The Herf of Old London Town 5

Reporting by El_Ingles, Kvan, Karl, and Andy

Friday, 24th March 2000

The usual haunts of THOLTers are predictable: they are near London Specialists, and Friday was no exception. We were to meet at Franco's opposite the Davidoff Shop at 3 p.m, as they tables on the pavement outside, and it is ideal for Herfing.

Arriving promptly at 3, I just managed to find a spare chair, as Keith Rawson, Tom Anderson, Casper Kvan Clausen, and Marc & Melissa Schneiderman were already entrenched. Arriving just a bit later, were The Cornwall Crew, (Andy, Georgina, Hilary, Norman & Chris) and John & Janet Gehman.

Mitch Orchant paid us a flying visit, kindly handing out some souperb cigars. John Gehman had a bag of cigar labels, and invited us to guess the munber inside. We will know the answer tomorrow, when the Saturday only THOLTers have had their chance to guess!

About 4 o'clock we walked down the road to J J Fox, where were spent about an hour. Fox's always treats us THOLTers well. After looking round their museum (a must if you have never seen it), we were invited to see their keep, a rare privilege.

From there, we walked all of two minutes, to Che for cocktails, where we joined by Jeremy Bartle. Three hours simply slipped by, aided by convivial conversation and Che's famous cocktails.

At approximatly 7, we took 4 taxis, to Boisdale, a cigar bar, and restaurant, near Victoria Station.

To THOLTers, Boisdale is the holy grail. Why? Simply because since the very first THOLT, where we had arranged to met there for Saturday lunch, it has been closed on Saturday lunchtimes. Finally, WE could dine there!

We went up to the private dining room. The menu was headed THOLT 5 - The Herf of London Town 5 (where was the Old?) With a good choice of food, and excellent wine, Boisdale did us proud. All to soon the meal was finished and for some of us , it was time to get the last train back home, (or in my case miss it!). Finally many thanks must go to Keith Rawson for organising the day.


Saturday, 25th March 2000

In a change of venue from previous THOLTs, the THOLTers met at Tom Tom's in Elizabeth Street, Victoria. It is a small but well appointed Havana specialist, with the manager, Mike Croley, making us most welcome.

Once we were all assembled, the shop soon filled with smoke, forcing some of us to seek some fresh air! About 11.30, we crossed the road to Vino Veritas, a typical London town pub, that for some reason or other was normaly closed on Saturday lunchtimes. However that was no problem, since Mike had arranges for it to open exclusively for us and Tom-Toms.

The bar we were in was large, with room to spare, and tables for everyone. If one expected a smoky atmosphere, then there would have been disappointment. It was well ventilated, but warm, with a friendly atmosphere. After ordering drinks, we settled down, to seriously herf.

Traditionally, THOLT has cigar quizes, and this one was no exception. Unfortunately, our regular Quiz Master, Ian Pepper, could not make it, so Paul Dixon stepped into the breach, with a two parter.

At about noon, we had part one, and about an hour later, the second one. The prizes were some cigars that a Cuban roller made, last year, during his last tour of the havana specialists. Although the pub was going to close at 2pm, plans went astray, as Vino Veritas stayed open for us.

After we left the Cornish crew at Vino Veritas around 3pm on Saturday, Paul, Steve, John, the Baron and Casper went to Sofra--Jan and the Baroness having elected to go shopping at Harrod's.

The taxi, laden with four full-size ASC'ers and Paul, screamed in protest at each turn, and was smelling faintly of burnt oil as we crawled out of it and entered the restaurant. After repeated warnings that we would, indeed, be smoking cigars, they elected to seat us upstairs with all the normal people. Then followed a huge and varied menu of various small dishes (meze). After we had all but finished the first six dishes, the Baron, his appetite merely tickled by the food, ordered extras of a few of them.

After his third order of extras, Paul inquired as to whether he was aware that more dishes were upcoming. At almost the exact same time as the Baron professed his ignorance of that particular subject, the next five dishes were brought to our table. To make a long story short, we were extremely satisfied with the food. It was a lesurely meal and to soon it was six o'clock. (and we should have been at Little Havana at 5.30 to met back with the Cornish Crew). It was a fitting end to the THOLTing of Paul and Steve, who both had to leave at this point. Undeterred by the copious amounts of fine, Turkish cooking, Mssrs. Gehman, Schneiderman and Casper, hailed a taxi and headed for Che, where Jan and Melissa were waiting for us.

At this point, we had what was perhaps the worst experience of the entire herf: Out of three HdM Double Coronas, two were plugged! Fortunately, the competent staff of Che replaced them without question, and the herfing--and Mojito drinking--could continue. As the clock neared 8pm, we were starting to worry about whether the others were going to show at all, but fortunately everyone did show up in the end, whereupon we proceeded upstairs for the meal.

The logistics at Che were definitely not up to par, as they failed to deliver a main course at the appropriate time. also their invoicing as well. However, this nearly meant that Karl had a free meal! Sadly, they regained their composure to realise they had messed up Cigars were handed round and smoked, and a great time had by all until, around midnight, the party broke up and went home or tried to), to recuperate.

Having left Che's the real fun started. NOT. Keith, Jenny and Karl got back to the car to find it had been wheel clamped. After 2 1/2 hours of confusion, irritation, tiredness etc etc, they were liberated but £85 lighter.

The winners of the "John and Jan Gehman cigar band challenge" are as follows:
Winner.....Tom Anderson (El Presidente Humidor)
Runner Up.....Debzie! (H.Upmann ashtray)
2nd runner up.....Steve Wayne (Blazer knock off plus fuel)
Worst guess!......Craig Josephson (consolation cutter and Bolivar box....empty!)
Anyone want the bag of bands??????

The Cornish Crew's Story

We spent a really great afternoon at Vino Veritas just herfing and talking interspersed with some drinking, in fact everyone seemed to be so wrapped up in the afternoon that although the bulk of the herfers were due to leave at 2pm to go on to Sofra, we were still smoking at well past 3pm...great stuff ;-)))

We left the group there and moved onto Little Havana, what a place that is. It's the first time our group had been there and we took it all in between 5.15 and 6.30 when we had to leave for a very drawn out journey back to our hotel in Twickenham...only around 10 miles away but it took us 2 tube trains, 3 trains and a bus along with almost 90 minutes to get back due to track work on BR lines...bummer.

On the next one guys can we have a meal and an evening at Little Havana and more of the Vino Veritas stuff???

Thanks to all who spent time organising the event from the Cornish crew and we will definitely be there for the next one. Andy