|The strawberry cake and mango cheesecake at Lila Cafe|
So I went to Goa again end November, this time for my cousin’s wedding. Just a few resources I want to share before they fly outta my mind...
We stayed at Casa Praia, a wonderful Portuguese house in Candolim village, halfway between the main Candolim-Calangute road (Fort Aguada Road) and the beach.
It is a beautiful haven, with two double bedrooms (one overlooking the main living area, up a little flight of stairs) and a single bed/ divan in the living room itself, which I landed up sleeping on because I found the top bedroom a bit airless. It is self catering – with microwave, toaster, kettle and fridge (which means that you can do basic breakfasts [not fried eggs, though]), and heat up food) and a h-u-g-e bathroom. All of this is very clean, set in a large compound, with a lady who comes by every day to check on you, and Mr Anthony Fernandes who is a phone call away to answer any queries. Lalitha stayed in the house while I did wedding-y things, but she agrees that it makes a great base for chillin’.
Cost: Rs 3,500 a night for the Family House (Rs 4,600 in peak season and Rs 2,000 in low). There are also two suites (Garden and Vista), but I recommend you take the Family House, and sit each morning on the wraparound veranda and drink your tea or coffee listening to bird song (casapraiagoa.com).
We zoomed about on a hired scooter (Rs 150 to Rs 350 a day depending on season and petrol prices) and this was really cool. We went as far as Panjim and even Dona Paula (20km each way), which was a bit hard on the butt, but well worth the effort and the fun.
• Rissoij (little Goan puffs filled with prawns in a white onion sauce) from La Confiserie, a little hutch of a bakery on the Candolim road, right next to the Cafe Coffee Day and close to the Candolim Football Ground. These are Rs 7 each, you will want to eat at least six, but go early, by 10am, as they tend to sell out fast.
• Cutlet pau (thin slices of undercut, marinated and rava-fried and sandwiched in the Goan flatbread, poie) and choris pau (Goa sausage in poie) off a little stall in the lane opposite Candolim Football Ground. Each costs Rs 30 and is available from 5pm to 7pm on weekdays, though it must be said that the cutlet pau tends to be a little dry, so just remove the steak from the poie and eat it on its own – it is yummy. The choris pau is brilliant as is.
• Water buffalo ham croissants (above) and the roast beef in a red wine sauce with spaetzle (little hand-made egg pasta) at Lila Cafe by the Baga River. Also mango cheesecake and strawberry cake (see first photo). The taste of the water buffalo ham is heightened by raw onion, and the croissant itself is so imbued with butter, that you have to give up on the (false) sacrifice of not buttering it. The roast beef was exquisite with the spaetzle. The mango cheesecake I loved, though Lalitha found it a bit dry, but the strawberry cake (a tart with a chocolate layer at the bottom to keep the custard from soaking the pastry, with a heaping of lovely berries and glaze – as opposed to the strawberry tart, which is a tart with strawberries and cream) is worth giving up your diet for. The strawberry cake is Rs 100, can’t remember the prices of the rest (too busy eating to take notes), but if you must wrench yourself from Goan food, this is a worthy diversion.
• Seafood thalis at Ritz Classic in Panjim. This is a first floor eatery near the National Theatre, where people stand behind you waiting for you to finish. The thali comes with fried fish, prawn curry, kismoor (a dried prawn and coconut chutney), some shellfish and a little veg and rice. We also had rava-fried mussels, and squid in butter garlic (slightly rubbery) and drinks (soft/ juice) and it came up to about Rs 350 per head for six of us.
• Great fish curry and rice, kismoor and the most amazing tender coconut soufflé at Sea Pebble at Dona Paula (Rs 700 for two).
And of course, it was a lovely wedding. The beautiful bride, Amitha, wore a simple dress, little adornment and a big smile; the bridegroom - my cousin Anup - is effortlessly handsome anyway, and the bridal party all looked happy with themselves and their clothes – how often does that happen anyway?
They got married at St Alex Church, a lovely 400-year-old church on the road to Calangute; and even the scaffolding from the ongoing renovations takes nothing away from the blinding happiness of their eyes in the photographs. The reception was at Raman Beach Resort, also in Calangute, and it was literally on the sands. Walking on sand