A business trip I took last month had me in downtown Miami, FL dining solo at a popular, bustling Peruvian restaurant going by the quirky name of CVI.CHE 105. I sought out this restaurant because of its lure of the variety of ceviche dishes on its extensive tapas-style dinner menu. I even carefully plotted its coordinates in my iPhone so as I didn’t get lost walking to the restaurant from my hotel.
Ceviche is in its most basic definition the Latin American version of sushi. Raw fish “cooked” if you will in the tangy acidity of lemon or lime juice. Peru apparently was the birthplace of ceviche, which in a way makes sense given that the South American country also happens to have a substantial population of Japanese immigrants. However, nobody as far as I can tell can link ceviche’s invention to anything related to Japanese Peruvians.
Ceviche holds a special place in my heart. During May 2006, my wife and I had our first meal as honeymooning husband and wife in Puerto Rico where we were served ceviche appetizers and mojitos. It was only fitting that the next time I was within a stone’s throw of Puerto Rico (well, at least a stone tossed out of an airplane) I’d have some authentic ceviche again.
At CVI.CHE105, I was served a delightfully colorful, Jackson Pollock-esque plate of ceviche which was apparently an “appetizer size,” but could have qualified at a meal in itself. Shrimp, calamari, mahi mahi, snapper – all prepared with lip puckeringly tangy perfection and served with roasted corn and peppers. I savored every bite.
The shear citrusy, acidic nature of ceviche makes it hard to recommend with a wine, although certain whites can definitely enhance a meal. The menu at the restaurant had a house Sauvignon Blanc available by the glass. There was also an Albarino (one of my favorite white wines ever) by the bottle. A dry sparkling wine like a Prosecco or a Cava would certainly be delicious with ceviche.
But my tastebuds prefer a nicely sour cocktail to counter what is already a fairly sharp-tasting dish to begin with like a whisky sour, Bacardi cocktail or a margarita. Also, opposites attract with acidic dishes and you can match ceviche wonderfully with something sweet and tropical like the above-mentioned mojito or a daiquiri.
Ceviche, mojitos and memories of good times. It doesn’t get much better than that.