/

“The Catch My Drift is an incredible drift fishing boat. 85’ in length, she is the largest, fastest and the only Air-Conditioned party fishing boat in Fort Lauderdale. They have spared no expense with 3 Color Fish Finders, Radio, GPS Satellite Navigation and Chart Plotting, T.V., DVD, Full Galley, Upper and Lower deck access, and every other amenity you can think of.”

Southern Hospitality

sh1When I arrived in South Carolina, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew I would encounter a painful history and the occasional southern twang but I definitely got more than I bargained for. Being raised in New Castle, Delaware, I was not accustomed to the proverbial Southern Hospitality. Frankly, for 28 years, I thought that was just a, “BS,” phrase southerners used to set themselves apart from the rest of the country. I can honestly say after my visit to Charleston that I was wrong.

In an attempt to get a feel for the city and the culture, my girlfriend and I decided we would stay at the Ansonborough Inn, located in the heart of Charleston’s historic district. Originally a three-story-stationer’s warehouse, the transformation from warehouse to hotel can be described as nothing less than exceptional. Covered in red brick and large wooden pillars, I couldn’t help but feel like I had been transported back to colonial times.

Pleased by what I had already seen, I went to the front desk and bam, I was hit with that Southern twang. I rather enjoyed the twang and, the personnel at the front desk were great. Not only were they accommodating to us, but because of the availability of rooms during our stay, we were upgraded to a junior suite free of charge. So off to the third floor we went.

We entered the room and we couldn’t have been happier. It was beautiful. Broken into two separate rooms, the Junior Suite came with a relaxing lounge area and a spacious bedroom. The lounge area consisted of a flat screen TV inside a wooden armoire, large leather sofa, work desk, and a kitchenette. It was perfect for killing time between events or even coming back and playing rummy while enjoying some craft beer.

sh2    sh3    sh0

The bedroom consisted of a nice queen sized bed, mounted flat screen, dresser, night stands and large bathroom. Actually, the bed was so nice we had a hard time leaving it to go on our excursions. The room really made us feel like we were home. We ended up getting so comfortable that we decided to stick our, “Please Do Not Disturb,” sign on the door.

To this, the hotel staff responded with true Southern Hospitality. Instead of the normal hunt down for someone to bring us towels or other items we had exhausted, we were greeted each afternoon with a beautiful wicker basket full of all the items that would normally have been replaced by the hotel staff. Something so minor in nature went a long way in with us. They truly respected our privacy and allowed us the quality time we truly wanted to achieve.

sh5       sh7

As if the room and hotel décor were not enough to have us singing Ansonborough Inn’s praises, free wine (red and white), cheese, fruit, and cookies were offered from 5pm to 6pm daily. So of course, our schedule revolved around this happy hour. There was no way a wino and a cheese-junkie would miss out on something so awesome.

So, for all you non-believers, Southern Hospitality is real. This beautiful hotel and wonderful staff is one shining example of that. My girlfriend and I thoroughly enjoyed our experience at the Ansonborough Inn and would highly recommend this hotel to any couples visiting the Charleston area.

 

Price: $180.00 – $232.00

 

Pints: 4.5 pints (out of 5)

 

Negatives: Parking is $15 a day.

 

Local Attractions: Fort Sumter, Charleston Aquarium, Boones Hall Plantation (Mt. Pleasant S.C.)

 

Web Site: http://www.ansonboroughinn.com/

 

Address: 21 Hasell Street CHARLESTON, SC 29401

 

Phone: (843)723-1655


 

Summer Time Travel

It’s summer time! And while the past summers as of late, I’ve spent in a college classroom,  for the majority of both young and old, summer is undoubtably a time for travel. Not just any travel, summer vacations mean exotic trips to the ruins and cities of Europe or the paradises of the tropics. So break open your Google Maps and pina coladas. As someone who has traveled extensively here are some of my top picks for summer travel and, in distinguished ruffian style, their complementary beverage choices.

santorini1. The Greek Islands. Santorini is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. On my visit I was able to swim in hot springs, hike a volcano, take a boat in the sea, and relax on their seaside city. (Much of the coastline city has been carved out of the side of the sea rock) Recommended drink is Ouzo, its the traditional alcoholic beverage of the region. It is an anise flavored aperitif  that is clear in color and strong in flavor, and a little water to it and it will turn cloudy white and also help reduce the potency if its flavor.

