Saturday 23 June 2007

La Guarida, Havana, Cuba.

To write this account I had to take my mind back to June 2006, when Browny and I embarked on a courageous trip to Cuba. It was a truly wonderful holiday, however the Cuban cuisine would not be at the top of my list of favourite world wide food!

Prior to our trip, we had our card marked by Angela and John Morgan who genuinely are the most well travelled pair I have ever come across. Amongst a wealth of excellent tips and advice, they said the one places we simply had to go to was La Guarida. Renowned as the most famous paladar in Cuba, La Guarida offers incredible food, terrific ambiance and all in the most fabulous unique setting.... the actual set for the Cuban film Fresa y Chocolate. From the furniture to the props; it all remains the same.

The journey from the entrance of the paladar to the restaurant was extraordinary. Our taxi driver dropped us outside a derelict yet beautiful looking mansion and we were directed to climb 2 flights of a magnificent staircase. Once we got our breath we then rang the door bell.. it was as if we were visiting someones house!

The paladar consists of three small rooms within a converted apartment, a tiny bar and an unbelievably efficient and talented kitchen. The atmosphere was cosy yet buzzing, the staff attentive and charming, the food... was some of the best I have EVER tasted.

To start we had a rabbit lasagna and halibut cerviche. They were like chalk and cheese to eat, but equally as delicious. The lasagna was extremely flavoursome and moreish, while the cerviche was crisp, light and fragrant.

Now, I not one to admit to food envy, but on this one occasion my hands were up and I had to face defeat. To this day, Browny and I still talk about 'The tuna', and rightly so!

For main I opted for a delicious and classic dish of sea bass, but the tuna well and truly stole to the show. On the menu it simply described itself as 'tuna fillet with sugar cane', however, out the kitchen came two fat, juicy, hunks of tuna that resembled the depth and girth of a plump fillet of beef. A skinny pencil like piece of sugar cane was pieced through the core of the fillet. The tuna could not have been seared / cooked for than 3 minutes as it was suitably charred on the outside and raw in the centre.

It was sublime. Nothing more to be said.

The puddings certainly did not let the side down either. I had a trio of sorbets and ice cream... dull choice, but really very very yummy. Browny, still gloating after choosing the best main course of the year was on abit of a high and ordered a coconut pudding/ risotto/ flan type of thing with a curry sauce. Yes, a curry sauce. But of course this dish was also executed with perfection and produced a unique pud with deliciously subtle flavours and textures.

It is not everyday you get to eat a such a place. By midnight we still didn't want to leave. It is SO special, I urge anyone and everyone who has even a remote interest in food, and happens to be a Cuba, to go to this wonderful place.

We were greedy and went twice during a two week holiday! The food is exceptional and you will be left with warm and happy memories for years to come.

More photographs to come....


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