Recap: XIII Festival del Habano

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Ethically, doing a recap on an event I didn’t attend is probably a mortal sin; however it’s Habanosfest. Actually, my decision for this post is solely to make the weekly news more readable (and a bit shorter) without compromising any of the important events from the world’s most famous cigar festival. Unlike some of the other festivals, the Festival del Habano features a host of unique events that seem unique solely to the Cuban cigar culture.

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Montecristo No. 2 Gran Reserva Cosecha 2005
It’s been by far the most anticipated release of the festival, perhaps the most quintessential Cuban size from one of the top three Cuban marques. With young or age, most of those that would be considered Habanophiles will admit, when the Montecristo No. 2 is on (i.e., no construction problems) – it is a tough example to beat at any age. So, when Habanos informed the world that the Pirámides would become the next in the popular and exclusive Gran Reserva series, Habanos fans were excited to say the least. This past week, the elegant black and gold band adorned flawless examples of the No. 2; and here are the details… (I wish I had better pictures, but they don’t seem to be anywhere online.)

The first Gran Reserva with the Montecristo brand, penciled in by many as habano’s taste benchmark, coming in the successful Montecristo No. 2 vitola, is quite a major development in this 13th Festival

Manufactured by master rollers at the H. Upmann cigar factory, with leaves from the 2005 harvest picked up from the finest Vuelta Abajo plantations, featuring exquisite farming selection, and a prolonged and thorough natural aging process under the best conditions.

All requirements in the preservation of raw materials on the field and in the factory, coupled with the best manufacturing process, are the underpinnings of the exclusive Gran Reserva concept for Habanos S.A. products in which leaves that have endured a long and thorough aging process for at least five years are used.

“Paying homage to this brand with the launch of a Gran Reserva is a special opportunity for our aficionados, an opportunity that demands from us maximum care and exclusiveness in terms of raw materials and the making process. This speaks volumes of habanos’ one-and-only character as a protected denomination of origin and stands for a recognition to this undisputed token of Cuba’s tobacco industry,” says Jose Miguel Barzaga Maceo, the young director of the H. Upmann factory where these Montecristos are made.

The Gran Reserva Montecristo No. 2 Cosecha 2005 (ring gauge 52 x 152mm long) is a unique, extremely reduced production of barely 5,000 numbered cases containing 15 units apiece that “within the brand’s own patterns, it offers a more intense enjoyment. And thanks to this much pampering and care all its taste and aromatic notes are more roundly perceived,” Barzaga goes on to say.

This is a complete habano full of personality and character that guarantees a pleasant and peaceful smoking session, elegantly bundled up with a thin wrapper, decked out with the brand’s band and the Gran Reserva ring, and packed in beautiful black lacquered wooden boxes containing 15 units each.

Its world debut has been scheduled for the closing ceremony of the 13thHabano Festival, dedicated to paying tribute to this brand and this time around marked by the tasting of the new product –the best of the best from Montecristo- and it will be matched with a select array of rums, as well as the finest Cuban cuisine and culture.

Market vitola: Montecristo No. 2 Gran Reserva Cosecha 2005

Factory vitola: Pirámides

Sizes:Ring gauge 52 x 156mm long

Presentation: 5,000 individually numbered exclusive cases containing 15 units each.

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The Other Limited Releases
There aren’t any press releases about the trio of the other limited editions, but details are out.

  • Cohiba 1966 Edición Limitadas – 6 1/2 x 52 Cañozano Especial
  • Hoyo de Monterrey Short Hoyo Pirámides – 5 3/8 x 46 Figurado/Forum
  • Ramón Allones Allones Extra – 5 5/8 x 44 Franciscos

No word on release counts but I suspect the Cohiba and Hoyo will be ten count boxes, the Ramón Allones is at least thirteen, but I have a feeling that it’s probably twenty-five. I’m sure someone else will have pictures and what not…

And the events…

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Habanosommelier 2011
It’s the most unique event and the one that is truly Havana. The event is simple, it’s a sommelier contest for cigars. Contestants are judged on their ability to serve cigars, beverages and food; not only in class, but in a manner to which to compliment one another. The three finalists were Maria Teresa Perez Tapia (Spain), Rajan Rengasami (UAE) and Juan Jesus Machin (Cuba). Señor Machin won the tenth rendition of this contest, congratulations I presume are in order. You can find Mr. Machin’s services at Hotel Caribbean de La Habana.

