Thursday, July 20, 2017

Waffles, coffee and more... This new cafe you must check out | Cafe de Saligao

Hey guys, sorry for going MIA. I haven't really posted anything in a while, though there is so much to be posted. I have a bunch of posts I need to sit and write, though I have pictures and the experience. If you've read my blog before, you know I am someone who documents experiences. And I have been going around doing just that. You can find me on Instagram for all the action!

Another latest find is this little cafe tucked into a busy area in Saligao - Cafe de Saligao. Right in the middle of nowhere. I didn't know it existed until a friend who stays bang opposite, in a random conversation, mentioned we should meet up and I can come for coffee to this place. And I did the next obvious thing I do, tapped my phone keys and found them on Instagram. I loved how the place looked. And about a month later, I did pay a visit just to check out what it's like.

The cafe is beautiful. Though it's on a busy road - that connect Calangute to Panaji, it has its own quaint vibe to it. It's air-conditioned, so you're cut off from the noise outdoors, but you can see the world go by through these giant glass doors. The walls are clad in beautifully done artworks and the furniture is everything you've ever wished for in a cafe - wooden. Absolutely loved it. Also, at the time I went in, it wasn't crowded at all. So I really had a great time. Even otherwise, they can accommodate quite a few people, so I don't think it's going to be crowded at all. It's even apt for a work meeting or just working at a cafe, if you feel like it. Just make sure you get a nice cornet seat and get tapping on your laptop keys.

The bakery counter is usually laid with regular bakery items - savouries and desserts. Though I couldn't try any of their pastries, I ended up getting a waffle. They have quite a few topping varieties - caramel, chocolate, honey. I went in for a chocolate waffle and was pretty happy with what I received. A neatly laid (large) waffle, drizzled in chocolate sauce. The waffle was crunchy and the right amount of sweet. The coffee - cappuccino, I was told by my friend, was brilliant too. I had an iced tea, which was flavoursome, but not very sweet, just how I like it.
The place is spacious, food is good and service is pretty good as well. So next time you're around, drop by to grab a bite at this beautiful little cafe!

Monday, July 3, 2017

New cafe update: Cafe Morango, Fontainhas - They serve all day English breakfast

So many cafes opening in Panjim, and I'm loving it! For someone who loves walking the bylanes of Fontainhas, finding a quaint cafe tucked away in a corner of Rua 31 de Janeiro is a pleasant sight. Located inside a plush Portuguese colonial maroon bungalow, Cafe Morango is everything you need on a lazy day. Just grab a book and read, or chill with friends at this beautiful place. They're open all through the day with a lunch break from 2.30pm to 4pm.

The beautiful street where Cafe Morango is located inside this pretty maroon bunglow

The eclectic interiors with a colonial touch makes this little cafe all the more wonderful. A lone vintage clock hanging there, a pretty window, pretty lights and a bakery counter stocked with Portuguese-Goan snacks and biscuits. There's a little seating area which can accommodate some twenty odd people at a time. But, since most of the people ask for takeaways, you'll have the space for yourself most of the times.

Delicious beef croquettes 

Scrumptious English breakfast platter which is served all day. And it's for just Rs 150/-  

Their menu includes everything from sandwiches to Goan delicacies like sausage bread and cafreal bread. The bakery is stocked with light bites like beef croquettes, beef chops, sausage pie and so on. You can sip on your coffee, or ask for hot chocolate or iced tea as per your preference. Everything is so reasonably priced. An English breakfast platter complete with chicken sausages, eggs, bread, mashed potato and tomato is priced at Rs 150/-. How cool is that right? When are you heading to Cafe Morango? Do let me know in the comments below if you visit it and like it!

Related post: Joseph Bar, Fontainhas

Monday, June 26, 2017

Another hidden gem in Fontainhas || Joseph Bar

In this post, I am going to spill another secret from the beautiful Latin quarters of Fontainhas in the capital city of Goa. And this time it isn't a cafe or bakery. It's a recently revamped bar (read: tavern) right in the heart of Panaji city. Located amidst beautiful bungalows, this rustic little spot is so popular among backpackers, you can miss meeting a bunch of cool travellers at Joseph Bar.

The place is tiny - trust me, it really is small. The little bar counter features a variety of bottles laid out. You can park yourself at one of the three stools placed right there, or sit at the table which has only two chairs. That's all the indoor seating they have. However, the outdoor is very much happening. Though they don't have an organised seating, you can join people sitting on the street as you sip on your drink. The interiors are rustic, with incandescent lighting that takes you back in time. Joseph Bar is the closest you can come to a truly Goan experience!

