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Richard's Diary

Food

New Smoking Chocolate product from the House of Grauer

By David on January, 15th 2016 - 2:44 pm

Great new product from the House of Grauer. I've been eating these with cigars for the last month and wow!!!!

'The Smoked Collection’ was developed by The House of Grauer in collaboration with Master Chocolate maker, the Chocolatier du Rhone, using traditional Swiss ‘artisanal’ methods. Expose your palate to an adventure of discovery with three unique ‘Smoked’ ganache chocolates – Tobacco, Whisky and Tea. The House of Grauer invites you to indulge in nature’s most intoxicating creations, expanding on the idea that the pleasure of one’s smoking experience should not be confined to the universe of one’s cigar. These chocolates are the culmination of a plethora of artists working together to produce an epicurean masterpiece. To savor nature’s most luxurious pleasures, and to indulge boldly and absolutely, is to know The House of Grauer.

Crack through the shiny Sao Tomé 63% couverture and let yourself be overwhelmed by the subtle smoky flavors of Cuban Tobacco, Scottish Whisky and Chinese Tea on a Venezuelan Grand Cru 80% ganache. When enjoyed together, chocolate and cigars bring out the very best in one another. With each mouthful you will experience a new alliance, and your palate will discover an unsuspected world of harmony.

In combining the finest ingredients with the finest chocolate, our goal is to provide you with an uncommonly delicious taste experience. The work of nature is skillfully embellished by experts who apply art, science and experience to create an ode to tradition, whose subtle complexities are sensed and appreciated by taste sophisticates the world over. When enjoyed in concert, they bring out the very best in each other. We believe that each chocolate should be a unique experience. Discern a new alliance with each bite.

Cuban Tobacco - 20 pieces
The Havana Tobacco ganache offers a prickly spicy, creamy sensation, similar to that of the final phase of your favorite cigar. The exotic, warm aromas of tropical Cuban Tobacco blend delectably with the roundness of the tender Venezuelan Grand Cru 80% ganache.

Scottish Whisky - 20 pieces
Flavored with a legendary Scottish 10 year old Single Malt Whisky, this ganache imparts an earthy, peaty smokiness. A soft and velvety impression remains on the palate, where richness of the bean is balanced with the cerebral complexity of the water of life.

Chinese Tea - 20 pieces
China’s elegant Lapsang Souchong Tea from the Fujian mountain area is heavily smoked, due to a two phase, wood-fire drying process. The creamy Venezuelan ganache vehicles the ashy flavors of the black tea perfectly, creating a chocolate ideally suited to pair with your cigar.

Game Recipes to Inspire your Cigars

By David on October, 13th 2015 - 7:19 pm

The Game Season is in full swing, and we love this excuse to bring the strong flavours of gamey birds and animals with the finest cigars Cuba has to offer. Check out our selections for this year on my David's Smokes Page.

Our inspiration this year was a firm favourite of the culinary world, Jamie Oliver, he makes the seemingly complex and intimidating ingredients become a reality for the novice chefs out there. Ingredients and recipe are right here for the rabbit bolognese and the pigeon sandwiches:
JAMIE's GAME RECIPE

I hope we at Topcubans at least try and do the same in the world of cigars, you are always most welcome to drop us a line to ask any questions you may have on cigars, pairings, Cuba, sport, anything you like! INFO@TOPCUBANS.COM as always is where we are.

Cubans and Coffee

By David on July, 15th 2015 - 6:56 pm

We love a good coffee in Switzerland, and we have a great selection on our David's Smokes page which we have taken the time to make sure they are the best available for good strong, tasty coffee! Lots of difficult man hours went into that research!

Now with the new Montecristo Medias Coronas on my Prestigious Page, there are just so many great Cubans on offer to pair up with your morning coffee!

Enjoy!

Game Recipe with Cigar Pairings

By David on October, 15th 2014 - 11:08 am

The Game Season is now in full swing here in Switzerland, which means that it is time for the traditional TopCubans.com Game Recipe for 2014. This year, we will prepare Venison fillets with crème de cassis sauce (by Keith Floyd).

