A Spectacular Dream 

We all have dreams. However in order to make them a reality, takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline and effort. Stand forth Aakritee & Virendra Sinh of A Reverie. It a feeling of excitement engulfing me, as I pen down the second article dedicated to this dynamic duo and their work of art located in Calangute. 

Why second you ask? I arrive at the gates of a restaurant that had the sense of old with the cloak of new. Everything has been redesigned. Only the hallmark of the place remains through the boundary walls that define its existence from a time before. The Dreamer stands right in the middle of the restaurant. One cannot fail to see him. Suspended mid air, gently eavesdropping on bar conversations it makes one sit up and take notice (no pun intended

This new concept (their dream, in a matter of speaking) has transformed their restaurant with a cutting crisp approach with defined sections ranging from the lounge, the space, the tasting room and the wine experience. All this in the confines of the original space. Those who have been here before would reveal in the transformation taken place for the season. 

There is a nip on a cool moonlit night where I happen to dine at this establishment. Virendra and his bar, have been highlighted before. A proud conceptualiser of some of the most exquisite hand picked malts and spirits the world over he spoils one for choice. Having him on the table for company you know your nights going to end in ‘high spirits’.  

A special tasting menu hand crafted for mr. NObody was presented. The earthy feeling sets one right at ease, with the clever play of tones from cream to camel hide brown- which lulls one into a trance of being in touch with mother earths roots. A pleasant feeling indeed. 

Here’s a serve by serve of a few highlights of the meal. 

A Balancing Act 


Peanuts! You gotta love them. Be it Charlie Brown & Snoopy or just your average nut the peanut chaat has a twist on the Goan & Thai tryst balancing the scales. Here it’s a play between peanut and cashewnut tossed in flavors of the region- Thailand and Goa. The herbs used were from their organic garden outback with a few Thai herbs thrown in for good measure. The cashewnut was married to Thai spices as well. (Pro tip: Best consumed with a chilled beer or Single malt for company. Let the spice work your palate and the beverage quench it). 

Sweet turned Savoury 


Neureos & Churros. You got to love the combination. Anyone heading over to a good ol’ gathering in ones ancestral village/house, over festive season is bound to sample and savor Neuroes- the goan stuffed answer to the Churros filled with coconut shavings. Churros with their ever crunchy, sugar dusted Spanish origins made the perfect date for this dish. These were Chilli cheese toast filled Neuroes & Churros with beetroot sour cream. (I can see you faces cringe at the blasphemous thought of the absence of chocolate dip- try this. It’s expansive and mind altering…and yes do thank me later) 


Fishing for Compliments 


Oh;this dish indeed was aching for some and then some more. In all honesty, I loved the presentation and the throwback to weddings in goa- especially Catholic ones. With the ritualistic – wine and cake at the toasting of the married couple, this finger food finds its way on the plate as an appetiser in most settings. Their twist was a fish ceviche, Amla & orange water with smoked mackerel (kudos to staying local in the fish selection, quite a dicey fish -this. And fabulously prepared), mayo and what they like to call other stuff. Fun in a pani puri. There is nothing like eating this ‘street food chaat’ in a fine dining restaurant. Redefines the experience entirely.  (Read pani puri at chowpatty. The other stuff is what makes this finger licking good. Kidding! sic) 

A Latino’riental Conspiracy 


Everytime I hear the word Latino, I go all Ricky ricardo meets Speedy Gonsalves in my head. Sexual, sultry, voluptuous (oh wait we’re talking about food here, back to the basics)…. As I was describing the food is spicy , tangy, soulful and eccentric filled with passion. Aakritee’s madness did not disappoint. Crispy corn tacos (home made at that), French duck breast & hoisin sauce. (My only complaint was not getting more.)

————

A pause…. NO this is not the intermission, however I am pleasantly surprised to have Aakritee sitting on the table with us for more than 20 minutes ata stretch. In all my seasons of dining at this establishment she is the quintessential butterfly fliting between the kitchen and the table. It’s a surprise to have her nursing a cold with a stiff drink right next to me in animated conversation. I ask her ,whose manning the pass inside? 

Out comes; Chef Pablo Miranda. A gentle, yet towering demeanor -don’t let his boyish looks fool you. Under their watchful eyes, he has carved his credentials in a kitchen that was once pilgrimage to the hands of Aakritee herself. Having her relax outdoors is a silent testament of the work being belted out by this gent. A hands on/off approach in a matter of speaking. 

Back to more food. 

