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Havana as a Hideout for Food and Rum
05-16-2014, 07:30 PM (This post was last modified: 05-16-2014 07:34 PM by LiveToCook.)
Post: #1
Havana as a Hideout for Food and Rum
A couple of days ago I just returned from Havana, Cuba. Of course, this trip was without any expections on the culinary side of things. But, to the palate's delights, it exceeded what was expected. So before going into details about the food scene, let me brief you all on what Havana or simply what Cuba is all about. Being a first to Cuba, listening to people going there in resorts, I had no idea what it was all about... What a place and what a different story from what I had heard. I just loved it all, the city, the rum, the cigars and most importantly the people. The people are as warm and even warmer than what the weather is, they accept you for who and what you are, it doesnot matter on your color, origin or religion. For them people are people, government policies are something else as they live in a communist regime and they know and realize that they do not have a saying in their own governemnt's policies. They live with these policies and they do not necessarily like them. As for the food scene, it is in full evolution (revolutionBig Grin), and I have certainly been pleasantly surprised. With the slow, very slow, changes within the country, the privately owned restaurants called paladores, are becoming more and more a part of the industry. They are owned, runned and staffed by passionates in the majority of them. On the other hand, state owned and operated retaurants are staffed by people having a job and they seem to be highly frustrated and I guess the best way to describe them would be that they are bureaucrats with no passion and even desire to be there. Some of these that were, at one point I presume, very good eating establishments are not to be considered with a minute few that are exceptions.
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05-17-2014, 10:12 AM (This post was last modified: 05-17-2014 10:19 AM by LiveToCook.)
Post: #2
RE: Havana as a Hideout for Food and Rum
The BEST fish and seafood plate that I had in Cuba...

???? Guess that I need to learn on how to compress or reduce the size of my photos... Anyone that can help?
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05-17-2014, 12:48 PM
Post: #3
RE: Havana as a Hideout for Food and Rum
Well... Not being able to post any of the pics yet, I will ''babble'' away on the rum...
I certainly did try a few of them, of course just like any other fine liquor, it is always a personnal choice. Some are more spicy, woody and whatever terms are used in the rum world. My favorite brand in Cuba is Santiago. And it does not matter if it is the entry level or the 25 years old, my taste buds were in full agreement with this brand. In some of the others brands there were also some that were quite good... Or was it me after a few too many Cool I did bring back a Santiago 25 years old and a 12 years old. Also a Havana Club Maestros Special Selection that was the makers(group of 18) special brew... But my facorite in my taste, the Santiago 12 yrs, a delight. Very smooth and not too much of anything, a very nice balance in my book. While the 25 shows more character and certainly more wood and spices, yet again very smooth, nothing bad about this brew.
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05-20-2014, 11:19 AM
Post: #4
RE: Havana as a Hideout for Food and Rum
(05-17-2014 10:12 AM)LiveToCook Wrote:  The BEST fish and seafood plate that I had in Cuba...

???? Guess that I need to learn on how to compress or reduce the size of my photos... Anyone that can help?

Set up a free acct @ photobucket, then link the pix to this site. That way you get full resolution without gobbling up BnG bandwidth.

Great write up! I have a friend who continually touts the superiority of good rum over single malt uisge. Maybe I should take him up on his tasting offer instead of just writing him off as delusional...

To ask why we cook is to ask why the leaves fall...
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03-09-2015, 10:52 AM (This post was last modified: 03-09-2015 02:40 PM by LiveToCook.)
Post: #5
RE: Havana as a Hideout for Food and Rum
When it comes to rum, I am getting impressive tastings in more and more. Just received a 23 years old from Guatemala, Ron Zacapa. This rum is phenomenal and the cost for a 23 years old is simply cheap vs. Scotch at about 80$ can. This rum evolves in a great way with time in the glass (I use sniffter). It just gets better and better with rich creamy caramel tastes and odors. While in Havana back in November, my favorite chef-owner at the San Cristobal made me tatse a rum that is a rare, specially made product for the high level government people such as the Castros. This was an absolute delight that I would place in front of many of the high grade and of course very expensive malt liquors. Carlos, the chef, also offered me a gift after my 4th meal in his establishment (our last night in Havana), a rum made up of a production of 3000 bottles per year. This rum is basically made for the ''Habanos Festival'' which is the major cigar festival in Cuba. Of course, this is another of the precious liquids that cannot be bought on the market due to its small production. But as a general rule, the higher end rums, it does not matter where they are from, are simply delicious and typically cheap vs. higher end whiskies. It would also seem that high end rums are increasingly popular in the US, Europe, Asia and Canada. Just like many of the other liquors such as Bourbon, Gin, Vodka, et al. Rum producers are now producing very old and special products. One of the most expensive rums in the world being the ''Maximo'' from Havana Club at 1700 CUC (1700 $US) for 500 ml (18 onces). Unfortunately, I have not had the chance of sampling this but according to the ''experts'' it would seem to be la crème de la crème. So, Sunshine, if you have a friend that is raving about these brews and is offering a tasting, go for it. Not everything in the rum world is created equal to the low end Bacardi, Captain Morgan and so on, just like lower end Scotch that is more like a solvent for cleaning parts in your garage.
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03-09-2015, 03:01 PM
Post: #6
RE: Havana as a Hideout for Food and Rum
Bonjour LTC!