Stopping by at this place surely gives you a feeling of walking back in time. I am sure the place was frequented by locals stopping by to gulp down a peg before they went home. Now, though the place is frequented by travellers and urban crowd, the essence of the place still prevails. Probably, it's the place, or the manager of the place Gundu. Gundu is such a popular figure, he even has a Facebook page. What distinguishes him is his antiques. He can talk on and on and entertain you throughout. He speaks fluent English and Konkani and will assist you in everything and give you some free advice as well.

They don't really serve a lot of food, but they have a few snacks every day. However, they are available only until stock lasts. They snacks usually include beef samosas, dangar (prawn cutlet), rissois and chicken lollypops all made locally. If you're lucky, you may also be able to pick from their specail menu which includes Goan delicacies like Goan sausage bread and beef roast bread, sorpotrel bread and garlic bread. 

Though limited, the food is delicious and everything is reasonably priced. You can ask for local port wine all throughout the year or urrack during the summers. They still have some stock of urrack left though. Gundu will love to make you a drink by pouring a large shot of urrack in a glass, add a pinch of salt and squeeze a little lemon to make the perfect Goan cocktail. Though the place opens in the evening, it's happening post 7pm once crowd starts walking in. But if you are hoping to find a seat, go in by 7pm.

Joseph Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Dining at this pub that's still in colonial hangover || Taverna, Panaji

We don't really have places that come anywhere close to the original tavern experience, I was introduced to Joseph Bar recently and was pretty awestruck by it. And when I walked into Taverna the other day for an early dinner, I was absolutely amazed by the interiors and ambiance. Trust me when I say I have a thing for colonial places. Though on the outside, the place seems pretty okay, it's more like a walk into a Portuguese era bar right in the heart of Panjim city, with ample parking space, which is a rarity in Panjim.

For someone who is constantly struggling to find a cool place to hang out with a bunch of friends after work, or a casual meeting, this is an ideal location. Also, it's perfect for someone who don't seem to find parking inside the city. Saying this having known a friend who never seems to find a parking spot until he takes ten rounds around Fidalgo. So he ends up leaving for a meeting an hour earlier, so that he can find a place to park and still make it in time.

About how I landed at this place... My usual favourite is Watsons for drinks and some light bites. If not that, Terminal or Mojos is always an option. But on this particular evening, wanting to try a new place kinda led me to Taverna, and I absolutely love how the place looks and feels. Totally my kind of a place. They have seating on the ground floor and first floor - you cross a wooden staircase to get there. Pretty chairs placed against large windows, cutesy wall hangings and incandescent lights kinda completes the picture.

Their bar menu features a variety of cocktails, mocktails and drinks for someone wanting to just chill over drinks. Though there's nothing really special about the menu, one can pick from the regulars like mojito, cosmopolitan or pinacolada. I went in for something that piqued my interest - Taverna, while my friend opted for the classic - Mojito. Taverna is a feni based cocktail infused with pineapple which you'll only like if you have an affinity towards feni.

The food menu is limited and restricted to a few Goan delicacies and light bites, which includes chicken, pork, beef and seafood. They even serve tongue, pork roast, cafreal and the like. So hardcore Goan good lovers are in for a treat. We nibbled on some bar food - chicken and prawn and didn't quite like it. But the Goan chorico-pav was great! However, I quite liked the seradurra and chocolate brownie! 

Don't go here for the food. Go here to chill with friends! I've heard they have some cool music nights as well. And they're introducing a stand-up comedy open mic as well. just check what's happening for the night before you go!

Related post: Showbar, Candolim

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Monsoon drive to Chorla Ghat || Roadtrip to Chorla Ghat

Lofty mountains - the cliffs almost a foggy white, covered with misty rain clouds welcome you as you drive through the Chorla ghat on Goa-Karnataka border. The route to Belgaum via Goa passes through this mighty 'ghat' - mountain pass and one can't help but be amazed at the lovely views the valley has to offer on every turn.

The western ghats boasts of dense tropical forests and is known to house a number of wild animals and trees. Every time, I cross the western ghats, I go back to my environmental journalism class which I found very boring back then. Wish environment studies meant actually exploring the wild and having a nice time as you study. But alas!

