Best Place to Buy Cuban Nostalgia - 2006
In Spanish, sentir cubano means "to feel Cuban" -- as if living in Miami and consuming your daily dose of cortaditos were not enough. So maybe this Calle Ocho shop should be called Ser Cubano, "to be Cuban," because if you weren't already blessed by birth, this store has all the ingredients to help you become, at the very least, a wannabe Cuban. Begin with apparel: Buy yourself a guayabera, a T-shirt with the emblem of a Cuban baseball team, and an enormous belt buckle emblazoned with the Cuban flag. Then move over to the cigar aisle, stock up on a couple of stogies, and grab a lovely taxidermied rooster for good measure. The music section is stocked with old-timey favorites like Beny Moré, Celia Cruz, and Barbarita Diaz, perfect to dance to while you make a café con leche with your new coffeemaker and a medianoche with your new sandwich press. (The place has cookbooks in English and Spanish if you need some help.) Don't forget to pick up a set of traditional double-nine dominoes, domino stands, and a domino table (there are cubilete and Spanish playing cards too); when you're not using the table for games, you can display a few antique yearbooks from pre-Castro high schools, purchased from Sentir Cubano's huge collection. Buy a framed display of old-fashioned currency to hang on the wall, plaster your car with stickers, and put some Fidel Castro toilet paper in the bathroom. If that isn't enough, check out owners Miguel and Maria Vazquez's first store, online at www.cubanfoodmarket.com.