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Cata a Ciegas
Add this to the list of peculiar events that seem to only be Cuba. It involves the blindfolds you’d expect your grandmother to wear while she sleeps in her slippers and guessing what the cigar is. I have no clue who took home the trophy here, but the six finalist were: Noel Castro and Agustin Sany Martin (both from La Corona cigar factory), Judith Sabrino (Partagas), Ana Isabel Mederos and Mercedes Gonzalez (El Laguito), and Alain Rodriguez (a sommelier at the National Hotel).

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Subasta de Humidores
It’s hard to say that it is more unique than some of the above events, but it’s the big draw. Every year Habanos S.A. creates a batch of one-off humidors filled with some of the rarest puros created and quite simply the benchmark of creativity. The humidors are auctioned off to raise money for the Cuban health system and with rare exceptions from noted collectors are usually bought buy executives at Altadis S.A., the co-owner of Habanos S.A. Below, the lots, descriptions and selling price of the spectacular humidors. (Info and pictures via the Habanos S.A. catalog.)

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Lot No. 1 — H. Upmann Humidor (€52,000/$71,500)

H. Upmann is one of the oldest brands of Habanos. Established in 1844, its range of sizes strikes an ideal balance between its strength of flavor, light to medium, and the unmistakable aroma and taste of its Habanos. Los Habanos de H. Upmann enen personalidad propia. Belleza, sobriedad y elegancia caracterizan las presentaciones de los envases de esta marca tan angua. All H. Upmann sizes are made entirely by hand with long filler leaves grown in selected fields in Vuelta Abajo, the best tobacco region in Cuba.

Characteristics of the Work: Humidor for Habanos of classic design in which harmonize the most divine and well-known elements of the H. Upmann image: the logo. A totally hand-made work, carried out by the expert hands of its experienced creators who used joinery and wood carving techniques. All the pieces of this humidor are made from precious Cuban woods, although the exterior decoration includes some modern elements to give it a new look as expression of the companion of the classic and the modern, since H. Upmann is the brand that unites generations. The conservation of the Habanos in this humidor is guaranteed by two humidifiers of the Adorinis* enterprise.

Dimensions: Height 1.30m x Length x 0,60m x Depth 0,45 m This humidor contains 325 Habanos of the brands: 25 Magnum 46, 25 Magnum 48, 25 Magnum 50, 25 Noellas, 25 Robustos, 25 Grandes, 25 Magnum 52, 50 Half Coronas, 50 Royal Robusto and 50 Bufarras.

Author’s information: This humidor was designed and developed by artists Marlene Silvera Segura and Moisés González Acosta. Marlene Silvera egura is a sculptor, who graduated from San Alejandro School of Art and Design Institute. She is a member of FCNC. Moisés González Acosta is a self-taught arts, but his work has been recognized and honored. The works of both artists decorate many smoking rooms, and Casas del Habano lounges and protocol rooms around the world. They have participated in auctions and other activities of great importance for Habanos SA.

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Lot No. 2 — Hoyo de Monterrey Humidor (€65,000/$89,400)

Hoyo de Monterrey is the brand of Habanos whose origin is directly linked to the plantation that it was named aer(?). Located in San Juan y Marnez, in the heart of the Vuelta Abajo tobacco region in Pinar del Rio, this plantation still exists and grows first class Cuban tobacco. Records of the brand date back to 1865. The most knowledgeable aficionados of cigars from Hoyo de Monterrey appreciate their formats for the smooth taste of their blend and their characteristic aroma. It is the brand for the many smokers who prefer lighter tasting Habanos.

All Hoyo de Monterrey cigar sizes are made entirely by hand with long filler leaf tobaccos from the Vuelta Abajo region.

