My apologies for the long hiatus, but with my trip to Cuba and coming home to the one-two punch of a new semester of school and the joys of part-time work, I have been a little busy. But I have returned with a look at the food Danny and I ate while we were in sunny, snow-free Cuba!
We stayed at the Sirenis la Salina resort in Veradero which has a variety of A la Carte restaurants. We got a chance to eat at both the Cuban restaurant and the Mexican one. At the Cuban restaurant we got a plate full of fried plantain chips which were crispy and great with a bit of salt.
I had a stewed pork dish with potatoes and red pepper, which was nicely seasoned and the pork was extremely tender. It came with really fantastic and simple black beans and rice and also corn fritters, which were sweet and really tasty.
Danny had a simple fried white fish with rice and the same corn fritters.
Dessert was possibly the most interesting part of the meal at the Cuban restaurant. I had what they called french toast, which was deep fried sweet bread covered in honey. It was slightly crispy, very sweet, but not cloying because it was honey instead of sugar.
Danny had guayaba (guava) pie which was essentially stewed guava in a pie crust. It was a bit like fruit leather honestly, although not quite as chewy and Danny really enjoyed it (it wasn’t really up my alley due to my aversion to cooked fruit).
Overall the Cuban restaurant wasn’t as good as I had hoped it would be. I thought that out of all the restaurants, that would be the best, but the Mexican restaurant was just stellar. I started with the vegetarian chimichangas which were deep fried tortillas filled with grilled peppers, covered in a lemon butter sauce. The sauce was a bit weird, but the tortillas were extremely fresh and flavourful.
Danny started with ceviche that had shrimp, onion, cucumber and lots of lime juice. Sorry for the blurry photos but it was a candle-light situation and also a no-way-to-charge-my-camera-battery situation so I was taking an economical approach to pictures.
For my main I had pork tacos which were fabulous. They were very simple but very well done — white flour tortillas filled with roasted, shredded pork, and served with a big bowl of salsa which was very tomatoey and just the right amount of spicy. I recall saying that I could eat a million of these, and I really think I could.
Danny also had tacos, but his had beef, cheese, and bacon which were very good, but did not come with bowl of salsa. Mmm bowl of salsa.
Dessert was a big win for me because I got to try something that I have always wanted to: pastel de tres leches or three milk cake. Essentially it is a white cake soaked with evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream until it is saturated and extremely tasty. It is really moist but not soggy and not too sweet either. I am definitely going to try to make this in the future.
Danny had a slightly sweet and cinnamony rice pudding which was a nice light dessert.
After the Mexican restaurant on the resort, my favourite meal was the one we had at El Patio in Havana on our historical tour. El Patio is in a Spanish style stately home with an open courtyard in the middle with two floors of rooms surrounding the central open yard. It is very beautiful and the food was great. We started with a salad of red cabbage, green cabbage, green beans and mysterious orange vegetable or fruit all in a white vinegar dressing.
Because we were on a tour and this lunch was covered in it, we didn’t have a lot of choice in our meal but I got pork and Danny got fish (noticing a trend?). Mine was simple fried cutlets with a strongly herbed gravy, flavourful rice, and sautéed cabbage. It was all very straight-forward and really tasty, and all the stray cats hanging around gave me some entertainment.
Danny’s meal was essentially the same thing minus the gravy and with fish instead of pork. All of the fish we had was white fish, which Danny said he was getting a bit bored with, but is just fine by me.
Dessert was another occasion for me to celebrate — I got to try flan! It was really yummy, creamy and not too gelatinous and I was so excited to try it I forgot to take a picture until I had eaten half of it.
Now, I am pretty sure that they don’t let you leave Cuba until you have had a pina colada and a mojito. Luckily we had plenty of both! On the way from Veradero to Havana we stopped at the Mirador de Bacunayagua (viewpoint of Bacunayagua which is the name of the highest bridge in Cuba) for the best pina coladas in the galaxy. They were made as fresh as you can get them, evidenced by the large machete that was stuck in a chopping block next to the stand, and you got to add your own rum!
In Havana we went to the Hotel Ambos Mundos for mojitos. This is not where Hemingway had his mojitos, although we did stop by there, but the line was so long our tour guide recommended we go to the rooftop bar at the hotel where the mojitos are cheaper and just as good. A mojito is definetly not my beverage of choice, but I drank about half of it before it got too strong for me.
To wrap everything up, the food in Cuba was overall pretty good. Most of the time we ate at the giant buffet at the resort, and the food was hit or miss, but generally the more local sorts of food (the stews, fish, and anything cooked fresh on the grills) was a million times better than any americanized stuff. The pork in any form was always exceptional, as were the assorted breads. I really enjoyed the soda in Cuba, and I’m fairly sure that is because they use actual sugar in their soda, not high-fructose corn syrup so it isn’t as horribly sweet as it is here. We had a really wonderful time, and the addition of some really tasty food made it even better.