Vacation! Break! Holiday! Goa!
Bet all those words bring a smile to your face, because they sure do to mine 🙂
Being an avid lover of the Sea, Apart from that and the Sun, I also love the food in Goa. And NO – it doesn’t have to be Kings Beer and batter fried calamari all the time, I don’t enjoy either so I’ve looked for stuff that I can enjoy eating.
We did a quick weekend in Goa recently. We rented a car for three days, which was really economical and far safer than the bikes. Guess we are too old for such a boho holiday and I do HATE my hair flying, unless it’s at the beach. It cost us about 1000 bucks a day, and 2000 as refundable deposit. I thought it is a fantastic deal especially because Google Maps work like a dream, and it will always find a way to get you where you want to go. On one instance, we missed a turn, so it took us through this really narrow lane, (we were lucky, that there wasn’t a vehicle from the other side, otherwise we would have been stuck, and we realized that there was a reason there was no other vehicle on that road) and brought us back to our route. So now for the good stuff.
So we did the usual “Nice” places, healthy places and of course went to a couple of places where one can eat local food. All in all it was a memorable weekend for me. However word of caution / advice avoid Baga and Anjuna like the plague. Too crowded and too many chaddis and banians for comfort. Having said that Brittos and Souza Lobo was on our list, so choose your time, but I would recommend an eat and leave approach.
Sounds like Greek
The joy of staring at the Setting Sun, in my world is priceless. The heat of the afternoon, makes way for the cool drifting breeze of the evening and you see this golden ball retreat in the sea. It is a well known fact about Goa, that Thalassa offers you one of the best views, and their sun downer is a must do, on one of your days there. So we did just that!
Make reservations, but a word of caution, you may want to take a table in the second or third row, because when the sun sets, everyone is by the ledge taking pictures, and standing there, So, all the effort you may have taken to reserve that table, is wasted. It’s hardly enjoyable no matter how great the view is when strangers are hovering around you. Frankly it is a one hour window and I really felt bad for the guys in the first row, because there was absolutely no privacy, and everyone feels entitled to stand there for the view.
We had already eaten at the shack, and we reached there at 5, so decided to have a couple of drinks and something to nibble on. I ordered the Strawberry Daiquiri, and it had a generous dose of actual strawberries, no syrup business here. Lots of chunks of strawberries in my drink, it almost seemed like a healthy juice (of course)
We ordered a watermelon and feta salad. No rocket science there, but because the ingredients itself were really fresh and of good quality, the salad needed nothing else. We also ordered a starter – Flat Pita, with Tomatoes, Onions, Olive Oil and Feta. Their Feta obviously is really nice, not too salty, yet salty enough for feta and a great texture as well. We enjoyed i so much in the salad, that we called for a Feta starter too.
While we were were walking out, there was also a live performance. Seemed like two Greek Men, (I only say that because they looked like Adonis) were doing a traditional dance(or so i assume), and Markietty was singing and in Greek tradition Breaking Plates (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plate_smashing) She was also encouraging guests to go for it. We totally felt like we got our money’s worth here. We’ve been there for dinner before, but I must say I enjoyed this a lot more. The Sundowner gets our vote!
La Plage in Ashvem is ideal for Lunch, or perhaps a late breakfast. We realized that because there are resorts covering most of Ashvem beach, the best place to park your car and get to the beach is at La Plage. The parking however is for La Plage guests only. So we reached at about 12, and headed to the beach. Rented a beach bed, for 100 bucks a day, lolled on it, went to the beach, lolled on it, went to the beach… guess you get the drift.
We dragged ourselves to lunch, and boy am I glad that we did. They have lots of options for vegetarians. The place seems to be run by a French Family, and in true Goan style don’t expect your order to be taken too soon, or your food to come pronto. I found Thalassa, to be a lot more quick and city like in it’s approach – Making the most of the table with quick service types.
