Friday, April 27, 2018

A Mediterranean experience at Artjuna Garden Restaurant in Anjuna

On a recent visit to Anjuna, I stopped by at this cozy garden restaurant called Artjuna. The place – though seems little from the outside, is so impressive once you enter! With a boutique, garden restaurant, library, co-working space, yoga and MMA centre, and even a kitchen garden, it’s an amazing place to spend those summer afternoons. Though it’s pretty warm and humid these days, the restaurant has fans and a shed for their outdoor space. The thick foliage that forms a canopy above is an added bonus. The decor is minimalistic and exudes a peaceful vibe.

They are known to serve one of Goa’s best coffee, however this being a season not so favourable for coffee during the day, we found ourselves reaching out for some cool summer drinks. They serve an array of cool drinks, fizzers, fresh fruit juices, lassis, milkshakes, iced teas, vegetable juices, iced coffees and smoothies. They even have a health shot for the health conscious ones. We opted for a refreshing Pomegranate Eskimo @ Rs 140. Their thick, mushy Mango Blizz Smoothie @ Rs 140 and Jamun smoothie @ Rs 140 made of seasonal fruits was every bit of perfect!

Their menu is extensive, with a major focus being Mediterranean cuisine. Their breakfast menu is very interesting! Though they are a vegetarian restaurant, they do serve egg. I am definitely going back for breakfast... Their desserts too, equally tempting – I could have all of them. They have authentic Italian gelato, waffles, pancakes, cookies, cakes and a bunch of French dessert from Delicieux – which again, is my favourite place for dessert!

We started with Shakshuka @ Rs 200. It was my first time trying it and how I loved it! Made of eggs poached in a thick onion and tomato sauced spiced with paprika, cumin, garlic and pepper, it is served in a pan and alongside homemade soft bread.

It was followed by their Blue Cheese Salad @ Rs 340. The green lettuce, onion, chopped cucumber added the right amount of crunch, while the blue cheese added the creaminess. It was topped with crunchy bits of walnut, apple and spring onion and drizzled with vinaigrette dressing. Definitely a must try while there. It’s loaded and tasty, yet vegetarian – how cool!

I’m usually someone who prefers non-vegetarian food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, not once during my entire meal did I hope for seafood or meat, because everything I ate was yummy! For example the Bowl of Hummus @ Rs 130 was delicious. Made of fresh boiled chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice and topped with parsley and served with pickled veggies, spicy green chutney and pita bread, it was divine.

Next up was another platter of goodness – the Mazzet Platter @ Rs 220, with extra balls of falafel. It was my first time trying falafel – chickpea balls made by adding some condiments. The platter that comprises of Greek kalamata olives, feta cheese, tahini, olive paste, mixed pickled veggies and pita bread is something you must try while there! Mind it, the portion is quite large and you wouldn’t finish it by yourself, especially if you are eating something else too.

At the end we feasted on some delicious Caprese Salad – a simple Italian salad, made of sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, and seasoned with olive oil. I loved all the food. Everything was so fresh and light on the stomach – perfect for the Goa weather. I loved the presentation and how colourful all of the food was too. The portion sizes are quite large and it’s totally value-for-money!

Getting to the last part – the dessert, which were great at expected too! We started with a strawberry gelato and moved on to a chocolate ball and baked cheesecake. I specifically loved the cheesecake and recommend you try it when there. The cheesecake was loaded with cream cheese and rested on a crumbly crust, making it tempting enough to dig in right then! And trust me, it was divine.

Artjuna Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

I tried authentic Andhra food at this food festival - here's what I think!

I recently happened to attend the Andhra Food Festival underway at The Square at Novotel Goa Shrem Hotel in Candolim. It is an eclectic mix of authentic Andhra style cuisine by Chef Kandregula Naidu from Novotel Vizag and a variety of global cuisine for those who want to balance the spicy Andhra food with more familiar food. The traditional Andhra cuisine comprising of spicy delicacies is served until the 28th of April for dinner. Here’s a glimpse.

The tastefully done interiors, arty walls, ambient lighting and soft background music creates a great ambiance for dinner, to savour some authentic Andhra food. Surprisingly, they have a buffet comprising of a salad counter, live stations serving eggs, Indian cuisine and Oriental cuisine, and a separate dessert counter.

