The Sunday Guardian


This travelogue unfolds a tale of impeccable hospitalit­y, unique experience­s, and a culinary odyssey that showcases Goa’s diverse and rich gastronomi­c scene.


With its new airport, North Goa has soared to prominence as a prime vacation destinatio­n. The seamless connectivi­ty has drawn travellers seeking sun-soaked shores and vibrant culture. The burgeoning restaurant scene caters to every palate, offering a delectable fusion of global and local flavours. Luxurious hotels provide a pampering haven, accentuati­ng the allure of this coastal gem. Goa’s transforma­tion into a multifacet­ed haven ensures a memorable escape for discerning vacationer­s, making it a top contender in the travel circuit.


As the sun dipped below the horizon, painting the sky in shades of crimson and gold, I embark on a journey that promises not only adventure but a taste of something truly extraordin­ary. Akasa Air, a beacon of innovation in India’s aviation industry, beckons me with its vibrant livery and an enticing promise: “It’s your sky.” The Goxdel Akasa Air Flight is a revelation. The delight points are aplenty. The airline’s attention to detail is evident from the moment I check in. The check-in staff is not only efficient but also genuinely friendly. I am the first passenger to check in as soon as the counters open, setting the tone for what is going to be a seamless journey. Boarding is a breeze, and as I enter the aircraft, I can’t help but admire the magnificen­t livery and logo. The vibrant orange and purple hues stand out, reflecting the airline’s dynamic spirit. The tagline, feels like an invitation to a unique airborne experience. Inside the cabin, I am greeted by an intriguing sight – the cabin crew in their uniforms, paired with sneakers. It is a refreshing departure from the convention­al attire, and it exudes a sense of confidence and modernity. Their profession­alism and the ease with which they interact with passengers speaks volumes about their training and dedication. The seats extremely roomy and since I am travelling on Ganesh Chaturthi, I have booked a special meal. As the wheels of the Akasa Air flight touch down on the vibrant soil of Goa, I know I am about to embark on a journey beyond the ordinary. From the moment I step into the new Goa Airport, I can feel the anticipati­on building. The developmen­ts in the Indian aviation industry, especially with the inception of Akasa in August 2022, are nothing short of groundbrea­king.


Upon arriving at the Planet Hollywood Beach Resort in South Goa ( love the peace), I am met with a sight to behold. The sprawling 10-acre property nestled along the pristine shores of Utorda exudes a vibrant and chic atmosphere. Renowned interior designer Gauri Khan’s touch is evident in every corner, with captivatin­g artwork adorning the walls. The lowrise architectu­ral aesthetic allows for breath-taking views of the lush greenery that envelops the resort. What truly sets Planet Hollywood apart is its unique concept of dedicating each block of rooms to a distinct genre of Hollywood. The impeccable design, lavish amenities, and top-notch service bestows upon me a sense of celebrity status. From the opulent rooms to the delectable dining choices and the invigorati­ng spa, every facet of my stay is nothing short of extraordin­ary. The staff ’s warmth and graciousne­ss add a special warmth to my entire experience. Their meticulous attention to every detail and unwavering commitment to my comfort is truly praisewort­hy. This beach resort transcends mere accommodat­ion; it’s an immersion in a whole new level of luxury and hospitalit­y.


As I venture into the culinary landscape of Goa, I am met with a plethora of options that promise to tantalize my taste buds. My first stop is the close by Cavatina by Avinash Martins, a charming 40-seat restaurant in Benaulim’s fisherman village, I am embraced by lush green fields. The cosy ambience exudes a warm invitation, a tribute to Goa and its cuisine with a global twist. Every dish, is a masterpiec­e, showcasing local traditions and flavours, using seasonal, artisanal produce. The Betul crab bisque is a symphony of flavours, while the Prawns who drank the feni demonstrat­e culinary artistry. The Red Amaranthus and cashew butter filo celebrates vegetarian creativity. The Banana wrapped sea bass with recahado Verde is a divine revelation. The pumpkin cashew hash and curry cauda added a spicy, earthy dimension, culminatin­g in an extraordin­ary culinary journey. ‘Heliconia at JW Marriott’ is a symphony of Peruvian and Japanese traditions, presenting Nikkei Cuisine in a global context. The blend of refined Japanese techniques with the fiery tapestry of Peru’s flavours is nothing short of a culinary masterpiec­e. Chef Arturo Castro Salazar’s expertise shines through in every dish, from Ceviche to Nigiri, creating a journey of taste that leaves a lasting impression. Miss Margarita by Arriba transports me to the vibrant streets of Mexico, right in the heart of Vagator. The lively outpost is a visual feast, with its kaleidosco­pe of colours and intricate architectu­ral details. Chef Noah Louis Barnes masterfull­y blends traditiona­l Mexican flavours with local ingredient­s, creating an authentic fiesta for the senses. Bawri seamlessly integrates the vivacity of local markets with coastal sophistica­tion. The open-flame Indian kitchen and serene waterbody created a unique dining experience that balances culinary excitement with tranquilli­ty. Chef Amninder Sandhu’s mastery of ancient Indian culinary art with modern innovation is apparent in every dish, inviting diners on a timeless gastronomi­c journey. Hosa is an exquisite restaurant that seamlessly blends imaginativ­e touches with South Indian flavours. From Mutton Pepper Roast to Wild Mushroom Varuval, each dish tells a saga of South Indian culture. Varun Sharma’s cocktails, infused with a local twist, added a delightful dimension to the dining experience.


Rico on the Beach, nestled along the sun-kissed shores of Ozaran beach, is a sanctuary where Asian flavours dance with the mesmerizin­g sunset vista. The restaurant’s divine cuisine, combined with the breath-taking panoramas and gracious hospitalit­y, creates an experience that transcends the ordinary. São by the Shore, meaning ‘healthy and sane’ in Portuguese, lived up to its name. The space exuded tranquilli­ty, with soothing tones and swaying palm fronds. Chef Rueben’s fusion of Goaneurope­an inspired cuisine offers enticing flavours against the backdrop of sweeping vistas. Poseidon’s Cove, within the illustriou­s Planet Hollywood Beach Resort, artfully marries the opulence of seafood with Indian and Asian gastronomy. The establishm­ent’s superlativ­e menu is matched only by the gracious staff, creating an indelible dining affair.

As I reflect on my journey, from the from the skies of Akasa Air to the shores of Planet Hollywood and the culinary odyssey through Goa, I am left marvelling at how far India’s aviation and hospitalit­y industries had come. Each dining experience was a symphony of flavours, a testament to the creativity and artistry of Goa’s culinary scene. It’s safe to say that Goa has earned its title as a true culinary paradise and I can’t wait to return for another chapter in this gastronomi­c adventure.

(Awarded the “Best food writer in the country” by the Indian culinary forum, WACS and the ministry of Tourism, Rupali Dean writes on food and travel.)

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