A walk through the village, under swaying coconut palms, you board the Caravela, turn right and you are there. From 11.00 am in the morning to the wee hours of the next morning, 2.00 am to be precise, you can rock around the clock in delight.
This Bar is situated right on the waterfront in a Village at the tip of North Goa….namely the Taj Holiday Village.
We decided to check the party meter this season. We were given to understand that it was decidedly up market, you know you get the feeling of a snooty maitre’d, who will look down at you as you walk in, and say with a condescending air, ‘And may I be of service, Madam?’
But this was not the case. Warm hospitable and friendly greetings, a charming smile from Sonal, the Restaurant Manager and we were ushered in to meet Giancarlo Mancino, the Beverage and Bar Consultant.
We were led to the stools around a wide circular Bar, with state of the art fittings and the glassware which would compete with any international Bar in the world. The wine and liquor bottles displayed were awesome, one in a special velvet case, a Richard Henessy Cognac which was priced at Rs 9000/- plus taxes for a mere 30ml. We gulped involuntarily. Was this one of the fancy priced Bars? I saw Joe checking to see if his credit cards were in order.
But we were given no time to ponder. The affable Giancarlo was there again, offering us a taste of his fantastic mixes. ‘Many of us our very conscious of our sugar intake,’ he reassured me, when he saw me debating about what cocktail to sample. ‘We deal with only natural sugars,’ he said, ‘and so our cocktails have fruit like Green apples, got all the way from Normandy, Raspberry’s from London, and Red fruit which is a combination of all the Red berries from UK.’
Looking at my bemused expression, and believe me, it was before we embarked on our cocktails, he laughed, ‘James Bond believed in having his cocktails shaken not stirred, well I do it with a twist.’ Was he talking about a twist of lemon? I wondered. He seemed to read my mind. ‘No,No,’ he says in his quaint accented English… he is Italian by the way, who worked in America and UK. He has won the World Barman Championship in Singapore in 2000, the European Championship (Portugal) 2002, and the James Bond Barman 2004 and his specialties are Martini’s.
I came back to the present as he explained, this man seems to be a mind reader, ‘No,’ he reiterated, ‘I do not make the traditional cocktails, the guest chooses the Vodka and the Gin from the freezer and the flavoring, but I do not shake or stir them...it goes straight into the glass.’ He demonstrated the same for effect. A Mashmallow Martini, it was smooth and refreshing, just the right flavor for a hot day. Just Rs 400/- plus taxes.
What about something to eat…well the menu had a variety of items. From 12 noon to 2 am, Little titbits or Tapas…items like Smoked Salmon rolls, teriyaki glazed skewers, pizzettas all within an affordable range of Rs 175- Rs 275/- plus taxes. And for the ravenous, the Caravela Menu promises a variety of meats and seafood in continental and Indian preparations.
Sipping at my drink, my eyes wander to a chef, preparing something at the Bar. A chef behind the Bar? Giancarlo says, ‘Besides being the only restaurant in India which serves sugar free Red Bull, I think we can say that we are the only restaurant in Goa which serves Sushi.’ Sushi…raw meats…Japanese Cuisine. I mentally tune out. Born and Bred on a cuisine which has strong aromatic flavours, the idea of consuming raw meat was abhorrent to me. Joe laughs. ‘Lets try some,’ he urges. Well the variety focused on Makimono sushi- sushi rolled in nori (nori is a seaweed, and the rice is stuffed with the seafood and rolled in it). Then there was Nagiri Sushi (handpressed sushi which is placed on top of a rice mould cooked with vinegar, and Sashimi sushi (raw sliced fish).
All the seafood is imported, your choice of tuna, salmon, red snapper, eel, prawn, squid. I take a tentative bite and am hooked for life. Delicious is the word. And all within the range of Rs 300/- to Rs 350 plus taxes.
With such a repast, it was a wonder that we could finally walk out. Maybe drifted would be the right word. Giancarlo, the friendly wizard of mixed concoctions was there to bid us goodbye. He has catered to the tastes of Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Kevin Costner etc. ‘I love meeting people,’ he said ‘tell people to come and meet me at the Bar, I will have the right mix for them.’ You get my drift?