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The Cake 


They tout it as their much ‘celebrated’ dish. I would concur. The Cake is a Chicken liver pate with white truffle, onion jam infused with  Goan Port wine no.7. Not stopping at that- Add some black truffle coulis and cashew for company. (I wouldn’t really know how to describe it. You lost me at truffle. A dish so nice you have it twice- white & black indeed; I’ve died and gone to heaven

A-Maize 


A vegetarian’s orgasmic delight of truffled steamed polenta with baby spinach & mushroom ragout laced with a cauliflower purée, golden corn mash, sautéed vegetables & spiced crumble of -corn nachos, popcorn and cornflakes. (Quite a corny affair indeed)

More than what Meats the Eye 

This would be Porky & Petunia Pig’s (alongside their cousins) worst nightmare, at the delight of the carnivore in you. Aptly titled ‘pork few acts’, one is accompanied by a Belgian pork loin chop with hickory BBQ & GOAN bankal glaze. This double act is accompanied by Goan farm bred pork loin with a homemade mustard rub & mashed potatoes with Canadian bacon (re-salivation moment) and toddy fermented sauerkraut, sautéed vegetables & beetroot sour cream. I love the mad scientist at play working on so many classics with GOAN influences. It’s a tough act to pull and this was done ever so well. Kudos. 

Wake Up & Smell the Coffee 


Aptly described – it’s Coffee nirvana meets Lovers Paradise atop Gulliver’s Peak on an island far away. Espresso yourself indeed, is what constitutes the espresso ice cream, Columbian Coffee soil & Jamaican coffee truffle. That’s the first start to get your senses riled up. Round two heads to coffeeology intoxiology , a delicately balanced tiramisu with Goan coffee liqueur. Wait we’re not done yet. The third consumption is coffee jar- Coorg coffee creme anglaise, goan serradura custard with panko saw dust. And we top it off with the humidor- a Javanese coffee waffle cigar. 

The Banoffie Pie 


Aptly described as Reconstruct post a deconstruct of the Classic Banoffee Pie. Part of the trifecta is the first morsel is a smoking hot ‘chilled’ out sundae- which is ‘smoke’, banana ice cream, toffee sauce, condensed milk ice cream and cookie crumbs. 

Once you have satiated your senses you move over to ‘the humble pie’- (not so humble) A wafer thin chocolate Mille-feuilles, bananas topped with rum cream and strawberries. (Pro tip: try and consume in a single morsel to avoid making a faux pas of the event through spillage)

And what better way post the decadence, than to reach out to the land of milk and honey, with deep fried churros with reduced milk dip & honeycomb with an edible bumblebee. Mind you, the honeycomb wafer is pure unadulterated sin straight from an actual beehive!!

As I struggle to depart with the war of food battling inside, the Dreamer looks pleased. Here’s to the future, one which belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. 
Image courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography  Shot on Iphone6 

Cocktails & Dreams 

In the midst of reading this article there will be no words of wisdom from Doug Coughlin or the impish smile of Brian Flanagan (apologies for the spoiler alert). 

The art of the cocktails has evolved from playing safe with the regulars for the faithfuls to the ever evolving palate of the discerning international traveler- with mixologists taking global cues with local infused mixes to create fusion blends and classics alike. 

With the temperature rising, here are a few coolers to play sport in and around Goa.  

Mulled Wine Sangria 

concept created by the Goan produced Armada Liqueur, the mulled wine sangria is a flavorsum blend of a medium bodied red wine and fanta laced with Armada liqueur and finely chopped apples and oranges with mint leaves. 

Oscar De Sequeira Nazareth, proprietor of Armada states- “Liqueurs are a very popular ingredient in cocktail making – from Jagerbombs to really complex layered cocktails, their colour and flavours lend themselves to all sorts of combinations! I chose to highlight the Mulled Wine Sangria for a couple of reasons: Firstly because Sangrias are a very popular summer drink in Portugal and Spain, where the recipe for Armada originated. Secondly because it allows the subtle spice notes of Armada to really shine through. Thirdly to showcase our liqueur’s versatility: Creating a cool version of a mulled wine is no easy task – to then turn it into a Sangria is the work of a skilled mixologist case in point Nupur Joshi for bringing this concoction to life!


French 75 

cocktail made from gin, Champagne, lemon juice, and sugar developed over the 1920s. The combination was said to have such a kick that it felt like being shelled with the powerful French 75mm field gun. Brought back to life by Sunder Aaron & team of Pizza Mia quips “ We wanted something authentic and unique giving a twist to our cocktail selection with the wide variety of Pizza’s on offer. It’s a cooling and refreshing drink, consumed either night or day.”

