Cuban Guava Bliss

Apr 18th

So as you know, the United States is going to start allowing people to visit Cuba. Now, living here in Miami, this is both a big deal and not a big deal. It’s not a big deal because a large portion of people here are from there, and have already lived/visited there. And the majority of the rest of the people aren’t US citizens so they can visit there anytime they want to.  But for the rest of us, we would love to go. And now we might be able to! Especially since it’s so close.

Some friends of ours actually went a couple weeks ago. Moe had to go for work, and was able to bring his wife and son with him. They live in New York but flew in and out of Miami, so we were able to spend a couple of days with them after the trip, and hear all about it. And see their amazing pictures. They were exactly what you would expect to see in Cuba (old cars and tobacco farms)

cubancars1     cubancars2     tobaccoleaves    tobaccofarmer   ernesthome

and then a ton of what you may not expect to see (stunning architecture and gorgeous beach resorts).

cubaarchitect1       cubanarch2     cubanarch3    cubanarch4

cubanresort     cubanhotellobby

This pool and the cigar cart in the fancy lobby,  were at an all inclusive resort that our friends stayed at for $200 a night for all three of them. This is part of why I really want to go to Cuba. 🙂

And then of course there is also the just totally crazy, that is never expected anywhere, but is always appreciated. 🙂

canepress    roosterandfork    cubansecurity

And as good as the pictures were, the stories were even more interesting. They had to go into a “grocery store” to get milk. The store is essentially one island in the middle with some fruits and veggies, and then a counter with a display case that the grocer stands behind. If you have a chit (your coupon from the government allowing you to purchase certain quantities of certain items) and money, you can tell the grocer what you want and he will get it for you. The “toy store” was the same. Essentially it was a window with around 20 items in it. Again, you need to have a chit and money, and then you are “allowed” to purchase an item. Bridget had pictures of both of these places, but they were on her camera, so I wasn’t able to forward them to me (myself? my phone? what is proper english?).

Despite how hard it is to get food, restaurants were actually plentiful. But only for tourists. Residents are not allowed to go in, unless they have specific reasons and permission. Our friends had a driver for the week they were there and wanted to treat him to dinner at end of week. He kept saying no, no, no. They insisted, and because they were there for work and had a business associate that was important, they were able to bring the driver into the restaurant with them.

And speaking of the driver, he told them they could pay what they wanted, between $30 and $50 a day. It doesn’t really matter to them, because like 80-90% of the money gets turned in to the government anyway. Since they were paying him cash and it was all unofficial pricing and bookings, I asked why he didn’t pocket some of the money and act like he got paid less or didn’t work as much. They said he told them that it wasn’t worth it, because if you got caught it was really bad. And chances are VERY high you will get caught. Apparently a lot of people work undercover for the government, turning in people who are violating the laws. And no one knows who these people are. It could even be your best friend. You wouldn’t know. Can you imagine? It’s like living in Nazi era Europe, worried about being turned in for anything and everything. I’m even slightly worried that just writing this will prohibit me from being able to visit. Cause you know, my tens of readers generates a lot of publicity for me. 🙂

Now to get back to the restaurants (and safer nonpolitical ground. Ha!). Bridget is awesome and knows my obsession with food, so she took lots of pictures of their meals. They had some good eating! But the picture that caught my attention the most was, of course, of a dessert.

cubanguavabliss

I could tell it was guava and fresh mint, and Bridget said it was on ricotta and a cookie. Bridget knows I live for guava with goat cheese, so she was sure this one would interest me. And it did. And I knew it was meant to be because I actually had ricotta in my fridge, leftover from Michael making a lasagna.

I went shopping at Presidente for the rest of the ingredients, where I knew I could find the guava shells. I wasn’t sure what kind of base to use, but I found these great honey cookies that I thought would work. It also encouraged me to add honey to the dessert. While the cookies were a little too dense (Michael thinks pizelles would be better) the honey was a great addition.

cubanguavaingredients

I also don’t think it was necessary to use the guava shells, versus the guava paste that I normally buy. But that is mainly only because 1) the shells were not in the beautiful shell shape that I was expecting and 2) they cost almost triple what the paste costs. And because of #1, it doesn’t seem worth the price.

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Plus I have authentic Cuban guava paste that Moe and Bridget brought us back. Plus some alcohol too. 🙂

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And I will end the post with full disclosure. The picture at the top is the picture Bridget took at the restaurant. My creation is below. 🙂

mycubanguava

 

Cuban Guava Bliss

 

4-6 Pizelles

1/2 cup Ricotta Cheese

Guave Paste or Shells

4-6 sprigs of fresh mint

Honey

 

Spread Ricotta cheese on the pizelles. Top with guava. Sprinkle mint leaves over guava and drizzle honey on top.