The Unbidden Ashtray
It happens in so many places in Havana that sometimes I don't even notice. But when it happened at El Rum Rum de la Habana, a skinny, bright and clean paladar located on the narrow streets of Vieja Habana, it made me think about how special it is, so I began writing.
El Rum Rum, a new paladar located a few steps away from the famous Cuban bar La Bodeguita del Medio, is one of the many fine restaurants you'll read all about in the June issue of Cigar Aficionado magazine, hitting newsstands two weeks from today. I enjoyed my meal, and you'll read all about the cuisine in Gordon Mott's story about Cuba's rapidly evolving dining scene.
Back to what caught my notice. Our appetizers had just been cleared, a second cerveza was on its way, and I took a cigar from my leather case. Pigtail tip, uncut foot, a cigar without a band rolled on a farm in Pinar del Río, given to me by a friend who lives in Havana.
Without a word, as my cigar was revealed, the waiter brought over a simple black ashtray. My fellow diners paid no mind as I put flame to the foot of the plump cigar. My smoke joined the breeze and moved toward the open doors, and two men in caps standing near the well-stocked bar began to play their guitars and sing.
The unbidden ashtray. I never asked for it, but the waiter knew it was something I needed. No one questioned my cigar, no one paid mind to the smoke as it drifted away.
Moments like that are a welcome sight to any cigar aficionado visiting Cuba.