The Peanut Buttercup 

The best way to savor this cocktail would be atop the cliff with the setting sun for company. Souvik Mishra the mastermind bartender behind this creation at Antares, infused a generous amount of Peanut butter laced with baileys and vanilla caramel based on vodka. He states, “ This is one of our most sought after cocktail, favored by one and all as it blends the tastes of a dessert with every sip. A must try for every gorgeous sunset we witness daily.”  


Poptail 

Imagine a sparkling bubbly Prosecco from Italy with a choice of Ice candy lollipop- Blue Lagoon & Hawaian Chilli. 

This is the brainchild of Chef Xavs Norr from Route 66 in Panjim.

 An experimentalist at heart, he decided to pair a sinful fruity bubbly with the jolt tones of candy flavor in every sip. He explains “ I like to bring an element of fun and passion in every creation. This brings together the two sides to the coin- a grown up adult with their Proseco, a regal drink, and the kid inside us all with the lollipop submerged within. The reaction on their faces is priceless each time I present this drink to them. Many are stumped as to how to consume it. The answer would be, any way you please.


Cazulo Peru Meru 

drink born out of circumstance, the Cazulo Peru Meru found its origins from the Bloody Maria- which was riff of the regular Bloody Mary replacing vodka with coconut feni, thus staying true to the basics, but adding a Goan spin on the drink. However one December, Goa was faced with an unexpected shortage of Tomato juice.

 Not being deterred Hansel Vaz, owner Cazulo Feni- innovated and decided to use a juice that isn’t normally used in a cocktail, thus experimenting with Guava- thus the Peru Meru was born. “Our secret ingredient… there is always one.. was creating a rim of chilly powder and salt. Not only is it an interesting blend of flavours, but each sip of the cocktail and the salt chilly rim, invariably takes you back to your childhood school days were Guava smeared with chillypowder and salt was the most sinful thing we ever did before coming home.”


 Amour de Paris 

drink celebrating Paris in Goa through the Good France Week to promote French cuisine across the world. True to its gastronomic tastes of all things wine and cognac this cocktail is cognac based with triple sec and layered with lemon juice for that after taste zing. The strength of the cognac with subtle flavors of triple sec appeals universally top both stronger and lighter taste palates. Saurabh Khanna, General Manager of The Park Calangute states- “Amour de Paris as the name suggests means ‘Love from Paris’. This is our own libation made of French liquors by our barman Srimanta Dey. An easy to consume drink it is available with us all year round.”

Karp Wheels

A twist to the classic bourbon- the Karp Wheels is a symbolic balance of the yin and yang between sweet & tangy much like the effervescent colors inspired by Koi fish. It also looks much like the wheels of a ferris doing kart wheels’ quips Shefali Gandhi of Koi Goa. While it may look subtle and delicate with vibrant hues it’s got a heady mix of Angoustra bitters infused with sugar cubes garnished with lime & lemon wheels with maraschino cherries for company. A dash of grenadine, ginger ale and club soda over a layer of burbon seals the deal for this summer refreshment.  Aziz Lalani further adds ‘ We decided to play around with good ol’ burbon as its a common favourite and not commonly used  as a summer thirst quencher given its heavy hues. However this balances out perfectly and is quite a hot seller at Koi. No pun intended.’ 

This is part of Spotlight- a series showcasing unique gastronomic trends in and around the culinary food world. 

mr. NObody and The Goan 

Hello one and all. Currently living out of my suitcase, managed to have a lovely chat with the folks at The Goan recently. 

A lovely tete-e-tete with Kurt Bento about the world of mr. NObody and his views on the world of gastronomy. 

The full interview with mr. NObody. 
  

What prompted you to do this culinary journey to different cities and countries over the past months? And where do you go? 

mr. NObody is a lifestyle blogger,showcasing travel and food from India and the world. This year the focus is on quest for the Michelin trail and South East Asia as a region. So far he has travelled to Dubai for the ‘Eat the World Food  Festival’ followed by a Michelin starred restaurant by Vineet Bhatia and Bangkok for another two starred chef. A few institutional restaurants were on the list which included Bread Street by Gordon Ramsey, Zuma in Abu Dhabi and Long table in Bangkok. 

You’re mr. NObody,aren’t you? Why the avatar? 

