Gone ba-na-nas

I’m going to sing a song. You have one guess to get it right. It goes a little something like this;

Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-nanaBa-ba-ba-ba-ba-nana banana-ah-ah 

togari noh pocato-li kani, malo mani kano chi ka- baba, ba-ba nana 

It’s Minion time. And while I’m on the subject of these lovable hilarious characters, I must say after a hectic trip to Jaipur, rather spiritual and fulfilling in nature, I’m back to doing what I do best – going bananas at Off the Wall in Sinquerim near Fort Aguada. A quaint and creative Art-Bistro wherein one can witness the art of food and art in general medium. It’s a rental space where one can even hold their own exhibitions. The food compliments it perfectly, at the hands of Ian Marc De Souza . Creatively inspired. A man who shares a similar penchant for travel, rather a sufferer of wanderlust like yours truly, he is back from one of his jaunts, to lands of mystery and unfulfilled quest for discovery. He delights me as always by catering to my sweet tooth apart from other delicacies he has picked up from his worldwide travels. Let me get these delicacies mentioned out of the way before I head on, first is a must try, the Pan-Pizza. A  pizza with a southern Italian salsa, red onions, bell peppers, Home made goan chouriçe, topped off with oodles of mozzarella and American cheddar, thin crust style. The sweet delicate balance of sweet and tangy with a crunchy bite sends one into a stratospheric gastronomic realm. And I insist as a personal favorite there, to consume the succulent Grilled Tenderloin Steak with pepper n garlic , delicately finished off in the oven served with grilled cherry tomatoes, sauteed Greens with olive oil & smoked paprika and oregano. As Ian recommends it best served Medium. Do check out and subscribe to my Instagram feed to see these delightful images. The handle is @nolansatwit, for those unaware.

Having merely mentioned in conversation of my backyard banana tree yielding fruit and not knowing what to do with an abundance of butter bananas in my kitchen, he scoots off into the kitchen to come back with a simple yet scrumptious , Banoffie  Pie– a biscuit texture-NUT crumble base, laden with banana caramel toffee, and fresh butter banana slices, served with a side of crème Chantilly! Now that’s just putting words, not to mention bananas in my mouth.

Banoffie Pie   Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

And with his impish smile he carries on to call for the second dessert to grace our table – fresh banana slices and sauteed in butter, with bruleed brown sugar accompanied by an almond crumble. Now while this may seem simple (and mind you it is enough for me to consume it as a 3 am sweet craving snack) and unassuming it is a power house dessert that will leave you wanting and unfortunately pining for a second helping. Better hit the treadmill post. I had to roll out of his joint. Literally.

So before the minions head on over there after reading this on the World Wide Web, I suggest you make a Gru line towards this place. Are you drooling like Kevin yet? Go and grab some ba-na-na!

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Flight of the Butterfly 

Morning peeps. These are the new series of flash travel updates in the life of #nolansatwit. 

After a heavy torrential  pour last evening, it cooled things down a bit in hot sticky Goa. It was getting rather unbearable and I didn’t even see the need to shower that much given the fact I would just perspire the minute I got out. Just a dip in the sea would suffice over the last few days. However the tan was killing me. 

I’ve been restless the last couple of days. A lot playing on my mind. For one a close friends dog passed away. I remember getting her that dog all cuddled and cradled as a pup. And he grew up to be such a handsome fellow. I doted on him and felt like a proud godpa. Zeke’s sudden death rattled my insides- transported me back to day hard to forget, a day he waddled as a pup on my floor with big brother Mojo standing guard over him- big brother like. It was a transition phase wherein he spent a day with me at home after a long journey from Chennai. I am still in shock to know that he’s no more. 

The only other time this happened to me was when I heard my grand mum passed away when I was 11. It’s a feeling quite hard to describe. I needed something to clear my head. Needed to just get out there. Some peace and solace perhaps. 

I decided to head on out with Anabelle (for those living under a rock she’s my Harley- yeah she’s named after the doll character from the horror film) 

An early morning, with a faint smell of wet mud and Mother Earth followed by the morning ritual of the wash and clean. It’s therapeutic. A oneness with the bike. It brought some much needed calm. Much like a ‘fluttered’ romance. And right when I went to close the faucet I see this magnificent creature spread across my tank. It’s gorgeous and I’m afraid- afraid of scaring it away. This is, after all my first butterfly shot. Never have I ever managed to capture something this close. It waits as if posed and once I am finished flits away to the flower close by. The say a butterfly is an omen for the start of a new beginning and something good ones way.  

