Saturday, January 14, 2006

Cuban Cigar Smoking Guide



Once you have selected your Cuban cigar, you will need to cut the closed end. All Havanas have a double cap over the head end - this end goes in your mouth. If you attempt to smoke a cigar the other way around, you will find that half way through it will unravel and take on the appearance of an exploded stick. There are a number of ways of cutting the cap, ranging from the use of a thumb-nail, to portable guillotine cutters (both single and double bladed - see 'Accessories'), from cheap to expensive, to the more exotic cigar scissors and table-top cutters. The cut should be clean and level, or there will be difficulties with the draw and a risk of damaging the wrapper. Cut the Cuban cigar so that an eighth of an inch of the cap is left around the cigar wrapper. It is not recommended that you pierce the cap with a pin, as this will interfere with the passage of smoke, make the cigar overheat and lead to unpleasant flavours from residues condensing at the point the cap was pierced. Cap hole-punching devices do work well as long as the diameter of the punch is at least a quarter of an inch. Wedge-shaped cutters are also not recommended, as these have a tendency to cut through all of the band on either side and the cigar wrapper can then unravel. Whatever you use, make sure it is sharp, and that you expose enough of the filler leaves under the cap to allow the smoke uninterrupted passage.

Lighting Up

cuban cigarsWhen you light a Cuban cigar, use either a butane lighter (not one filled with gasoline) or a match. Anything else, such as using a candle, will tend to taint the flavour of the cigar, and will ultimately impede the passage of smoke through the Cuban cigar with particles from the flame. Avoid matches with high sulphur or wax contact (don't use paper matches). Take time and care to light the cigar.
First, hold the cigar horizontally in direct contact with the flame, and slowly revolve it until the end is charred evenly over its entire surface.
Put the cigar between your lips, hold the flame about half an inch away from the end, and draw slowly while rotating the cigar. Its end should now ignite. Ensure an even burn has taken hold.
Gently blow on the burning end to make sure the cigar is fully lit.
Unlike cigarettes, cigars will naturally go out if left unattended. If your cigar goes out, don't worry. Remove any ash clinging to the previously lit end by tapping the cigar. Blow through the cigar to clear away any stale smoke. Re-light as previously described above. As long as the cigar has not been out for too long, the flavour will not be unduly affected. Continuous re-lighting of cigars will affect the flavour, and if a cigar is allowed to cool, then on re-lighting the tastes can become quite tainted and unpleasant (due to condensation of the smoke in the remaining part of the cigar).
Cigars are made from long filler tobacco leaves (another difference to cigarettes and machine made cigars). This means that the ash on the cigar, if it is a good one, should not fall off the moment it appears. There is no particular merit in keeping a long ash on a cigar, but neither is there any need to continually tap it to remove any excess ash. In assessing the quality of construction of your cigar, a long solid cylinder of ash is a good sign. There is no need to warm the length of the cigar before smoking it. This was done in the nineteenth century to burn off the rather unpleasant gum used on some cigars made in Seville. Today's handmade
Cuban cigars use a small drop of flavourless, odourless vegetable gum at the cap end of the wrapper leaf.

The "End"

banner6The final third of your cigar will be when the smoke is at its strongest. This is the time to part company before flavours become bitter and the effect of the cigar on your well-being may become detrimental. There is absolutely no need to stub or grind a cigar out to extinguish it. Left in the ashtray it will go out by itself: if you stub it out, it will release foul odours into the room. Once the cigar has self-extinguished remove any butts and ash from the room before they start to give out unpleasant smells.

For the best Cuban cigars, make sure to visit

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

How to make Café Cubano (Cuban Coffee)

The Shot

What tequila is to liquor, café cubano is to the world of coffee. It is not sipped or savored … it is shot! Café cubano is at-least double the strength of American coffee. It is a daily morning ritual for Cubans and Cuban-Americans. At any time of day or night at the countless little Cuban coffee house restaurant shops that dot Miami, people line up for "jolts" of café cubano served in thimble-sized paper cups. Cuban coffee is served at the end of a meal in tacitas that are smaller than demitasse coffee cups.

The old-fashioned way to make café cubano is in a pot on the stove, though the truth is that Cubans in this country make their coffee in Italian espresso makers.

The Coffee

You can best approximate the taste of cuban coffee by using finely ground, almost powdered, Jamaican beans. Cubans enjoy their coffee with generous amounts of sugar. I have added sugar this coffee recipe since that is how it generally is made,but if you wish to omit the sugar, that's fine.