I grew up in a world where everyone places a value on self importance. Everyone today is a somebody or wishes to be one. With a pun on the word NO- Nolan and heavily inspired by the lyrics of Marilyn manson and his song ‘The Nobodies‘ growing up, the character was born. It’s my satirical take on the importance of man. 

You’ve been to some interesting and new innovative places in Mumbai/Delhi, tell us about them. 

Interesting would be an understatement. Some insanely creative, to knock ones senses silly. For example, Ziya in Mumbai – for a special preview of the Jugalbandi festival comprising of three Michelin starred chefs coming to blend Italian, India and Far East Asian (Japanese predominately) for a 8 course meal of gastronomic delights, with a touch of class or panache eating on a limited edition gold plated crockery from Italy. A true master piece of opulence and flavorsume creativity; indeed. 

The crowd in Mumbai/Delhi respond to new places, new innovations in food etc. Goa doesn’t have that big a market base, so do you think we’ll ever see that kind of innovation here?

Mumbai and Delhi are the yin & yang sisters of the culinary food world. The buzz is eclectic, vibrant and cut throat thus raising the standards of the consumers culinary palate. Restauranteurs bring their ‘A’game, day in and out in order to survive, let alone thrive. The consumers are globally aware- hence being up to date and abreast of the latest happenings is a must. A concept is only good for an few years, at most,as most customers fatigue of the same as soon as they have adopted the same.  A few restaurants however have stood the test of time and retained their legacy till date. For upcoming entrepreneurs it’s an exciting time to get into the culinary field indeed. A challenge ,so to speak with a huge payoff if done right. Goa;  I am pleased to note is opening up to the same given the same customer base who flock to the location as a relaxing party destination. Speciality restaurants are sprouting up and I have been witness to an iota of the innovations at standalone and starred properties alike. So, I am quite pleased. 

With the advent of social media and the Internet, identifying a Michelin recipe demonstration and trying ones hand at it, has become accessible. Many creative chefs here have showcased their wares which I have highlighted in a dedicated article on my blog. 

Your experience at Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant in Dubai was interesting. Tell us about that. 



For starters, no food was thrown out the kitchen, neither did it have anyone leave for the main door crying. Then again its probably cause he was at the Oscars during my visit there.

 On a serious note, I have had a brief meeting with him earlier and he is a gem of a person. I was amazed for a multitude of reasons. First, the simplicity in a world of complexity and too much happening on ones plate. His ethos is simple. Wholesome food to be shared is the motto. The portions are huge. There is no fancy plating-just presentable. 

The kitchen is a dream and its line mechanism is splendid to the view of an orchestra pyramid setting. After all dishing out service that ensures ones order reaches the table in under 7 minutes for a 400 odd seater restaurant- is symphony at play. 

The little nuances- details from subliminal design to belt buckles of the server being the Union Jack flag, adds the finness to a well oiled machine and keen eye. 5 dishes consumed including dessert and my meal ended before it started- In 30 minutes flat. Quite an interesting case study. 

Tell us about Michelin and its latest craze that has gripped many foodies around.  

It’s interesting you ask that question. What I love about Michelin is the origination of the concept. How a tyre company got into the world of food and being reverred as one of the most sought after institutions to be associated with. In my limited tryst with a few chefs associated with it, it’s the level of commitment and creativity in the subjectivity of cuisine and marrying a few to create ‘nuvo cuisine’ that drives them. 

It’s exhilarating to see the passion exuded in the quest for something that is terrifying as well as visually stimulating as some foods do not play well with others. A dish could go completely awry and that’s the risk they take day in and out, to get the perfect concoction. A work of edible art in a matter of speaking. Also another philosophy I truly appreciate is the concept of less is more. Given today’s need to try and sample as much as one can digest in one sitting, emphasis of less is more in a portion- is something they are masters off. 

This adds to a lot of creativity as well as a whole rounded meal as a by product, leaving the customer to experience a holistic dining experience while at it. 

 What is the common thread with modern restaurants today. How do they change things up?

Restauranting today is evolving into an art form for many. Visual appeal is the call for hour in an age of Instagram and social media. ‘Eat with ones eyes‘ is the moniker many restraunteer folk are banking on. And everyone, (self included) is on a Michelin sojourn- to experiment, pair and follow the latest trends of mixing and pairing cuisines from across the world. It’s a format that is adopted which is acceptable to many. Small and precise with immense visual appeal to intice the wow factor in consumers. 

Having said that its great to see the level of creativity used to make dining an ‘experience‘ instead of just dishing out voluminous plates of curries and gravies with side garnishes as an after thought measure. The trend indeed,is, in a momentous change for the better. 