Ingredients

30g/1oz butter
2 tbsp olive oil
3 venison fillets, each weighing about 85g/3oz
30ml/1 fl oz brandy
55ml/2 fl oz crème de cassis
100ml/ 3½fl oz venison stock or good quality beef stock
1 venison sausage, casing removed and discarded
1 tbsp fresh or dried cranberries
1 tbsp chestnuts, peeled and mashed
2 heart-shaped croutons, to serve
1 tbsp venison or game pâte
1 tbsp redcurrent jelly
watercress, to garnish

Preparation

1.Heat half the butter and olive oil in a small fry pan.

2.Add the venison fillets and fry, over a high heat, for one minute.

3.Turn the steaks over and fry for a further 3-4 minutes (longer if you like medium to well done fillets).

4.Pour in the brandy and when the flame has died, remove the fillets from the pan and arrange on a warm plate.

5.Pour in the crème de cassis and the stock and season well. Leave over the heat until the sauce has thickened and reduced.

6.Meanwhile, form a small patty by combining the sausage meat, cranberries and chestnuts.

7.Heat the remaining butter and oil in a small fry pan. Add the patty and fry for 2-3 minutes, either side.

8.Finish the croutons by spreading them with pâte, then the red current jelly.

9.Pour the crème de cassis sauce over the venison.

10.Add the patty and croutons to the plate, garnish with a sprig of watercress and serve.

And to go with this ‘gastronomique’ treat, please find our suggested smoking menu:

Amuse Bouche – Cohiba Secretos box of 10
Entrée – Cuaba Distinguidos
Plat Principal – Bolivar Presidente Swiss Regional Production 2013
Dessert – Montecristo Double Edmundo box of 10
Digestif – Partagas Lusitanias box of 10

‘So long as you have food and a cigar in your mouth, you have solved all questions for the time being.’ (Kafka)

Enjoy,
David

Game Recipe with Cigar Pairings

By David on October, 18th 2013 - 5:45 pm

The Game Season is now in full swing here in Switzerland, which means that it is time for the traditional TopCubans.com Game Recipe for 2013. This year, we will prepare a Loin of roe venison with rosti, celeriac, cabbage, carrot and game gravy (by Nick Nairn).

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. First make the game gravy. Roast the venison bones for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a medium-sized saucepan, add the butter and venison trimmings and cook on a low heat for 20 minutes until well browned. Add the shallots, mushrooms, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and crushed peppercorns. Gently fry for 5-10 minutes or until golden brown.

Pour in the red wine vinegar, followed by the port and red wine (and a glass for yourself, of course!). Boil until a thick, syrupy glaze is achieved. Add the stock, redcurrant jelly and roasted bones and simmer for 45 minutes. Pass through a fine sieve into a small, clean pan and boil again to reduce by half. Thicken with arrowroot, then check the seasoning and set aside. Reheat for serving. (This makes more gravy than you need for this dish; keep the rest in the fridge or freeze it.)

Next make the rosti. Place the grated potatoes in a clean tea towel and squeeze out the liquid. Place in a bowl, add 2 tbsp of the goose fat and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well. Heat four blini pans. Add 2 tbsp of goose fat to each and then divide the potato mix between them, pressing it down gently. Cook until crisp and golden on the base, then carefully turn over and continue cooking until the other side is golden and the potatoes are tender. Place in a low oven to keep warm. For the vegetables, heat 2 tbsp of goose fat in a heavy-bottomed frying pan and sauté the chopped vegetables with the thyme and garlic for 15-20 minutes or until coloured and cooked through. Place in the oven to keep warm.

For the venison, heat the butter in the frying pan, then sear the venison until well coloured and cooked medium rare. Remove the meat from the pan and place it somewhere warm to relax. Pour out the fat from the pan, return it to a high heat and deglaze with the wine and vinegars. Boil fast to reduce, then add the stock and reduce again by one-quarter to really intensify the flavours. Strain and keep warm.

Then reheat the cabbage, adding the cream, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. To serve, place a pile of cabbage in the centre of each plate. Place the rosti on top and place the sautéed vegetables around the outside. Place the venison on the rosti, and pour over the reduced jus. Drizzle the game gravy around the outside of the plates. You are now ready to serve your Game banquet.