I was torn between the Paneer Ravioli and the Spaghetti. I opted for the Spaghetti. It was generously tossed with garlic, olive oil and coriander. Huge portion, but I managed to finish most of it. Sometimes I tend to get camel like in my approach to food, when I am unsure about where we are going to eat next and whether I will like the food. I had my eyes on the Beetroot and Mango Carpaccio and even their breakfast, but because dessert had to be done, I opted only for maincourse (Mental note made, HAVE to go there again and in a larger group)
I had read about their dessert Thalis and I was sure that I wanted to try it. They have two dessert thalis. One is chocolate and the other is fruit. So I am not a huge fan of chocolate, and the husband was kind enough to humour me, so we ordered the Fruit Thali. That was easily the #FoodComa Pick for me of of the holiday. I had imagined, some mousse and cake kind of thali, but i was in for a pleasant surprise. The chef had woven his magic with fruits.
The thali had a mango sorbet, fresh strawberries in balsamic vinegar with basil, Orange Wedges in a Clove and Sugar syrup, Water Melons in a ginger and sugar syrup and Salted Caramel Bananas with whipped cream. While I say Syrup, it was hardly the chaashni kind, but much thinner in consistency. I am no food expert, and it’s difficult for me to say exactly how something may have been made, all I know is that it was a piece of food heaven and will go down as a memorable dessert.
Goa is a great place for Organic Food. I managed two organic meal sessions. One was at the Saturday Night Market, I had a Tofu Plate from “Bean Me Up” . My last 3 visits to the market I have always had dinner from their kiosk. A simple yet really tasty meal. Brown Rice perfectly cooked, Sprout Salad, Tofu in Thai Sauce, A Tofu Scramble with an Edible Spoon. Yes, and edible spoon… I’m a sucker for these little twists. ‘
We also managed to go to Artjuna in Anjuna for a Cup of Coffee. The place is gorgeous, serene, green and frankly I am definitely going back there for a meal the next time I am there. I was relieved because this was the only place that I got a proper cup of coffee. We also had a date cookie and their raw chocolate cake. The Raw Chocolate Cake can only be had by Coconut lovers. The base of the cake was a thick layer of coconut, and the raw chocolate was definitely sweetened by either figs or dates – either way it was a very nice cake, and those who are not fans of organic food will enjoy it too.
Three Days and Three Local Meals. One at the Sol De Goa, where we stayed. I had the Paneer Cafreal(Paste of Green Chilli, Coriander, Ginger and many other things, but I was sold on the first three) with Poi and while I loved the spice, I found the vinegar too pungent and clashing with the other flavours. I have mixed feelings about the dish. Guess it’s Yay for the Spice and Nay for the Vinegar.
On the last day my two meals were Goan. One at Souza Lobo, as the husband cannot go away from Goa, without devouring a King Fish. I had a mushroom Xacuti with Poi ,and we also had Mushroom and Garlic Fried Rice, which was so good that it led to a bit of over eating at my end.
My favorite meal though was at Upper House in Panaji. A lovely restaurant/ pub playing retro music. The Mushroom, Potato and Kaju Bhaji was too die for. Firstly an odd combination – Mushroom and Potatoes which by itself was rather interesting and a generous dose of kaju. Was definitely a good choice. We opted for the Veg Caldinha for curry, and I managed to taste both the Poi and the Sanna. The Sanna is a steamed preparation, very similar to the idli. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of the food, but this is by far the best Goan Food I have eaten, and I am surely going to be back for more.
I have also realized that most places will comply to your fussy demands no matter how small they may be. You can say something like, make my waffles with no butter and have butter on the side, (I had strawberry butter with mine), so you enjoy a waffle without one that’s dripping in butter. Taste with less guilt.
Food forms a large part of my holiday, and I’m constantly on the look out to find good food, wholesome food and most importantly tasty, and in Goa you have a view to die for in most of these places. Would love to know if you have any recommendations for next time, or if my recommendations helped you.
Until then… I’m looking at my calendar & Finances to see when it is respectable to start planning a holiday again 😉