Robaina's plantation

Thursday 29 March 2012

A Walk Along The Malecon, Havana

             If you come to Havana you must take a walk along the Malecon. For those of you who don't know what it is, it's a strip of road that wraps around one side of Havana with the city on one side and the ocean on the other. There's a short wall (actually it's tall, the road has been built above the water and the wall goes down about 20 feet) and a wide sidewalk between the road and the ocean. On windy days when the ocean hits the wall, waves come splashing over the barrier and sometimes onto the road. The Malecon starts somewhere in Old Havana and runs up to the tunnel that takes you through to Miramar. It's a pretty long strip and some parts are more interesting than others. I find the nicest strip to be from around Prado to about Hotel Nacional. One day I'll go beyond.
               The Malecon has been attracting visitors both local and foreign probably since it's creation. For as long as I've known of it's existence I've heard talk about how it's a gathering for lovers, day and night. It's also a spot for musicians to make a peso or two as they walk up and down the malecon with guitar in tow trying to sell a serenade. On occasion you may also find someone staring out into the ocean and pondering on how life would be just 90 miles away.
              The pictures I've posted were taken after leaving the restaurant "Castropol" which is on the Malecon between Prado and Galiano. We decided to walk to the Hotel Nacional. We just had lunch and it was a beautiful day, perfect. I sparked up a cigar and with camera in hand proceeded to walk. I highly recommend it, a great way to spend 45minutes to an hour and it's healthy. It's perfectly safe durning the day and most spots are safe at night as well, at least until it gets late anyway.

Video clips of a drive along the Malecon

Wednesday 28 March 2012

Rafael Gonzalez Lonsdale (cigar review)

             I met with some new friends last week and a kind gentlemen gifted me this cigar and told me the box date was 2005. As you can imagine, I was looking forward to trying it.
            This cigar was quite firm to the touch, hard actually. I was worried about lighting it thinking I wouldn't be able to draw from it. The wrapper was slightly veiny and bumpy with a bumpy cap as well. The look of a cigar has never really affected what I think but I was worried I wouldn't be able to draw from this stick. Much to my surprise, once I clipped it and took a pre-light draw, it pulled beautifully. I really couldn't pick up any flavours at this point, it was quite mild.
             Once lit I picked up earthy floral notes but ever so slight. It was a light to medium body but closer to the light side. The burn started out pretty even and was that way until about the 1/3 mark. At about this time it picked up a bit of strength and I began to note hints of tea. At about the halfway mark the burn was off and the cigar began to taste a bit bitter. I touched it up with my torch. The bitterness went away shortly after that and it began to burn hotter through the middle. We were now close to the 2/3 mark. It had been burning even for a little while but once again at this point the burn was off. The cigar had mellowed out by the last 1/4. I smoked it till the bitter end.
              It was a good smoke with a little character. Mild but bordering on the medium when it went through it's changes. I wonder what they were like when they were first released.

Monday 26 March 2012

Montecristo Grand Edmundo EL 2010 (cigar review)

            I've had this cigar a couple of years and I gotta say, the first ones I smoked I wasn't too happy with. It's been about 2 years since I last smoked one and all I can remember is that they were very strong and bitter and I couldn't smoke one all the way through. I was looking forward to seeing what has happened with them since then.
             The cigar was firm to the touch but wasn't as hard as a rock. The wrapper wasn't very pretty, a little rough and very dark with some visible veins. The cap, although well constructed, wasn't perfectly round, it was a little boxy. When I clipped the cap for some reason I put it up to my nose and got a whiff of manure. The pre-light draw however was much different. The manure was no longer there, it was replaced by pepper and spice. It reminded me of a young Monte Sublime from a few years back.
              Once I lit the cigar it changed again. The draw was absolutely perfect and stayed that way throughout the smoke. The flavour was big, full bodied, bitter, maduro-like. The burn started out almost perfect. I was drinking a Guinness with this smoke and it was the perfect drink on this occasion. Both the drink and cigar had similar tastes. Once the cigar settled down the flavours began to mellow just a bit and became earthy with hints of leather. The burn however began to canoe and I had to keep touching it up almost to the end. After the halfway mark it began to taste very woody and began to pick up strength. The draw was still perfect and it mellowed a bit again. This cigar kept changing and just when I thought it might become too bitter or strong, the edge would come off. Getting near the end, once again, I thought it would become to harsh but it mellowed a touch. This cigar kept me smoking right down to the nub as you can see from the pictures.
               I was pleasantly surprised by the changes in this cigar since the last time I smoked one. It was constantly changing as I was smoking it. It almost seemed like a completely different cigar. I believe this cigar will keep changing for the better and still has a way to go before it matures. If you have any, be happy. If you don't and have an opportunity, get some and put them away for a couple of more years. I definitely have a very different impression of this cigar now.

Friday 23 March 2012

Cafe Laurent (restaurant revisited)

             This restaurant continues to be one of my favourites. I was there for New Year's Eve night and again for lunch that week and both times were great but this post is from my visit on the last week of February. On this visit there were 3 of us, the third person was not a local, giving me another point of view.
              I have to say, the service has always been pleasant and professional. We're always greeted with a smile at the door and the same people have been working there for a while. It's always nice to go to a place where people remember you. On this occasion we had some menu items we haven't tried before and some stuff we've had before and enjoyed.
               As an appetizer my guest had what they called the 'Ceviche' on the menu but didn't look like Ceviche on the plate. It was slightly seared Tuna over sweet potato mash with caramelized onions, sauted green pepper and carrot, a wonderful combination. The quality of the tuna was excellent. I had the Lobster Cocktail as I did on my previous visit and once again it didn't disappoint. A whole boiled lobster tail with homemade tartar sauce on the side and a dollop of guava jam. I could have done without the jam but it wasn't unpleasant. I opted to dip into the tartar instead. Cooked to perfection, a whole lobster tail chopped up, what a deal at 6.35 cuc. My date had the Stuffed Pimentos once again and loved them. They look like little baby sweet red pepper and they're stuffed with a creamy tuna this time. The consistency of this place is a beautiful thing.
                For the maincourse my guest and I shared a large whole Red Snapper. The menu says it's fried but don't be scared, you wouldn't even know it. Cooked just right and not oily or dry at all. My guest couldn't tell it was fried. There's real olive oil on the table and that's all the fish needed. My date had the seared Lobster Tail. A whole seared lobster tail cooked out of the shell but served with the shell attached. She was quite happy. All the dishes had a beautiful presentation. For dessert my date had something called 'Leche Frita' which translated means fried milk. It was served with a scoop of strawberry ice cream on the side. I should have asked how it was prepared but didn't. I can tell you it was divine.
                Once again an outstanding meal, the reason it continues to be a favourite of ours. With 2 bottles of wine (50cuc) and the 10% gratuity that they add already, the bill came out to 143cuc for the 3 of us. This is probably as expensive as it gets for me. Not bad I would say. I'm looking forward to going back and trying something new and maybe find out how they make that dessert.

Calle M e/19 y 21 no.257 Penthouse
Vedado, La Habana
Tel.(537) 831-2090 832-6890

Stuffed Pimentos

Tuna Ceviche

Lobster Cocktail

Patio at Night

Lobster Main Course

Whole Red Snapper

A Happy Customer

Leche Frito Dessert

Private Room