This is for you -Zeke and Smita back home. A start of something new however hard it may seem right now. Much love. 

Will see you in doggy heaven- Zeke. 

Till we meet again, bring the house down pup. 

  Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

Robin & a biscuit 

I remember the first time I laid eyes on a dog. I was in love. Though the thought of having this monster approach me with a mesmerizing gaze in her eyes, did send chills up my spine enough to shudder a bit, I stood still. She towered over me- a Great Dane of course and my frame maxing out at a 1 foot nothing (all of 3 years I was told) was enough to look right into the drool that was about to accumulate high above. Much like a American Bomber about to deploy a weapon of mass destruction.  

But what did eventually follow after what seemed like forever, was a sniff and a nudge which sent me plonking to the ground accompanied by a light whimper and a tear rolling down the corner of my eye. What followed was magic. A reassurance of a slobber laid kiss, (the way one would lick a postage stamp)to say ‘I’m sorry, little one’.  

From then on, began my love affair with dogs and carries on till date. I have a loveable, oaf of a mutt- Mojo, who I dote over with,unabashed, unconditional love and every now and then I’m the Pied piper about town with numerous strays being befriended along the way. I find myself in the land of royalty- Jaipur, for a quick meeting and chance upon an old post office. I decide to write a hand written letter to a special someone. The art of being a purist. I’m old school that way. 

Outside this old torn down post office, I hear a few whimpers under a broke down scooter, only to see a litter of mutts cowered together away from the heat. It is hot here. Scorching to put it lightly. So what needs to be done? Water to rescue, which was welcomed by these pups. And this one inquisitive fellow I christened -Robin (for the mask like Batmans sidekick) followed me around and waited with me while I stood in line without a care in the world. He kept staring up at me the exact same way I did all those years to Laika, the Great Dane and I felt that instant connection of life having come around a full circle. We played a bit, devoured a packet of glucose biscuits (mashed in water) while I sipped on my cuppa. The solace and gratefulness of having this creature next to me was an unparalleled experience. No spas, no reviews, no restaurants, no fancy hotel rooms- just me and Robin exchanging thoughts through the desert sun. I was tempted to take him back with me and inquired about their well being. The guard happened to mention the mother was nearby and right before I departed made her way to her litter. The joy and happiness seen in their faces when they saw mommy dearest approach. The simple things in life. 

And right then before I left, Robin arrested my senses and gave me a look. The look of a thousand words that conveyed one simple message, ‘We are your best friend’. 

A packet of biscuits and a pup- was exactly what the doctor ordered to realign me with purpose. Thank you Jaipur and much love Robin. Till we cross each other’s paths again someday. 

 Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

Locked & Loaded 

I find myself in familiar territory in the lanes of Bandra and am taken to this quaint little dessert bistro- Loaded, an amalgamation of an eclectic mix of a variety of things, thanks to the ever imaginative thoughts of its creator and owner Tripti Singh- an affable and almost instantly loveable soul.

The first thing that stands out about the persona of Loaded is –good things do come in small packages. That being said with Tripti at the helm, it’s quite the loaded affair. The essence behind the name was genuine and heartfelt in conversation with Tripti. Mumbai is definitely NOT cheap and the parallel equation of quantity to price is normally quite skewed across the city. Some serving a lot less for a lot more. Tripti wanted her clientele to enter hungry and leave consumed and satisfied. The pricing is a guffaw especially for the  quantity served in my honest opinion.

I was told of her famous –Red velvet crepe with chocolate brownie which does make the cut to be mentioned on my blog- it’s an instant crowd favorite and oozes with decadence. However I left myself entirely to the dessert madness that engulfs Tripti’s mind and her insistence of having to try her recommendation- the Kitkat Brownie Sandwich with chocolate ganache.
Before I head on to describe this orgasmic monster- a simple ‘thank you’ to the lady who stood her ground and was adamant we try the same. As they say, never argue with the chef as chef knows best. Mind you the image showcased is only ‘half’ a portion and that was enough to send me into a sugar rush and food coma instantaneously.

The sandwich satiated the appetites of my fellow foodies Shveta @hoppingfoodie and Ayesha @ayeshabarretto, who I personally carted from Goa to help me consume this madness. Thank you both for the help. X

Deconstructed, it’s as simple as something one could make in their kitchen at home. It’s an orgy of bread, loads of Kitkat, gooey chocolate brownie with hints of ganache and caramel -toasted. Salivating yet?