This trip to Chorla was pretty random. I was home on a Saturday night - catching up on sleep. But how long can you sleep right? So somewhere around 4 pm, when I was done sleeping for the day, I decided to venture out. And my friend Aniket suggested we drive to Chorla.

Chorla Ghat is located approximately 35-km away from the capital city of Panaji. It's easily accessible for people from Belgaum and Goa considering it's an intermediate location. One can couple it into a longer road trip or just drive down, like I did. And trust me, the breathtaking views will definitely rejuvenate you! Happy trippin'





Monday, June 19, 2017

Monsoon road trip to Dudhsagar via Mollem & Anmod Ghat (fail) + off-roading to Vajara Falls

So we kind of paid the price for setting on a trip without planning or reading about the place online - we did not reach Dudhsagar. The much anticipated Dudhsagar 'roadtrip' has been in the pineline since long. A bunch of around 25 people (read: bikers) setting out of this epic road trip. 

While some (like me and Rahul) just hoped to get a glimpse of the waterfall in it's full glory (considering it was the third week of June), some were hoping to ride along the off-road trail right up to the end, while some had very high hopes of trekking (or better, riding) up to the peak. 

Though our hopes were pinned on some guys who made us believe that they are well-versed with the topography of the place and know routes which will lead us to Dudhsagar without crossing the security and forest gaurd gates, we realised we were kind of taken for a ride when we were made to stop midway and asked to return from the first forest gate. 

There went whatever little hope we had - crashing down the same mountains we had crossed. And we knew, we had no option but to return! While some pinned their focus on trying to get in (the illegal way), some hoped to trace a better location in the vicinity. We went by the latter plan and headed to Vajra Falls instead. And that was one helluva adventurous trip I am going to tell you about in this post.

Related post: Road trip to Amboli Ghat

Riding with the RX bike group

So I spent a day riding (pillion) with Rahul, on this insane roadtrip I decided to tag along on. I had no idea what this trip would be like. But it was pretty damn awesome! And I am so glad I tagged along. A bunch of guys - from all over the state, came together for this road trip. Though everyone rode with their separate groups - riding through a route that was the shortest from their place to Mollem. 

We met the Sanquelim boys at around 8.30 am and proceeded to Mollem via Valpoi. Mollem was our meeting point. But since we were late, we met the others only at Anmod Ghat - a few kms off Mollem. And continued our journey with them through the winding mountain roads. Some 25 odd Yamaha RX 100 roaring in unison. A bunch of 20-something bike enthusiasts riding together.

The picturesque Anmod Ghat

I had ticked off driving through Anmod Ghat on an earlier road trip to Ramnagar. I was clearly mesmerised by the picturesque valley and cloud formations over the horizon during my visit in the first week of December last year. I remember hopping out of the car and breathing the fresh mountain air as I let the view sink in.

This trip was no different - as the road got slippery (since it was raining), the view only got better. I did say a small prayer when we embarked on this journey - hoping we'd reach back safe, considering we were riding bikes that aren't so travel friendly, especially during rains. However, we did manage to cross the ghat and ride past Castle Rock and Ramnagar in North Karnataka.

Vajara Falls - off road trail + hiking downhill

When we realised our trip to Dudhsagar was a massive fail, we wasted a lot of time wondering what to do. The forest guard at the gate mentioned a waterfall a few kilometres away. We were already in North Karnataka and we just decided to follow in the direction we were told. 

A few minutes ride - through heavy rains along the foggy road, crossing plenty rivulets and bridges, we made our way until the dead end of the road. And that's when the adventure began. The forest got denser and the ride, bumpy. The narrow road lead us into a village - beyond which all we could trace was an off-road trail.

The brave hearts that I had accompanied decided to take it up on themselves to ride through the off-road trail, through the dense forest. Though a few bikes skidded, a few people fell whilst crossing the mucky puddles, almost everyone managed to escape unhurt. A few more kilometres and we reached a slope which eventually led us to Vajara Falls.

At least that's what the board said. With no human activity whatsoever, the pristine river, flowing in it's full glory, water cascading down the rocky terrain to form a little fall. Everyone were so engrossed in taking a dip into the river, no one really bothered walking ahead and exploring a bit more. As we rode back, we stopped by at a little restaurant to have a hot chicken-thali before we parted ways and bid a goodbye to the other riders! 

Some food...

chicken thali at Jolly Goa restaurant, Anmod 

stopping for some roasted sweet corn in Valpoi