Goa Food & Feasting
By Cosmo Brockway
As January rolls into February, we cannot help but dream of sunnier climes, and the South Indian idyll of Goa is our perfect winter sun escape. With its palm fringed coves, pastel-coloured colonial houses and relaxed atmosphere, India’s smallest state offers everything for a retreat to return to again and again. Adventurous travellers who venture inland are rewarded by a landscape filled with spice plantations, astonishing churches and verdant rice paddies. The Portuguese legacy is richly evident and perhaps nowhere more delightful than in the burgeoning food scene. Months could be spent exploring the restaurants, villas and homes offering a tantalising cuisine that joyfully sings with a mingling of Latin and local cultures. We have feasted, foraged and danced our way across the sunshine state to bring you our favourite insider eating destinations that both locals and regular visitors keep under wraps.
1). Palacio de Deão, Quepem
A privileged glimpse into Goa’s ancient regime, this restored 18th-century Indo-Portuguese manor offers guests a tour of its beautiful pleasure gardens and interiors and the chance to indulge in a home-cooked five course meal with charming hosts Ruben and Celia Vasco de Gama. The garlic roasted fish is sublime as is the traditional pumpkin dessert.
2). Boom Shankar, Colomb-Patnem Beach
Barefoot luxury at its most heavenly – your vista is the Arabian ocean and coral tinged sunset at this simple terraced eatery hidden close to the southerly Patnem Beach. Only open during high season (October – April), Boom Shankar has a loyal following who trek down the rural, cow filled road to sample the freshly caught grilled prawns, rose scented chai and potent sundowners.
3). Gunpowder, Assagao
Goa’s best kept secret, Gunpowder is the place of choice for visiting sophisticates and Bollywood stars despite its rustic appearance housed in a colonial bungalow. The name hints at the electric atmosphere here with table hopping and air kissing a plenty. Great fun and spirit – plump for the rich Syrian Christian beef fry, aromatic Kozhi fish curry and light-as-a-cloud fluffy Malabar paratha breads. We love the Kahlua mousse cake dessert.
4). La Plage, Ashvem
An institution, La Plage is on happening Ashwem beach and hits all the right notes. This all-day bistro attracts a lively cosmopolitan crowd and is the perfect place to sit in the sea breeze with a zingy G&T. Order the Provencal fish soup, fennel crème brulee and grilled lobster – no holding back here and polish off with the decadent chocolate thali. Walk it all off exploring Ashwem’s beach hut boutiques (Seraphina Goa is our go-to).
Tel: +9198221 21712
5). Chef Fernando’s Nostalgia, Raia
Chef Fernando’s widow, the smiling Margarida serves up soul food with a Goan twist in her bungalow garden. Menu’s change daily and everything is excellent – special mention goes to Margarida’s vinegar-laced pork vindaloo and seafood delicacies. Make sure to request the nearly-extinct local cake, bolo sansrival. Nothing is hurried here – watch the fireflies dance and dine under the starry sky – magic.
6). Café Nu, Pernem
Restaurateur Christopher Saleem Agha Bee (of the equally excellent Sublime, Morjim beach) has conjured up a funky experience on the fringes of Mandrem beach. The barefoot waiters, courtyard setting and holistic, seasonal food create a fabulous atmosphere. Open November – April, come here when night falls for a romantic dinner at a rose petal covered table and savour the flavours of calamari with coconut, lemongrass & papaya relish and the potent exotic martinis. An Ampersand favourite!
Tel: +9198506 58568
7). Marbella Beach Resort, Morjim-Ashvem Beach
High above the waves, this is a chic spot overlooking hip Morjim beach in North Goa. The cocktails are superb, the crowd ready to dance and the food, which could be an afterthought to the party, is memorable. Choose from Italian, Indian, Thai and other international flavours. Make a night of it by booking one of the pristine cottages available in the grounds.
8). Pousada by the Beach, Candolim
Holding premier place as Goa’s best restaurant by Trip Advisor, we agree with the charms of Pousada by the Beach. Tucked away in verdant greenery at Pousada Tauma boutique hotel on Candolim beach, this is a wonderful place for sunset watching and informal dining. Enjoy fragrant Canjo de Frutos do Mar, a Portuguese broth brimming with seafood delights before the delicious Goan green chicken Xacuti and cumin infused rice. A hidden gem.
Tel: +91 832 227 9061
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