We did have a look at the food and tried a couple of items. Here’s a colourful plate comprising of baked veggie lasgna, grilled fish in lemon caper sauce, herb jus tikka and corn, coconut and onion tempering salad. I quite enjoyed the grilled succulent fish bursting with flavours. The chicken could have been better and the corn salad, though looked great, did not meet my expectations.

Our mocktails arrived meanwhile and we loved how they were presented and how good they tasted. We opted for a virgin pinacolada, a watermelon daiquiri and a virgin mojito. All of the summer favourites were refreshingly good and gave a great start to the meal.

Coming to the Andhra menu, we tried a bunch of starters, to begin with. Though a lot of it seemed interesting, the names were very hard to pronounce for us. We started with the Karivepaku Chepa Vepadu – Andhra style fish coated in a batter of gram flour, tossed with tomato, onion and chilly. It was fiery pungent, but somehow, lacked flavour. The fish in itself, however was fresh and succulent.

Next up was the Godavari Royyala Vepudu – an Andhra style tiger prawn dish. I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between the two, but the spicy prawns were juicy and well cooked. The Miriyala Mamsam Vepudu – mutton pepper fry was spicy, yet delicious. It’s somewhat similar to the Mangalorean pepper fry which I loved while in Mangalore.

Moving on to the mains, we tried a spicy chicken and prawn curry with fragrant tomato rice. Being a rice lover, I thoroughly enjoyed my mains. The gravies are strikingly similar and for someone who was isn’t used to having Andhra food very often, quite a task to distinguish between flavours. Just to mention, they serve a range of biryanis too!

They have two Andhra desserts on the menu which one can try. However, we sticked to the dessert on the counter because the mud cake and other dessert looked so inviting. I loved the macarons they had! Overall, it was a good experience trying a different cuisine prepared by a chef right here in Goa! Do try their mocktails, they are soooo good!

Text by: Flexcia D'souza

The Square - Novotel Goa Shrem Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Friday, April 20, 2018

Here’s what to expect from this all new gastropub in Panjim | Embers Goa

A global inspired Goan dining experience is how I’d define my visit to this new gastro pub in town. Embers, located in Tonca, seems like a no-frills-attached place from the outside, but it converts into a hip party spot for the night, with some of the coolest DJs and live gigs. They even have a ladies night on Wednesdays and a great party going on Fridays. Within just a couple of months of opening doors, they have created the buzz for all the right reasons. While their parties seem interesting, their food is equally enticing. That’s how I found my way to Embers on a warm summer afternoon. The interiors are dark, but trendy and the colour play attracts.

What stands out as you enter is the wooden interiors and the Kopak bar that churns out some unique cocktails. They do have a couple of interesting cocktails, some of them are fresh-fruit based ones! We specifically liked the Watermelon Cosmo @ Rs 350 and Frozen Mango Margarita @ Rs 450. I’m sure both of these will be every girls favourite – one, for its fruity flavour, two – because they’re extremely cute and colourful! The Watermelon Cosmo – a perfect blend of watermelon, orange liqueur, cranberry and vodka – is very refreshing and perfect for the summers. The mushy Mango Margarita with mango pulp is every mango lover’s delight! Their bar also serves some great craft beer. Oh, just to mention, they serve Simba and The White Owl too, yayyh!

Embers – a pub, lounge or bistro, whatever you may like to call it, is also open for lunch from 12.30 pm to 3.30 pm and serves a varied non-vegetarian menu. Well, the vegetarian food is limited, but the meaty treats are something you must look forward to. Having said that, the vegetarians can enjoy their veg cutlets, stuffed mushrooms or watermelon salad. If you prefer seafood, you could settle in for crab or fish cakes, golden shrimps or mussels caldeen for light nibbles. They even serve chicken cafreal and chicken liver – some of the local favourites.

I love how their menu is globally inspired and locally enhanced by ingredients that are sourced locally. We started with the Masala Squids Stuffed With Prawns @ Rs 400. It’s exactly what the name says – squids stuffed with prawns and cooked in true home style recheado masala – the right amount of spicy. The Clam chilly Fry With Garlic Bread Toast @ Rs 350 is every bit of perfection. The clams sautéed into a truly Goan chilly fry and served with some delicious toasted garlic bread. The portion sizes are not so large, and could serve two people.

