Of course no trip is complete for Jim without a train ride, so I’ll undoubtedly share my pictures and my thoughts when we take the train from Cusco to Puente Ruinas, winding our way up almost eight thousand feet into the Vilcanota mountain range curtailed by the Apurimac and Urubamba River.
I know; that was quite the Peruvian tease, but I am not without a conscience; or an appetite. So you’ll be happy to know I am prepared to share the next best thing when it comes to seeing Peru – eating Peruvian cuisine in Miami’s Coconut Grove.
Their signature ceviche got top billing on the menu and on social media Urbanspoon and Tripadvisor, but for some reason that escapes me now (6 weeks later) we did not try their “amazing” sampler. Fortunately you can learn from my mistakes. You’re going to learn a lot given my propensity for making mistakes.
I suffered horrendous food poisoning decades ago in New Orleans at the hands of raw oysters. Physically, it only took about 12 hours of retching to rid my system of the offending bacteria, but psychologically. . . . Well, let’s just say, I was seriously traumatized. The worry, when it comes to consumption of raw fish, always makes my hair curl.
Had you going there for a moment with the hair curling thing, didn’t I? I know; I’m digressing again, too! Really, who in their right mind talks about retching in a blog post about food!!! I try to amaze with every post.
Did you know ceviche (if you’d like, you can check out pictures of their renowned dish via this link) is a traditional Central and South American seafood dish made from fresh raw fish (tuna, swordfish, white fish, calamari, shrimp, lobster) marinated in citrus juices, such as lemon or lime, and spiced with aji (hot peppers) or chili peppers? No? Don’t feel too bad. America’s heartland is not booming with Peruvian restaurants, much less ceviche. Let’s just say my culinary tastes are about as cosmopolitan as a carton of Breyer’s Vanilla, Chocolate and Strawberry Ice Cream.
We went with a complimentary basket of purple tortilla chips and plantain chips with a mildly spicy dipping sauce. A large, elegant bottle of chilled water bearing the restaurant’s name graced every table in the restaurant and served as a ready fire extinguisher for those dishes with a kick.
My crab cakes were a moist mixture of crab meat, lime juice, shallots and corn, fried but blessedly not greasy. They came with aji panca sauce, aji Amarillo aioli and salsa criolla. It was deliciously edible artwork!
My armchair philosophy; you can’t buy fond memories. Those you create, often over a special meal with family or friends that you can savor for a lifetime.
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The Bottom Line on Jaguar’s Ceviche Spoon Bar and Latam Grill:
Verdict: Why settle for the same ole same ole when you can have Latin! The food and ambience was as authentic and tasty as it gets without heading for South America.
How to Get There: From Miami, head east on NW 15th Street toward NW 18th Avenue. Take the 2nd right onto NW 17h Avenue. Turn right onto FL-5/U.S. 1 South, then left onto SW 32nd Avenue/McDonald Street. Turn left onto Grand Avenue. Jaguar’s will be on the left. The CocoWalk parking garage is just east of Jaguar’s.
Insider Information: Be sure to check out their website for posted specials. Not sure if this applies regularly, but during the research phase of my writing I noticed a Twitter post that promised a free ceviche spoon sampler if you mentioned seeing their Twitter feed. If you're a people watcher like me, you'll want the sidewalk dining option. Be prepared for a tight squeeze though.
Nearby Food: This is a moot point, but if you can go round again after the fine dining at Jaguar’s, more power to you.