More than four months after we left, here, finally, is my farewell to Goa. We spent a week there, living in the lovely home of old friends who now live in Hong Kong and it was one of the best vacations we’ve had as a family. It seems a world and two lifetimes away now but I see my other trip reports and look back with pleasure at our time there—hanging out at the beach every day, eating (mostly) very good Goan food both in restaurants and at home, visiting the local fish market, visiting old Portuguese cathedrals, touring the Paul John distillery etc. It was a charmed week and I don’t know when we will ever be able to do it again. Continue reading
Almost exactly four months to the day that we arrived in Goa for a week’s holiday, here is a brief account of our first meal there. We were staying at the beautiful home of old friends (they weren’t there) in Velim in South Goa. South Goa has far less tourist traffic than North Goa does and so is far less hectic. By the same token there are fewer quality restaurants in the larger area, and in a small, sleepy village like Velim there are none. For the rest of the stay all our dinners would be at the house; but as we’d arrived in the evening of the first day it hadn’t been possible to get set up with the cook we’d made arrangements with in the village. I’d looked around before arrival to see what the options were that wouldn’t require us to drive another 30 minutes back in the direction of the airport and we settled on the outpost of The Fisherman’s Wharf in Cavelossim, not too far from the beach on which we would spend the majority of every day following. The Fisherman’s Wharf is a chain with a few locations in Goa and they’ve expanded as well to Bangalore and Hyderabad. We didn’t have any particular expectations but it turned out to be a decent meal on the whole, if nothing very exciting. Indeed, this meal included a few items that we consumed pretty much every day for the rest of the trip. Continue reading
Well, it has been just over three months now since we left Goa. In the normal course of events I would have wrapped up my meal reviews from there in March. But when the pandemic hit I wasn’t very motivated to write about meals that no one reading my posts would be able to go eat for god knows how long. Now that we’re into the second month of the “stay at home” order in Minnesota, however, with no idea when we’ll ever go out to eat again, I’m looking back longingly at the last time when eating out was almost all the eating we were doing and at what will turn out to have been our last family vacation for a long, long time. And so here is a brief account of our last meal out in Goa, the day before we left. It is of lunch at Star Light, an unfussy restaurant located in Assolna, about halfway between where we were staying in Velim and Cavelossim Beach, where we spent most of our waking hours. In fact we ate here after spending the morning one last time at Cavelossim and right before our visit to the Paul John distillery. Continue reading
After a shaky start at our first lunch on the beach (more on this later), we had our fourth very good lunch in a row at Hog Worth. I’ve already posted write-ups of the three previous: at Martin’s Corner, Palácio Do Deão, and Fernando’s Nostalgia. Unlike those three places, Hog Worth is not located in South Goa. It is located in Panjim, the capital of the state. This was another restaurant recommended by Vikram D. (who’d also recommended Fenando’s Nostalgia) and after the previous day’s experience we were looking forward to a meal there after a spot of tourism at various cathedrals. It did not disappoint. Continue reading
The day after our visit to Palácio Do Deão we once again spent most of our day at Cavelossim Beach (okay, so that was true of every day we spent in Goa but one). In the middle of the day, however, we took a break from the beach and drove up about 30 minutes to the village of Raia. We made the drive in order to eat at a celebrated restaurant, Fernando’s Nostalgia (or just Nostalgia). The Fernando in the name is Chef Fernando da Costa, who passed away in 2007, too young at the age of 56. The restaurant carries on, however, in his name and is still true to his vision: celebrating classic Goan Catholic food in its traditional avatar. Continue reading
In my write-up last week of my visit to the Paul John distillery I suggested that visitors to North Goa might make a good day trip to the south by combining a visit to Paul John with a visit to the Palácio Do Deão in Quepem. Here now is a description of our visit there which may convince you that it is a good thing to do.
