Rains poured down on the Coconut Grove Art Festival Sunday afternoon. But it didn't bother 200 or so wine and food fans tucked cozily into the Culinary Tent. Linda Gassenheimer, author of the Dinner in Minutes cookbook series, demonstrated her quick recipe for Chicken Chile, and passed out little samples to the crowd. Asked to suggest the proper wine, I chose beer. Not wimpy light beer. A nice India Pale Ale. Or, if you insist on wine, a soft and hearty shiraz.
Then chef Chris Cramer, of Panorama Restaurant in the Sonesta Bayfront hotel in Coconut Grove, demonstrated his restaurant's speciality -- Peruvian cuisine. The hit of the day was his Ceviche Creme de Rocoto. This was not your father's ceviche. (See the recipe at the end). It had the usual mild, white tilapia marinated in lime and garlic, and the unexpected ingredient of sweet potatoes. But what made the recipe sing was the extra-hot Peruvian Rocoto chile sauce, made with garlic and creamy mayonnaise. A marvel of flavors, textures and degrees of heat. I scratched my head for a while, then recommended a French or California viognier. It's a white wine with the body and mild sweetness to soothe your palate from the spicy chiles. Or maybe a nice, fat California chardonnay.
The chef also made lomo saltado -- beef tenderloin flambeed in the Peruvian national liquor, pisco -- a white, unaged brandy made of grapes. If you want to hear more about Chef Cramer and his Peruvian cuisine, Linda and I will feature him on Food News & Views, our cooking show on WLRN (91.3 FM) on Thur., March 13. And don't forget -- you can listen to the show live or come to this website and download a podcast.
Many in the crowd wanted the recipe for Chef Cramer's seviche. So, with the chef's permission, here's the recipe for Ceviche Creme de Rocoto:
5 oz tilapia
1 large sweet potato, cooked, peeled and sliced
4 fl oz Rocoto sauce (substitute Scotch Bonnet chile)
1 red onion, sliced very fine
1/2 oz lime juice
salt to taste
1 tsp cilantro, chopped
1 cup Rocoto paste
3/4 cup lime juice
1 tbsp garlic, minced
3 cups mayonnaise
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
Cut fish into cubes and place in a stainless steel mixing bowl. Salt generously and mix well. Place slices of sweet potato on the plate creating a circle. Add 1/3 of Rocoto Sauce to fish and mix well. Pile fish chunks onto the plate and pour the remaining Rocoto Sauce over them. In a separate mixing bowl place the red onions, cilantro, salt and lime juice; mix. Place the onion mix over the top of the fish. Garnish with salted nuts and serve.