Tapas’ya’

Lets get spiritual. A derivation from the word root ‘tap’ -meaning ‘heat’ (which depending on context) either from fire,weather, pain,penance,suffering – Tapas means deep meditation,reasoned self discipline and effort to achieve self-realization, sometimes involving solitude. Well for all you Adam Levine fans he’s got it inked on his chest as well. While were still spiritually inclined, my recent visit to Martins in Margao was the need of the hour. I had to quell the ‘heat’ stroked & flamed up playfully by Cassy Martins over a phone call a few weeks earlier, scrumptiously describing ideas for his new menu.Of course he was referring to a wide variety of appetizers of the Spanish cuisine he had concocted for the meal. 

12 days later (yes I counted in anticipation) and my meditation and self disciplines paid off when a few traveller friends and yours truly made our way down south for a feast in waiting.

The word “tapas” is derived from the Spanish verb tapar, “to cover”. This is a culinary design cleverly conceived to encourage conversation, because people are not really focused on eating an entire meal that is set before them- Brilliant!!! Multiple pro’s, very little on the downside. Ever wonder now how those Spanish footballers remain so fit and taut? Eat less (smart), play more. On my trip to Seville its tradition like for people to finish work an head to a tapas bar to socialize (no facebook & mobile phones are not part of the deal…human conversations are call of the hour) right before supper time. Tapas can be consumed hot or cold, a favorite comes to mind; ‘chopitos‘-(batter fried crunchy baby squid) with the ever-versatile Torres Viña Sol and i’m yours- in food heaven. (Earth calling Nolan!! Come back to the tapas at hand please…)

There are several theories to the etymology of the name. Though the primary meaning of tapa is cover or lid the most commonly cited explanation is that an item, be it bread or a flat card, etc., would often be placed on top of a drink to protect it from fruit flies that were a common menace; at some point it became a habit to top this “cover” with a snack. Another theory states that since one would be standing while eating a tapa in traditional Spanish bars, they would need to place their plates on top of their drinks to eat, making it a top. A few scholars mention a final possibility surrounding King Felipe III, who passed a law in an effort to curb rowdy drunken behavior, particularly among soldiers and sailors. (The hope being that the food would slow the effects of the alcohol, and fill the stomach to prevent over imbibing.)

Accompanied by world travelers from the land down under (Australia) & West ( San Francisco) were the ‘Foodie Fernandes’ brothers each with their own background to good food and hospitality. ‘Chorizo’ was a vital showcase and part of the menu sans dessert (thank god for small mercies) 

The Chicken & Chorizo Meatball with Ratatouille hit the spot on all fours. After all who doesnt love their meatballs? But meatballs with a twist, now that was something to pine for especially with perfect European blended cues from various countries (Spain,France,Italy). Chicken mince with a seasoning of celery,parsley and garlic slow cooked with goan handmade chorizo mixed with smoked paprika imported directly from the Extramudra region (South Madrid).This chorizo is oak smoked before cooked so as to get a distinct woody pipe flavor hidden in their notes. No doubt a tastier, healthier and gourmet version of a chorizo for sure (given the preservatives used in cured chorizos these days). All this ladelled in Ratatouille sauce (Yes the same one Remy the mouse cooked up in Pixar’s classic Ratatouille) 

Another item one has to try (appetite allowing) is the Chicken breast stuffed with house chorizo & extract sauce. Nothing fancy but oh so plenty in flavor. A simple breast marination with a secret sauce (unfortunately the chef is not at liberty to share that recipe without having to kill you post) and seasoned with thyme, parsley, rosemary with drizzles of olive oil and chorizo extract sauce.

Accompanied with a fine glass of bubbly Sangria (a unique twist by mixing champagne, green apple and some fine red wine) cleansed each morsel sampled only to ask for more. All in all a fine evening of good food, tales from across the world and multiple cups of hot water. To get your cravings on a shoe string budget allow the Martin brothers to bring Spain right to your backyard. (of course the other alternative is to head to Spain itself) 

Dios te bendiga!! (God Bless you)

Chicken & Chorizo Meatball with Ratatouille sauce Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography  

Trolling for the Crystal Skull 

I am trolling for a legend. The legend of the 13 Crystal heads- a controversial archaeological mystery, 13 crystal heads have been found in regions around the world, from the American southwest to Tibet. They’re dated between 5,000 and 35,000 years old, and were supposedly polished into shape from solid quartz chunks over a period of several hundred years. Although according to engineers, they bear no tool marks to tell us exactly how they were made. The heads are thought to offer spiritual power and enlightenment to those who possess them, and as such stand not as symbols of death, but of life.The basic elements of the 13 crystal skulls legend is that at a pivotal time in humanity’s history, the 13 crystal skulls will be reunited to awaken a new era – transforming from an old paradigm into a new world. (Pretty intense stuff huh?)  However every quest leaves one thirsty and sapped especially for something such as Crystal Vodka which is a resounding-Pure Spirit. Im not going all mystical on you and no- I am NOT a soothsayer or ancient shaman (though its my most wildest fantasy to possess such powers) 

I must confess I am NOT a Vodka drinker. I’m a whiskey man from the go-go bar (sigh Jim Morrison…how i wish you were around) and with friends such as Basu Shatbhi ( Maestro Mixologist) and Karina Aggarwal (Alcobev Blogger) i’m in good company never stray from the dark side (in a liquor of speaking of course!!) However I love art- I mean look at this bottle, its mesmerized me enough to purchase one for my bar (and mind you its not cheap!!) I love purity & simplicity in this complex world. I love all things.. au naturel and this is the first thing that strikes me about this vodka.

Conceptualized by Dan Aykroyd a well-known actor (remember Ghost busters..Who you gonna call?); a spiritual believer in what he calls the “invisible world” where otherworldly presences are a “form of reality as valid as our normal reality.” and the one ad only veteran fine artist John Alexander who lent his art to the construct of this masterpiece. A couple of years of research and the bottle was ready heavily inspired by the legend and vodka was the natural drink of choice, however,with it, a commitment to do something enlightened and different.

The result was perfect vodka, with absolutely no additives. No glycol (an ingredient for engine anti-freeze); no citrus oil (used in its raw form as an insect exterminant); and no raw sugar. Nothing was needed, because it was abundantly clear that finely produced vodka came by its smoothness and flavor naturally. So in the end, only the highest quality peaches and cream corn was distilled four times into a neutral grain gluten-free spirit and blended with pristine water from Newfoundland,Canada. And that was not all- the liquid is post filtered seven times, of which three are through layers of semi precious crystals known as Herkimer diamonds (Ladies go wha…?eyes sparkling yet..?) which are double terminated quartz crystals (a crystal with two naturally faceted ends. It is a rarer form of crystal.) also known as Middleville diamond or a Little Falls diamond. These raw stones are quartz crystals, which have been ascribed healing properties by some new age belief systems.

So the next time you wish to imbibe in this long lost mystery and unearth stories untold head on over to The Capiz Bar @ The Grand Hyatt Goa. With a wide array of spirit to keep you company ,try not to look too deep into its eyes, it might arrest you and unveil its true undeciphered meaning to life’s mysteries.

May the force of the 13 guide you well…

Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography

All You need is LOVE

Spent 3 months volunteering- with these amazing Tigers and Monks at the Tiger Temple,Kanchaniburi-Thailand 

It was one of the most humbling experiences ever. Praying,walking,feeding these over sized killer cats with a heady mix of peace and tranquility thrown in for good measure. A Once in a Lifetime experience.  

Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography