Tickled & Pickled by Goa – One always wants the Real Deal

Fourth day in Goa and this would be our last night before we head back to Hyderabad tomorrow. That feeling when a vacation is about to end sucks big time, doesn’t it?

I tried very hard not to think about THAT DAY and this time we wanted to start from the morning itself with a good breakfast. So far, we would walk in the area around our home stay and just eat at any small place. It was an average breakfast anyways. So this time I wanted to check a breakfast place on my list.

I heard about Lila Cafe 4 years ago. A quintessential European Cafe that was known for it’s breakfasts and breads and run by a German. Honestly more than the food, the ambiance looked charming from the photos I saw on the net. And it was just 1.5 kms from where we stayed.

Lila Cafe is right at the Calangute-Arpora-Siolim road. A thatched roof welcomes you as you enter into the compound. The compound itself has many other food places and clubs under one brand known as Tito’s White House. Thankfully there was no loud music nor people at 8.30 am.

The ambiance is as serene as it can get. Just the birds, breeze and silence. The breakfast was good but I want to be honest here.

Sure they promised the best Western Breakfasts and they did deliver well but it was us. We were getting a kick out of eating at very  local places and Lila is anything but that. It is quite an upscale place to enjoy a wonderful continental breakfast but I was craving for Sannas, Puffs and Baos 🙂

We had only one day and we didn’t want to go to another new place so off we went to Ashvem – Morjim again. This time to a different shack.

Actually Shack would be an understatement. We were recommended this beautiful place  1 km ahead in Morjim. It was highly recommended by quite a few friends.

Nestled amidst lush greenery, upscale cottages for accommodation and a boutique, the whole set up was like being in French Riviera except that…. We were in Goa..

I have nothing against that beautiful charming french restaurant.But our mood was to keep our feet up, eat Goan food in a no fuss, no frills way and not sit in chairs and big tables ordering French food. This trip was definitely not about that.

Seeing beautiful people around, dressed in the latest beach fashion, well maybe some other day but not today. As I gingerly opened the menu and saw awesome French Food and nothing local and then saw the sea ahead that was partially covered by lush foliage we knew what we wanted to do.

I spoke to the charming French owner cum hostess that we will come back and exited. It’s always nice to be nice than be brutal and I mean not just here but also in life. It was no fault of anyone, we wanted to chill in a simple shack that’s it.

So what did we do? We went back to the same hidden jewel we discovered the first day at Ashvem. The moment we started walking up towards that shack, we felt so much at home. This was us.

Silence, wholesome food, feet up, no fuss no frills, sea miles and miles ahead, few like minded souls and peace.. This time we stayed till 8 pm and spoke to the owner.

A nice man who also had simple thatched accommodation with basic facilities and really neat cottages. We knew that the next time we were in Goa, we would head straight right here and stay.

Dinner pangs and our last chance to have our Last Supper. We were recommended Thalassa for it’s great Greek Food but again…

I didn’t want to eat Greek Food in Goa no matter how awesome the ambiance is or how great the Sangreas were or how beautifully expensive upscale the place was..

So Srini researched and found a place that was at Candolim. It was in a proper touristy area. They only served Goan food and that was good enough for us.

As we walked in hungry and settled in our tables, we had a slightly unpleasant experience.

We had a driver with us throughout the trip. He worked for Srini’s parents and yes he was a part of the family. So wherever we ate, he would eat at the same place. We would always tell him to order whatever he liked to eat.

So when we walked in to the restaurant and he sat in another table, the manager sent his service staff to us within 10 minutes saying that table is reserved and he should sit outside. That same outside we were told was cordoned off when we walked in and asked about it.

I was fuming and feeling sad at the same time. Either I could make a whole activist issue and let it blow out of proportion which I really am not or simply walk out or try another option. We chose the last option. We told our man to sit with us at our table and we ate together. The Manager’s face changed as he could not tell us to move outside.

What do I take from this as a person and as a restaurateur? Nothing. There are different kinds of people and discrimination exists whether we like it or not. If it’s not class, it’s colour, it’s gender, it’s caste or something else. Period.

I do not like to mention names of places where I had a negative experience or bad food because it’s not nice. It really is not and I know it as a hotelier and as a person.

Because if one person had a bad experience, the other one would definitely have had a wonderful experience and everything is subjective, isn’t it? Why colour somebody else’s opinion? That has always been my take.

Being used to abuses, ‘critic reviews’, customers who would shout at us for no fault of ours, we have been there and done that. So I would give the benefit of doubt to them. We solved the issue in our own way and continued eating.

The food was delicious. The whole menu as I mentioned was totally Goan cuisine so we could pick and choose quite a bit.

Kismur naturally found it’s way again to our stomach. We also had this delicious sprouted moong salad and this was the freshest crunchiest salad I have tasted in recent times. Just awesome!

Then came along the Prawn Pickle and no it’s not the famous Prawn Balchao but an appetizer made with medium prawns, that tinge of tamarind sauce tickled my taste buds big time 🙂 And of course who can forget the Fish Curry.

Did I get bored eating Fish Curry every day? No Way! Each Fish curry had certain subtleties that was different, maybe a little bit more coconut, maybe more kokum(dry mangosteen), maybe a little less tamarind but every curry had it’s distinctive taste just like a simple dal that can be made in so many different ways!

As we walked out, I quietly handed a comment card to the Manager hoping that he gets it. There are many different ways to be subtle and nice to anyone.

Some days you hit it right, some days you hit it wrong, but try to be nice. In the end it’s your choice.

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