Portland-Head-Lighthouse

2. The New England Coast. Growing up I spent the majority of my summers on the sands if George’s Beach and fishing off of Block Island. New England states, such as Connecticut and Rhode Island may be small, but they are everything summer is meant to be! The weather is perfect which makes the array of activities feel endless and the people are great (although I’ll admit that last point is biased considering my long list of relatives who live there, whom I’m quite fond of). Newport, Narragansett and Block Island are my favorites for summer variety and seafood. For a drink try a beer from Shipyard Brewing Company in, Portland Maine, which is just north of my choice cites. They have a wide variety of beers that will go nicely with whatever you happen to do that day.

victoria-bc3. Canada. While I have yet to explore the majority of Canada, I can personally say that Quebec and British Columbia make great summer spots. Quebec feels like its own little country. It’s just lovely really. For those Ruffians out there looking to take your lady for a unique romantic trip without going abroad Quebec is perfect. Theres lots of history, quaint cobblestone streets, and old town appeal. On the west coast British Columbia is a thriving city with a lot of pride. The tourist area is very fun although a few blocks away there appeared to be a lot less pride, loads of trash and lots of homeless that approach you quickly. I wouldn’t make British Columbia my destination for a weeks long vacation, but it makes a great day trip. Caribou is the drink of Quebec. If you enjoy the flavor of wine, a little whiskey and the sweetness of maple syrup then it’s for you.

Photo credit Destination360 Victoria

http://www.destination360.com/north-america/canada/british-columbia/victoria

 

Amalfi-Coast-Campania-Italy-1-CFI5RPB97E-1024x768

4. The Amalfi Coast. Portofino, Capri , And Sorrento are a few of the many areas on and around the Amalfi Coast in Italy. It’s no wonder that celebrities vacation there, it’s aesthetically beautiful and all around peaceful! It’s one of my favorite vacation spots. In the summer it can be a little crowded with tourists so stick to the outskirts during this time. There’s plenty of activities along the coast. You can hire a boat for the day or take the ferries from Ravello to Positano and see what the small towns have to offer. Drink of choice undoubtedly is Limoncello

alaska-whales-usa5. Alaska (The Inside Passage). Even in summer it can be a bit brisk, cold, and at times rainy, but it’s Worth it! I’ve been to 75% of the states in the U.S.A. and Alaska is one of my favorites. I love the way nature and man cohabit ate in this amazing place. If you’re a big city lover, Alaska is not for you. But, if you appreciate the great outdoors, Alaska is wilderness untouched. In Alaska the wilderness is everywhere and it’s breath taking. While I’ve read that the signature drink of Alaska is a smoked salmon bloody mary, I think that sounds bloody disgusting. I’d stick with one of the beers from Alaska’s long list of great breweries. My husband and I personally enjoyed the beers from Skagway Brewing Company.

waterfall-in-jamaica-natural-beauties-of-the-caribbean

6. Jamaica. I live in Florida so tropical places like the Bahamas and the Caribbean aren’t too extraordinary for me, but for those who do want somewhere tropical to visit this summer, try Jamaica. Once you get past the rows of Bob Marley beach towel sellers and “mon ja -macan me crazy” t-shirts, it’s a pretty place. the people are indeed quite relaxed, and theres a great mix of natural beauty like waterfalls and water sport activities which are necessary in the summer because it is HOT, VERY HOT! Drinking a rum punch or a red stripe will help cool you off and both are delicious.

 

 

Hold Your Breath in Siesta

siestakeybeachmedHold Your Breath in Siesta

March is here and with it comes warmer weather, co-eds, and the start of the much awaited college spring break.  No spring breaker can bypass the overwhelming necessity to go out, let loose, and assassinate a few brain cells on this much needed vacation from higher education.  It’s pretty hard to resist the warm weather, fine sand beaches, and $3 fire ball shots that await you in Siesta Key, Florida.

Siesta Key, located in south west Florida, keeps the crowds coming in from all over.  With one of the best beaches in all of Florida, a variety of thirst quenching establishments and relativity to Sarasota (home of the Orioles spring training), spring breakers can’t resist getting caught up in its luminescence.

With all the night life and attractions bringing the youth to Siesta faster than a mosquito to a zapper, you better believe that law enforcement has stepped up their efforts to keep the quiet town muzzled.  So if you plan to go out on a night on the town with some friends, think twice. The last thing you want to do is be the 2 am circus act performing the world renowned sobriety act from the side of the road.  Don’t be a clown, and utilize one of the following options in the area to take a miniature booze cruise back safely:

Siesta Key Free Ride:  www.siestakeyfreeride.com/ 941-952-TAXI

 

Jonnys Free Beach Rides :  www.jonnysfreebeachrides.com/ 941-306-9097

 

Forgot to mention both of the services above cost you the whopping price of nothing.  You got it, FREE! All you do is tip.  If neither of these services is available, no sweat, just call yourself a regular cab ride home.  If the fare is less than $10,000 (average cost of a DUI), then I believe you’re getting a good deal.  

Pick a winner, get down on the dance floor and turn up at the bar.  Most important though, hold your breath, Breathalyzers get enough action.

Location: Siesta Key

Party Rating:  4 pints (If you’re into country check out The White Buffalo)

Beach Rating: 5 pints (beautiful fine sand beaches and free booze taxis)