Characteristics of the Work: Elegant humidor made from solid cedar woods, representing a majestic Habano, showing distinction and strength. It has 22 side pivot drawers, which can be opened alternately from right to left, with a capacity for 9 Hoyo de Monterrey Habanos each. Its lower part has two larger drawers containing two large humidification systems of the Adorinis enterprise to guarantee the optimum conditions of the storage and conservation of the Habanos. Of peculiar design within the classic tradition of humidors for Habanos, this piece allows to appreciate all the vitolas it preserved without opening the humidor, since a concave glass door serves as exhibitor. The ring, which recreates one of the divine elements of the brand’s image, has been decorated by the technique known as gold leaf widely used in antique furniture.

Dimensions: Height 1,90 m x Width 0,70m x Depth 0,70 m. This humidor contains 300 Habanos of the Hoyo de Monterrey brand: 25 Epicure Especial, 25 Extravaganza, 25 Double Coronas, 25 Parculares, 25 Gran Pirámides, 25 Maravillas, 50 Short Hoyo Pirámides, 50 Pirámides y 50 Obsequios No 1.

Author’s Information: It is the work of the “JGARRIDOC” group represented by Julio César Garrido Correa, artists and craftsmen of the Cuban Fund for Cultural Property (FCBC), Filial Pinar del Rio. He has participated in several international exhibitions in countries like Spain, France and Belgium. Some of his works have been auctioned at previous Habanos Festivals; others are part of private collections in several countries around the world.

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Lot No. 3 — Romeo y Julieta Humidor (€85,000/$117,000)

The famous play “Romeo and Juliet” by the English playwright William Shakespeare, was also the inspiration for a Habano brand. Created in 1875, Romeo y Julieta has the privilege of having an undisputed reputation throughout the world of cigars. Romeo y Julieta is characterized by a wide range of cigar sizes in different shapes, so it has become perhaps the most prized brand for those who prefer the medium strength associated with the classic taste of the Habano.

All the various sizes of the brand’s ample range are manufactured entirely by hand with leaves grown on the plantations of Vuelta Abajo, known worldwide as the best Cuban tobacco region.

Characteristics of the Work: Humidor designed following the classical concept of the romance humidor for Habanos. The author, through the aesthetics of high royalty, tries to express his interpretation of the novel applying it to the prestigious brand Romeo y Julieta. The humidor rises majestically on a solid cedar base. Its external design is inspired in the architecture of the Gran Teatro de La Habana; in addition, it represents a scene from the novel “Romeo y Julieta”. It has 6 cedar drawers on each side and on the inner front side, representing a staircase to the stage, which is also a small humidor with capacity for 100 cigars. It has two small electrical humidification systems of the Adorinis* enterprise with a capacity for 400 Habanos to guarantee the optimum conditions of the storage and conservation of the Habanos. The following woods were used in its making: mahogany, cedar, acana, oak, majagua, ebony, dagame, red ebony. The humidor is decorated in silver by 70%, and in bronze and nickel silver by 30%.

Dimensions: Height: 1.15m x Length 1.50m x Depth 0.50m. It contains 300 Habanos of the Romeo y Julieta brand, of which: 50 Wide Churchills, 50 Julietas, 25 Romeos, 25 Fabulosos, 25 Aguilas, 25 Exhibición No. 2, 25 Hermosos No. 1, 25 Fabulusos No. 6, 25 Short Churchills and 25 Short Churchills.

Author’s Information: Jose Ernesto Aguilera Reina is a craftsman, designer and self-taught goldsmith. His talent and experience have been recognized and rewarded in different fairs and personal exhibitions in Cuba and abroad.

He won the Grand Prix devoted to cigars in the Pure Art 2008 event and the FIART Cras Prize 2009, and other major awards. Since 2005 his works have been present in all the Habanos Festival Auctions. His works decorate and grace different rooms, libraries, restaurants, galleries and walls in Havana and around the world.

Important private collections in the USA, Italy, France, Russia, Germany, UK and other countries also treasure his works.