South East Asian food is always light and healthy. Can we learn from the Thais and Malaysians when it comes to creating healthier and lighter food? 

I believe it’s universal. Leaving aside an ethnicity of sorts, many cultures have hidden treasures which are globally adopted. Take for example Greek and Mediterranean food. It’s light. Filled with wholesome goodness from the oils to salads made. 

In my opinion, a big error in the past,in the Indian context was the trifecta of oil, sugar & salt and loads of spice plastered across dishes to make it platable for the end consumer. This would be wrong on so many levels as the flavour emitted from certain meats and vegetables would get lost in the preparation. That trend is nearly extinct due to change in pattern of the evolved customer who are adapting to a lighter, less portioned served healthier lifestyle of dishes. The calorie conscious customer is defining the trend these days. 

What’s your go to cuisine, apart from Goan food? And if you had a chance to cook just one dish for your culinary idol, what would it be? Are you a good cook, btw? 

mr. NObody is a culture vulture. In a current frame of mind, I am fresh off Thai herbs and spices and am tripping on pad Thai noodles- relished at an ashram in Thailand. However right before that I was in love with the simplistic spice rub on a lovely kebab in Abu Dhabi. Thyme and herbs salt rubbed on succulent meats grilled to perfection. 

However, I love to experiment with salads and greens as a daily detox diet when I’m not working my tastebuds to the ground. Cooking for my culinary idol is tough one. First and foremost living in a household of food writers and hospitality professionals my writing is under scrutiny let alone my cooking skills. 

For those who know me, my love for barbecues is paramount. So it would probably be something on the spit with a refreshing mock tail/cocktail for company. Perhaps a good oriental seasoning rub over a local fish. 

A good cook? One and all are invited over and let me know your thoughts post. 

I want to EAT the WORLD & I want it NOW!!!!

I’m on a trip.  No, I am not under the influence of psychotropic substances or reaffirming my existence as a shaman in an alternate universe. However i believe at times I am almost there, when listening to one of my all time favourite artist- James Douglas Morrison. A poetic, retrospective frame of mind. And right about now, I want to Eat the world indeed! What better place to start at- Eat the World DXB

I must admit, I’ve been trolling (OK, stalking more like it – Milo & Hectors Ice cream ever since 2015.) The fat kid in me loves ice cream ever so much,gawked and drooled  at the ‘Ice cream sandwich’ like Kris Kringle to cookies and milk on a Christmas chimney shake shake. 

So on a prayer and an over booked flight, i make my way to the first of a series of #foodtrails this year and the first stop is Dubai. While most of you have been to this tourist destination, there’s not much to mention that you already are unaware off. So diving into the concept of Eat the World DXB– it reminds me of a gypsy caravan tent site. Mind you, the majority of folk there in participation were British, albeit the food anything but, the oh so famous -Fish & Chips. Each one setup across the sprawled lawns, right next to the majestic Burj Khalifa that played gracious and colorful  host with its amazing light and sound display, across the tower as well as the periodic dancing fountains in front of it. The weather was peppy and crisp with a nip in the air, that would allow you to curl up in a blanket and settle into the sounds of funk and some great covers from the band in the background. A camp site indeed (sans the bonfire and gypsies dancing around it in rejoicement and celebration.

  The Burj Khalifa. Need I say more? Didn’t stand a chance to get a glimpse of Shilpa Shetty though. Food with a view indeed. 

I have always pride myself in understanding the finer nuances and cheat codes of deciphering an all you can eat buffet, by trying to beat the system. Albeit, just like the discreet charm of a casino, the house always does get the better of me and win. With over 45 camper trucks participating with eclectic food ranging from Crab burgers and sushi to Mexican burritos, pizzas and gelatos this poised itself as a mini episode of Man vs Food with a selective calorie choice of sorts for moi. 

Always up for a challenge, I meticulously surveyed the carts and the first hour went by the admiration of these food trucks. Reminded me of the Jon Faverau movie Chef. Cuteness overload with sayings and innovative artwork & design- it called out to my creative senses. A kids area with inflated islands made me wish I was young again- just to bounce with no care in the world. 

  

This dynamic duo kept the feet tapping all night with a heady mix of contemporary jazz to covers. 

There were a few live seminars and cooking demonstrations that had a captivated audience, understanding the art of baking the perfect cake, to mixology sessions for ones next house party.  As much as I would have liked to sit through it all, I had a mission. A mission to ensure I ate my heart out (figuratively speaking). 