This latest rum post really strikes a chord for me. The pricing for good single malt uisge is completely out of hand. Even the price of a run-of-the-mill Glenmorangie 10 has increased 25% since last November. I used to pay $24 for the stuff and now it goes for close to $45 in my area. I understand supply/demand as well as most, but enough is enough already. Time to vote with my pocketbook and start exploring other options.

Considering the politics involved, I rather doubt I'll be able to source the type of Havana quality you enjoy. But anything is better than being raked over the coals for a decent uisge...

To ask why we cook is to ask why the leaves fall...
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03-09-2015, 10:41 PM (This post was last modified: 03-13-2015 06:51 PM by LiveToCook.)
Post: #7
RE: Havana as a Hideout for Food and Rum
Monsieur Sunshine,

As mentioned in my post, great (Excellent) rums are everywhere in the Caribeans, Central and South America.... Jamaica with Appleton Estate - , Haiti w. Barbancourt - Dominican Republic w. Brugal, Matusalem - Guyana w. El Dorado, Pyrat - Venezuala w. Diplomatico, Santa Teresa - Nicaragua w. Flor de Cana - Barbados w. Mount Gay - Grenada w. Plantation - Martinique w. Saint James - St-Lucia w. Admiral Rodney, Elements - Trinidad and Tobago w. Angostura - Guadeloupe w. Capovilla Liberation, Bielle Marie-Galante - Columbia w. Dictador - Madagascar w. Dzama - Guatemala w. Zacapa...
And I leave many aside. I am sure, as I am fairly new to the high end rum, but you can basically say that most countries that produce sugar cane will make rum
You can also add rums from Panama, French Guyana, Belize, a few African countries, ect...
And I talk openly about Cubans, I am sorry about this, but this is where that I started getting really interested in rum and tasted some that were outstanding and to my liking and these were very affordable even for 25 years old versus what we have to pay here in the great white north... guess that they need to fund the snow plows and salt for the roadsBig Grin. And to get back to your comment of Scotch Whiskies going crazy price wise, tell me about it, Glenmorangie 10 is 67.00 here and one that I really enjoy (enjoyed maybe) is the Glenmorangie Nectar d'Or... Now 112.00$ here... Up by 25.00$ since about a year ago... For a 12 years old???? Example was this 23 years old Zacapa from Guatemala @ 80.00$ can... Rum is a different drink than Scotch but... There is enormous pleasures to be acquired from the good rums believe me... Hey come on over for a tasting, I will pull all of my Cubans. Oh! As a final statement, it has been so cold here you might even think that ''swirl'' at a couple of dollars a gallon will just taste great.
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03-13-2015, 02:18 PM
Post: #8
RE: Havana as a Hideout for Food and Rum
Wow...clearly, my rum IQ is hovering just below my shoe size. Thanks for all the intel LTC...I do believe I'll put it to good use!Cool

To ask why we cook is to ask why the leaves fall...
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03-14-2015, 09:17 AM (This post was last modified: 03-14-2015 09:20 AM by LiveToCook.)
Post: #9
RE: Havana as a Hideout for Food and Rum
Sunshine, I was in the same position a year ago... For me rum was just a cocktail ingredient with some ''over priced'' rums available that had not tickled me very much other than one or two times, as a premium straight beverage. While on my first trip to Cuba, this was a major eye opener. Being a Scotch, Cognac/Brandy, Grappa and of course wine afficionado, this seemed impossible... How wrong I was, since, it has become a favorite of mine over Scotch and Brandies. So, mon ami, go for it and please print us your impressions as your explorations progress!!! It would also seem that this idea of premium rums is making headway in North america and Europe according to a couple of publications.
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07-09-2015, 09:18 PM (This post was last modified: 07-09-2015 09:20 PM by LiveToCook.)
Post: #10
RE: Havana as a Hideout for Food and Rum
Monsieur Sunshine, How are you doing my friend? Well I am still waiting for your rum commentaries and tasting notes...Big Grin Having just recently come back from Havana (yes, again), I have had the chance to indulge in 3 extremely rare and fine rums. I was so much ''stumped'' by what I was served that I did not take a photo of the bottles, even forgot to take down the names. These were served to me by my favorite restaurant's owner at the San Cristobal. Two of them were absolutely amazing made in extremely limited quantities and made exclusively for high ranking government officials (such as the Castros) and for them to give out to visitors such as presidents (Maybe Barrack Obama will get one). Like wow! What a treat and the 3rd is an Edmundo Dantes 15 years that is made for the ''Habana Festival'' at 3000 bottles a year and that you cant even buy in Cuba... Again a charmer of a drink, and the best is Carlos giving me a bottle on my last night out to his restaurant. Now if you are ever in Montréal, I can serve you something that is not accesible easily. This past weekend, my Buddy that is a serious scotch drinker - collector was out visiting for a couple of days and he was impressed about the rums that I brought back from Cuba. ''Me think that I will convert him to my new found blessed water''., So jump in and join us, it will be fun!!!
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