Enjoy and Bon App!

David

Game recipes and smoking cigars

By David on October, 10th 2012 - 3:01 pm

The 2012 TopCubans.com Game recipe is Wood Pigeon and Pancetta Risotto with Black Truffle and Parmesan shavings (by Sara Danesin Medio)

Ready in 3 hours
Serves: 4

Ingredients

For the Pigeon
3 wood pigeons, plucked and gutted
sea salt and crushed black pepper
2 tsp Dijon mustard
pinch fennel seeds
2 sprigs thyme, leaves only
3 juniper berries, crushed
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bay leaf
30g/1oz butter

For the Stock
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 celery stick, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
2 shallots, chopped
200ml/7fl oz red wine, preferably Barolo
500ml/18fl oz game stock
500ml/18fl oz chicken stock

For the Risotto
50g/1¾oz diced pancetta
25g/1oz butter
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
250g/9oz Arborio rice, preferably organic
100g/3½oz parmesan cheese, finely grated

For the Sauce
150ml/5fl oz stock
splash reserved red wine
30g/1oz cold butter, cubed
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Garnish
1 black truffle, very finely sliced or shaved
Cyprus salt, or sea salt flakes

Preparation method
1.Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Remove the breasts from the birds, season with crushed black pepper and sea salt and set aside.

2.Place the pigeon carcasses in a roasting tin and season with the mustard, fennel seeds, thyme, juniper berries and garlic. Tuck the bay leaf into the cavity of one of the birds then roast them in the oven for 30 minutes.

3.To make the stock, heat the oil in a large saucepan and brown the celery, carrot and shallots. Add the roasted carcasses and a splash of the wine and cook for three minutes, and set aside the roasting tin to make the sauce later. Add the game and chicken stocks to the saucepan with most of the remaining wine, reserving a little wine for the sauce and the risotto, and leave to simmer for 45 minutes. Strain the stock into a clean pan, measure 150ml/5fl oz of the stock and set aside for the sauce.

4.For the risotto, place the pancetta in a dry pan and cook over a medium to high heat until crisp. Add the butter and shallot and cook gently until the shallots are soft. Add the rice and stir well for about three minutes, then add a splash of the wine and stir until the wine is absorbed.

5.Add the stock, ladle by ladle, stirring all the time, and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the rice is cooked but still has a slight bite. When the rice is cooked, add the parmesan and leave aside to rest for 2-3 minutes.

6.Meanwhile, cook the pigeon breasts in the butter in a very hot frying pan for 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and leave to rest in a warm place.

7.For the sauce, deglaze the roasting tin with a splash of the reserved wine. Add 150ml/5fl oz of the stock, reduce and season. Gradually whisk in the cold cubes of butter to form an emulsion and season, to taste, with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

8.Just before serving, heat a little butter in a clean frying pan and re-fry the pigeon breasts with a little chopped thyme for 2-3 minutes, then remove from the pan and slice each breast in two. Place the risotto in four deep plates. Top each with three slices of pigeon followed by the sauce. Finely shave the parmesan and black truffles and scatter on the side of the plate with Cyprus salt or sea salt flakes.

Enjoy and Bon App!

David

Game Recipe

By Richard on October, 21st 2011 - 5:51 pm

The season for pheasant is from the end of September to the end of January, but it is available frozen all year. Pheasant is high in protein, low in fat and cholesterol, and ideal for juicy pot-roasting.

Ready in 1 hour 20 mins
Saved by 4 cook(s)
Ingredients
Serves: 4

1 head of celery
70g (2½ oz) walnuts, chopped
100g (3½ oz) fresh white breadcrumbs
2 pheasant or chicken livers, chopped
Finely grated zest and juice of
1 unwaxed lemon
Salt and black pepper
1 egg white
2 pheasants, about 675g (1lb 8oz) each
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
15g (½ oz) butter
55g (2oz) pearl barley
1 bay leaf
2 slices of streaky bacon, halved
250ml (9fl oz) chicken stock

