If you haven’t read about the first part of this journey, go here… after all, nobody likes missing the start of a good movie, right? 😉
Spent most of today lolling around in beach shacks… First, Pousada By The Beach, a pretty, restaurant-y place set amidst a nice garden n carved rocks, just off the Calangute beach, where I had a long chat with the friendly owner Neville. And the other, Flying Dolphin, a nice Tapas cafe and bar on the beach, where the Stuffed Squid is one of the best I’ve had… And where the boys at the bar made a special cocktail called Iced Spice for me, and I learnt how to play the fun dice game Shut-The-Box… and lost every time!!!
The evening was dedicated to Peace! It’s the pristine, white-neon open bar of The Park group of boutique hotels – breezy n chic, right on the beach, flanked by a snazzy-looking Baywatch-style lifeguard shack! But I digress…!
Peace has in its folds a bright young elf named Arjun, (who definitely belongs to a secret society of elves and pixies somewhere in Goa!). Because you just CAN’T rustle up elaborate and delicious cocktails like that within the blink of an eye, unless if you use a little magic! ‘Fido Dido’ is what my friend Dash had nicknamed him on her last trip, and when you see him you couldn’t agree more! But it was more than just amazing cocktails. As the balmy evening gave way to a brisk breeze and the neon settings of the bar came alive, a never-ending stream of sea-food platters started making their way to my table, piled up with Prawn Peri Peri, Grilled Salmon, Pan Seared Kingfish, Pesto Basa, n Crisp Calamari rustled up by the Chef himself. All this was thanks to new friend Saurabh, who filled me in on the big, bustling world of hotels and restaurants in Goa – the behind the scenes story of the business of food, how seafood gets from the sea on to your plate, and a few quick tips on local places for fresh fish and BBQ sausages. Aaaah!
It was one of the most peaceful, calming, educative evenings of the trip, I thought, as I drove back late in the night, my head full of all the stories and experiences of people I had met throughout the day – local Goans, stowaway Goans, accidental Goans and madly-in-love-with-Goa Goans… Wow!
P.S.: No wrong turns this time, but I was not out of the woods yet 😉 A very agitated Gray Langur thrashing through the forest outside my window kept me up, reading Tintin’s Secret of the Unicorn late into the night…
Woke up before the sun today, mostly b’cos of the incessant chatter of the Warblers, Bulbuls, Hornbills n at least a dozen other species of birds… What a sweet cacophony!
After an early swim with the fat, shiny Bumble Bees (they add a kind of trance-y buzzy music, hovering close to you as you float on your back), I set off on the long drive to Morjim and Chef Chris‘s kingdom, Sublime. Vertical Pear Salad, Kingfish Carpaccio, Beef Steak w Mushroom n Blue Cheese n a Praline Choux Pastry were polished off over a lazy chat with the charismatic Christopher Saleem Agha Bee, a man as enigmatic and multifarious as his name. Worth getting lost 5 times, and stopping a zillion times to ask for directions… !!!
Now back home to cloudy skies, a finger-flick of rain, and a coffee with the never-out-of-fashion Infanteria brownie…
Out for a light, late dinner (after the T20 match), Le Poisson Rouge behaved badly n got a good earful. 24//7 Food n Booz had abandoned their name and settled for ‘Karaoke with Gary’, without booze!! And Nick’s Place looked a tad out of place…
So Britto’s it was… but it almost wasn’t! The Mussels in White Wine was ok, but the Stuffed Crab was completely off… Twice! An off day for the Chef? Well, I sure hope so because I couldn’t bear to think of the alternative… something that I ‘ve heard a few other fans murmur reluctantly, that the institution named Britto’s is past its prime! No!
Needed to cool off with a long walk on Baga beach, n spent a beautiful, heart-warming hour just people-watching in the half light from the moon – even this late there were so many people around, chatting, jogging, laughing, playing… and then there was this group of college friends, much like my own crazy bunch back in Melbourne, gazing with hope and eagerness in their eyes as they set off Wish Lanterns high into the brilliantly star-studded sky!