Havana, Feb. 26 (PL) – Recipes from the Cuban cuisine and a lot of blaring music from the island nation matched perfectly with cigars at the opening of the 4th International Cigar Festival. The night event is still the talk of the town among attendees.
Execs from the world’s cigar realm took a closer look at the such performers as chart-busters Osdalgia and Polo Montañez in an opening party of the perfect smoke that went way into the wee hours of the morning in the San Francisco Square at the San Carlos de la Cabaña Fortress.
This old-timed building from the times of the colonial rule is anchored on the other side of the Bay of Havana and provides a fantastic view of a considerable chunk of Cuba’s capital, founded in 1519.
As a curious note: attendees at the dinner were handed over a rustic guira pot -a dry fruit carved by artisans- containing a Cimarron Cocktail.
The drink itself was a traditional beverage up in Cuba’s hills, especially among cimarrones -African slaves who had fled their masters- and consisted of lemon juice, sugar cane juice, 3-year-aged Havana Club silver dry rum and a piece of sugar cane to top it all off.
For its part, the dinner featured a Surprise Bread, a bum roll stuffed with white beans, pork loin, smoked chicken and lamb chops, a somewhat unusual dish for patrons who washed it down with wine and rum and had the best of homemade desserts.
As attendees were wolfing down these dishes, up on the makeshift stage at San Francisco, several passages of Cuba’s history from the times of buccaneers, slaves, word bantering at hick parties, rumba and carnival celebrations.
However, for first-trippers the 9 o’clock cannon shot was the name of the game, fired from a colonial-style battery gun by cadet soldiers disguised in the formerly motley Spanish uniforms.
For centuries, this cannon shot indicated the closing of Havana’s wall gates, an additional protection in times when attacks hurled by pirates and corsairs were commonplace.
Shortly before that ceremony, participants visited the Cigar Store from the Romeo and Juliet Factory in the municipality of Central Havana, where they were presented with rings and shared a moment with 80-plus-year-old harvester Alejandro Robaina.
As a matter of fact, this harvester is right on the limelight this time around as its brand -Vegas Robaina, a world-class make among smokers everywhere- celebrates its fifth anniversary.
The 4th Cigar Festival will grind to a halt next Friday at the International Conference Center and other cigar-marketing establishments and outlets with the attendance of roughly 800 people from 48 countries, including executives, salesmen and specialized journalists.