The bloggers meet at Grand Mercure Goa had everything – great food, a little adventure and loads of madness

23 Jul La Brise, Goa, drink, beach

La Brise, Goa, drink, beach As strange as it may sound – I had to work on my relationship with Goa. The city failed to impress me the very first time I visited it 2000. I didn’t feel drawn to the beaches or awed by the orange sunsets over the Arabian sea.The lush green paddy fields faded in comparison to the ones in my native town Mangalore and the colourful temples were not as vibrant as the ones down south. I couldn’t spot the local joints for fresh seafood and the ones at upmarket restaurants didn’t tantalise my taste buds.

I wondered what the fuss was all about. Goa didn’t touch me the way it touched my friends. But I was determined to find the ‘cool’ side of Goa. Fortunately work kept taking to Goa and slowly and steadily I discovered why the happy go lucky hippies, the soul searching yogis and free thinking artists love this city and descend on it every after year. I felt the trance music of Anjuna, chomped on chorizo-pao, got drenched under Dudhsagar falls, gambled (without luck) at the floating casinos and queued up like a pro outside Mambo’s and Tito’s.

Every visit revealed a different aspect of Goa. I learnt to travel without a destination. Just zooming past sleepy villages and beaches in our rickety rented bikes. Stopping where we wanted to and eating where the locals ate.

Though there is never a bad time to visit Goa I still had to see Goa in the rains. Thankfully I could tick that off too with my recent visit for the bloggers meet.

Here’s are some of the best experiences from my latest visit to Goa

My stay at the Grand Mercure Goa Shrem
There’s something about this North Goa hotel which stays with you long after you have left. Maybe it’s the omnipresent service, the fabulous food by Chef Ganapati, the soothing spa where tensions are pummelled away and meridians realigned or just the free ice lolly treats by the pool.

pool, Grand Mercure Goa Shrem, Resort, Goa

Vitality pool at Grand Mercure Goa Shrem Resort

Nature and art coexist at Grand Mercure. Antique pieces sourced from old Portuguese homes, high pitched roofs, wide verandahs and brass lanterns add a touch of old school glamour while the constant, mesmerising soundtrack of birdsong puts you in a relaxed state of mind. The best thing to do here is float aimlessly in the infinity pool overlooking the green meadows or have your body primed, polished and pampered at the Warren Tricomi spa which resembles a rain forest.

Spa, goa

Warren Tricomi Spa

The treatment rooms come with an outdoor rain shower. There are cabanas by the poolside for those who wish to indulge in an outdoor spa experience. These come with mesmerizing views of the paddy fields and the hills around.

Since I dislike the joint cracking, muscle pounding massages I opted for the gentle and relaxing Balinese massage which is great way to melt knotty back muscles and relax tense shoulders. At the end of the 60 minute massage I felt like I’d been asleep for a month.

The Food Trail

Food was another highlight of my stay at Grand Mercure. The macaroons at the coffee shop Chy are to die for. Tea connoisseur will be impressed with the collection of teas from first flush to orange pekoe and Darjeeling tea. The vindaloo puffs and waffle sandwiches make perfect accompaniments. Kokum and lemon ice tea are served in cute jars. A blackboard menu announces the chef’s special.

Goa, Chy, tea, cafe

Chy at Grand Mercure Shrem

salad counter, food, goa

Salad counter at Festa

My personal favourite is Festa the restaurant under a huge banyan tree. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy Ganapati’s Prawn peri peri and hand tossed thin crust pizza. Festa also does a very satisfying Saraswat thali complete with clams, crabs, prompret and sol kadhi. Junho the bar does some innovative cocktails and has an impressive floor to ceiling wine wall.

Sunday brunch at La Brise
I spent a fabulous Sunday on the deck at La Brise soaking in the brilliant weather, gorgeous views of the sea, some great food and live music. This homey, casual restaurant by the beach at Candolim has the best Cajun calamari, fish tikka, lamb chops and waffles.

La Brise

La Brise

food, lamb, goa, La Brise, beach

When we went boating
Cruising along Chapora river in a trimaran was the most enchanting part of my stay in Goa. Though we did not spot any crocodiles or dolphins the sights of fishermen mending nests, birds taking flight and the gorgeous scenery was all worth it. At one point we even got down the trimaran and swam across to a small island! That was a first for me.

photo 3

With blogger friend Manjulika of www.manjulikapramod.com

With blogger friend Manjulika Pramod 

With blogger and travel ninja Siddhartha Joshi

With blogger and travel ninja Siddhartha Joshi

This trip to Goa truly connected me with the rhythm of Goa – freedom, adventure and a little madness.

Forget eating out or ordering in – Have you tried these new restaurants in cloud?

