Bon Appétit

The famous French phrase Bon Appétit meaning ‘good appetite’ is usually said to someone at the start of their meal in the hope that they will enjoy it. But don’t we all thrive to eat good food? Atleast, a foodie like me does. I look forward to my meals, be it after a tiring workout, a long day at work or more enthusiastically during my vacations. Because that means I will get to try a different cuisine and a new dish every day. Very rarely, I have been disappointed by a new dish, except when I haven’t been careful about enquiring about the ingredients used in them. I remember the time when I tried the Arabic dish Shakshuka for the first time (thanks to peer pressure and the chef’s recommendation) without understanding what it was and boy, it was terrible. I ain’t a fan of poached eggs and tomato sauce in general, and the combination made me sick. Unfortunately, I had to waste the entire dish because I couldn’t eat beyond a morsel.

I have developed a romantic relationship with Goa. There hasn’t been a time in the last 6 years that I haven’t visited Goa atleast once, sometimes even twice. Travelling to the same city year after year can get quite boring and monotonous but somehow I always manage to have a novel experience every single time. This time when I went there last month for a work trip and to celebrate a friend’s birthday, starting from the place that I stayed to the restaurants, cafes, even the beaches I explored were new. Before the work began I was there for about a week so I’d like to tell you about the places I visited.

  • Villa Blanche Bistro, Assagao: This has to top my list of cafes. A spacious open French cafe covered with tall conical canopy, Villa Blance’s interiors are painted in bright blue colours and house pretty wooden furniture with beautiful tile art paintings all around. It is run by a French lady who has made Goa her home for the last 11 years. There is a small boutique shop housed within the cafe where she sells dresses, jewellery and artefacts by other designers.

I went there twice for breakfast since the place is famous for its vegan and gluten-free dishes. You must try their pancake which is quite different from the ones you must have had. Their juices, shakes are freshly made and the lady personally tastes every ingredient that goes in the making of the dishes. The side dishes that they prepare along with the sausages are amazing. There are different varieties of freshly baked breads like walnut, multigrain available for sale every morning.

 

  • Burger Factory, Anjuna: I ain’t really a burger fan but the sheer number of good reviews and rating for this place tempted me to go there. There was not even a single negative review on Zomato for Burger Factory. That’s quite a feat in itself. Their burger portions are huge and since we were just two of us, we called for a barbeque chicken burger which they serve along with baked potato wedges and a yummy egg yoghurt dip (the recipe of which the owner refused to share). Their potato wedges were great in taste and so was the burger, juicy and tender.

The only downside is the fact that they get sold out way before the closing time so if               you really enjoy burgers, then you should go there early. They have good pork and                   beef variants too.

 

  • Gunpowder, Mapusa: The taste- buds had a re-defined experience of South-Indian cuisine. I am not exaggerating but seriously the food was so good that we relished every single bite. Even something like curd rice was different and the spices that were added for flavour tasted so good. We had called for some prawn and chicken curry along with this yoghurt based veggie that had spinach and beetroot for the vegetarians on the table. Everything was perfect to the T. In my excitement to gorge on food thanks to a growling tummy, I forgot to click pictures of the food 😦 But seriously please put Gunpowder on your must-visit-restaurants in Goa.

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  • Baba Au Rhum, Anjuna: This is another cafe that I always visit when I am in Goa, because of its secluded location and the friendly staff here. Since this time round I was on a break from caffeine, I went for their strawberry smoothie and mint smoothie. Along with that I had a yummy feta cheese croissant and Spanish omelette. The best part about this cafe is that you can just sit there indulging in endless, uninterrupted conversations for hours while gazing at the infinite stretch of land in front of you.

 

  • Artjuna, Anjuna: From attending the season onset party to lazy breakfast and befriending interesting strangers, Artjuna has been one of the highlights of the trip. The season party was so good. It started at 4 pm in the evening and was to go till 10 pm, in which the cafe will serve some appetisers and sodas for free. It was entertaining to watch the locals dance like free souls letting their hair down without having to worry about a penny (considering it was first week of demonitisation).

 

  • Old Quarter, Panjim: This is also a hostel located in one of the prettiest, old town of Panjim. There is a famous church around the corner and I went here on one of the evenings after my work strolling around. All the buildings near the hostel are painted in different colours of the rainbow inhabited by cute old aunties and uncles and how I wished I was staying in them. Even the tea stalls there were colourful. The cafe is quiet and although it doesn’t have much variety on its menu, you must visit the place for pretty architecture.

