Serendipity is a thing best not sought. That seems a touch obvious, I know, but in today’s world of “experiences” and “concepts,” I often get the sense that many individuals expect to be constantly surprised or pleased, or have forgotten that not everything is going to be an epiphany.
A dish I had a few days ago made me ponder this, because it was not what I had intended to order, it was not what I thought I was in the mood to taste, and it came to me when I wasn’t expecting it.
I was at Caracol, a restaurant with which I hope you are familiar, especially if you are fond of whole fried fish or roasted/grilled oysters. (And when you are there, be sure to ask for Sean Beck; he will steer you toward an excellent bottle of wine.) It was a Tuesday, early in the evening, and I had, on the spur of the moment, decided to stop by for a drink at the bar, a lively place during happy hour. I ordered a mojito, and not long after it arrived, Beck stopped by for a conversation. We talked Thai food, oil prices, and cooking, and a few minutes later the serendipity appeared, in the form of a beautiful bowl of ceviche.
First, a purée of fresh parsley, basil, and cilantro, plus green olives, lime and peppers. Merely seeing its shade of green lifted my spirits, and the first taste woke my tastebuds: slightly spicy, bright, with a surprising complexity. The fish was grouper, and it had been “cooked” with skill. Everyone, it seems, is making ceviche these days, and I have been on the end of some lackluster efforts recently, but this dish was a winner.
A spoonful of grouper, the purée, and a small pepper was exactly what I needed that evening, even if I was unaware of that need. The fish’s consistency was refreshing — no mushiness here — and the last bite was as enlivening as the first.
Caracol makes ceviche on a daily basis, and the fish used changes regularly. Next time you are in the Galleria area around happy hour, find a seat at the bar and make yourself feel good.