Awesome Hot Chocolate and other Baracoa Food

Baracoa, known for its seafood, coconut, banana and cacao, stands out amongst Cuba’s generally plain cuisine.

Casa Fernando

Rocío and I enjoyed breakfasts and multiple dinners prepared by our hosts on our December 2016 stay. Casa Fernando prepared good food despite the limited ingredient availability.

Prawns first night at Casa Fernando

Prawns on our first night at Casa Fernando

For dinner we had choices of chicken, fish or prawns. This was usually preceded by soup and accompanied by salad and rice, bread or chips.

Bread, noodles, rice and potatoes at Casa Fernando

This Casa Fernando chicken meal included bread, noodles, rice and potatoes – one for the carbohydrate lovers!

Cleaning and gutting a freshly caught fish

Cleaning and gutting a freshly caught fish downstairs from our accommodation; later this made it onto our plates

The highlight of our Casa Fernando meals, indeed, a highlight of Cuba, was the hot chocolate (chorote) served at breakfast. The rich and smooth drink took substantial preparation and required ordering the previous evening.

Baracoa Chocolate

The Baracoa region produces almost all of Cuba’s cacao and has the country’s only chocolate factory.

Casa Fernando's most amazing hot chocolate

Casa Fernando’s amazing hot chocolate consists of this cacao deliciousness combined with hot milk

Interestingly, the vessel Casa Fernando used to served to cacao was a teapot made in DPRK (North Korea).

A North Korean teapot used for hot chocolate

The North Korean teapot with a bamboo design used for serving hot chocolate

Hurricane Matthew devastated the area two months prior to our visit, destroying cacao and other crops. At the Finca Duaba farm few cacao fruit remained on the trees with many on the ground perished.

A rare cacao fruit remaining on the tree at Finca Duaba

A rare cacao fruit remaining on the tree at Finca Duaba

From a man outside Baracoa we bought two pure cacao balls for only 1 CUC (US$1). The balls added a lovely flavour to our drinks and food and lasted 1 and a half months.

One of the cocoa balls bought in Baracoa

One of the Baracao cocoa balls

Despite the devastated cacao harvest, Baracoa’s chocolate factory still operated, pumping out a nice aroma. They either previously stockpiled cacao or were importing chocolate’s key ingredient.

Baracoa Chocolate Factory inaugurated by Che Guevara in 1963

Baracoa Chocolate Factory inaugurated by Che Guevara in 1963

On 1 April 1963 then Industry Minister Che Guevara inaugurated the chocolate factory. As a revolutionary hero, the factory’s main sign displays his trademark face.

A Che Guevara quote on a chocolate factory board

A Che Guevara quote on a chocolate factory board

A second chocolate factory sign quotes Che: ‘You do not live celebrating victories but overcoming defeats’ (No se vive celebrando victorias sino superando derrotas).

Baracoa chocolate wrapped in tablet foil

Baracoa chocolate wrapped in tablet foil

In the city we negotiated and bought chocolates from a street seller. Ingeniously, the bars were wrapped in medicine foil.

Other Baracoa Sweets

A Baracoa speciality is cucurucho, wrapped in palm leaves and made from dried coconut, sugar and flavours. I found cucurucho tasty in moderation but too filling and sweet to consume otherwise.

Cucurucho sweets wrapped in palm leaves near the Humboldt National Park entrance

Cucurucho sweets wrapped in palm leaves near the Humboldt National Park entrance

Another sweet consisted primarily of sugar and nuts (probably from a palm) and was even sweeter than cucurucho.

Another sweet sold by the national park entrance

A different sweet sold adjacent Humboldt National Park

Local Versus Foreign Targeted Food

Businesses aimed at Cubans are usually incredibly cheap although the quality usually reflects the price. In Baracoa we enjoyed half decent ice cream and hot chocolate at a local café. My notes say it cost only 0.60 CUP (US$0.024).

Ice cream at Baracoa Cafe

Bargain ice cream at a Baracoa café served in a wooden bowl

At a different café we received our 2 CUP ($US0.08) juices in cut off Corona bottles! I can imagine a hip café charging 100 times more for drinks in such glasses.

Juice served in cut Corona bottles at Mahy Cafe

Juice served in cut Corona bottles at Mahy Cafe

Restaurants aimed at foreigners in Cuba are far more expensive and usually have better food although it still varies in quality. Finca la Esperenza has a wonderful setting next to the River Toa and we ate lunch there one day. My ‘river prawn’ was good although Rocío disliked her fish and thought it should be much better given the price (several CUC/USD per main course). Notable at our meal was the German butter and US Tabasco sauce.

Fish and river prawn at Finca la Esperanza by the River Toa

Fish and river prawn accompanied by salad, papaya and rice at Finca la Esperanza by the River Toa

Fresh Produce

As mentioned, Hurricane Matthew destroyed Baracoa’s crops. During our visit I only saw fresh produce for sale once. Our accommodation and restaurants catering for foreigners bought their fruit and vegetables from neighbouring regions

Rarely sighted fresh produce in Baracoa

Rarely sighted fresh produce in Baracoa

While I was sick with a fever, Rocío scoured the city for fresh produce for a healthy and satisfying meal accompanied by sea views.

Lunch prepared by Rocío while I was sick

Lunch prepared by Rocío while I was sick

I would love to return to Baracoa once crops have fully recovered especially during the northern summer when the delicious small mangoes are in season.

1 thought on “Awesome Hot Chocolate and other Baracoa Food

  1. Pingback: Baracoa, a Special Place in Eastern Cuba | Where is Joe.in?

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