Robaina's plantation

Tuesday 31 May 2016

Casa de Los Condes de San Esteban de Canongo (Plaza Vieja) Havana

           The original house that was on this property was one of the two original houses that was built on this square during the mid-seventeenth century. The owners of this house during the nineteenth century sold it to Don Jose Agustin Valdes and Pedroso, the "Count of San Esteban de Cañongo", a prosperous land owner. Once he settled in and made major renovations a few years later, the house was christened with it's current title. By 1859 Don Pedroso's heirs sold the house, from then on it ceased to be a residence, it was occupied by one shop or another. In 1911 it was bought by Cosme Blanco and Herrera who acquired permission to do some major reconstruction to the house in 1912. The facade was changed, a third floor was added and along with a few more alterations it took on the appearance we see today. The rest is somewhat muddled but it went through many transformations until finally it was chopped up into smaller units used for housing while the lower floor was used for retail of some kind. Through the decades the building deteriorated due to neglect until the Office of the Historian of the City of Havana took hold of it in 2006. It reopened in 2008 and now houses an art gallery on the ground floor specializing in Belgian and Cuban cartoonists. It's a beautiful space and merits the few minutes it takes up visiting it.

San Ignacio # 358
e/ Muralla y Teniente Rey
Plaza Vieja

Wednesday 18 May 2016

Conde Baraca Restaurante (La Lisa, Havana) my thoughts

                Many of you know me as someone who likes going to interesting or fancy restaurants that serve food in a manner equaling, or at least trying to, a level that before a few years ago was unimaginable in Cuba. This restaurant is none of those things. Having said that, the food here is very genuine, local fresh and prepared simply. This place is not going to win any awards for decor either. It's an enormous property with areas suited for large groups like the tour buses that come off the highway (coming/going to Pinar del Rio) interchange near Calle 51 not far from the restaurant. I would never have known of this restaurant's existence if not for a good friend who I was spending a part of a Sunday with. We were two couples that day visiting a farm close by. It was suggested we try this place out that was frequented by many Cubans because of the good, abundant food and reasonable prices. The amount of food really is way too much but my friend said that's one of the reasons the Cubans like it because they not only have their meal at the restaurant, they also can take another meal home with them from all the leftovers,
                All seating is outside under a thatched roof (a ranchon) with lots of space between tables. Nothing fancy, typical country furniture in a garden like setting....fresh air and lots of plants. They have a charcoal grill, a wood burning oven and if the food isn't grown by the owners, it's outsourced locally. They can't keep up with the demand for their rabbit (menu item) and although they raise their own, they're always looking for local suppliers so not to run out as they had on my visit. They have a lot of Chicken and Pork dishes on the menu and several lamb and beef as well as a few seafood selections. They also do breakfast Monday to Friday between 7:30am - 12noon but I can't tell you how it is since I haven't tried it. The wine list is small and didn't have my first choice but all were reasonably priced.
               It was a satisfying meal and appetizers, 5 main courses, a couple of desserts, rum and 2 bottles of wine came out to $97cuc. The wine alone in my country would have been easily $70-80 for both bottles if you include the tax. If you're coming from Pinar del Rio going to Havana, hungry and a little underdressed, this is the perfect place. I don't know if I would go out of my way to come here from Havana city, you would pass many good restaurants before getting to this one but definitely a place to keep in mind if you're in the area.

Hours of operation:
Monday - Friday 7:30 a.m.- 11 p.m.
Saturday & Sunday 12 pm. 11 p.m

Ave. 37 No. 28470 | Esq 310
Autopista del Mediodía
Arroyo Arenas. La Lisa
Phone: (+53) 5263 1013

Malanga other words, Cuban Potato Chips, homemade, complementary 

Tostones 2.00

Salad 1.50

Rueda de Pescado con Camarones y Queso (Marlin with Shrimp & Cheese) 12.00

Rueda de Pescado (Marlin) 8.75

Lamb in Red Wine 7.00

Red Snapper 10.00

Torta 3 Leche 2.50

Monday 16 May 2016

Hotel Habana Libre LCDH (Havana)

                    Located in the heart of the Vedado district of Havana, on the main floor of the Habana Libre which once belonged to the Hilton family. It's the largest of all the LCDH's in Havana and has by far the largest selection of singles on sale, more so than any of the other stores I've visited at least. It has a large walk-in humidor, sells a fair bit of cigar paraphernalia, has a smoking area with an espresso bar (no alcohol) and a private room available for meetings or seminars. Not a favourite spot to smoke a cigar but a good place to come when shopping for cigars.

Calle L e/ 23 y 25, Vedado
Tel: (53 7) 8346100