For the mains, you could choose from basic comfort food like sausage pulao or Goan prawn curry, or opt for a steak if you prefer. Some of their mains have an infusion of wine or whisky and great for those looking for some adventurous options. We decided to try their Fillet Mignon in Red Wine Reduction @ Rs 600 – a beef steak served medium rare with red wine sauce, and a side of sautéed veggies. The meat is succulent and full of flavour. I couldn’t get enough of the baby potato too. The Bar B Que Pork Spare Ribs @ Rs 500 served with their home made BBQ sauce are too good to resist.

While you don’t expect good dessert at a gastro pub, we were definitely in for a surprise. They had a very local dessert menu which even had serradura, bebinca and caramel pudding! I ended my meal with their house made Caramel Pudding @ Rs 200 which was delightful! The place has a chilled out vibe to it and perfect for a night out with friends or even a work day meal. They have introduced a special menu for working people! The staff is warm and friendly and makes sure you have a great experience while at Embers. Definitely a place to visit in Panaji.

Text: Flexcia D'souza
Embers Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Gourmet desserts at this French patisserie in Ashwem

You know the joy of finding a quaint little cafe tucked away in a distant place? Well, my find - Delicieux Goa - in Ashwem was one of those! On the way to Arambol beach, my sudden sweet cravings pulled me towards this patisserie that serves some incredible French dessert. Though I wished to grab a macaron, I ended up having a chocolate overdose with a Ferrero Rocher Praline,Vanilla Choux and Chocolate Eclair - all of which were yummy! What a perfect day! The cafe in itself is beautiful - with a little outdoor sitting space as well and a cool interior. The service is great and the food is value for money! They seem to have a nice breakfast menu too, which I am yet to try. Let me know what you think of it in the comments below.

Delicieux Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Chic and comfortable summer dressing ft. handwoven Khadi Matka ensembles by Praan:t

Recently I got the oppurtunity to wear a wonderful Pune-based designer who showcased her summer collection in Goa – Monika Chordia. Her label Praan:t, is all about customising the perfect silhouettes – may it be for the one looking for an outfit for a day out, classy office wear or chic summer ensemble. She uses age-old weaves and Indian handicrafts to create an exquisite collection of chic, elegant and in-vogue Indian and Indo-western clothing.

I wore two relatively different outfits from her latest collection that narrates a beautiful tale of modern day India through two of our country’s most remarkable, yet forgotten weaves. From the by-lanes of Bhuj and the heart of West Bengal come the purest of Indian fabrics – Kala Cotton and Khadi Matka. The collection uses the former in subtle, muted, earthen tones to create stylish day-wear; and striking, bright hues for the evening-wear made in Khadi Matka.

The range is an elegant ensemble of pure Indian fabrics, western Influences, trendy cuts and the most intricate embroideries garnered with innovative detailing and stitching techniques. Both my outfits are made of handwoven Khadi Matka – a very light and breathable fabric. I picked these because they came in bright hues as opposed to the earthy tones of the Kala Cotton. The comfort level is unbelievable, without compromising on the structure.

Say for example, the pleats on the naturally dyed maroon ensemble – how neat do they look? This outfit is perfect for someone looking for some drama and structured detailing. It fits perfectly and accentuates my body just right. It could be accessorised by adding a chunky clutch, hoops and heels for a different look.

My second outfit is this natural dyed green cropped shrug on this elegant flowy black maxi dress. I love how the horizontal embroidery detailing on the shrug makes my body look proportionate. It can be effortlessly dressed down for the evening with some sneakers or comfy booties, or dressed up for the night by adding some heels or blingy jewelry. While we always focus on trends, these outfits are a refreshingly classy take on fashion!

Modelled by: Flexcia D’souza (Facebook | Instagram |Twitter)
Outfits: Summer 2018 collection of Praan:t (Facebook | Instagram)
Photography by: Viresh Chari (Facebook | Instagram)
Shoot location: Panaji, Goa