 

  • Lila Cafe, Anjuna: I went here since it had got a rating of 4.2 on Zomato but it wasn’t that great. The ambience and decor was quite dull. The entire cafe was painted in white and had the same colour furniture which kind of dampened the overall feel. Apart from their croissant with orange marmalade, there was nothing worth raving about the food we ordered. The sausages at Villa Blanche were far more superior than they were here.

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Since I was staying in Vagator, most of the cafes that I went to were around Anjuna, Morjim and Vagator. But trust me if you want to have a European cafe experience, you must visit them. I want to write about the beaches I explored and the place I stayed but I will do so in the following blog as I am introducing a new section on experiential review of the places I have stayed at during my vacations.

 

All images ©Kainat27

 

The Goan Holiday

Goa is synonymous with Las Vegas for Indians and it stands true to that identity since Goa is all about letting the fun side of you have an unimaginable time. I have been to Goa several times in the last few years, for both work and vacation in equal ratio. Most of the times, it has always been about visiting the same old stereotypical locations that almost every second tourist flocks to which kind of sickened me and I had started to despise the fact of visiting Goa for vacation fearing the crazy crowd. Until, this time when I had to visit Goa yet another time for work and was extending the trip by a couple of days cause I simply needed a break.

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The view from Marriott Goa

And I couldn’t have asked for a better holiday. I had gone to attend a film market as part of my work and was staying in the heart of Panjim near the casino hub. I have always wanted to visit a casino bar and during all my visits, I have never managed to. I stayed in a hostel called Zostel in Calangute. It is situated in a small unidentifiable corner of Calangute, not too far from the beach and just the perfect place in case you are looking for solitude and privacy. Zostel hosts backpackers from all over the world and is a great place for people to network and bond on the go. I have never stayed in a hostel before cause hygiene and clean surroundings is a big concern for me. But this was quite a surprise considering it has started only 2 months ago, this place is already giving other places a run for their money. But one thing the owners of the place are clear about is that Zostel is not meant for tourists, it is meant for backpackers and solo travellers who are looking at bonding with other people and having an experience. You got to try the place in order to believe me.

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Zostel, Goa

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The people at Zostel had told me that there were a couple of French cafes around Anjuna and they are a must try so the next day, I was at this quaint little cafe Artjuna which is hard to miss if you are speeding on your bike. It is one of those places where you can just chill and relax the entire day while gorging on yummy coffee and French croissant and hummus. Another cafe I went to was Baba AhRhum, the name feels completely Yogic but trust me once you reach there, you will fall in love with the place for what it is: the space, the decor, the food, surrounding and the feel. The cafe is run by a French couple who manage the entire chore of the place. It is a must visit if you are looking for some lone time and good food. Their speciality is croissant, crostinis and bagels.

Entrance of Artjuna

Entrance of Artjuna

Hummus platter at Artjuna

Hummus platter at Artjuna

 

 

 

 

 

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Baba AhRhum

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Baba Ganoush

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Chocolate Croissant at Baba AhRhum

Library in Artjuna

Library in Artjuna

 

After all the hogging, it was time to go to the beach and enjoy the cold waves by the feet. I chose the rarely frequented Morjim beach and Hard Rock Cafe was my go-to-shack. The water wasn’t that clean but it was isolated and I thoroughly enjoyed playing in the water. This was duly followed by ice cold Kings beer.

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Morjim beach

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My next stop was Thalassa in Vagator. I can swear by all the Gods, living and dead that this is perhaps the best place one must visit in Goa if they want to enjoy the most prettiest sunset of their life. You got to book this place in advance to get the best table by the beach view. I spent some 3 hours at this place sipping on some great Chatet Rose wine and lots of yummy food with feta cheese that added to the flavour. While I was lost in the tranquil of the vast ocean in front of me with the sun casting different hues over its surface, lot of people around me were so busy capturing pictures on their phones that they were missing out on the real beauty of the place. If you are looking at a place to unwind, then this got to be it.

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Uninterrupted view at Thalassa

I was keen on visiting Ashvem beach too which is another quiet beach in Goa but couldn’t cause it was time to return home. All the places I went to were located far away from the chaos of the city which I think makes them alluring and special.

In 3 days, I experienced a Goa that I hadn’t before and it indeed is one of the best travel highlights of 2015.

 

All images ©Kainat27