Preparation method
Prep: 20 mins | Cook: 1 hour
1. Heat the oven to 180°C (350°F, gas mark 4). Finely chop 1 large celery stick and mix with half the walnuts, the breadcrumbs, livers and lemon zest, with salt and pepper to taste. Add enough egg white to bind the mixture, then use to stuff each pheasant cavity.
2. Heat the oil and butter in a large, flameproof casserole, add the pheasants and cook over a medium heat until lightly browned. Remove the casserole from the heat and remove the pheasants to a plate.
3. Cut the remaining celery into thick slices and add to the casserole with the pearl barley, remaining walnuts and bay leaf. Place the pheasants on top and lay the bacon slices across the breasts.
4. Add the lemon juice and stock with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to the boil, cover, then transfer to the oven for 50-60 minutes, until the pearl barley is tender and the pheasant is cooked through. Serve at once.

Enjoy and Bon App!

Richard and David (who is a bit a lousy cook!)

Game Season Menu for this Autumnal Weather!

By Richard & David on October, 13th 2010 - 6:56 pm

It's that time of year again folks to try a delicious game recipe for the best time of year to smoke interesting blends of cigars. This venison should get your mouth watering... Enjoy!

Ingredients For the game gravy:
•600g/1lb 5oz venison rib bones (ask your game dealer or butcher)

•25g/1oz unsalted butter

•200g/7oz venison trimmings, roughly chopped

•4 shallots, finely sliced

•8 button mushrooms, sliced

•1 clove garlic, crushed

•1 bay leaf

•sprig of thyme

•6 white peppercorns, crushed

•30ml/1oz red wine vinegar

•120ml/4fl oz port

•120ml/4fl oz red wine

•700ml/1¼ pints brown chicken or game stock

•1 tsp redcurrant jelly

•1 tsp arrowroot

•salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the rosti:
•400g/14oz Golden Wonder potatoes, peeled and grated

•10 tbsp goose fat (available tinned in some supermarkets)

For the vegetables:
•2 tbsp goose fat

•100g/3½oz carrot, finely chopped

•100g/3½oz parsnip, finely chopped

•100g/3½oz celeriac, finely chopped

•100g/3½oz beetroot, finely chopped

•sprig of thyme

•1 clove garlic, lightly crushed

For the venison:
•20g/1oz butter

•4 pieces of roe deer saddle with rib bone still attached, each 120g/4½oz

•60ml/2fl oz red wine

•30ml/1fl oz red wine vinegar

•40ml/1½fl oz fruit vinegar

•200ml/7fl oz light brown chicken stock

•250g/9oz Savoy cabbage, finely shredded, blanched for 2 minutes, refreshed and drained

•4 tbsp double cream

•salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation method:

1.Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

2.First make the game gravy. Roast the venison bones for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a medium-sized saucepan, add the butter and venison trimmings and cook on a low heat for 20 minutes until well browned. Add the shallots, mushrooms, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and crushed peppercorns. Gently fry for 5-10 minutes or until golden brown.

3.Pour in the red wine vinegar, followed by the port and red wine. Boil until a thick, syrupy glaze is achieved. Add the stock, redcurrant jelly and roasted bones and simmer for 45 minutes.

4.Pass through a fine sieve into a small, clean pan and boil again to reduce by half. Thicken with arrowroot, then check the seasoning and set aside. Reheat for serving. (This makes more gravy than you need for this dish; keep the rest in the fridge or freeze it.)

5.Next make the rosti. Place the grated potatoes in a clean tea towel and squeeze out the liquid. Place in a bowl, add 2 tbsp of the goose fat and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Mix well.

6.Heat four blini pans. Add 2 tbsp of goose fat to each and then divide the potato mix between them, pressing it down gently. Cook until crisp and golden on the base, then carefully turn over and continue cooking until the other side is golden and the potatoes are tender. Place in a low oven to keep warm.

7.For the vegetables, heat 2 tbsp of goose fat in a heavy-bottomed frying pan and sauté the chopped vegetables with the thyme and garlic for 15-20 minutes or until coloured and cooked through. Place in the oven to keep warm.

8.For the venison, heat the butter in the frying pan, then sear the venison until well coloured and cooked medium rare. Remove the meat from the pan and place it somewhere warm to relax.

9.Pour out the fat from the pan, return it to a high heat and deglaze with the wine and vinegars. Boil fast to reduce, then add the stock and reduce again by one-quarter to really intensify the flavours. Strain and keep warm.

