Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Paladars Offer Hidden Taste Of Cuba

09/05/2009 03:08 PM
Paladars Offer Hidden Taste Of Cuba

By: Valarie D'Elia

The Cuban culinary scene can have its limitations, but one of the delights of eating out on the Caribbean island is dining in a paladar. NY1's Valarie D'Elia filed the following report.

Most restaurants in Cuba are controlled by the government, but there is another option for visitors and it's called a paladar, which means dining in people's homes.

"You put like three, four tables, and then you run a restaurant business. The good thing about the paladar compared to the restaurants that are run and owned by the government, is that in the paladar, the food usually tastes more 'homey.' So that's the big difference," said Cuban tour guide Julio Viera.

Like the casa particulars, the best source for finding a paladar is on the Internet or word of mouth. It's recommended to call ahead for reservations, because the places can be small, so if you just show up expecting to eat, it might be closed.

While the government limits the number of tables to four, many paladars break that rule and some resemble busy Parisian style bistros, such as paladar La Guarida in an 18th century townhouse.

Paladars are restricted from serving good cuts of beef and lobster, so don't be surprised if you are pulled into a back room to dine on these dishes on the sly. Another spot is Cocina de Lilliam, located in a 1939 era mansion with lush grounds. Paladar las Mercedes is a typical family style no fuss affair, while Adele's rooftop garden is a top romantic pick, that presents a prixe fixe meal, t
the most expensive of the group at $40 per person.

NY1 | 24 Hour Local News | NY1 Living | Paladars Offer Hidden Taste Of Cuba (5 September 2009)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Casa Particulars A Relaxing Alternative In Cuba

Casa Particulars A Relaxing Alternative In Cuba
08/19/2009 05:09 PM
By: Valarie D'Elia

Cuba has a range of hotels, but one of the most economical ways to spend an overnight is in a casa particular. NY1's Valarie D'Elia filed the following report.

Cuba is known for its mix of hotels, such as the iconic but shabby Nacional to several other boutique-style choices in Old Havana. But one of the best ways to get close to the culture is with a casa particular, or staying in a private house.

The residents are licensed to rent out a maximum of two rooms and in return pay a tax to the government. It's a concept that's been in effect for more than 10 years to give Cuban families another source of income. You can think of it as something similar to a bed and breakfast in the U.S.

"They can share more of their time with Cuban people and they get to know better about the country, about how people live, what they do, etc.," said Casa Particular manager Julio Viera.

Since there is no real network of casa particulars, the best way to find out about them is by searching the Internet or word of mouth. They are all over the island, especially in remote areas such as Vinales which has few hotels.

Besides one-on-one time with your Cuban hosts, the big appeal of staying in a casa particular is the cost. They are usually more affordable than staying in a hotel, averaging about $30 a night. It's customary to receive breakfast, but you can also arrange a home-cooked dinner for an extra charge. For more information, check out www.casaparticular.info.

NY1 | 24 Hour Local News | NY1 Living | Casa Particulars A Relaxing Alternative In Cuba (19 August 2009)