How was it that I was first drawn to pipes? I never saw my father smoke a pipe; nor did my grandfathers partake to my knowledge at the time (though I later found out that one of them did for a brief period). My father only once, during my teenage years, reluctantly told me that he did try smoking a pipe in the 1970s, but it was only briefly. Because of my budding youth, my dad probably figured that telling me he smoked any kind of tobacco - even a pipe - would catapult me into the dark depths of chain-smoking, with a pack of Lucky Strikes always at the ready, rolled up into the sleeve of my t-shirt. In truth, I had noticed pipes from an early age when I was practically forced into antique shopping with the Rat Pack of my family: mom, grandma, and two aunts. Not caring about old objects much at that time, I found myself drawn to pipes scattered about various shops. I'd pick them up just like I pick up wedges of cheese at the grocery - to give them a sniff. The pipes had a very pleasant aroma, which is the same that would waft through the air when someone would stroll around puffing a briar in my youth. As I grew older, the fascination with pipes never went away (hence the fact that I now both make pipes and work here, at Smokingpipes). Ever on the journey of discovery, what attracts me most often to various things are anticipations of flavor and aroma, pipe-smoking included. I also happen to be a foodie (though my wife doesn't like that word), so when Brandon and I were hanging out this past weekend, we tried to figure out what it is we both seek: flavor.
His family met me at a little grocery/restaurant called Habibi's, a literal "mom-and-pop" business that specializes in foods from mainly Middle-Eastern and Eastern-European countries. Everyone who visits me gets taken to this place, be they pipe makers, collectors, friends, family. This is the venue not only for really good food you won't find anywhere else in the area, but a flavor paradise that will tickle your nose and make your mouth water. I seek out places like this as a way of discovering something new. Brandon, being from Norway, talked about wanting to find some cheese called Brunost. They had it, which with its chewy caramel flavor (and appearance) was something completely new to me. Later that day, we sampled some tobaccos at my place, ranging from aged Virginias to subtle aromatics. Just like Brandon seeking a flavor of his childhood, sampling these tobaccos made me nostalgic for some of the old pipes I sniffed in passing at antique shops twenty years ago. We've more memory in our nose (olfactory sense) than anywhere else. Do you ever get a taste for a tobacco you've not had in a few months or even a decade? I like to think that flavor-seekers such as us are part of what not only keeps many specialty businesses in business, but also helps make the world a very interesting and exciting place.
Well, as far as our own specialty goes, today's update consists of briars from around the world by skilled artisans, as well as a new Captain Black tobacco (an old-time brand, which no doubt was often what I whiffed a lingering fragrance of in those well-aged pipes with fondness). New cigars are available from CAO, H. Upmann brings us three-for-the-price-of-two offers on their 1844 Reserve stogies, plus there are some new accessories for the cigar enthusiast, too. We've plenty of exciting flavors and aromas packed away, so hope you'll re-discover some fond memories as well as make some new ones!
Adam Davidson: Quality Control & Pipe Inspector