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Canadian vacationing in Cuba---Chow scene?

fruglescot Feb 17, 2008 01:18 PM

TOTE BAG HOLIDAY
Heading to Cuba later in the year. Can someone enlighten me on the "chow Scene there?

  1. n
    Nyleve Feb 18, 2008 07:19 AM

    Don't know what your plans are, but we stayed mostly in private casas and were fed - royally - by the families we stayed with. This is obviously not an option if you'll be staying in hotels, but if not I highly recommend the casa option. You can only eat in a casa if you're sleeping there - breakfast typically runs about $3 (CAD) and dinner between $8 and $10 per person. For that we had everything from chicken to fish to lobster to crocodile. AND every possible Cuban side dish you can imagine - prepared differently in every home where we stayed. It was fabulous.

    Apart from that, in Havana I would recommend restaurants Los Nardos or Asturianitos (both opposite the Capitolio on the main drag through Havana). I have also heard wonderful things about a paladar called La Guarida which we ran out of time to try - but it was on our list. Dining in paladars would be, in general, the way to go. Ask around for recommendations because some of these are totally off the beaten path and you'd never find them in a million years if someone didn't tell you where it was. Private homes, upstairs or in the back of buildings - quite the adventure and some really good food.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Nyleve
      fruglescot Feb 22, 2008 11:31 AM

      I'm wondering what food related changes may occure in Cuba now that Fidel has officially stepped aside?

      1. re: fruglescot
        n
        Nyleve Feb 22, 2008 01:07 PM

        I very much you'll notice anything as a tourist. For Cubans, well, Raul has already begun some agricultural reforms and these will undoubtedly continue - so maybe better access to good ingredients. But as a tourist you're already getting stuff that Cubans just don't have or can't afford. When we ate in casas, I was always glad that there were leftovers because it meant that the family got a good meal also. It was funny, one place we stayed the host knew we requested lobster for dinner but he couldn't get it that day. Apologetic, he said we'd be getting chicken, which was more expensive. He, too, would have preferred lobster because it wouldn't cost him as much to buy. The chicken, he said, came from Canada.

        I am hopeful for Cuba. It's such a remarkable and spirited country.

        1. re: Nyleve
          MMRuth Feb 22, 2008 01:17 PM

          FWIW - my husband recommends the rotisserie chicken at a place called Aljibe.

          1. re: MMRuth
            fruglescot Feb 22, 2008 01:25 PM

            From Canada no doubt!
            But then I could get rotisserie at home. Cooked at the least with Cuban seasonings?
            Thanks MMRuth, I have taken note.

            1. re: fruglescot
              MMRuth Feb 22, 2008 01:26 PM

              He raves about the sauce - couldn't figure out what was in it though. As Nyleve says, from what I gather, the paladares are the way to go - apparently the food in the hotels etc. is not so good.

              1. re: MMRuth
                n
                Nyleve Feb 23, 2008 07:48 AM

                I've also heard very good things about Aljibe. We almost went there for dinner one evening but somehow ended up somewhere else. I think we were lazy and wanted to stay in Centro Habana - Aljibe is in Vedado or Miramar, I think. Rotisserie chicken in Cuba is not what you'd get at home. It's all about the marinade. The food is invariably simple, but can be really excellent if you keep your expectations realistic. Cuban cooking is not spicy like in much of Latin America, but it is very flavourful. Lots of garlic and orange and herbs. The black beans and rice are ubiquitous, but even so, every place we ate it was a little different. Sometimes served as a side dish with meat or fish, other times as a thick soup. This is practical, poverty-inspired food but we can learn a lot from that way of eating.

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