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Sunday, June 14, 2015


Paella served lovingly at Havana's popular Restaurante Paella inside Hostal Valencia, near Plaza San Francisco.  Photo: Phyllis Shess

Editor’s note: On a daily basis from June 1 thru June 30, 2015 Pillar to Post online magazine is featuring articles, photos and insights resulting from a recent group tour, an adventure we dubbed: the April 23 Brigade’s Tour of Cuba 2015. 
The benefit to a group tour is most of the culinary decisions are pre-made.  The tour companies have a lot of experience in knowing what restaurants provide good service with good food.  Our Gate 1 experience delivered some wonderful choices, which included a bit of personality to go with the menu.             

From Cienfuegos to Havana (with Santa Clara, Trinidad, Playa Larga in between), we were provided lobster, salmon, local white fish, filet mignon, shredded pork, brown rice and beans.  Ample portions of bread and flan desserts were offered as well as unending mojitos.  The hospitality of our hosts, especially those in the culinary sector, will not be forgotten. Gracias, por todos.
Main entre by master chef Odlavin Castellanos Castillo at ArteChef Restaurant in West Havana.  Bruce Henderson Photography
Il Divino paladar is a fine restaurant and an organic farm in a suburb of Havana.  On this day, the main course was shredded beef with mixed vegetables, and a small portion of potato.  Photo: Mike Shess.

Excellent salmon served at Restaurante Café Del Oriente on Plaza San Francisco.  Photo: Mike Shess
Palacio de Valle restaurant in a converted casino on the grounds of Cienfuegos Hotel Jagua.  Roasted pig with potato, rice and a cup of vegetable soup served al fresco in the restaurant courtyard.  Photo: Phyllis Shess
Bread Pudding Dessert by chef Odlavin Castellanos Castillo at ArteChef Restaurant in West Havana. Photo: Don Wilgus.

Appetizer plate at ArteChef Restaurant and cooking school. Chef is a fan of Spanish soccer and uses dishes with Real Madrid logo for larger groups he serves. 
Photo: Don Wilgus
Nice presentation of main course of shredded pork with rice, beans and vegetables at Villa La Garta, a remarkable paladar on the waterfront in Cienfuegos. 
Photo: Tom Shess.

FOOTNOTE: Yes, this blog is fully aware of the meager circumstances of many, many Cuban residents, who will not enjoy the meals that were part of our tour.  But, we were part of a joint Cuban/USA sanctioned tour of the island nation and we—as a group—are tasked to spread the word about Cuba.  In doing so, if our discussions and posted articles inspire on a small scale an increase in tourism to Cuba, then we will benefit its egalitarian economy.

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