  
Live cooking sessions underway. I love the Brits and their sense of humor. 

Here is a spotlight of the event through my IPhone. A snippet of each dish would be self explanatory, in order not to send you into a inception like comatose state. I’m nice that way. NOT!! 

  

Gelato’s drive me wild. On a stick, they take me to the brink of insanity. Especially freshly made and a wide variety of choice- Walnuts, pistachio, coconut, Vanilla bean, Belgian chocolate & Strawberry to name a few. 

  The Crunchy Crab burger is the stuff dreams are made off. Beer batter fried chunks of crab in a wholesome bun with loads of coleslaw and secret sauce. Hits the spot. 

  The folks from Made of Dough, stole my mind and thought for innovative design. An old Land Rover Discovery converted into a stone slab wood fired pizza oven was innovative and compact and looked so good. Quite practical indeed. The pizzas were nice. 

  Onion rings with crab sauce and fiery chillies was your gastronomic orgasm for the fast food fiend in me. Gulliver would be proud given the size of em rings. 

  Ever tried Haloumi? A delicious Cypriot semi-hard, unripened brined cheese made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk, (sometimes cows too). Slightly coarse in texture and deep fried with pomegranate seeds and melted fondue, this was definitely an acquired taste. 

  One can never really go wrong with French fries, especially when you are listening to La bamba being belted out live in front of you. Lest to forget the crab dressing accompaniment. Sweet sour and tangy. 

  Braco’s sliders-These are undescribable. I shall do a great injustice even trying to explain the same. Let me stick to the ingredients and let your mind run wild in all different directions. Here’s goes.  

 Grass fed rib eye beef with chimichurri & British cheddar cheese torched with a flame gun (shown above) and served buttery. A calorific sin of magnanimous proportions. 

  Churros Churros Churros. Fresh off the boiling vat. Whoop. Little sticks of chocolate doughnuty heaven indeed. 

  This organic cooler was a thirst quencher. Fruity with a tequila base and some Thai cucumber- it was indeed (almost) organic. Aint tequila in some cultures considered organic too? 

  Italiano in UAE. Love the enthusiasm of this bunch and they were so much fun not to forget mentioning some of the best Buffala I had on my trip there. 

  

‘The dream’ fulfilled. Milo & Hector’s caramel ice cream with sprinkles sandwiched in double chocolate gooey cookies. Heaven in every bite. Screw the calories. It was so worth it. 

Stay tuned as I tunnel my way back to the real world. 

Eat your Greens!

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 focuses on the importance of veggies in ones diet, their significant benefits as well as how restaurants in and around Goa, are taking global culinary cues to ensure the salad is the main focus and no longer a side dish. 
An interesting trend and filled with loads of goodness and benefits. 
Click on the image to enlarge it and read. 
  

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 

Goa’s Dessert Divas

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 features Home baking dessert divas and some of the delectable goodies they create. 

Click on the image to enlarge for a better read. 

  
Publication: Goa Times 

Written by Nolan Mascarenhas 

Planet Hollywood Hotel- it’s here!

Let’s dig deep and ask ourselves- are we star crazy? I’m not referring to the constellations or stars in the skies rather all the Stars in ‘Woods’ ranging from Holly,Bolly,Tolly and perhaps someplace in the world-Molly. 

Let’s play the Instant two second reaction game? Ok! Here goes.What happens to you when you see a known celebrity pass by? Do you salivate, perhaps scrimmage through your Gucci handbag for that IPhone (selfie time to guffaw with friends over drinks later) and go ditzy and weak in the knees all at once? I have the odd family member time and again and it’s hilarious, mind you. If so, this is one place you don’t want to miss on your destination radar. 

Welcome to Planet Hollywood. A place that could possibly have you mingling and hobnobbing (non chalantely) with A and B listers on the next breakfast table or casually lapping it at the pool. It’s a destination hideaway where the stars come to unwind and this iconic international brand is the ONLY one of its kind (currently) making its presence felt in our backyard right here in Goa. Only two Planet Hollywood Hotels in the world (the first being in Las Vegas) and the first one in Asia. This is a huge deal indeed. I’m excited!!!

I drive up the very German block design inspired driveway and make my way to the reception. Right then and there I stand with a jaw drop expression. No I did not see Pamela Anderson walk past me, though that is on my bucket list this lifetime, rather was arrested by the ‘Wall of Fame‘ with its ginormous screen at the bar in the lobby- The Heart Bar. 

