As much as we all love Google (or Bing), some lessons are best learned in person under the tutelage of an experienced hand. Generations before us have known this way but generations after are empowered by the internet, leaving no room for guidance by wisdom. Perhaps this is a harsh assessment but there is some truth in all of this.
There is no doubt to the knowledge gleaned from print and digital media, but I have learnt the most from my personal interactions with people. Seeking out words of wisdom from sartorially driven dialogues have truly been my biggest accomplishment so far, for which I am grateful - and it's time to pay it forward. I start with our first sartorial session in elegance, a rakish repartee about cigars and hats with Toronto’s Hogtown Rake, Pedro Mendes.
[Words by Pedro, photos by Casa di Sartoria]
Because we were having a mid-morning smoke, I chose a cigar on the milder end of things. These Quai d'Orsay panatelas are from a 2007 box, right around the time they were discontinued by Habanos S.A. It is a crying shame that these are no longer available because while mild in strength, they explode with flavour, especially with almost ten years of age. I also find thinner ring gauge cigars the most elegant.
I cut the cigars with a Laguiole cigar cutter, which are hand crafted in France. This one is inlaid with bone and is an absolutely lovely object to look at, hold in the hand and use.
I always test the draw of my cigars right after cutting, of course, to determine if I need to take a bit more off. This is especially important with panatelas which, being more challenging to roll than larger ring gauges, can sometimes be a bit tight.
Being such a thin cigar, I tend not to light them with torch flames which can singe the cigar. Instead, I used the traditional method of a split of cedar wood from a cigar box. This method is tricky, with far less control, but it's also more fun.
A panatela needs to be smoked slowly and I actually prefer to smoke them when I'm on my own, so I can really focus on the subtle yet varied flavours. The long size means a smoking time of over an hour with a lovely journey along the way.
I am quite thankful that even though most dress hats have disappeared from the heads of men, panamas continue to thrive. I cannot think of a more classic and elegant summer hat. This one is a medium-grade hat from Montecristi (which means the town where it was produced, not a brand name) that I've been wearing for about two and a half years. It's starting to get nice and worked in though it could probably use a bit of a cleaning and re-blocking. I say medium-grade because it shares certain features of high-end hats as well as entry level. The weave is consistent and tight, but not small with a feel of canvas. The edge of the brim is not simply cut, folded over and stitched like low-end hats, but actually woven back into the brim. However, the ribbon is glued on instead of tacked and the sweat band is stretchy nylon instead of leather. I purchased it from Aborigen Handcrafts who bring them in from Ecuador.