Cuba is a cultural cauldron where the cuisines of many ethnicities have been gently simmered to create what is now the Criollo (home-style) cuisine of the island. Blending native ingredients and cooking traditions with those of South America, Spain, Africa, Asia and a few others, Cuban cuisine is a savory mix that reflects its colorful culture.
Cuba Libre has been dedicated to celebrating this great Cuban heritage for over a decade, and in 2012, Chef-Partner Guillermo Pernot, in partnership with InsightCuba, designed a custom itinerary to highlight the emerging culinary scene of Havana. Chef Pernot, his wife Lucia and fifteen American’s left Miami for Havana on an indescribable journey to truly see what Cuban cuisine is like today.
The trip, lead by InsightCuba, visited traditional Cuban landmarks including Habana Vieja (Old Havana), the Havana Club Rum Museum and the Cuatro Caminos Market. The group learned to make mojitos at Café del Oriente and took a trip to Ernest Hemingway’s home Finca Vieja on the outskirts of the city. The focus of the trip was to see the ever growing restaurant scene. Since the economic reform in 2010, Cubans have been able to open up their paladares (privately owned restaurants) from being small family run businesses, to more modern run restaurants, giving tourists a taste of how Cuban cuisine has evolved. Highlights from the trip included the grilled meats and vegetables at Doctor Café, the malanga fritters at Cocina de Lilliam, and of course a night of dancing and music downtown.
Chef Pernot hopes to return to Havana again. He stays in touch with his chef friends, and continues to stay up to date on the ever changing culinary scene.