Foxes & Pies 

On a rainy evening with the pitter patter of droplets falling outside in a constant hum, I find myself literally in the fields of Saligao. Here’s a legend of the place for those unaware. Many centuries ago, the people of Saligao besides rice began the plantation of sugarcane in their fields. Rice being the staple produce sugarcane helped with extra income. However when the sugarcane ripened the foxes from the nearby hills- sniffed them out and used to ravage the entire crop. Exasperated with this menace the villagers formed groups with each ward nominating a few individuals for guarding the fields at different intervals. They would man the fields all day and night staying in tents called ‘khompteos‘. They would hide in the stalks catching the foxes by surprise, thus protecting their crops. And thus comes the name coined by the proud partners Chef Briston & Chef Savio- Foxes Fiesta. A place synonymous and effervescent with fun, frolic and and all round party just the way the goans like it. Briston with a hint in his eyes informs me this is a place where one eats with their eyes first.

Chicken & Mushroom pie with Baked potato mash 

I am treated to some Pie being one of their signature dishes served. They are so well known for this format of preparation that I served myself to two variants across their elaborate every expanding menu. From the traditional Cottage Pie ( Minced meat pie) to the more local flavor Goan Sausage pie its got something for everyone. I had a tough time choosing between the Ham, Bacon & Burnt Garlic pie and the Chicken & Mushroom pie. Ultimately Savio choose for me and got me their scrumptious Chicken & Mushroom pie. Served on a sizzler with piping hot mash and succulent meats its a combination that leaves you wanting more- merely for the fact that these pies do not have a crust!!! Hence all filling and mash with no crust to give one the sense of a long craving post devouring a whole pie. The good news is one can leave space for more selections and dessert which is a must have!!!! I have been forewarned that they are currently underway with 6 new selections so be prepared. Being one of the more subtle comfort foods its interesting to note the origination of the same.

Did you know? Pie has been around since the ancient Egyptians. The first pies were made by early Romans who may have learned about it through the Greeks. These pies were sometimes made in “reeds” which were used for the sole purpose of holding the filling and not for eating with the filling. The chronology spread by the Romans around Europe around the 14th century. The first pie recipe was published by the Romans and was for a rye-crusted goat cheese and honey pie. Pies were predominately meat pies. The crust of the pie was referred to as “coffyn”. There was actually more crust than filling. Often these pies were made using fowl and the legs were left to hang over the side of the dish and used as handles. Fruit pies or tarts (pasties) were probably first made in the 1500s. The English tradition credits making the first cherry pie to Queen Elizabeth I.

The Banoffee Pie

Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

Time for dessert- had the Banoffee pie make its way to our table. The Banoffee pie served here is quintessentially English styled. A dessert pie made from home grown butter bananas, cream and toffee from boiled condensed milk (or dulce de leche), with crumbled biscuit and butter. Its name is a portmanteau constructed from the words “banana” and “toffee.” It is sometimes spelled “banoffi”. Not to forget the showcase of drizzled caramel sauce that garnishes the plate leaving you craving for more.

 

All in all an evening well spent. A must try for all you pie lovers. And keep an eye out for those foxes……

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Con-fucius & fusion 

Confucius- a Chinese teacher and philosopher once said “With coarse rice to eat, with water to drink, and my bended arm for a pillow- I have still joy in the midst of these things.”  Obviously he didn’t have a chance to experience the Fengli su created out of the genius of Chef Anupam Gulati for the new menu at Wan Hao the Chinese restaurant at the Goa Marriott Resort & Spa.

What is the Fengli su? Simply put it is a Buttery pineapple heaven served with vanilla bean ice cream. Simple enough? As you dig in with every bite you notice a fresh salsa of torched pineapple carefully drizzled with rock salt and fresh red chilli with vanilla bean essence extract. All this carefully nestled within a choice of ice cream- might i suggest the Caramel almond to go with that sweet tang flavor. And a delicately placed buttery pineapple compote baked in a ‘nankhatai biscuit‘ might I add. A cookie for all the westerners. One of the biggest temptations you might face if you love your food is the disheveling of the creation so delicately placed in front of you. Its quite a blend and melange of fusions of our neighbor to the north the Big Red dragon spouting all the fire nestled within the salsa and the Indian touch of our beloved ‘nankhatai’-our shortbread biscuits so popular around tea time snacks. The word Nankhatai is derived from Persian word ‘naan‘ meaning bread and ‘Khatai‘ from an Afghan word meaning biscuit.

Fengli su

Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

What are you waiting for? In the words of the wise one “Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.” and this I choose with glee. Hence I choose unto thee.

The Trinity Medallion 

The Trinity Hospitality Expo was held at the Dr SP Mukherjee Indoor Stadium Goa from 25-27th August which showcased the entire gamut of products and services for Hospitality, Institutions and Corporates, Lifestyle and facility management.

On 26th August 2015 in the evening our Hon Chief Minister Mr Parsekar graced the ocassion where he presented a plaque to Ms Odette Mascarenhas – international author, food critic and TV celebrity for her award winning book The Culinary Heritage of Goa for getting the Best in the a World competing against 40 countries for historically researched recipes and self published books.

In addition he presented a Lifetime Achievement Award in honour of Goas first executive chef Masci to our over own Master chef Urbano do rego for his contribution to the hospitality industry for over 4 decades.

The Chief Minister gave away these awards amidst a select gathering of hospitality professionals and general managers of 5 star hotels and he reiterated the excellence showed by these two distinguished personalities to take GOAN cuisine and hospitality to the world. He showered praise and accolades and made a mention that these two awardees could be role models for the youth and that one must strive for excellence in whatever field they choose and do it with passion. He touched the hearts of the select audience with his brief comments interspersed with wit that had the audience in splits of laughter.

Congratulations mum. As you always taught me- the sky is the limit. Keep reaching and trailblazing for more and ill try and follow.

Hon. CM of Goa- Mr. Parsekar presenting the award to Odette Mascarenhas
 Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

Monday Blues Aboard the Royale? LOL 

I could have been a standup comedian- had I managed to remember my lines on stage amidst the constant glare of a beaming light (much like that of an interrogation room) shining right at me for the duration of the act. Alas, all said and done I decided to do the next best thing and be their muse sitting in the front row getting picked on like scavengers for morsels of scraps and enjoying every moment of it. 

A Mundane ‘Moanday’ is something many a folk associate with- even in the sunny state of Goa. Yes people actually work here! (much to others surprise) Back in Mumbai, I used to wait in anticipation for the weekend; apart from some R&R and the familiar bike cruise up and down marine drive and chowpatty at 2am in the morning I used to keep an eye for the theatre and standup acts that happen around the city. This is something Goa is sorely missing (don’t get me wrong we have our tiatrs and cultural festivals in splendour and pomp and quite the fan following but a good play or a classic standup is something far and few) and thanks to the folks @thedeltinlife, Deltin Royale has a classic line up of rib tickling slapstick in your face comedy acts that give you ‘lock jaw’ syndrome with the LOL Monday’s 

Now I know your all especially in Goa must be rolling your eyes in blasphemy with the mention of a casino here. Trust me it’s my second time aboard and I’ve had a wonderful experience so far. I had the privilege of being ‘placed’ on the front row seats to the jib of Sorabh Pant who had a field day at my expense till his eyes gazed upon the Marwadi ladies next to me who became his muse for the rest of the evening. From anecdotes ranging from politics to marriage it was a hilarious affair indeed. Angad Singh with his all so familiar Sardar twang got people in rollicking splits especially with his relationship advice of a newly committed gent. Yes i used the word ‘committed’ on prupose. Much like ones voluntary commitment to an hour with the Joker. 

Imagine a floating world where you stand a chance to win an IPhone 6 every hour, treat yourself to some amazing chaat while your at it and be entertained ever so with free alcohol to make the non comic a believer of that effervescent pearly white smile. It’s a win win for all. Please put your laughing ‘pant’s on. (No pun intended Sohrab.)

With season one coming to an end I am looking forward with gusto to Season two. 

Standup and head there peeps.

 It’s something you don’t want to miss. 

Season One Finale Lineup   Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

The Emperors new suite 

Flashback to 6.00 a.m. in Bangkok, I wait for a bus to go home, from a night about town. At the corner of my blurry eye – a push cart in front of the bus station. I keep my head low and wait patiently for the transport to arrive. Not today, I remind myself. An hour later I  arrive at my destination, and there it is again, in the stalls around my building. I frantically ignore it and head to bed. Once awake, the urge for consumption leaves places to devour an entire giraffe. 

Its 2p.m. I glance through my curtain and get enticed by the sweet aroma emitted from the stall below. That all so familiar taste of spice from the pad kra pao gai. Present Day: Just like that, in the sleepy by lanes of Goa, lies Deltin Suites with their hidden gem – The Emperor cooking up a scintillating, elaborate Thai inspired pan Asian cuisine to transport one to the bustling streets of Bangkok. This dish is a contender for the most popular, and the most beloved street food dish in ALL of Thai cuisine. In Thailand it’s available and eaten everywhere.