As you may know, Goa was a colony of Portugal till 1961 (Indian independence from Britain was in 1947). Portuguese presence in Goa goes back a long way—it was Vasco da Gama who found the sea route from Europe to India that Columbus had set off in search of. Unsurprisingly Portuguese cultural influence in Goa also runs deep. If Catholicism is one major expression of this influence, food is the other. And at the Palácio Do Deão you can get a sense of both. Continue reading
As I’ve mentioned before, after two weeks in Delhi in January we went down to Goa for a week. Old college friends have a lovely home in South Goa that they opened up to us. Ten minutes from Cavelossim Beach and far, far away from tourist-intensive North Goa, this was as idyllic a family vacation as we could have hoped for—especially given how cold it was in Southern Minnesota at the time! We hired a cook from the village to cook breakfasts and dinners for us—the latter all centered on fish and shellfish I purchased from the local market (see my report on those shopping expeditions). Lunches, however, we ate out. Alas, our lunch on our first full day was not very good. Ignoring the warnings of far better informed people, we chose to eat at a shack at the beach. The food was marginal and the convenience of not having to leave the beach to eat it was not any consolation. We’d eaten dinner out as well a few hours after arrival the previous night, and while that had been a lot better than our beach shack lunch, it had not been any great shakes either. My dream of eating excellent Goan food twice a day was in danger of fizzling before our week even got properly underway—especially as miscommunication with our cook resulted in his preparing a debut dinner later that day that was centered mostly on sugar (I said, “put a pinch of sugar in the boys’ dal”, he proceeded to put a LOT of sugar into everything). Thankfully, everything was reset at lunch on our second full day. That lunch was at Martin’s Corner. We didn’t have a bad meal after that. Continue reading
Nobody expects Delhi to have better Goan food than Bombay and you don’t have to look further than geography and demographics to see why. And I’m certainly not going to make that counter-intuitive and provocative claim here. The fact is Delhi barely has any Goan restaurants. However, on this trip to Bombay and Delhi I ate better Goan food in Delhi than I did in Bombay. I hasten to add here that when I speak of Goan food I am doing so in the stereotypical sense of the Christian food most associated with Goa. After all, Highway Gomantak is also a Goan restaurant and I’m not making any comparison with my meal there. No, it is to my meals at O Pedro that I am comparing my lunch at Viva O Viva and ruling in favour of the Delhi establishment. And this too should probably not be a surprise as Viva O Viva is the restaurant at Goa Niwas in Chanakyapuri, the official (very large) guesthouse of the Goa state government in Delhi. Continue reading
My restaurant reports from my Bombay trip in December have so far covered restaurants that largely serve traditional fare in traditional forms: Jai Hind Lunch Home, Just Kerala, Highway Gomantak, Soam and Swati Snacks. My two remaining reports are of restaurants that take traditional flavours and dishes and re-articulate them in more eclectic forms—though not in identical ways—for upscale diners. First up, a quick look at two dinners at O Pedro in the BKC area—a sterile conglomeration of office towers and expensive hotels for business travelers visiting those office towers. I was one of those business travelers staying in one of those hotels, and as O Pedro was a brisk 10 minute walk from my hotel, and as I was dining alone on my first night in the city I decided to give it a go. I liked the food enough to want to come back with company and try more of their menu. Herewith, the details. Continue reading
This was actually the last proper meal I ate in Bombay on this trip but I am writing it up out of order now as I am a little pressed for time and it involves resizing fewer pictures than all my remaining Bombay meals.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Bombay food scene—as I imagine most of my readers are—the name of this restaurant is probably a big mystery to you. It is actually very simple: the restaurant serves Gomantak food—a subset of Goan/Konkani food—and this is a branch of the original Gomantak restaurant that is located by a highway in Bandra. Thus Highway Gomantak: mystery solved. As with many restaurants in this genre in Bombay, it is an unassuming restaurant that serves Goan food of a kind completely unknown in North India, leave alone in the US. This is not the Goa of vindaloos and sorpotels but of fish curries and rava (semolina)-crusted fried fish and shellfish. All these restaurants serve an array of seafood dishes that are basically iterations of a few preparations with a range of fish and shellfish. Add some thalis and some side dishes and that’s your menu. As with many restaurants in the genre, the price is on the low side and the quality is on the high side. Continue reading