What is this Goa fix, you may ask? It is a 3 days short break taken by us when we fly off to our favourite holiday destination. Step 1, we check into our assigned business hotel in the middle of Panjim that gives us a good functional room, sans top end service & a very good buffet breakfast. Step 2, hire a two wheeler and fish out a map (the new mobiles with the GPS have made the job even simpler) close our eyes, put a finger and whichever destination the finger shows & then take off for there. As a rule from Mumbai we fly to Goa because one arrives quicker and fresh. The business hotel is chosen both for its convenient location and a super deal (why spend more on a room which one shall use only for sleeping after a day out) and the money that gets saved thus, is spent (all of it ) on the food experience, which we love.
Goan Food is not just a cuisine, it is an experience. Commonly called Gomantaki cuisine it shares some core principles with the food of coastal Karnataka which extends on to its south border but Goa also has a confluence of the Portuguese style too. Now those guys parked themselves here for more than four and a half centuries till as recently as 1961. Hence they have indelibly left their mark on both the way of life and its food.
Now with these aggressive intruders stepping on to local toes, authentic and good Goan food has actually become quite rare. Hence when we find it, we believe it is our bounden duty to share this knowledge with the world at large that here is one more place that a true connoisseur of the morsel must make an appearance. Many monsoons ago in Panjim we landed upon a gem of a place called the “Mums Kitchen”. The place still exists with many additions to the menu and we always go there. ( Covered in a previous blog post). But this trip was the discovery of two new places
We rode on our two wheeler from Panjim to Saligao, which is about a half an hour drive across the Mandovi ,passing through Porvorim and then hitting the Calangute road. We passed a few villages in the Bardez district till we saw the magnificent Saligao Church. It stood lit up in the night, in an open field, in preparation for a feast a few days on. Beyond the church, on the main road, in front of a quaint little bungalow, was the glassy two storey facade of “Foxes Fiesta”. We parked in the open courtyard & could immediately see that this was a work in progress, yet a labour of love.
A bare unpretentious dining room with wide open windows that allowed the wind to move about prevented the room from becoming stifling. It was summer in Goa and the room was not air-conditioned. Paper lanterns lit the room and on the whitewashed walls hung paintings reminiscent of the art of the Goan artist Mario. These were by Briston’s brother, who stayed in the bungalow behind the restaurant and offered them for sale. Briston waved us to a table as he circulated through the various guests who were busy chatting and eating. The service boy recommended a Cashew Fenny Mojito. This cocktail was something never tried earlier & we gave it a shot. We called for two starters, one a crumbed fish and the other sliced beef . The fish (Kingfish) came with tartar sauce was so yummy that we forgot the drive and settled in. The bare minimum decor compellingly draws your attention to the food. It can be a very risky strategy if the food is ordinary which this was not. It was delicious. The Fenny Mojito could have been chilled more but was totally refreshing with just the tarty bite that invigorates and cleans your palate. Unwittingly we had landed on the correct drink for the fish and the beef. The beef cut was so beautifully done that biting into it was pure pleasure. The Fenny raised the temperature and we shifted tables to another directly under a ceiling fan. A few more fans would help especially in sultry weather. It won’t take away from the rustic bare appeal of the place that air-conditioning does.
We were shown around the place. Briston and Savio have definite plans for the future and the place provides for expanded action. They like prudent businessmen are taking it a step at a time which is wise. The cuisine is simple Goan & Continental fare with a line of starters, mains and deserts plus a line of baked products for starters and mains. Their quiches and pies have had rave reviews, only if our stomachs had permitted. What shall stay with us is a simple unassuming place that had great people at its helm. Good Food and Superb Hospitality.
Definitely worth a visit because the Chef is very talented & creative while the hospitality is genuine.
Cafe Bhonsle will certainly have us there again the next time. It has superb food and is an outstanding value for money. We recommend it in spades.