REAL CUBAN MOJITO

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Completing the adventures of the Miami Culinary Tour that I joined to explore Little Havana in Miami, below are all the Cuban drinks that we enjoyed at various stops along the way. If you missed the food I ate, then see it here.

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Cuban Coffee

A tiny thimble of sweet, dark roasted coffee may look a little pathetic, but wait until¬†you taste it. There is as much caffeine in a single thimble of Cuban coffee as an 8 oz Americano or twice as much as an Italian espresso. It’s strong stuff. Served right out of the ‘little windows’ along the street (aka ‘ventanita’) it would be fairly typical for somebody to grab what looks like a short, small coffee and take it back to family, friends or colleagues to share. That small cup though, houses at least 7 portions the size of a thimble. Everything in Cuban culture seems to include a fair amount of sugar, including that coffee. But then they do grow the stuff and it was considered to be their ‘gold’ throughout history… so that’s understandable!

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Mojito

If you asked me to name a Cuban music genre I’d instantly say salsa. So I was intrigued to learn of the huge Cuban jazz scene when we visited Ball and Chain… a music venue and bar. Having opened in 1935 as a prolific jazz destination it sadly closed down and had been shuttered for most of the past six decades before finally being renovated and reopened just 6 months ago. Here we were served a classic Cuban mojito. Sugar, lime juice, white rum (usually Bacardi since it’s a Cuban spirit), soda water and spearmint over ice. A very refreshing drink on such a hot day!

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Guarapo drink

After the coffee pick-me-up (I had two Cuban coffees) and the cocktail it was only right that the caffeine and rum hit was followed by a sugary one!

A very humble looking fruit shop (fruteria) selling all manner of ripe and tropical fruits (mangoes are very in season at the moment as we know) was our final drink destination. They served us a drink over ice that was very refreshing. It was pressed sugarcane… pure and simple and very delicious! A true taste of the island life on Cuba.

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Domino Park

Just like a cheeky stop at a cigar factory¬†wasn’t technically food/drink, this final bit is most definitely not drink. But if you’re in Little Havana then make sure you pay a visit to Domino Park. The state have actually formalised it as a park and even appointed a park ranger because the Cuban tradition of playing dominoes is so celebrated. I can’t say in the short time we had there I quite got up to speed on the rules, but one thing’s is for sure… the older Cuban community take it very seriously, even though gambling is prohibited, the competition is strong!

The entire tour, food and drink (and the other bits including insight into art, politics and history) was incredible insightful. Ralph barely took time to breath as he fired interesting facts and nuggets about Cuban culture for the entire tour and I can’t recommend the experience highly enough. It was information and tastebud overload… as you can probably tell by how much I’ve written!

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  • http://scienceblogs.com.br/odiva/ Ana Arantes

    I knew Cuban food was very alike Brazilian food, with all the rice & beans, everything is cooked with onion and garlic, fried meat empanadas (that we call “pastel de carne”) is a very traditional street food here.

    But I’d never realised the extension of the similarities! I grew up drinking garapa (even the names are almost the same!) at my family’s farm and eating sweet pastries filled with red guava candy… I reckon this is due our African cultural roots. Now I want to go visit Havana!!!! :)

  • Aishwarya

    Very very cool, Ben! :) Thanks for sharing your Lost and Hungry adventures and insight! Very generous of you. Love reading/watching them! Also getting to learn something new about the food and these places. Have fun! :) – Aish

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