Viva Cuba Libre! That’s a phrase that could easily be associated with the annual Cuba Nostalgia. The event, which conjures the spirit of Cuba through food, music, art and dance, takes place Friday through Sunday at the Fair Expo Center. Now in its 19th year, Cuba Nostalgia celebrates all things Cuban, providing a space for Miami’s Cuban expats to come together and reflect on times past on an island that is so close and yet so far away.
And for those who have never been to Cuba, Cuba Nostalgia offers a history lesson, said Leslie Pantin, the event’s president.
“We have two audiences: The ‘nostalgia’ of Cuba Nostalgia — people that go with their families and show them where they lived or where they worked,” Pantin said. “Then we have the ‘Cuba’ part of Cuba Nostalgia for the young people that want to learn about Cuba, but they weren’t born there or they are married to Cubans. We have an exhibit of Cuban history and it’s very graphic so they get a highlight of Cuban history.”
Celebrate Cuban Independence Day by sipping a cafecito, smoking a Cuban cigar and breaking out into dance when you hear the chords of a timba band. Here are some of the highlights.
Given the state of Cuba since Fidel Castro took over, classic cars from the 1950s are the norm on the island. Pantin said the survival of these cars decades later are “a credit to Cuban ingenuity.”
Cuba Nostalgia will have about 20 cars on display as part of this year’s vintage car theme. Check out shiny Chryslers, Cadillacs, Fords and more, in pastel cotton candy colors, cherry red and blue. The huge white wall tires, chrome heavy and extra shiny bumpers and multi-colored tops will make you want to get in and cruise the streets of Little Havana.
You get the idea what you’ll be eating and drinking here. A visit to Cuba Nostalgia wouldn’t be complete without a few croquetas, pastelitos or empanadas and a cafecito o wash them all down. For something more substantial sit down for some ropa vieja or a nice Cuban sandwich stacked high with roast pork, ham and swiss cheese. Finish it off with a cold sweet ice cream from Azucar Ice Cream, the shop based in Little Havana that will be selling their mango, guayaba and mantecado flavors.
It’s the weekend so why not indulge in a bit of Cuba’s best known drinks with rum provided by Bacardi. You can sip one of three of the best known rum cocktails, one that’s the most nostalgic to the island. Try a Cuba Libre which they’ll prepare with Bacardi Gold Rum, coke and two lime wedges or the famous Mojito made with Bacardi Superior rum, fresh mint leaves muddled with caster sugar and finished off with club soda. Cuba Nostalgia will also feature daiquiris. Cheers!
Stamp and map collectors and lovers of vintage photos, come prepared to do some shopping, as well as some haggling at this event. Pantin said coins and school yearbooks from Cuba are usually a hit.
“Cuba Nostalgia is the only place in the world that has under one roof, one weekend, all these elements of Cuba. You might find places even in Cuba that have some of this but not has all these elements,” Pantin said.
If you’re a lover of vinyl, check out the records by Cuban artists form the 1950s that will be for sale. Your day wouldn’t be complete without picking up a few Cuban cigars, maybe a whole box to take home. Father’s Day is right around the corner and these could make a great gift.
Here’s where you’ll want to grab your phone and get snap happy. Between the vibrant-colored artworks and the photo banners showcasing Cuba’s best known spots, you might want to make some room on your phone. More than 30 artists will display their paintings, sculptures and photographs in a 50,000-square-foot space of the building. Plus, the banners feature scenes of El Malecon and the beautiful streets and beaches of Havana.
IF YOU GO:
What: Cuba Nostalgia
When: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday-Sunday, May 19-21
Where: Fair Expo Center, Coral Way and SW 112 Avenue, Miami