A traveller's guide for foodies recommends Cuban dishes and drinks

Posted: 08-Dec-15 11:24

The American travel guide Bon Appetit revealed seven tips for travellers heading to Havana, focusing mainly on listing different ways for discovering food as a plan for immersing in an amazing and unpredictable cultural experience. Cuba is more than "cigars and vintage cars", the publication states.

A traveller's guide for foodies recommends Cuban dishes and drinks

The traveller’s guide Bon Appetit has recommended readers interested in visiting Cuba to go beyond classic Habanos and old fashioned “almendrones” (vintage American cars) if they want to get to know the island for real.

The US based food and entertainment magazine alerts that Havana:

"It’s a tricky city to break into, but with a little planning, it can change your life."

Eating at "paladares" (private restaurants hosted inside residential properties) is one of the things that make this urban Caribbean destination interesting and sometimes incredible. Bon Appetit underlines the ways in which Cuban families have adapted their living rooms with progressively more liberal interpretations for hosting their customers.

Privately owned restaurants have become an increasingly growing trend in Cuba since 2010, when the government launched new regulations to stimulate the local economy´s diversification; today 11% of the half-million self-employed workers in the country work in the food and hospitality sector.

While famous names that have almost become icons such as La Guarida, San Cristobal and Dona Eutimia undoubtedly stand out as the most highly reccommended private restaurants in the Cuban capital and the highest ranked on many travel guides and TripAdvisor, writer Mimi Dwayer from Bon Appetit urges holidaymakers to go beyond Old Havana and Centro Habana to try food in more upscale residential districts in the city like Miramar and Santa Fe.

There, she highly recommends La Cocina de Liliam and Santy Pescador, both of which offer a wide variety of tasty dishes ranging from traditional Cuban cuisine to oriental specialties like sushi.

The presence of foreigners residing in Cuba is a determining factor in the gastronomy´s reshaping process. For illustrating this fact, Bon Appetit suggests a visit to Casa Maglis in Centro Habana, a home restaurant owned by Swedish filmmaker Michel Miglis. The place specialises in fusion cuisine. Several blogs and tour guides also highlight Nazdarovie, a centrally located retro-Soviet restaurant in Vedado, set overlooking the Malecon.

Cuba’s signature drinks; the traditional mojito and daiquiri are also highlighted by the publication, given the quality of local rum and the relaxing and friendly environments in which visitors can enjoy cocktails. In this case, the American magazine agrees with most other travel guides by recommending El Floridita and Hotel Nacional as the right venues when going out for a drink.

Both are located in centric areas of Havana, but the main reason for the author to make this recommendation is that those places have a historical charm linked to the previous visits of famous celebrities like Ernest Hemingway, Frank Sinatra, Ava Gardner and Marlon Brando.

During their time in Havana, Mimi Dawyer also encourages tourists to try some street food and drinks, especially coffee, “guarapo” (a popular thirst-quenching drink made from sugar cane), freshly roasted and salted peanuts in a paper cone and "turron de mani" (homemade peanut bars).

Also, instead of suggesting fancy desserts, the author makes emphasis on the experience of queueing at the entrance of Coppelia, “the Cuban ice cream cathedral”. During the 1970s and 1980s this enormous building located in the heart of Vedado offered a wide variety of ice cream flavours and while now it only offers a few (sometimes by the time you make your way along the queue there’s only one left), for many Cubans it remains among their preferred places in the city simply because of its extreme affordability (a scoop is less than three pence!). If you want to do things like a local, this is certainly an experience but you have to be prepared to queue for hours!

Bon Appetit also advises visitors to stop by some cultural institutions such as the increasingly popular Fabrica de Arte Cubano and especially highlights “casas particulares” (Cuban B&Bs) as the best places for accommodation seekers in Havana.

"Like any city, Havana has its quirks. It’s essential to do your homework before you hit the ground. Things are changing rapidly, but with some street smarts and a game plan, you’ll have the time of your life.”

Concludes Bon Appetit.


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