The Sunday Guardian
SKY TO SHORE: CULINARY JOURNEY THROUGH GOA
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.
THE AKASA EXPERIENCE: SOARING HIGH IN STYLE
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.
PLANET HOLLYWOOD: WHERE LUXURY MEETS HOLLYWOOD GLAMOUR
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.
THE CULINARY SCENE
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.
GASTRONOMY BY THE BEACH
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.)