Technique:
De-glazing pan gravy.

10.Reheat the cabbage, adding the cream, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

11.To serve, place a pile of cabbage in the centre of each plate. Place the rosti on top and place the sautéed vegetables around the outside. Place the venison on the rosti, and pour over the reduced jus. Drizzle the game gravy around the outside of the plates.


2009 TopCubans.com Game Recipe

By Richard on October, 23rd 2009 - 12:43 pm

The 2009 Game Season is now in full swing, which means that it is time for the traditional TopCubans.com Game Recipe – This year, Rick and I will prepare Daube de Sanglier (Slow Cooked Wild Boar). Please find below the full recipe for this dish and above the photos from our hunting trip during which we got our Boar. Try it and give us your feedback -

Ingredients

1.5kg/3lb 5oz boneless shoulder of wild boar
For the marinade
2 bay leaves
4 large thyme sprigs
3 x 18cm/7in rosemary sprigs
1 fat celery stick, roughly chopped
300ml/10½fl oz gusty red wine such as a Cabernet Sauvignon or the Corsican Niellucciu
8 cloves
2 medium onions, sliced
6 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
12 black peppercorns
1 tbsp juniper berries, lightly crushed

For the stew

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
200g/7oz small chorizo sausage or figatellu sausage, cut into 4-5mm/¼in-thick slices
2 tsp tomato purée
2 tsp plain flour
100ml/3½fl oz red vermouth, such as the local Cap Corse
450ml/15¾fl oz beef stock
50g/1¾oz dried porcini mushrooms
50g/2oz chestnuts, cooked and peeled and vacuum-packed
1 tbsp butter
200g/7oz mixed wild mushrooms, including some chanterelles, wiped clean and sliced if large
salt and freshly ground black pepper
handful parsley, chopped, to garnish

Method

1. Cut the wild boar into 5cm/2in chunks and put the pieces of meat into a large bowl. Add all the ingredients for the marinade, mix together well, cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 24 hours, stirring it occasionally.
2. The next day, set a colander over another clean bowl and tip in the marinated meat. Drain well and reserve the wine collected in the bowl.
3. Separate the meat from the rest of the marinade ingredients and set aside. Heat half the oil in a large flameproof casserole dish and fry the meat in batches until it is browned all over. Season as you go and add a little more oil if needed.
4. Return all the meat to the casserole dish with a little more oil if necessary. Add the chorizo or figatellu and fry for a minute or two until lightly golden. Add the remaining marinade ingredients reserved in the colander and fry until soft and richly browned.
5. Stir in the tomato purée and fry for another minute. Stir in the flour followed by the red vermouth, the reserved wine from the marinade, beef stock, porcini mushrooms, 1 teaspoon salt and ten turns of the black pepper mill. Bring to the boil, cover with a tight-fitting lid and leave to simmer gently for 1-1½ hours.
6. Add the chestnuts to the casserole, replace the cover and cook for another 20-30 minutes or until the meat is very tender.
7. Shortly before the stew is ready, heat the butter in a large frying pan, add the wild mushrooms and some salt and freshly ground black pepper and fry briskly over a high heat for 1-2 minutes. Stir them into the casserole, sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

BBQ Smoking

By Richard on April, 15th 2009 - 10:07 am

One of my favorite smoking moments is in the warm weather and during the long preparations involved in a BBQ meal. Being outside gives life to your cigar (remember your cigar will dry quicker outdoors, depending on your local humidity levels), as the flavors gain in intensity mixing with fresh air. You will usually find that you smoke at a more gentle pace when you are outside, again improving the aromatic quality of your smoke. Hidden aromas will appear and the power will be present, yet the fresh air makes it enjoyable, rather than harsh. Of course, any type of aperitif or nibbles will only add to the overall pleasure of your smoking moment. lastly, as the BBQ is smoking too, you will never get shouted at for stinking of smoke (this is a real advantage for anyone who is married to anti-smokers). So get out, spark up and enjoy!

Feel free to share your favorite BBQ recipes or tips.

You can see:
The Smoke Ring
BBQ Aussie style

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