Thursday, August 4, 2016

Goan Odyssey

The summer was at its peak here in Pune when we drove over to Goa this time. It was a well planned trip & the plan was to eat, sleep (!!!) , spend quality time with the little one & not do the touristy things nor visit too many places (unless they served food :P )

We'd booked ourselves in the Deltin Palms Riverfront at Britona a couple of kms before Panjim. Google Maps did play a little game with us in our way to the hotel! It took a supposedly shorter route which turned out to be a supremely narrow road which went on & on & just refused to end! To top it, it led us to a garage & the kind lady proudly announced in her sweet voice 'you've reached your destination!' Battling queer glances we did a bit of prodding around & finally reached our actual destination, which, thankfully,  wasn't a nightmare!

 The room offered a beautiful view of the Mandovi River; it was a sheer pleasure sitting in the balcony & observing vessels sail to & fro all day long. The hotel had a small jetty as a part of the property, we were told that food is ferried from the hotel to the offshore casino, The Deltin Royal from the jetty.

The restaurant at the Deltin Palms had a very limited menu on offer, the Non-Veg Club Sandwich that we ordered on arrival was excellent nevertheless

On our last trip to Panjim we found a great place for Goan food by fluke while searching for a place to park & go to Cafe Bhonsle, a place highly recommended. Godinho For Great Goan Food, Since 1938 read the board proudly & we headed straight in!

We had promised ourselves that we will have our first meal in Goa the next time at Godinho's & we did exactly that! Ordered for the Prawn Papad Roll, which was Chopped & stir Fried Prawns rolled into Papad & deep fried, a Indianised Spring Roll you could say!

Fish Fry & Chicken Roast for the kiddo & he was a happy child; we ordered for a Pork Vindaloo with Unde or local bread, the Vindaloo was one of the best I've ever had with the right amount of spices & perfect punch of red Chilly.

Other than the food what we loved about Godinho was caricatures by the legendary Mario Miranda in the restaurant.

Buffet Breakfast was a part of the package at Deltin & it used to be quiet decent though not great with the usual options of Poha, Upma, Idly, Aloo Paratha, choice of egg, Cereal, Fruit Juices, Cold Cuts & Muffins; a wide variety to choose from but nothing to rave about. Once there was Misal on the menu, the B-I-L opted for it; it was to die for.. Thank God he's still alive ;)

A very highly recommended place in Panjim was Ritz Classic; having missed it the last time, we'd promised ourselves that we'll definitely make it to Ritz this time around. The Fish Thali for Rs. 170/- odd makes Ritz popular; the Thali, we read online, was available only at lunch time; since we were ok with not getting the Thali we reached here at dinner time

Pomfret Rawa Fry & Prawn Fry for the kiddo & he was a happy child! We ordered for Lepo Cafreal &  Butter Garlic Crab, neither made the cut for us unfortunately. The Prawn Curry Rice was a saviour

           (Made with canned Crab meat)

(Pomfret Rawa Fry)

(Lepo Cafreal)

(Prawn Fry)

At the next meal the little one announced that he'd had enough of Goan food & was not going to eat Indian food atleast for a day!

While driving thru Panjim we came across a place by the name Cremux Cafe & Bistro. Following our hunch we decided to climb up the stairs leading up to the cafe, & believe me, that was one of the best decision of the day!

The cafe had a very nice vibe to it & all of us settled down immediately. The mention of pizzas on the menu & Little gave a whopper of a smile! We ordered for a couple of pizzas, garlic bread & a few drinks. The pizzas were THE BEST I've ever had. The friendly maître d' made our life easy; he gave got suggestions on what to order & what not to, took care of the goofed up Mojito & offered Little a box full of pastries to take back to the hotel!

A friend of ours who's native to Goa incidentally was in Goa at the same time as us with her kids & she insisted that we visit her. So the next day we headed to Anjuna. The drive was thru serene countryside & the narrow winding roads didn't seem to end. Before going to her house we took a small detour & drove down to the beach. Nature wasn't too kind with us as the sea was rough when we went;
 there was a oil spill too & the beach wasn't too pretty a sight. A  game of Frisbee on the beach was the saving grace for Little.

Later we headed for lunch with our friend & the kids to a place owned by one of her friend, Janet & John's. This was bang on the beach.