You know sometimes when you go to a restaurant and you have no idea what to order, or even what you want to eat? When that happens in Thailand, pad kra pao gai (with chicken), or any type of meat stir fried with Thai holy basil, is a dish that comes to the rescue. Flavors respond immediately as the dish reaches our table. The presentation is crisp with the fried sunny side up egg that accompanies their Thai basil chicken, better known in Thai as pad kra pao gai. Street food has only been popular since the 1960s when more Thais moved into cities to find work and eat out. This culture basically has folk eat most of the meals outside which resonates in the way this dish is presented. Crisp and compact. And that is something that the Emperor follows keeping it close to the authenticity of the dish. 

Phad kra pao gai in a crunch basket served sunny side up.  Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

A Cooking Tip: Unlike mincing (which is usually done) try grinding, it really releases all the juices and oils of the chilies and garlic and it brings out an extra depth of flavor, which in  return makes the entire dish of chicken basil more vibrant, garlicky and spicy.
So the next time you wish for some good street style prep make a beeline to meet the Emperor. I am sure he would approve. 

A Single’ton evening in a Park 

They say your aura attracts your own tribe. Rightfully so, when you find Señor Varun Carvalho on the same table as you for a whiskey paring dinner. Known for his life for fast cars, the good life and pulling out people’s teeth in his spare time while singing them to sleep (he’s not a torturer- a dentist rather) is also South Goa’s most eligible bachelor. Round two’ as we both call it (given we shared an earlier evening the last time round as well) at the Park Hyatt Masters of Food and Wine-Land and Dram Reunited. This masterclass showcase is a series of sophisticated culinary and beverage experiences hosted at Park Hyatt hotels around the world. I have been fortunate to be part of many a showcase that pay tribute to the local culture, culinary traditions, ingredients and flavors and have never left disappointed. Under the watchful eye of their award winning master chefs and the eminent Nick Ord – a renowned Reserve Brand Ambassador this was indeed an evening worth waiting for. 

You realize your in good company when you have a singing dentist and a maestro chef on either side of you. The evening reeked of sophistication with detail given to the simplest of things (case in point sparkling water with a choice of either a twist of lemon or an orange peel to the personalized table seating with name plate et all)- a classy affair indeed. 

Chef Saulo, was the genius behind the Oops Tiramisu which was showcased earlier and he never travels too far away from his roots deep within Italy. And while one sets into a melancholy of expectation (given the earlier jaunts) a blended fusion presents itself with a Chicken tikka pappardelle with white tomato makhni sauce chilly oil and garlic crisp. Imagine my glee combining two international cuisines (Indian & Italian-both close to my heart) to create this infused masterpiece. 

 Chicken tikka pappardelle white tomato makhni sauce chilly oil and garlic crisp  

Pappardelle is flat wide strips of pasta noodles popular in the Tuscan region of Italy. The name derives from the verb “pappare” to gobble up. This wide pasta holds up well with heavy meat sauces. A traditional recipe includes rabbit served over the pasta ribbons that I happened to sample a few years ago. Tender and moist indeed. It’s cousins, Tagliatelle, tagliolini, tortellini, and lasagne are some of the pastas made fromsfoglia, the “leaves” of egg-and-flour dough. 

Legend has it that the shape-strips of pasta about a half inch wide, was invented in 1487 by Maestro Zafirano, a cook from the village of Bentivoglio, on the occasion of the marriage of Lucrezia Borgia to the Duke of Ferrara. The cook was said to be inspired by the beautiful blond hair of the bride.

The Singleton of Glen Ord – 12 years   Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

Like a attentive accomplice was the pairing of this creative dish with the Singleton of Glen Ord aged 12 years. It’s Amber gold hues, lulls you into steady oblivion and its heady distant burning heather infuses distinct sweet pollen and dry orange skins to send your senses into a tizz. It’s a well balanced malt with a pleasant mouth feel (especially between pungent tangy morsels of the tikka pappardelle) rather very sweet then dries slightly. For a novice it’s easy to consume and if one dilutes it with water a softer notes of candle wax, brown sugar and dried flowers emerge to tickle ones buds. 

This Masters of Food and Wine experience at Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa comprised a mélange of bold Indian flavours artfully paired with single malts left one yearning for more. Leaving on a light note, here’s singing your song – Señor Carvalho till we meet again.