The Red velvet crepe with chocolate brownie and white chocolate shavings is an instant hit in Mumbai and with good reason. Ticks off all the boxes in terms of uniqueness, creativity and taste construct. It’s got perfect texture and is hysterically balanced to let your senses fight for taste when consumed and is served with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Red Velvet crepe with chocolate brownie   Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

We entered with an appetite for a meal and tucked in the corner of the menu is Tripti’s famous and overshadowed Mac n Cheese pasta. Try it before you indulge yourself into ‘dessert madness’.

Reveal in the maniacal world of desserts and leave Loaded. Over and out.

Wok in for some soft Crab 

I remember the first time I tried a soft shell crab. It was as bizarre as something straight out of weird foods and customs of a lost tribe. After all who would eat a crab whole. I questioned galore and was coaxed into trying it- doomsday thoughts filling my mind with every crunch. Will it chip my teeth, get stuck in my gullet etc. Safe to say I have been a fan since 1995. 

Braving the rains and many cancellations later due to scheduling conflicts I find myself at Wok n Roll. For those of you in Goa and around it’s steadily crafted its niche as quite the pan Asian influenced ‘go to’ restaurant nestled in the lush green mountains around Fort Aguada in Sinquerim. This time around I have my food buddy Varun Carvalho for company. Yes, he is still the ‘singing dentist’ as per last record. We are dined in the company of Alwyn Mascarenhas aka ‘Ollie’ as the ladies prefer. 

The main attraction on the menu (apart from Ollie for you lovely ladies – If memory serves me right he is single) served was the Chesapeake blue soft shell crab with a chili and salt Asian influence. Served with prawn wafers and some kimchi -it is unassumingly simplistic without much fanfare however has a sinful crunch. The crabs are fresh and the serving quantity plenty. This is one produce that is hard to get with only a few restaurants sourcing them so better head over there before it’s all over. Another item worthy of mention is the Clams in Lemongrass coconut curry with a steaming pot of rice. Hits the spot. 

This is part of their ongoing crab festival and all you crab and fish lovers do hurry. And ladies you have a double treat in store for you.

Chili & salt soft shell crabs  Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

A Coppa with Sofia

I did mention earlier of my detox diet plan and eating healthy for a period of time.Then again after some serious sunshine and a sudden heavy unexpected downpour- I took refuge in a place away from home in Baba’s Wood Cafe ‘Da Maria’. I love all things Italian- The cars, the bikes, the women, the fashion and of course the food (at times not necessarily in that order.) And Mariagrazia Raschi with her welcoming Italian hospitality makes one feel at home the minute one steps in. For all those living under a shell- they have shifted to Miramar and are right above Bina Punjani Hair Studio. With the thunderous roar and thrashing showers (which I barely managed to escape- thankfully bone dry) I found myself staring at Sofia Loren (not in person, f course) in her early 20’s preparing Spaghetti cacio e pepe from a still of her movie La Ciociara (Two Women- 1960). A gorgeous photograph resonating the quintessential focus of a ‘trattoria’, which Mariagrazia proudly advocates. Its home style cooking with fresh ingredients- satisfies the senses every single time.  

But for a minute, leave Sofia be and let’s focus on what Mariagrazia brings to the table. She thought a nice shot of brandy would cheer me up. And known for my love for all things sweet she asks me to try out her latest creation- Coppa Amaretto & chocolate. As exotic as it appears and sounds- it is rather simplistic in nature. Lets deconstruct shall we? A  gooey free flowing chocolate mousse interspersed with crunchy amaretti biscotti layered with a slug of brandy topped with fresh whipped cream.Simple enough to make you drool? The portion is huge. A suggestion would be to share even for the voracious appetite. Its sinful indulgence. You make a fool of yourself trying to consume the remnant stains of mousse that holds dear to the spoon taunting you to slurp some more to show its chrome beneath. The fresh cream sends you into a heady tizzy like a walk in the clouds both in color and texture. A delightful chore indeed but in the end so worth it.

Coppa amaretto and chocolate   Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

Did you know? Legend has it, the invention of this amaretto has received an amorous Renaissance treatment. In the early 18th century, a Milanese bishop or cardinal surprised the town of Saronno with a visit. A young couple – residents of the town, welcomed him and paid tribute with an original confection: on the spur of the moment, they had baked biscuits made of sugar, egg whites, and crushed apricot kernels or almonds.These so pleased the visiting bishop that he blessed the two with a happy and lifelong marriage, resulting in the preservation of the secret recipe over many generations.

Thank you rain gods to drive me into the arms of two amazing Italian women to share a coppa to the melody of the falling rain outside.

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……

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.