BEST CEVICHE (2004)

OLA

Since the preservative practice of "cooking" seafood with a salt/herb/chili/citrus marinade most likely originated in Latin America, centuries ago, there are naturally many restaurants in Miami that serve good ceviches. But let's face it: Douglas Rodriguez wrote the book. That's The Great Ceviche Book, published just last year -- which is also when OLA (Of Latin America) opened, with ten ceviches on the menu. Each is influenced by a different locale on the globe -- Thailand in the case of baby sweet conch ceviche with coconut water, ginger, and coconut gelee; Spain inspired paella ceviche mixto with saffron-lobster sauce and Valencia rice puffs; characteristic additions of tomatoes and popcorn characterize Ecuadorian shrimp ceviche -- but the main inspiration comes from the chef's unique vision. Rodriguez sees ceviche as not just a small snack but a whole culinary frontier awaiting discovery. Numerous OLA regulars, who ignore the menu's many other temptations to head straight for the ceviche section on visit after visit, obviously agree.