(Herman’s Hermits) – El Dandy, Havana
Ernest Hemingway’s spirit – if you’ll excuse the pun – pervades the bars of Havana, it can require some effort to find a bar that is ‘Hemingway Free’.
El Dandy is one such bar, on the corner of ‘Calle Brasil’ and a ten minute stroll from El Floridita bar (another of Hemingway’s haunts and the home of the Daiquiri) which is perpetually rammed with tourists.
El Dandy is tiny and quaint, with prices written on chalk boards and pictures artfully displayed on the walls. I ordered a beer and a Mojito, and spotted the sign advertising baby back ribs for ten CUCs (the ‘tourist’ currency is the CUC, conveniently, about the same value as a US Dollar) so I ordered that.
The Mojito was delicious, with crisp fresh mint and the ribs, when they arrived, were a revelation.
I’m no stranger to barbecues, or rib shacks and these were as good as I’ve tasted anywhere, meaty, tender and slightly spicy. The accompanying coleslaw was crisp and crunchy and the sweet potato fries delicious. I couldn’t finish the fries and passed them to another table and they agreed that they were great.
I had a strange experience in Bar Dandy, but before I explain, you should be aware that Salsa music pervades Havana, it issues from every bar, café and taxi… I don’t think I heard any other type of music while I was in Havana.
That said, I was enjoying my ribs in Bar Dandy, and it occurred to me that I wished I’d been able to share the moment with Val – my late and much missed wife. When, out of the blue. ‘All My Loving’, by ‘The Beatles’ came on the radio; Val hailed from Liverpool and was a huge Beatles fan.
That was the only Beatles track I heard during the several days I was in Havana – spooky.