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Lot No. 4 — Partagás Humidor (€60,000/$82,500)

Since 1845, the date when this Habanos brand was founded, Partagas cigars have been made at the world famous Partagas factory. edificio de obligada visita de aquellos que desean conocer los secretos más ínmos de la cultura del tabaco cubano, el mejor del mundo. Are over a century and a half, Partagas remains the favorite brand for cigar smokers who enjoy more intense flavors. All the sizes found in this brand are totally hand made with long filler tobacco leaves from the fields of Vuelta Abajo in the westernmost part of the island of Cuba. Characteristics of the Work: With its suggestive design, this humidor is a tribute to the Partagás Factory and Brand. The author kept the most representative and renowned elements of the façade of the emblematic factory, as well as the character and prestige of the brand. Totally hand-made in Cuban cedar and decorated with mahogany, cedar, baria and other precious woods, whose natural colors resemble those of the Partagás factory façade. In the upper part of the two bodies integrating the humidor, the image of the brand’s logo The humidor has a capacity for 350 Habanos distributed in 7 trays and 8 boxes. It includes two electronic humidifiers that will guarantee inside it the quality and conservation of the Habanos.

Dimensions: Height 1.32m x Length 1.48m x Depth 0.70m. This humidifier contains 350 Habanos of the Partagás brand, of which: 25 Serie D No. 4, 25 Serie P No. 2, 25 Serie D Especial, 50 Serie D No. 5, 50 Serie E No. 2, 30 Serie A No. 3, 30 Serie B No. 1, 30 Serie C No. 2, 30 Serie P No. 3 and 25 Sobresalientes.

Author’s Information: Designed by Jackmel Llera Cotarelo, architect graduated from the Faculty of Architecture of the José Antonio Echeverria Institute of Havana, and developed by artist and craftsman Neury Alberto Santana Ges.

Neury Alberto Santana Ges has a self-taught training. He belongs to the Cuban Association of Artisans and Artists, ACAA, and obtained several prizes in handicraft, both in Cuba and abroad, including the Prize to Handicra at the Iberian-American Fair of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain. Many of his pieces belong to private collections in different countries of the world. This artists has participated with his works in several auctions of the Habanos Festival.

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Lot No. 5 — Montecristo Humidor

Montecristo is the best known brand of Habanos throughout the world. The origin of its name is part of the history and culture of the Cuban cigar: thanks to the readings in the factory from Alexandre Dumas’ book “The Count of Monte Cristo, the rollers came to appreciate the novel so much that it was decided to put the name of its hero on the cigars that they produced. Over me, the cigar brand has surpassed the fame of the novel itself Since 1935, Montecristo has become a worldwide reference for cigar lovers. Its aromas and delicious cigars are distinguished by their balanced medium to full strength and flavor capable captivating and delighting both expert smokers and those who enter the world of Habanos for the first me. Characteristics of the Work: Following faithfully the image of the brand, this humidor is characterized by the simplicity in design, which does not prevent its being modern, luxurious and functional, elements that contribute to its visual elegance and careful manufacture. The swords and the brand logo, which are its most symbolical elements, make this humidor an interesting piece. The Montecristo logo is in silver, and the crossed swords in stainless steel. The four swords are real.

The humidor is made up of two pieces integrated to the sculpture. It has 5 drawers for Habanos and one compartment that could store up to eight boxes of these cigars. In this compartment there is a luxurious case of exquisite work in lacquered wood containing 40 Maravillas. The humidor has two integral Adorinis* enterprise to guarantee the optimum conditions of the storage and conservation of the Habanos. Precious woods were employed for making all the pieces: Anllean Mahogany, authentic cedar from the mountains of Pinar del Río, recognized by its characteristic aroma. The handcraft work comprises joinery, gold or silver work and wood lacquering. It has a total capacity for 800 Habanos. Dimensions: Height 1.78m x Width 0,85m x Depth 0,40 m This humidor contains 350 Montecristo Habanos in 9 different formats: 50 Montecristo No. 2, 30 Edmundo, 50 Montecristo No. 6, 30 Aguilas, 30 Master, 30 Regatas, 30 Gran Edmundo, 30 Doble Coronas, 30 Sublimes and 40 Maravillas No.1, the later located on the lower part of the humidor