The Process

Unscrew the Italian espresso maker and remove the metal filter cup from the bottom half. Pour ice cold water into the bottom of the espresso maker up to the bolt located on the inside.

Position the metal filter cup back into the bottom half and tamp very tightly with coffee grounds, leveling it off at the top. Screw the espresso maker together and place on a hot burner (high heat). While keeping an eye on the espresso maker, take a metal cup and pour about one teaspoon for each tacita.

A typical Italian espresso maker makes four tacitas, but they are available in as small as two (for the lonely Cuban bachelor) and as many as eight and up (for Noche Buena - the family Christmas Eve dinner). As the first trickles of coffee percolate, pour enough to moisten the sugar in the metal cup. Vigorously mix the moistened sugar and coffee until it becomes a light paste.

In the meantime, take the espresso maker of the heat once the top portion is about 3/4 of the way full. This will prevent it from burning and/or overflowing onto your stove. Once the coffee is done, pour it slowly into the metal cup while gently mixing it with the sugar paste. If done properly (and yes … it does take practice and a special touch), the sugar paste will create a "foam" once it is mixed with the rest of the coffee. Pour into tacitas or demitasse cups … and shoot!

Café con Leche (Cuban Coffee with Milk)

Café cubano's quieter cousin, café con leche should be called leche con café for it really is milk with coffee. A steaming cup of this sweet, comforting potion served with toasted bread or cuban crackers is a typical Cuban breakfast.

Heat milk in a pot. Café con leche is usually made with whole milk, or a mixture of whole and evaporated milk, but any milk will do - dare I say, even soy (Sorry Abuelita!).

Pour the hot milk in a mug, filling it almost to the top. Throw in a tacita of café cubano and stir. If interested in getting your cuban coffee supplies on-line, make sure to get them at

Get your coffee maker, groumet coffee (coffee beans), coffee cups, coffee pots & more!

Article written by Maria-Victoria Suarez from

Thursday, January 05, 2006


Lyrics: José Marti & Hector Angulo - Music: Joséito Fernandez

Yo soy un hombre sincero

De donde crecen las palmas
Yo soy un hombre sincero
De donde crecen las palmas
Y antes de morirme quiero
Echar mis versos del alma

Mi verso es de un verde claro
Y de un carmin encendido
Mi verso es de un verde claro
Y de un carmin encendido
Mi verso es un ciervo herido
Que busca en el monte amparo

Cultivo una rosa blanca
En junio como en enero
Cultivo una rosa blanca
En junio como en enero
Para el amigo sincero
Que me da su mano franca

Y para el cruel que me arranca
El corazon con que vivo
Y para el cruel que me arranca
El corazon con que vivo
Cardo ni ortiga cultivo
Cultivo una rosa blanca

Con los pobres de la tierra
Quiero yo mi suerte echar
Con los pobres de la tierra
Quiero yo mi suerte echar
El arroyo de la sierra
Me complace mas que el mar

Monday, January 02, 2006

Best Cuban Recipes!

Check out this compilation of the best Cuban recipes on-line
- brought to you by

Main Entrees


Chicken & Rice (Arroz con pollo)

Cuban Chicken Fricassee (Fricase de Pollo)

Chicken in Garlic & Wine Sauce (Pollo al Ajillo)


Shredded Beef (Ropa Vieja)

Chopped Beef Hash (Picadillo)

Palomilla Steak (Bistec de Palomilla)

Pot Roast (Boliche Asado)

Oxtail Stew (Rabo Encendido)

Cuban Breaded Steak (Bistec Empanizado)

Cuban Skirt Steak (Churrasco)

Cuban Beef Jerky (Tasajo)

Cuban Beef and Potatoes (Carne con Papas)

Roast Pork (Cuban Lechon Asado)


Shrimp in Garlic Wine Sauce (Camarones al Ajillo)
Shrimp Creole (Enchilado de Camarones)
Cuban Paella

Side Entrees

Black Beans & Rice (Arroz con frijoles negros)

Yuca with Garlic Sauce (Yuca con Mojo)

Fried Sweet Plantains (Platanos Maduros)

Red Beans & Rice (Arroz con frijoles colorados)

Cuban Bread (Pan Cubano)


Plantain Chips (Mariquitas)

Fried Green Plantains (Tostones)

Fried Stuffed Potatoes (Papas Rellenas)

Ham Croquettes (Croquetas de Jamon)

Malanga Fritters (Frituras de Malanga)

Soups & Salads



Cuban Mojito
Run and Coke (Cuba Libre)
Miami Vice Cocktail (Miami Vice Daiquiri)

Try these Cuban cookbooks...

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