Welcome to the Blog Party 

Woke up this morning to a lovely piece written about one of my communities- the bloggers and content generators in the OHeraldo newspaper in Goa. Aptly put and described with a holistic view on media and where it’s heading. 

A BIG shoutout and thanks to my fellow blogger and writer Fernando Monte da Silva for this piece. 

Stop reading, start blogging. Our tribe calls out to YOU

 

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The Festive fiery season 

I love the festive season in Mumbai. Right in time for Diwali, the city is vibrant and overflowing with a buzz on overdrive with holiday mode in full swing,not to mention the chocolates and mithai that’s flooding my bag at the moment. 

And to add to this joy and celebration the ITC Maratha Mumbai,at their famous Dakshin restaurant -has introduced a Telangana menu at the able and passionate hands of Chef Sankara who hails from the newly divided state. At this juncture,I can think of Two states by Chetan Bhagat but we ain’t talking about a love story here just yet nor was Alia Bhatt at the far end table for company. 

The food from the state of Telangana is quite a boot camp for my senses. It’s quick and dirty with its flavors that send your gastronomic senses into a tizzy, with the level of spice playfully infused with chillies that would play tongue twister with you on multiple levels. 

I’m not a player in the realm quest for dragon’s breath nor do I intend to save the damsel in my shining armour this time round, however had to defeatingly quench my tickled tastebuds from the overdose of spice with a freshly squeezed sweet lime juice for company. 

Joined by a few foodie friends and the lovely and graceful Rini Sinha, who meticulously detailed the offerings with a doze of historical significance, it was a much needed sigh of relief before my next morsel. Mind you the food was scrumptious but the spice factor was a level 4 tectonic plate shifter in my books. 

Punugulu  Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

Diving right into the menu the spotlights apart from the filling thali being the star of the show and a must have for an overall meal, was the Punugulu- a deep fried green lentil dumpling which resembles much of a wada and anything that deep in crunch is something loved by all. 

Kodi Roast Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

Move over immediately to the Kodi Roast- succulent chunks of fried chicken tossed in tempering chilli and koriander leaves with a melange of spice. 

Royala Vepudu  Pic courtesy:Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

The highlight for my meal was the wafer paper thin Appam’s which I could not get enough off, accompanied with the Royala Vepudu- king prawns tossed with onion and tomato marinated with ground spices. A dry gravy, yet so moist the minute consumed with the ‘hot melt’ like appam’s. Bliss

There are a number of delights from the state on offer. Being a festival you have a limited time offer period running. It’s on from the 13th-22nd November only, so hurry and make your reservations for some mouth watering delicacies in the most literal sense of the word. 

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!

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 

My first Birdcage Threesome 

Wicked thoughts scurrying thy mind? I assure you of nothing scandalous, I plan on keeping this post PG rated for my younger followers (though I assure you some of them could teach you and I a thing or two.)

Happy to be back in Mumbai once again and excited to know I’m meeting guests who I haven’t seen in over a few years. It’s funny how being left to host the evening the place falls upon my choosing every now and then. Well when suggested the dining option many of them chuckled knowing only I could have thought of something so – exciting. 

I wait patiently at Cafe Threesome in Versova. The vibe is fabulous. The DJ spinning some deep house tunes and the service of the barman prompt to keep my spirits ‘high’. It’s a very chic sublime concept of a restobar with a unique twist to a much enticed exotic menu. The bathroom catches my fancy given the soap dispenser being a Jack Daniel bottle with a selfie booth (I’m sure it’s seen some mayhem and action three ways to Sunday in its time) with the lovely folk visiting for a powder pucker. 

It’s always great meeting old friends. So much catching up to do well in this case thanks to a multitude of Whatsapp chats were in touch though far away and life carried on. A gentle reminiscence of ‘wild days gone past’ and a somber melancholy sets in to a time not so long ago that is hard to come by these days. Thank god for change and the stagnation of us all to pick up where we left off unfettered. A few of the usual lot couldn’t make it and their presence was missed. But we were at Cafe Threesome and I had heard a lot about some of the wild preparations. 

Now before the morale police come to task let me assure you after being in the food fraternity a while and travelled far and wide there’s not much that shocks me anymore. But a good preparation or the culinary skill and concept of chefs these days could arouse much curiosity to ensure I am left gasping for more. Yes, there is a hashtag circulating these days to the effect #foodporn and yes I totally understand why. After all good food = porn these days? 

Let’s call ourselves back to the showcase at hand. I am gently ushered aside to allow me to let go of the menu to the chefs imagination and only asked my preference being vegetarian or not. I go for the non vegetarian route this time. Having detoxed myself in Goa I feel alive and fresh for more. Sadistic much? Read on. 

