Art on a Plate 

This is part of a series of articles written for Goa Times (Times of India) on people and happenings in and around Goa. 

This article encaupsulates Art on a Plate in the age of food being presented as a work of art- a feast for the eyes. 

Click on the image to enlarge it and read. 
  

Publication:Goa Times 

Written by: Nolan Mascarenhas 

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Spa’z #staycation & how!

I remember reading the diary of Axl Rose (from Guns’n’Roses fame), wherein one of his mates said- ‘one can never comprehend the time in his world. Your on the Axl’s time zone’. I get the same feeling every time I finish an out of town #foodtrail. This last one in Mumbai though thoroughly satisfying, had me beat. What better way to kick back- than to, get into ‘Spa’z #staycation‘ at the Alila Diwa Hotel Goa

Many who converdsed with me during my long soaks in the bathtub (look at that beauty in the image above) envied the ‘double whammy’ of heading back to Goa and that too in the lap of such luxury.

What can I say? It’s a writers life-indeed. 

So, heading back to my ‘Spa’z #staycation‘- being the klutz, that I am, I happily checked into the hotel without any identification. Top it off, that too, dead in the middle of the night. They were kind enough-NOT to keep me waiting for long and after a few online checks identified mr. NObody. Some serious CIA stuff over the counter took place that night. What was it you asked? If I told you I’d have to kill you. To avoid the harassment don’t do a NObody, and check in with proper identification,please. 

Though a suffering insomniac- I was deadbeat. The bed enticed me, to snuggle in, while the AC cranked up the chill. Being a technosavant, the room had me written all over it. Yes, I’m that guy, who enters a room and needs to check out all the electricals. Fancy lightings and switches. What connection does what. Cause and effect really. 

There was also an ‘I spy with my little eye’ contest with so many minute details taken care of by the management. Like-the personal hand written note,by the General Manager- Mr. Siddharth Savkur (Yes-I stress on this a moment longer, given that while hotels do personalize real well these days, going the extra mile- i have mostly bared witness to printed stationary with the name and signature signed off by hand. The art of ink to paper is purist and much appreciated, from this old soul). 

Lest we forget the psychoanalysis of my near and dear ones gracing a printed card accompanying, would have made any psychoanalyst proud. The art of class indeed.  (let’s not forget Facebook for the pictorial courtesy

 It’s personal  
I am up early next morning in full witness of the view below. It’s one of those moments, where one gets lost in time and in the process almost missed breakfast just staring into the sapphire blue pool ahead with lush palms for company. I could have sworn, I heard peacocks well in the distance. 
 Room with a view  
After a rather scrumptious meal- (you have seen my breakfast posts, hence I shall NOT traumatized you, especially with all on offer and just let your imagination run wild on this count), I relaxed by the swimming pool and waiting for my appointed massage. I was slotted in for the Theraputic Massage for an entire hour and a half.  Tissue deep and aromatically infused are two words to describe this treatment. At the iron fisted hands of Ravi, who is a certified Masseuse from Kerela, I was kneaded into (quite literally) a snore. Rather embarrassing to say the least, but he didn’t mind the hypnotic tune I belted out, during the procedure. He found it rather relaxing (or maybe he was being polite, one would never know) An outdoor shower, amidst a lush garden had me soak in the sun (literally) with cool water streaming down my back- temporarily fooling my senses to a tropical paradise far far away. 

Top it off in the lap of luxury with a fine meal with the team- Siddharth and Rashmi who generously took time off their busy schedule to fuss over me. Delving into the spotlight of food you must try their fresh Kokum bar at the breakfast counter and their wide variety of eggs to order. The cheese and mushroom with sage was meticulously fluffed . Not to mention their king prawns which were every so fresh at the lunch table. Fresh catch of the day at the hands of Chef Alex Ensor. 

It’s a quick #staycation, as i have been away from home far too long and miss the babies- Mojo,my Labrador and Cupcake June, my Persian cat. 

The 5am, pee-o-clock alarm from the mutt beckons. 

Spa’zin out till next time. 

Spa treatment  
Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography Shot on an IPhone6 

Oktoberfest in Goa 

Flashback, circa 2011 when I was at the beer garden in Munich and a fresh yet breezy air sent a chill down my spine. I thought to myself a chilled beer in chilly climate wasn’t something that rocked my boat as much as I thought it would. Thank god for small mercies in the piping hot Frankie’s that were dished out to keep me from keeling over. This was a moment that had me fall in love with Oktoberfest and wish for a sunnier setup sometime in the not so distant future.

 Fast forward Four years hence, I believe I enjoyed my first ‘ideal’ Oktoberfest right here with the ‘perfect’setting. No, I could never take anything away from the original. I mean it’s a bucket list kind of thing. A must try for every beer and non beer lover and ones just gotta head over there to feel the atmosphere and of course sample some kick ass beer. However me being a tropical kinda bloke, kicking back in my Skivvies on an infinity pool deck with bright sunshine for company and beer and meat served on my pool BarcaLounger – that was my calling this year at Alila Diwa for their Oktoberfest celebrations. They netted this one spot on, with a selection of some classic brews – Leffe, Hoegaarden, Heineken and the official beer of Oktoberfest Paulaner Munchner Hell to wet my palate. You were literally spoilt for choice. Not to mention some of the classics Stella Artois & Corona for company. This along with their wide array of meats from the Bratwurst, Wurstel or Bavarian sausage, Vienna frankfurter and chicken sausage made me feel like I reached the pearly white gates of Valhalla. 

A ‘meat feast’ would be an understatement. And this being Goa with their seafood live grill counter by the pool was the makings of a sinful event indeed. Calamari, Fish steaks, ribs, khowsuey a live chaat counter- need I elaborate? 

Some great contests and lovely live acoustic music belted out by the band Grace hit all the checkboxes on a hot sunny afternoon. That was not all of course. There were beer based cocktails afloat which hit the right notes for a few of the lady and gent folk alike. But what did amaze me was the abundance to choose from. The staff at the resort ensured ones plate was full at all times. 

Even with slim tastings as I fondly call them- a filmmaker pal of mine from ‘Delhi’ and I must have clocked over 550 grams of meat individually. He loves being known as a delhi boy (quite a reaction when asked. Try it) but technically he’s all heart from Chandigarh. He was on a diet you see but even that couldn’t keep him away from the selection at hand. And just when we thought it was over and offered ourselves a thought for a check in to sleep it off we were ushered to the buffet for a scrumptious spread and a sinful dessert counter which was made scarce thanks to my bestie who invented the art of a ‘brownie bird dropping’, soon to be indicted as a serving concept in the Michelin hall of fame. The choux and the gooey chocolate brownie was sinful and that with a beer in tow just added the gift wrap to my perfect afternoon.  

And right when I rose from my slumber in time for the FC Goa football match it made the end of the week perfect with the home team winning against Delhi. Ahhh this is what stories are made off. 

Salut, to the entire Alila Diwa team for making this Oktoberfest brilliant and outdoing oneself. Will circle back next year for round two. 

Cheers. 

The Beer Garden   Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography