A Private Rooftop Lunch

March 25, 2018

Easily ranked as the best meal I had while in Havana, this private lunch was certainly one of the highlights of my trip! 

As part of a private tour set up for that day, lunch and a cocktail making class were scheduled at a rooftop bar in Havana's Old Town. I was told the chef makes something different everyday, so you would never be met with the same meal more than once. I must admit, I was not sure what to expect, but I mean, I was on a rooftop overlooking the city, with a private chef making a gourmet meal for me, all whilst I was being taught how to make classic Cuban cocktails- does it get any better than that? I think I could've been served chicken nuggets and been quite content. 

Since mojitos are one of Cuba's national drinks, that was my cocktail of choice for the day (and every other day while I was there) and I must say, mojitos pair well with just about any dish (lol). For lunch, we began with Gazpacho- a cold vegetable soup, and it goes without saying, but it was delicious. Unlike typical gazpacho dishes, this one was extremely smooth, with no bits of vegetables floating around, eliminating the need for utensils.

For the second course, the chef put his own unique twist on ceviche by whipping up a blend of fish, cilantro and lime, paired with slivers of cooked eggplant. When they told me I would be having ceviche, I already had an image in my head of the classic dish- imagining cubes of fresh fish and tomatoes. But when my plate was set in front of me, I was pleasantly surprised. Visually, nothing about this dish said "ceviche", but the flavours were there. The eggplant was the only thing that seemed out of place, but it actually went quite well with the fish and added a nice textural element with each bite since the fish had been minced very finely- almost to a ground state. 

The third course consisted of grilled red snapper and vegetables. The skin of the snapper was left on and had a satisfying crunch to it, while the fish, though grilled, remained perfectly cooked. I was so relieved that it hadn't been overdone, since most times you see skin that crisp, it typically means the fish has also been overcooked in the process. But I am happy to report that was not the case. The grilled vegetables were also well seasoned and were a nice addition to the meal!

The final course, and undoubtedly my favourite of the afternoon, was this grilled curry eggplant and cheese configuration. It didn't really have a name, but it was sooo good! I would eat an entire baking dish filled with this if I could, it was THAT delicious. I honestly did not expect to come across any bit of curry while I was in Cuba, so this came as a shock when I had my first bite, but it was truly one of the best dishes I've had. 

For dessert, I had a slice of Cuban Bread Pudding, and oh my gosh... 
I personally am not the biggest fan of sweets, I'm more of a salty/savoury kind of gal', but when I say this dessert had THE PERFECT amount of sweetness for me, I cannot tell a lie. I typically shy away from desserts like flan because I find it to be overly sweet for my liking, and since it is a Cuban dessert, I expected that may be the dessert of choice on this day. But when they brought out the Pudin de Pan, I was intrigued and slightly relieved. This bread pudding was so smooth and had just the right of amount of sugar that it left me longing for another slice instead of a trip to the dentist! Perfection.

I think it's safe to say this lunch was a success! I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the experience and appreciated the thoughtfulness and creativity that went into creating each dish. You could really taste how fresh all of the ingredients were since everything is grown on and harvested from the island itself. There was no artificial flavouring or frozen anything and it was evident. This was truly an incredible experience. I just might have to do it all again if I go back to Cuba in the future!

Oh, and how could I forget my private cocktail making class; I learned how to make my new favourite drink- the Mojito, and I made sure to bring back some Havana Club rum with me. So if you guys are interested in learning how to make mojitos the Cuban way (aka the RIGHT way), I will certainly dedicate an entire post to it in the future (it's so simple)! Of course, be sure to Subscribe to my blog so you don't miss out on that post, and feel free to let me know what else you'd like to see from me!


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