Author’s Information: This work was developed by the “DECUBA – Art in Wood” group of craftsmen with artist direction and executed provided by Jorge Luis Milan Domínguez and Leuvis Santos, and with the participation of Adalberto Gonzalez Albisa, all of whom are members of the Association of Craftsmen and Artists of Cuba (AACA). Pieces from this group of artisans have been exhibited and sold at auction at various national and international events as well as at the auctions of the Habano Festival. Their work is distinguished by the use of a technique specially developed by the group for wood carving and marquetry.

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Lot No. 6 — Vegas Robaina & 2 Magnum of Tinto Pesquera Millenium Reserve (Not Sold, €40,000/$55,000 – Reserve Not Met)

The Vegas Robaina brand was created in June 1997 as tribute to the tradition of hundred-years of tobacco cultivation through the figure of Alejandro Robaina, who always stood out for his high wrapper yields. It is a brand that honors the release work of thousands of anonymous tobacco growers and producers whose knowledge and experience have given the prestige to the Habanos. The brand has succeeded in winning loyal enthusiasts, those who prefer the classic formats and the distinguished aroma of each one of their vitolas. All its Habanos are totally hand- made. Their blend, medium to full, is composed of selected tobacco from the Vuelta Abajo region, Pinar del Río. Characteristics of the Work: The humidor is a tribute to the Vegas Robaina brand, which is celebrating its anniversary this year, and to Alejandro Robaina, one of the best tobacco growers of Cuba, who passed away in 2009.

The humidor consists of two pieces and sculpture resembling the original hat worn by Don Alejandro for many years of his life, that inspired the author of this work. The lower part is formed by two humidors with … drawers, decorated with details resembling small silver tobacco leaves. The drawers have a capacity to hold … cigars.

Made from silver, cedar, bronze and Carrara marble, it can store 220 Habanos. Dimensions: high 2m x wide 1.50 m x depth 0,45 m. The humidor contains 220 Habanos of the Vegas Robaina brand, with the following vitolas: 24 Robaina cigars; 50 Don Alejandro; 24 Familiar; 24 Famosos; 24 Unicos; 48 Maestros and 50 Finuras.

Author’s Information: Raúl Valladares Vádes, Cuban sculptor and goldsmith, self- taught artist with numerous personal and group exhibitions held in Cuba and abroad. He has obtained numerous prizes: Picasso Medal, granted by the UNESCO World Council (1997); best sculptor of the year 2003, granted by the magazine BT Design Art Gallery; Distinction for National Culture; prize “Handicraft Mastery”, among other national and international awards.

Designer and creator of important trophies such as the Habanos Award, as well as medals and other prizes granted by diverse Cuban institutions. Works of his authorship are to be found in instituions, galleries in different parts of the world and private collections in Germany, Spain, the United States, France, Switzerland, Austria, Mexico, Italy, England, Greece, Holland, Qatar and China, among others. He is a member of the Cuban Association of Artisans and Artists (ACAA) and a member of the National Association of Writers and Arists of Cuba (UNEAC).

Pesquera Millenium Reserva This lot includes 2 magnum of 1.5 liters each of Tinto Pesquera Millennium Reserva 1996. A wine in which the pass of me has refined its qualities.

Produced by Bodegas Alejandro Fernández of the Appellaon of Origin Ribera del Duero in Spain, with 100% Tempranillo variety from the oldest vineyards of the winery called “Viña Alta”. It has been resting for 26 months in French oak barrels and 10 months in bole. Of ripe cherry color highly covered with garnet border, very complex and divine. The new wood is shown nobly framed in the olfactory range, providing spiced booms and cedar and vanilla hints.

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Lot No. 7 — Cohiba Humidor (€450,000/$619,000)

Cohiba first surprised the world of fine smoking in 1966. It is the most prestigious brand in the world of cigars. Its name became famous with extraordinary speed in essence because it encapsulates the origins of Cuba, its history and its culture.

