Noche Buena is a couple of days away and planning for this special night has become a BIG event in my life.
My mother used to take care of cooking a traditional Cuban meal of pernil, black beans rice, sweat potatos, yuca and empanadas to start. I have kept up the tradition but I’ve also added more traditionally American dishes like turkey and stuffing. So we now have a combination feast. While Empanadas are a must, so is spinach dip. Everything in my life is a blending of the traditional and the American, of the past and of the present.
Our Noche Buena is also a combination of family and friends. Everyone is welcome! Don’t have a place to go, don’t worry. Like my beloved madre, I believe in the spirit of inclusion and that an extra plate of food and drinks should always be at the ready.
I’m usually pretty traditional about the beverages I serve though, wine, beer, Bacardi Rum and soft drinks. I’ve added coquito as an homage to my Puerto Rican friends and because I like it of course. Who doesn’t? But that’s about it as far as libations are concerned – the basics. This year however I am breaking with tradition and substituting our standard Heinekin for Hatuey, a beer I was recently introduced too. It’s a Cuban craft beer, it’s delicious and it’s new to the New York area.
I recently attended the NYC launch of Hatuey at Havana Central and I’ve been converted. The beer originated in Santiago, Cuba. Thus in addition to the fact that I love it, I feel a certain level of nostalgia knowing that it started in the land of my grandparents.
So if you are seeking to add a new tradition to your Noche Buena celebration, this year I suggest giving Hatuey a try. You won’t regret it!