Robaina's plantation

Tuesday 31 January 2017

Trinidad Topes Edicion Limitada 2016 (my thoughts)

                 They must have just released this cigar while I was in Cuba this past November. They come in Trinidad's usual box of 12 and weigh in at 56 x 125 (4.9") making it a Robusto....and a rather thick one.
                  Remembering it's two predecessors, the Robusto T & the Ingenio, I was both anxious and apprehensive prior to trying this Cigar. Although I like Trinidads I had mixed feelings about both of their previous EL releases. I bought a couple of singles from the Hotel Habana Libre LCDH to try so I could decide if wanted a box. They're selling for about 160CUC per box of 12 in Cuba. I therefore have no box date but it's safe to say it's current.
                  The flawless wrapper was the typical dark (a Trinidad tradition) and it was hard to the touch. Off the start the cigar tasted of chocolate and leather, it was medium in strength. It tasted maduro-ish and mild for a Trinidad, it was mild to medium in strength now. Past the half the flavours don't change much but by the last quarter it picks up a little power with earth and pepper and tasting more like it should. The burn is slightly off past the half but with no major issues.
                  This cigar has a ways to go before it settles down and where it does might disappoint Trini lovers. It doesn't seem like the typical profile at this point in time but personally I rather enjoyed it. A box of these has been added to my list.

Saturday 28 January 2017

Hotel Melia Cohiba LCDH (Havana) Nov.2016

                   I've been coming here for several years and make it more of a habit now that Juanita's been rolling the last couple of them. The people here have always been friendly and helpful to me, never discouraging my photographing the place and even posing for the odd one. The hotel is one of the better ones in the city, in my opinion, with a nice lobby that unfortunately has been made non-smoking, what a shame. Actually, smoking is permitted only in the Cigar Shop which can make for a pretty smoky experience at times. They have a well stocked bar with a bartender present at all times...unless he's on lunch break. The humidor has a decent stock and I'm sure if you become friends of the house, special selections can be put aside for you. And then there's Juanita....who can resist her ever present smile and overall good disposition. It's always an extra special experience when I catch her on a work day. I love coming here for a Gin & Tonic or Santiago 11yr, smoke a cigar and catch-up on current events.

Hotel Melia Cohiba
Ave Paseo e/ 1ra y 3ra
Vedado, Havana

Main Lobby

Main Lobby Restaurant

House Roller Juanita

Fabrica de Arte Cubano (F.A.C.) Havana

                  There has been much talk about this place through the years, most of it positive. Obviously, those who can afford to visit are instantly enamored by the concept and diversity, there's nothing else like it. Since opening February 13, 2014, a long parade of Cuban Artists have displayed their works here including; Nelson Domínguez, Javier Guerra, Zaida del Río, Eduardo Roca (Choco), Pedro Pablo Oliva & Michel Mirabal  just to name a few. All of the Cuban Art Institutes and their Artists (those worthy) contribute to the Fabrica de Arte. The artistic project (F.A.C.) that was conceived and directed by the musician X Alfonso houses all elements of the Arts under one roof; music, cinema, dance, painting, photography, fashion, architecture, design, performance, sculpture, video art & theater.... It's located in the old cooking oil factory in Vedado, 'El Cocinero', near the steel bridge, you can see the smokestack from a distance. Within the building are a series of art galleries, concert halls, theaters, a cafeteria and bar. Through the evening you'll be entertained with live performances by musicians, DJs, maybe a dance troupe or play and on occasion a classic black & white movie, documentary, short film or animation that's shown in the space set up as a theater. And all of this is surrounded by works of art created by three dozen Cuban artists at any given time. In other words F.A.C. is a Cultural Center and Art Gallery. 
                  The place has not been without it's criticisms from various sources. I'm not going to pretend to understand the politics behind what goes on in Cuba but it seems to me that some of it may be of a purely jealous nature. When I read a comment, "why him", meaning X Alfonso, it makes me wonder. It has also been said that his music was getting a bit racy for Cuba and they allowed him this project to silence him. Again, I don't know enough to be able to make a judgement either way. Regardless, although it's inexpensive for the tourist and privileged Cuban, it's unaffordable to the average citizen. I'm sure that now that the place is better known internationally, it's visited by a considerable amount of foreigners. The Cuban presence is formed by sons and daughters of privileged Cuban families as well as Artists and Musicians that can afford it. The $2CUC (50 Cuban Peso) entrance fee may not seem like much to my readers but to a Cuban earning the average salary of $20-25CUC per month, it's a lot of money. Once your there drinks and food are extra and once again not expensive for us but.... The hours of operation have also been criticized, opening at 8pm with the band playing at 11:30pm or limits the people that would attend such an event.
                   All in all, regardless of politics or criticism, this is a unique place that deserves a visit, especially if you're into the arts. The lineups could be long but it's safe and a great way to people watch. A word of advice, don't lose the card they give upon entering or you'll be paying 30cuc when you exit. No money is exchanged within the venue, you're given a card that is stamped after every purchase and paid for on the way out.

Thurs.-Sun. 8pm-4am
Entrance fee: 2cuc or 50 cuban pesos per person

Fabrica de Arte Cubano F.A.C.
26 esq. Calle 11
Vedado, Havana
tel. +53(5) 2374550   +53(5) 2638266


Smoking Section (outside)

Bar (next to entrance)

14 Errores y un Planeta V.A.E. (2016)

Hector Frank 

Upstairs Snack & Soft Drink Bar

Rene Pena

Pedro Pablo Oliva

Ruben Rodriguez

Zaida del Rio

Carlos Quintana y Enrique Rottenberg

Eduardo M. Abela

Aziyades Ruiz

Javier Guerra

Michel Mirabal 

Fernando Rodriguez y Francisco de La Cal

Performance Arts & Theater  

Live Bands