Thursday, February 10, 2011

Eating my way through Goa

I have been visiting Goa ever since I was a child. When I think of Goa I see old white-washed churches, beaches that go on forever, restaurants that have unique fusions of food, the crazy trance scene, the hippies, tie and dye shirts, Tito’s, Fenny… I could go on free associating with Goa as I have had so many different experiences there. This visit to Goa was all about food. I literally ate my way through it in the 2 days I was there. Below are the restaurants I visited and highly recommend:

Amigo’s – located below the Nerul bridge near Candolim. It is a small place specializing in Goan food. The menu changes everyday as it depends on what fresh fish is available; so you know the food is going to be great. Call ahead if you want something special. I highly recommend the fish curry rice and crab with garlic butter sauce.

Thalassa Greek Taverna located above Vagator Beach – it is a spot from where the sunset looks absolutely gorgeous – reserve a table and get there before the sun sets (duh!) – the views are breathtaking.   

Lila CafĂ© is located in Baga; we went there each morning to get our fill of the amazing coffee, breads and pate’s. One can spend an entire morning being lazy - reading, relaxing and eating the fantastic food.

Savoi Plantation: I could write pages about this place. It is located about 25 km from Panjim (center of Goa). On the day you decide to go (for lunch preferably) make sure you do not eat – you will need your appetite to enjoy this gastronomical delight. The first course consisted of mussels, lobster, tiger prawns and crabs. We then took a break and walked around the plantation’s lush greenery to return to a 15 dish main course. Eating on banana leaves in a tree house only added to this truly unique experience. The food was phenomenal as was the kokum juice that we washed it down with. This is an experience you do not want to miss.
Some places that have a fusion theme to it are J&A’s, I 95, Poisson Rouge & Fiesta. Go to these spots if you are yearning for some Italian or French with a Goan flare to it. Below are a few pictures that I took along the way. 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Hampi and Badami

By day 2 we were getting used to being tourists in India and were wowed by every aspect of what we saw. Our cameras working over time; we did not want to miss a single shot. We spent the entire second day in Hampi - the capital of the Vijayanagra Empire built between 1336 – 1565 and on the third day we visited the Badami caves that date back to 600 AD; they made of almond colored sandstone and get their name from the stone; almond in Hindi is Badam. The city and the caves were spectacular – I could imagine a civilization flourishing in these surroundings by the banks of the Tungabhadra river. 
As we were exploring Hampi I could not help but compare it to Machu Pichu. We had visited Peru earlier in the year. Both were built around the same time – one was a learning and religious center way up in the mountains and the other was a sprawling capital of an empire that had temples and monuments at every turn. Machu Pichu is made from stone and is a glorious salute to Incan architecture and engineering. While Hampi has beautiful carvings adorning every aspect rich with art and culture. Sadly,  I also noticed was how the Indian government had maintained Hampi; plastic bottles everywhere, graffiti on the walls tarnishing history that goes back thousands of years. In comparison, The Peruvian government has taken the maintenance of Machu Pichu very seriously; restricting the number of tourists that can visit and not allowing visitors to carry anything that would tarnish the the premises. Both are UNESCO World Heritage sites that I was fortunate to visit in the same year. Below are some pictures.