 The devil lies in the details of the minimal decor and color tone setup with white and purple being the predominant winners for the overall theme. My check-in was smooth and time flew by, as my eyes traversed the length and breadth of that wall. Stars in all their glory from current to yesteryears- with the ocassional odd movie playing on the screen for visual appeal. 

Tired from my journey, post the meetings and greetings from the effervescent staff, I am ushered to my room. It’s uncanny how I am given a room with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson adorning my masthead above in his Hercules avatar- a movie I happened to watch just the other night. Karma perhaps?

 The room is spacious and well balanced in decor and light. It’s got mood lighting for all you lovely couples and a beautiful relaxed balcony with a hint view of the beach in the distance. The bed has a cloud like embrace and allows you to sink in whilst it moulds itself to the contours of your body. There is an added touch with a leg massager given for those aching feet and is a much needed delight to sore heels. 

The bathroom is well proportioned with his and her sinks and a wet rain shower cabinet with a similar resemblance of ‘Boogie Nights’ and shimmering floors. Rather large enough to hear myself think, like ‘The Thinker’ on the commode. 

Tastefully Opulent   
A hot shower post, I am ready for breakfast. While this is a #staycation mention, the one item making it to this review has got to be the delicately moulded Eggs Benedict at the hands of Chef Sundar. I would do it a great injustice if this had to be explained especially the gastronomic senses that sent my tones into a frenzied rapture- a mere suggestion for you egg lovers? Do yourself a favor and head on over to Planet Dailies and order this marvel.
Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise sauce  

The eager beaver in me scouted the grounds to find out much an interesting thing. There is a playground for kids and an archery zone to practice your aim. The beach is close by with its pristine sands. The swimming pool is magnificent and vast with a pool bar menu thrown to you by the peppy staff as a frisbee. Fun indeed!! 

For those more adventerous there is a Zorb in the pool as well as a paddle boat to exercise those muscles. The gym has an overview of all the heavenly bodies entering the pool in swim trunks and bikinis. This could, without doubt be a venue for the Pirelli calendar of 2017. I did spot a couple of celebrities but this is a haven for them to unwind; so Mum’s the word!!! Head on over and carry your camera.

The spaces are expansive and one can make out the grandiosity of the venue through the definition of its negative space. Neat and crisp lines with memorabilia around to remind you of the theme at hand. 

Grandeur defined in negative spaces 

Each section of the resort is well defined; from their Pink Room Spa to their multiple dining venues. There is Planet Dailies– their signature all day dining restaurant, Fame– the hot spot resto lounge, Heart Bar– the eclectically designed high energy bar, Cigar lounge– A perfect place to relax over champagne, martinis and that perfect stogie in old world charm (I felt the ghost of Winston Churchill while I sat there- it’s that Brit!!) 

Being spoilt for choice I have decided to head on over soon just to cover the Food Junket of these amazing establishments. More on that shortly. 

Feeling Nostalgic @ Cigar lounge   

If you know me, I have a bucket list of sorts. One of them would have recently been ticked off this year, all thanks to the magical pool under a starry lit sky. The lights twinkle beneath you and the cool blue water is a perfect romantic setting for you and your loved ones. I happened to do hand stands and cartwheels however- blame it on the kid in me. But imagine a late night swim (the pool is open till 9pm) with your beloved and relax in the perched jacuzzi ahead and whisper sweet nothings to your special someone. A truly magical experience. 

Before I sign out here’s mr. NObody for a fleeting second feeling like a Somebody!!  Till I head on over again Planet Hollywood – you have been a STAR! 
Stars above and below 

 

Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography. All images shot on Iphone6 

Ant’s in my pant’s 

Many of you reading this post would relate to a statement in the affirmative if I stated ‘The ants in my pants, take me places’. Before you get naughty, let me course alight your ‘thought trajectory’- it’s directed towards my thoughts travelling at the speed of light and my body taking me places on roller blades ( I can hardly roller blade to save my life). I’ve lived the life of a nomad ever since I can remember. That would explain traversing and immersing myself in the culture of 5 states so far, though, all along being a true blue GOAN at heart. 
My last port of call was Aamchi Mumbai. I was content with the hustle bustle the city offered. The adrenaline rush garners from mad traffic jams, the eccentric neighbor hanging her inner’s for a breakfast view which was always abrupt (thank god for small mercies) except the occasional Sunday morning. Oh, the pollution and the smell of salt water form the docks nearby. I loved it all- learnt to love it more likely. Though, what did tug at me, was being away from the motherland- (NOT Portugal folks!!), GOA. 

