... well not precisely, but as you will see I did take some suggestions from his travel diary.
First stop on walk from my hotel to St. James's, nice warm weather here, was James J. Fox. Friendly people, nice selection - I heard them talking up the new Romeo y Julieta Nobles. I stocked up on some small vitolas for park smoking: ERDM Demi Tasse and Bolivar PCs. I also picked up a cigar cutter and torch lighter, neither of which I bring on planes since I don't check luggage.
Next stop, after a visit to D.R. Harris for shaving supplies, was Davidoff. Stunning selection of lighters and accessories, and I noted the bright yellow Siglo "Havana Club" ashtrays in the window. I was feeling hot and you had to be buzzed into the humidor so I went to the bar at Fortnum's for fizzy water and coffee instead, followed by book shopping at Hatchard's.
Here's where I really started tracing Rob's footsteps: I headed over to the 6 Cavendish Sampling Lounge for a 5 PM table booking. Friendly, welcoming staff, and stunning humidor packed with Habanos regular production, limited editions, LCDH and regionals, and aged cigars. I bought myself some BBFs (my favorite regular production, skyrocketing in price), and a box of QDO50s. The knowledgeable saleswoman offered me some 2010 BBFs, which I passed on at £110 apiece (!), but which smelled amazing, delicate and cardamomy. She then brought out - guess - the RyJ Nobles. The wrapper looked oily and mahogany, the smell was intoxicating - I decided to smoke this one in the lounge.
On to the lounge, where I selected Michter's Rye to accompany the RyJ. One of the staff did a lovely job of toasting the foot of the Noble with a Siglo table lighter (which I promptly ordered online) - when I lit the cigar, it came to life with ease, a perfect burn. The Noble was immediately delicious, with a thick blue smoke and mounds of coffee and caramel and undertones of toast. The lounge chairs are comfortable beneath an old skylight. The staff were attentive with drink refills, and promptly helped my non-smoking friend who arrived and ordered a Campari and soda.
Ajay appeared and made the rounds; I introduced myself and we chatted about the trend toward CC's smoking well younger, MDO No. 4s, whiskey, and assorted other topics. Fantastic guy, as well reported here and elsewhere! Conversations at adjoining chairs were... next level. I was not eavesdropping, but some stuff makes it into your head anyway.
On the way out, I picked up one of those yellow Havana Club ashtrays, and two more Nobles.
We then headed to Rob's next spot, 2 Veneti, the only Venetian restaurant in London, and conveniently located only 3 minutes' walk from 6 Cavendish. Both of us know Venice and Venetian cooking well, and I'm happy to say we were very impressed. I ordered sarde in saor, followed by bigoli with anchovies and onions, and finally the tagliata sirloin, rare. She had Parma ham with melon, gnocchi pomodoro, and fritto misto. All with a wonderful rosé.
A walk up Marylebone High Street and some pints of bitter at a cosy neighborhood pub and that was the day.
Great to be back in London at last. I visited 4-5 a year for work for 20 years, and then the pandemic happened... this is my first international travel, and I'm enjoying it very much! And THANKS Rob for the recommendations : )