(Squid Rings)

(Golden Fried Prawns)

John was a superb host & served us fried prawns & calamari amongst other things. For mains he told us that he'd serve us a large Halwa or Black Pomfret & taking things into his own hands made Tawa Fry (in Cafreal masala), Rawa Fry & Curry, 3 large servings of each variety, from that one Halwa, which it seems weighed over 3 KGS! The fish indeed was fresh, one could make out the difference in taste at the very first bite, we happily devoured all of it on no time! The fish curry that we were served here, I'd rate it as the best ever Goan Curry that I've ever had! The perfect blend of masala & coconut & tirphal made it a delight, was served with Goan boiled rice. It was an afternoon well spent!

A restaurant by the name 'Saib' used to entice us every time we passed by it while going to Panjim. We walked in for lunch one day, opted for a la carte over Thali. There were a lot of hits & misses when it came to food as well as service.

The old part of Panjim has a very unique characteristic to it, to date it manages to maintain the old world charm. We were here in search of a shop by the name Marcou's & G Maps made us go round & round & round the city thru 'No entry' lanes & what not! Finally we called up the shop & with their help managed to reach. It was a beautiful shop with unique things on sale.

A typically Goan thing that we found prominently in the old quarters of Panjim were the Azulejous or hand painted ceramic tiles which adorn the walls all over


The old world charm of this part of Goa was addictive & we finally moved ahead with a very heavy heart.

A grocery shop nearby beckons me & I couldn't resist walking right in.. bought some great whole spices, dried red chillies, spice powders, pastes & 3-4 bottles of the Goan Toddy Vinegar!

A yard away from the grocery shop towards where we'd parked we found something that we were not even looking for.. The Cremux Bakery Counter! We walked in & how we shopped for cakes & cookies & muffins & pies & what not!

All this had made us hungry & whilst looking for a quick bite spotted 'Jayaa's MH-09 The Spirit of Maharashtra'! We walked in to be pleasantly surprised by waiters wearing Phetas or traditional Maratha Head Gear! A quick chat with the person behind the counter & a peek into their menu had us pleasantly surprised. The menu had CKP specialties like Sode Bharli Vaangi, Vaalacha Birdhe etc. The person running the show was a half CKP, one Mr. Deshpande! It being peak lunch time we left him to attending patrons with the promise to return soon (one more reason to start planning a trip to Goa!!!)

Riorico Restaurant at Hotel Mandovi had a Goan & Portuguese Food Fest going on while we were there & how could miss it!!??

(Clam Cutlet)

(Golden Fried Prawns)

(Roast Chicken)

The food here was quiet nice & different from what we'd get so far. The extensive menu on offer needs atleast a couple of more visits to explore fully ;)

Another place that I find worth a mention here is The Thirsty Bear Deli at Bambolim, this is a 24 Hour Café & we happened to visit it unplanned; we were on our way to South Goa one evening & little had a sudden craving for ice cream while i wanted a cuppa, we saw the place & stepped in. The place is nice & cozy with sandwiches, burgers, pizzas, pastas, desserts & coffee on offer. Next door's is their sister concern, Enroute World Food Café-Bistro with the menu available & served at Thirsty Bear too.

The En-Route Café-Bistro/ Thirsty Bear Deli
Kenkre Centre, near Dental College, Bambolim.

We missed Pune's favourite restaurant, Malaka Spice's opening by a couple of weeks, would've loved to have a meal there!

One thing which I'd been wanting to try here was the Ros Omelette, the Goan favourite breakfast, spotted a cart selling this throughout the day near the Ritz Classic, saved for the next visit, hope it happens soon!

On our way back to Pune we took a wrong turn near Sawantwadi; the route was narrow, the surface condition was very bad & it took us over an hour to cover 30-35 kms, the drive nevertheless was very scenic.

(Large Cashew fruits grew in the wild here)

Took a pit stop in Kolhapur for lunch at Dehati, the place is super clean, service is super quick, food is served piping hot, tasted good, unfortunately not great! My search for good Kolhapuri food in Kolhapur still continues.

What I believe in always & found to be true this time around too was
1. Trust your instinct when looking out for a place to eat
2. What appealed to someone might just not make the cut in your case.
3. Popular places don't necessarily serve the best food around
4. Underdogs do deliver, have faith in them and if they don't, don't fret, don't get annoyed, it probably wasn't meant to be!
5. When in a new place (or old place too for that matter) explore cuisines & places.

Travel a lot & eat local that's the mantra to a Happy you :)

And don't forget, when in Goa, be like the Goans! Relax.. Live a Susegad life!

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