The Italian Chicken makes its way like a caged animal to our table. For a moment, in the dim lit ambience I thought we would have a live chicken up for slaughter given the cage that accompanied it. There is a restaurant in Mexico that does that I’m told. Don’t want to divulge more details here but as I said things are bizarre in the world of food excitement these days. Fresh from the farm onto the table in a matter of speaking – literally! 

On the lighter side, what did chicken say to server upon arriving at my table? Cage meeeeeee. (I’m not known for my jokes. Thank god for small mercies.) 

 The Italian Chicken   Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

Our up and about waiter with a hop to his step further elucidates; ‘Sir. This dish is an Italian flavoured burger patty with salad leaves, Roma tomatoes, pickled cucumber with a serving of grilled onion chutney, jalapeños & salsa served with thousand island dressings and fries.’  The waiter had me at pickled cucumber. The rest was just the icing and a orgasmic blur emitted from his iteration of the condiments. I smiled in glee thanking him like a satiated kid in a consumed candy shop. 

The meat was tender and well marinated. Perfect char and succulent and juicy inside. The fries fresh and crispy. The presentation reminded me of Mr Williams character in the movie the Birdcage. The cage round and red made of firm wrought iron was produced and kept aside. Ladies this piece of jewellery could do well to husbands who don’t behave themselves on the dinner table or elsewhere- if you catch my drift. Come now, your probably thinking 50 shades darker yes? 

While your at this place do dig into a few exotics such as the Silken mutton galauti and the wasabi fish fingers. One of my recommendations for the vegetarians is the cute Cupcake Shrooms. Now it’s not illegal so your safe. More on my Instagram post shortly about that in the coming week. Stay tuned. 

All in all I better let your mind play havoc and run a little wild. The next time in the mood for roll cage might I suggest some with a threesome. Guaranteed to excite. 

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.

A Fish in the Bay

Living in a place that’s synonymous with fish, it’s hard to outdo oneself. Every second restaurant in and around Goa serves some lip smacking seafare and each have their own signatures attached. Another thing that strikes me is the consumption of fish near the sea. Ever wonder the irony of it. But one can always fall in love with the tranquility and solitude Bay 15 has to offer. A property with a view indeed. 

This evening was a delight at the hands of Chef Mir Hafizur Raheman the executive chef of this fine establishment. Under new management of the Justa group, i was told there was something new in store. With the thrashing melodious sound of the waves against the rocks with the pale moonlight we were in for a 5 course treat. 

Mediterranean cuisine is hard to dish out in this fair state with many plying their wares and trades with pomp and gusto. It’s a Herculean task to get something out that wow’s the eyes even before you dig into that first succulent bite. Everyone is doing it. What makes one different? When asked -Chef Raheman, a rather quiet character with his elf impish like smile said it all with his carefully crafted Tandoori Marinated Red Snapper. 

Let me assure you eating with ones eyes was the brief for the evening. I was overjoyed as how I normally am when I visit the Harley Davidson showroom and this was a first as far as food plating goes. Carefully and sinfully plated, it played and toyed with you to dig in instantly like a knee jerk reaction. Every single fiber in ones hand had to refrain from tugging in to destroy each masterpiece. Chef Raheman  having learnt from some of the Michellin star chefs carefully sits with me and dissects his piece de resistance. 

The fish -fresh and the tandoori marinade was perfect. But what enthralled me was the condiments added to it, giving that extra zing. Served with eggplant caviar, a lace of katchumbar salad and potato sesame Tikki -it’s an aromatic play date of an Indian meeting a Mediterranean beauty from some exotic locale in a plate. What’s more, it’s beautifully inspired. 

The fish falls off the fork and is quite a task, as I stumble in front of a lovely date for company. Luckily the light was dim so I didn’t make a complete fool of myself. The Tikki though firm was succulent. And the eggplant caviar take a bow. I’m not a fan of aubergine by any stroke of imagination. However this took the cake quite literally (no pun intended on the way it was presented I assure you.) 

Tandoori marinated Red Snapper  Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography 

While you sample this masterpiece might I suggest trying the Lamb chop Barrah a spicy Indian flavoured marinated lamb served with lentil khichdi minty pea purée and haricot. I haven’t forgotten all you sweet tooth lovers the Chocolate Chilli Baked Yogurt with Kurbani ka Meetha is something up your alley. 

The net is cast and I’m roped into the gastronomic visual delight on offer here. Kudos to the creativity of the Chef. 

Salut till I come again. 

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