Anyone who hears of someone coming back to Goa from the world outside, would whisper in closed circles of NOT being able to cut it in the real world and hence come running home to Mummy & Daddy. 

I always wondered, after 13 successful years in Corporate India ,what would Goa have to offer that I couldn’t find waiting for me outside? The answer would come to me a few years later-A state of mind. No pun intended. 

These days, I wear a multi dimensional hat and travel destinations my readers (i.e. YOU) get to read through my writings (aka rantings) 

People ask my parents- ‘what does Nolan do?‘ The poor folk with a befuddled ‘deer caught in headlights look‘ on their face,fail miserably on most occasion. A typical Lost in translation moment. 

If I have to straight jacket it in a nutshell for all you potential matchmakers out there- I consult for a few corporates and handle branding and marketing solutions along with a predominant role in the Hospitality, Lifestyle and Travel Industry. I am a techno savant. What is that? Ask Google. And, I live out of a suitcase 14-17 days a month (on a slow month

As a consultant, it allows me to lend suggestions and help boost the tourism of our fair state as an influencer, of a different kind of Goa- (that would entail NOT! entertaining last minute requests from ‘friends’ who need passes for Sunburn orSupersonic every December.)It’s for the betterment of Goa- rich in so much heritage and culture, food and traditions, and more importantly blessed with a right balanced ecosystem. 

A Goa, who I have shamefully abandoned all these years , in the quest for something better out there- only to realize it was here all along. 
Here’s to you GOA. Proud of be GOAN. 
The Burning Question- Times of India on hinteland tourism 
 

The Burning Question on transportation and taxi drivers in Goa-about their rude behavior and whether justified? 
 

Resolutions lie in Paris Brest 

For all those wondering where had #nolansatwit disappeared for the season- well, I was working out! NOT. Whilst I see a sarcastic grin on the face of my nutritionist (yes, I have one of those and she’s awesome) and my yoga teacher, who probably has no will left to teach me, given all the calories I’ve gained over the last fortnight (I’m sorry, I’ll shed them all, I promise)In all fairness, I did bid them sweet goodbyes before I decided to partake in a wild season laced with eating binges and reckless abandonment for waistline safety. 

This post is more of a reconciliation effort to the dedicated professionals who keep my waistline in check and a peace offering to have them take me back to the fold of ‘eat right, workout left‘. 

It’s been a while since I put thumb to phone screen, more so take a decent picture of food and granted that I’ve been sober for more than 56 hours is making progress in the New Year, and to a different progression of blogging. 

I followed my nose to an old haunt of a friends cafe, situated in the midst of the fields with the ocassional kite for company. This is what greets you at Baba Au Rhum Cafe. It’s sublime, earthy and tranquil and the music is transcendal. I promised Dayini, I would head on over once the madness of the stated ‘outsiders‘ left us all to our mundane routine and normalcy prevail. Having said that, it was packed, though it still had an overtone of calmness and peace within. 

Known for her love of organic and holistic approach from fresh juices, meaty homegrown burgers and wafer thin crusted pizzas, it was indeed something in the reckoning to start this year with. 

Before you write me off, for all the decandence of gluttony in #foodporn that I am responsible for (falsely accused and awaiting trial) I stumbled upon this piece of  heaven which does have a irrefutable historical significance engraved in sport and fitness. (An evil snicker entails, with the item in question being of sinful repute

This my dear ladies, gents and kids of all ages, is the Paris Brest– a French dessert made of choux pastry made of almond praline creme with hazelnut and dusted with sugar snow. What stands chaperone is the Cortado– a single orgin coffee espresso with foam to light up ones brunch.  

Did you know? 

The Paris Brest was created in 1910 to commemorate a bicycle race from Paris-Brest-Paris, that took place in 1891. The circular choux pastry is representative of a wheel. It became popular with riders due to its high energizing calorie value and is a common fixture across patisseries all over France. 

Whilst there try the Bacon delight  (a freshly baked croissant with avocado, local Gouda, a fluffy egg, homemade bacon and spring onions) some fresh juices with quizzical mysterious names- I stuck to a fresh beetroot juice and the Ham & Cheese quiche. And for those following my Instagram you saw the pizza. For those yet to follow me, check out my handle @nolansatwit 

Bacon Delight   
Ham & Cheese Quiche   
Did someone say Breakfast of Champions? BINGO.  
Happy New Year and here’s to more madness from my travels and foodploits this year! 
Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography. All images shot on Iphone6