With everything going on in the world, cancelled vacation plans are the least of anyone’s concerns. Just recently thousands of vacations — from family reunions to destination weddings to girlfriend get-togethers and more — have all been mothballed, abandoned or, quite simply postponed.

And justly so, we add. The health and well-being of the world are at stake.

But, we’re not saying good-bye forever to your favourite destination. Rather, it’s just going to take place later rather than sooner, when the dreaded COVID-19 finally exists our lives.

Until then, as part of an occasional series, we’ll be offering menu and party ideas from popular travel destinations that you can celebrate in the comfort and safety of your own home.

Today – in honour of a dear friend of mine who had her trip canned, we celebrate Cuba!

– For more details, check out The Cuba Tourist Board; gocuba.ca


The cuisine of this gorgeous Caribbean island is steeped in a variety of influences. According to cubanheritage.com, Cuban food, like the culture, is an accidental blend of native Taino, European (mostly Spanish with a splash of French and Portuguese), African, and Caribbean food, with a hint of Chinese. Thanks to its climate, tropical fruits and root vegetables are plentiful, and natives on the island have cultivated corn and cassava while Spanish colonizers brought over cattle and pigs. And rum rules on this vacation getaway.


If you’re Interested in diving deeper into the wonderful art of Cuban cuisine, check out Paladares: Recipes from the Private Restaurants, Home Kitchens, and Streets of Cuba written by James Beard award-winning writer Anya von Bremzen and stunningly photographed by Megan Fawn Schlow. The book is considered a visual feast and offers a fascinating narrative on the captivating story of modern Cuban cuisine.


Get your mojito on! Throw a picnic in the middle of your living room, add Celia Cruz, La Lupe and Compay Segundo to your music musts, pull out your Cubano cigar and wear your most colourful shirt! Here are a few dishes to enjoy.

Cuban mojito. (SUN archives)

Cuban Mojito

Created in Havana, Cuba, and originally called El Draque, the Cuban mojito is a staple of Cuban culture, and one of the most popular drinks in the world. Here is a great mojito recipe from Havana Club Rum (Havana-club.com/en-ca)

  • 2 tsp. (10 mL) sugar
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 2 springs mint
  • 3 Tbsp. (45 mL) white rum
  • 5 Tbsp. (90 mL) sparkling water
  • 3 ice cubes

Mix sugar and squeezed lime juice with a spoon. Muddle mint springs in sugar and lime mixture. Add rum and mix again. Add ice cubes and top with sparkliing water. Garnish with mint spring.

Cuban cuisine: ropa vieja meat with rice garnish on a plate. (Getty Images)

Ropa Vieja
A true Cuban classic, ropa vieja is a slowly simmered plate of delish. Courtesy of Paladares: Recipes from the Private Restaurants, Home Kitchens, and Streets of Cuba by Anya Von Bremzen.

  • 2 lbs (910 g) flank steak, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 mL) olive oil
  • 1 medium onion sliced into half moons
  • 1 small green bell pepper seeded and sliced (or red/yellow peppers if preferred)
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL)canned crushed tomatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsps. (30 mL) fresh cilantro
  • cooked long-grain rice

Place beef, quartered onion, garlic, and bay leaf in a pot and add water to cover, Bring to a slow boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 to 3 hours or until beef shreds easily when pierced with a fork.

Strain beef and cooking liquid through a fine-mesh strainer set over a bowl, reserving broth. When beef is cool enough to handle, shred it with your fingers or two forks and set aside.

In a large skillet, combine olive oil, sliced onion, and green pepper over medium heat and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until softened. Add 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) of reserved broth, crushed tomatoes, shredded beef and salt and pepper to taste and stir and combine. Cook ropa vieja for 30 minutes to meld the flavours. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with rice.

Serves 4.

(courtesy of Tastetheislandstv.com)


These deep-fried delights are traditional treats in Spain, Portugal, the Phillippines and Cuba. Many serve them as is, or with caramel or chocolate sauce. Recipe is courtesy of Tastetheislandstv.com.

  • 1 cup (250 mL) whole milk
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 mL) butter
  • 1 tsp. (5 mL) vanilla
  • 1 cup (250 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (250 mL) sugar
  • canola or vegetable oil for frying
  • sugar

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine milk, butter, and vanilla. Bring to a boil, then immediately turn off burner and remove pan from heat. Add flour and stir until mixture is smooth. Allow to cool.

Pour mixture into either a churro press, a pastry bag with a number four tip, or a sandwich bag with a corner cut off. Squeeze out 4-inch-long strips, using scissors to cut dough. Place strips on a sheet of wax paper.

In a frying pan heat oil about two inches deep to 350F (180C). Add churros and fry for about two minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oil and place on paper towels to drain and cool. While churros are still warm, toss in sugar to coat well. Serve warm.

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