21 Jul Soba Noodle Bowl from Out Of The Box

The food scene in India continues to evolve as new trends and ideas emerge. Buzz words like convenience, food ordering app and takeaway are changing the culinary landscape of India and giving rise to restaurants in cloud where innovation reigns and world cuisine is just a take-out call away. Here are three such new concepts spurred to growth by a new generation of customers weaned on social media and increasingly interested in global flavours.

food, noodles, soba, home

Soba Noodle Bowl from Out Of The Box

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Review – Eat Thai Bandra

15 Jul Thai food, Thailand, green curry, Bandra,

I have a soft spot for Thai food. It’s fresh and spicy. The flavours are clean, vibrant and clearly defined. It’s tastes fantastic whether you are eating it at a hi end restaurant or with friends on cheap plastic tables and chairs in Bangkok. I think it’s the chili they use. Did you know that chilies hold certain chemicals which release endorphins when they come in contact with the receptors in the tongue? So it’s not only tasty and spicy but also gives you endorphin’s… what more could you ask for?

Thai, food, Eat Thai, Bandra I recently revisited my love for Thai at Eat Thai the newest Thai restaurant in Bandra. This relatively small place is handsome but predictable with distressed industrial interiors, exposed bricks, Edison bulbs and – you guessed it — Mason jars, the visual cliches of contemporary dining and Pinterest. A New York inspired bulb sign screams L.O.V.E

Eat Thai, Thailand, Thai food, Bandra

Let’s Talk Food: If the interiors are clichéd, the food packs a punch. No two plates appear the same. Thai curries come in cute casseroles with coconut spoons and the drinks sit pretty in glass jars. We kick start the evening with chicken wings marinated in honey sriracha sauce. The bird floats perfectly between sweet and spicy.

Thailand, Thai food, green curry, vegetables, smooth

Thai green curry at Eat Thai

New Zealand lamb shanks get a Thai treatment and they come dressed in matsamman sauce. Chef Sam​ deserves a pat on the back for his light approach to the salads.

Som Tam, salad, fresh, Thai food, restaurant, Bandra, Mumbai, Thailand

Som Tam salad

The dressing in Som Tam is so light, it merely clings to the papaya rather than smother its flavour. The Thai burgers won us over with its sriracha-flavoured mayonnaise.

What I loved

At Eat Thai you could choose your veggies and proteins to be cooked in the sauce of your choice – chilly basil, lemon chilly, steamed ginger and a tangy pineapple sauce.

Low res Geang phed kaiTry the curries. If there’s a tastier, smoother and elegant green curry with chicken and eggplant to be found, it has managed to miss my spoon.

The pannacotta is likely to find you scraping the bottom of the plate.

What I didn’t
The chocolate cake was an unmitigated disaster – steaming yet dry as a bone.

Thai iced teaThe Thai Coffee with condensed milk was insipid.

HOW TO GET THERE:  Gasper Enclave, Pali Hill. Junction Of St John’s & Pali Road. Bandra West. Opposite Gold Gym. Tel: 022 26459775.

COST: Rs 1500-2000 for two

NIVEDITA JAYARAM PAWAR

Review of Romano, JW Marriott, Sahar

7 Jul Creamy buffalo burrata cheese, tomato, sweet basil pesto

Your eyes don’t know where to focus at Romano, the Italian restaurant at the newly launched JW Marriott, Sahar. The dining room walls are moody in grey and black; illuminated with jewel-like chandeliers and high ceiling. A wooden staircase leading to the bar upstairs adds warmth to the otherwise rustic setting. Romano feels personal despite its size and ambition.

Private Dining area

If you want to start the evening off with a cocktail ask for a Romajito which is an interesting twist on the Mojito. Whiskeys are smoked and stored in cute little casks. Romano cultivates its own greens.

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Girl Power – Taapsee Pannu

3 Jul

Brainy, sexy, feisty and a software engineer, the Baby actress loves mathematics and has even designed ‘Fontswap’ , an iPhone app that’s been downloaded 8 million times! Meet Taapsee Pannu…

_MG_0821aA Sikh girl who is also a software engineer ends up acting in South Indian films…too many contradictions

Well acting in south Indian films happened by chance and I am loving it. As for the software engineer bit being a no brainers is not a prerequisite for being an actor.

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Oakroom restaurant review

29 Jun
Alfresco seating at Oakroom

Alfresco seating at Oakroom

It’s always tempting to retreat when it rains. But the notion of a hearty, warm dinner and a rich glass of red with the rain setting the background score is enough to lure me out from under the duvet. Let’s face it: One of the best reasons to live in Mumbai is the rains. So despite the gloomy weather and pounding rain I reach Oakroom.

The restaurant is nestled in a quiet lane in Juhu inside a hotel with serviced apartments. The only thing better than getting a table inside this minimally done up restaurant, is getting one outside. I snag a plum spot just beside the long glass doors which is perfect to take in the rains. The vibe is laid-back and service is invariably warm and sunny, even if the weather isn’t.

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Striking the right chords – Bollywood singers who up the fashion ante

11 Jun
Kanika Kapoor

Kanika Kapoor

Nothing is hotter than a woman who can rock a mic. Meet a new crop of fantastic female singers who embody a combination of raw charisma and talent that is impossible to ignore or deny. These songstresses have got the tunes, the personality and definitely the looks which have earned them a following and a rightful place in music history. Here’s a dekho at three such artistes…

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