On my trip to Cuba and South America in our winter 2019, I had tremendous luck in the top international restaurants I was able to get a table to eat at, not planned as part of my trip initially, but just evolving during my travels, and often booked at very short notice. One of the most disappointing dining experience relative to its 26th rank on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list was at Boragó (meaning Borage) in Santiago in Chile, at the end of August. Continue reading →
On Thursday evening I attended the 2019 Finals of the Patrón Perfectionists tequila cocktail competition at Cause Effect Cocktail Kitchen and Cape Brandy Bar in the Waterfront, after a first part of the event had been held at Foliage in Franschhoek earlier in the day. Despite the largest number of female finalists over the past three years of the South African participation in the competition, the 2019 SA finals was won by David van Zyl, mixologist at Cause Effect Cocktail Kitchen! Continue reading →
Having spent close to a month in Havana in July, I saw many a cocktail list, and noted that these separated standard and traditional cocktails from Cuban cocktails. My focus in this report is on Cuban cocktails. The majority of these have rum at the heart, the national alcoholic beverage of Cuba. Continue reading →
My post below comes from Facebook, a post I wrote in the last few days of my journey through eight countries, walking and dancing 1,2 million steps and just under 1000 km in three months. It was a tongue in cheek story about my journey, motivated in writing my third SwitchBitch Book, but also to share with my Blog readers the World’s 50 Best Restaurants I ate at in Lima, Buenos Aires, Santiago in Chile, Rio de Janeiro, and a Michelin star restaurant in Lisbon, with other great and not so great restaurants, and the interesting Mendoza wine region in Argentina, synonymous with Malbec and the largest in the country. I will be posting stories as soon as I have settled in again and got over the jet lag. Continue reading →
I arrived in Havana on 3 July 2019, with no preparation of what I wanted to see or do, except that I wanted to learn to dance the Salsa. I was lucky that a slightly out of date ‘Cuba’ Guide by Lonely Planet was lying in the lounge of the San Lazaro BnB I stayed at. I annexed it for the more than three weeks that I stayed there, and found useful background information in it, but perhaps it contains too much information, not just focused on Havana, my only destination in Cuba, therefore making a large part of the book irrelevant to me. Much more useful was the Guidebook ‘300 Things to love about Havana’ by Heidi Hollinger, focused on Havana, divided into the various suburbs of Havana, with an address, a good representative photograph, and largely accurate in its descriptions, even if published in 2018.
While one might say that eating at Kjolle restaurant is second best to eating at its sister restaurant Central (Sixth Best on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List) in Lima in Peru, I am very grateful that I did, and that I did so the day before my lunch at Central, it giving me a first taste of the philosophy of both the restaurants, owned by husband and wife team of Chefs Virgilio Martinez and Pia León, and in helping me to deal with some of the complexity of the Central Tasting Menu. Continue reading →
I have a fascination with the late author Ernest Hemingway, referred to as ‘Papa’ in Cuba, but I have yet to read one of his books. In Havana I followed in the author’s footsteps yet again, after having been ‘introduced’ to him in Pamplona in Spain whilst walking the Camino in 2018. My interest in him is growing, and I will look to buy his books on my return. There is no doubt that Hemingway may be equally or better known for his drinking and hanging around in bars as he is for his books!
I decided to spend close to a month in Cuba, to learn to dance the Salsa in the country from which elements of it originated. It was an interesting experience, learning more about Cuban music, that Salsa is a ‘commercial’ overarching name for a dance incorporating steps from a number of other dance styles, and that I had to come to the conclusion that I do not like most Cuban Salsa music. I was told that Salsa has no age limit, one never being too old to dance, it even being used remedially with older persons.
From my Havana Guide Book as well as recommendations I learnt that La Guarida was deemed to be the best restaurant in Cuba. As I wanted to try out only the best the city had to offer, the BnB Manager Alain booked the restaurant for lunch on the special Cuban public holiday of 26 July, an apt day to celebrate my interesting stay in and imminent departure from Cuba.
The Sweet Service Award goes to Fusturlandia, and its creator José Rodrigues Fuster, for creating the most visually dynamic suburb in north Havana, created with sculptures and tiles, creating a tourist destination that benefits his neighbours in the suburb, who all have tiny shops on their properties, selling arts and crafts. Fuster himself makes his money by selling paintings and some ceramics, not taking an entrance fee. A visual and sensory delight in Havana.