In the manufacturing of its famous cigars only tobacco leaves that are “the selection of the selection” from the 5 best vegas (tobacco fields) of San Juan Marnez and San Luis in the Vuelta Abajo region, are chosen for its exclusive use. Cohiba is the only brand of Habanos in which two of the three types of leaves (seco and ligero) used in the filler undergo a third fermentation in barrels. The whole manufacturing process for all Cohiba sizes is blessed by the care and dedication of the experienced rollers who make them. The result is expressed in an unmistakable taste and aroma; besides the beauty of the wrapper leaves that dress them. Cohiba is the Habano that everyone aspires to smoke.

Characteristics of the Work: Humidor that symbolizes a rolled tobacco leaf. It is a monolithic and unique piece that represents the most prestigious of the Habanos brands. Its design and manufacture highlight the most symbolical elements of the Cohiba image: the logo and the brand colors, achieved through the combination of different precious woods and metal. This union provides a perfect functional-aesthetic balance.

The humidor has four perfectly humidified and easily removable trays where up to 400 Habanos can be preserved. The materials employed in this production are wengue wood for the external parts, okume wood for the trays, and golden steel for the metal decoration. The humidor has an excellent humidification system of Adorinis* enterprise to guarantee the optimum conditions of the storage and conservation of the Habanos.

Dimensions: High 1,40 m x Wide 0,88m x Depth 0,85m. It contains 400 Habanos of the following sizes: 25 Lanceros, 25 Espléndidos 25 Genios, 25 Mágicos, 25 Siglo VI, 30 BHK 56, 30 BHK 54, 30 BHK 52, 45 Cañonazo Especial, 25 Coronas, 25 Gran Corona, 30 Pirámides, 30 Sublimes Extra y 30 Robusto Especial

Author’s Information: With over 25 years of experience, Grupo Humidif, whose brands include HUMIDIF, BUCARO and DK and LUXURY PACK, offers a wide variety of products and accessories. Under the HUMIDIF brand it markets an extensive range of products for the cigar world such as luxury humidors, travel humidors, leather cigar cases, humidification systems, ashtrays, lighters, and others. Adorini, internationally renowned company in the production and marketing of cigar humidors and humidifiers, as well as related accessories. Founded in 1999 by the partners Dr. Felix Spohn and Daniel Spohn, and since then is considered one of the leading brands of humidors worldwide. The Adorini humidifiers combine sophisticated components, materials of the highest quality and innovation in design. Adorinis is an sponsor of the XIII Festival of Habano.

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All and all, over 1.1 million USD was raised by Simon Chase, the auctioneer who spends his day job as the head of marketing for Hunters & Frankau, the U.K.’s importer of Habanos, although I’m not sure what will happen to the Vegas Robaina lot, although I imagine Altadis S.A. might know where it is hidden. In addition, the following awards were given out at the Gala Dinner:

  • Armando Trujillo Gonzales (Production)
  • Dr. Maximilliam Herzog (Business)
  • Adriano Martinez (Communication)

One final bit of info is the closing of the Partagás and (new) Romeo y Julieta factories for renovation. The latter has been shut down for some time now, despite its youth, fixing some build issues with the structure itself. The former is closing shortly and will be shut down until later this year. Production from Partagás will take place at the El Rey del Mundo factory and H. Upmann’s work has gone to Romeo y Julieta.

Thanks to Mitchell Orchant’s blog for the prices and awards. All info, spelling mistakes (seriously, there were upwards of 250 in the humidor info alone) and pictures are all compliments of Habanos S.A. el niño diablo.

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Charlie Minato
About the author

I am an editor and co-founder of halfwheel.com/Rueda Media, LLC. I previously co-founded and published TheCigarFeed, one of the two predecessors of halfwheel. I handle the editing of our written content, the majority of the technical aspects of the site and work with the rest of our staff on content management, business development and more. I’ve lived in most corners of the country and now entering my second stint in Dallas, Texas. I enjoy boxing, headphones, the Le Mans 24-hour, wearing sweatshirts year-round and gyros. echte liebe.

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