Monday, November 10, 2008

Latitude…with an ‘attitude’

Whao! there, before we go on, lets come to the terms on the meaning of the word. not latitude, although we will try to understand why a restaurant is called by that name. It’s the word ‘attitude.’ Now that is Joe’s constant refrain…’you have got a queensize attitude.’ And that normally happens when he is at the receiving end when things go wrong. So what is the meaning of the word ‘attitude’? And what is its connection to the word ‘latitude’? There runs a story.

We were on our way to check out this new place at the Fort Aguada…..the old Seashells has been given a full make over…image and menu. We were debating on the name and Joe had to put in his usual phrase which got my goat. ‘And I would like you to know,’ says I, ‘that the dictionary term of the word is ‘the person viewed as expressing the same thought or feeling,’ so I am just expressing a feeling- one should not judge a restaurant just by its name or its category without trying its food, and for that you say I have an attitude?’ I fume as we wait for our guests Comodore and Iona Venugopal.

We enter a haven of space and light (believe me it was dinnertime). Whoever had done the interiors had used shades of blue, green and white. In the center of the restaurant was a sculpture…weighing one ton, of green glass. Now the glass was brought in seperately and seven hundred pieces was fused together to form a shell. What a concept….

Executive Chef Arzooman Irani explained the ‘attitude..the thought or feeling’ of the restaurant. ‘This is going to be a hip-hop place,’ he states, ‘different in thinking and expression.’ ‘Hip-hop?’ I mentally did a random check of the age factor of the four of us seated there. Our guests were grandparents, and we were…no I better not put it down in writing. Joe always believes he is still young at heart and I do not want to disillusion him. But the chef’s next words immediately put me at ease. ‘We have a full Transfat free menu,’ he says, ‘and moreover we offer our guests wellness cuisine options.’ He points to the fine print on the menu. Simply put one could order their own preferences…salads or even the main course. The options are listed there, you just have to mix and match. Well their sandwich section looks interesting too- there are health breads listed …rye, sourdough, walnut etc. And the combinations too seemed unique…salmon, goat cheese…you think different, he has put it there for you.

We decided to put his brigade to the test. Chef Lynn, Chef Rajesh and Chef Santan…do their names sound Continental, Indian and Goan? But that is what the menu is all about- with a small corner for the Oriental touch.

Enter the starters…..Hot smoked Salmon Nicoise, Sharmillee kebabs, Aab-e-pasliyan kebabs and Karwari prawns. Yours truly was hunting through the beautifully bound blue menu to give the readers an explanation…while Joe feeling definitely hip hop had trained all his ‘sensory guns’ eyes, nose and mouth on the attractive spread before us.

‘This salmon is heavenly,’ breathes Iona. Thick wedges of the orange pink delicacy were attractively placed between think strips of haricot vert, sliced egg and olives. Well Iona had spoken from what was going to be the creado of the night….the Aap-e-pasliyan, boy even the names played repetively in our minds as we gourged on those imported lamb chops. The coarse ground masala that had penetrated the meat was a fine example of the chef’s skill. I superstitously looked into Joe’s plate…he had piled two of those chops onto them. Look who was talking about ‘attitude. But I did not have time to dwell of his ‘all eyes on the plate’ behavior cause the King prawn Karwari had materialised. The steaming prawns wrapped in the mixture of a ‘tadka’ of garlic, onions and curry leaves, the haldi overtones had one drooling by just looking at them. Did any prawn remain a few minutes later? No way…silence reigned as the fork delicately nudged the flesh out of the shell, and then lifted to pop it into a cavity where the juices were already at work. De…li…ciouuus! Forget the spelling, that was what I croaked as I greedily took on few more on my plate when our guests were not looking. Well I was always told that it was bad manners to look into someone else’s plate, so I hope they were not doing so. ‘These prawns are not listed on the menu.’ This was a diversion. ‘That is our USP…one can order food from any restaurant that falls in the latitude of this complex,’ Chef Lynn explains.

But there was still more to come. Chicken Biryani, Badami zaffrani rassa, Mutton roganjosh, Doodhiya kebabds. ‘Not for me,’ states Iona. I agree with her. Who would want to eat white pumpkin kebebs? But when the preparation arrived we were floored. Thin paneers slices sandwiched a savoury potato puree before being grilled. Chef Rajesh explained that it was a Lucknowi preparation.’Dood’ ‘iya’-made of milk. For vegeterians a must order.

But now comes the sweet final. It seems that the restaurant has another first…an antigriddle. This equipment chills items to -40degrees C. We watch with amazement as the chef puts the passionfruit puree on to the griddle. Within seconds it freezes into a lollipop icecream on a stick. ‘I like mine with red syrup,’ Iona states. Joe wanted his green. Well something in the environment converts people of all ages to a hip-hop thinking. And besides this, one could sample the homemade or the rose petal icecream, the café latte crème brulee (the portion was big enough for me and Joe together no fighting this time)…and a variety of other preparations.

As we staggered (stuffed to the gills) out of the restaurant in a better frame of mind, I can well believe that this hip-hop joint “latitude” will definitely leave its diners with a positive attitude.

Name of Proprietor: TAJ HOTELS "Latitude -Coffee Shop"
Contact: 0832 6645858
Address: Fort Aguada Beach Resort, Sinquerim, Bardez, Goa
Open for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Monday, November 3, 2008

Twist and Shout

‘C’mon…C’mon baby now....’ Have you ever yelled out this chorus of the old Beatle’s song? Well that was what Joe and I did after dining on the 4 S’s, 4 G’s, 4 T’s, 3 D’s, and 2 P’s. Now is this not a mind boggling equation? Just wait till I give you the answers.

For starters…let’s take the 4 T’s…Tiny Tim’s Tapas Treats. Toasted sweet chili nuts with fresh coconuts, Olya’s mushroom caviar, Thai chicken balls with sweet basil….now before you go ‘nuts’ about the Thai chicken balls, have patience, explanations will follow.

Let’s take the 4 G’s….Gentle Giants Groovy Grills….boy they are hot. We have all heard about the ‘G’ string. Well the flavors wafting from the grill had our tongues hanging out for more. And if you have not seen Joe’s tongue hanging out…don’t even think of it. It tends to stick out a mile. What with those aromas of the pork chops, fish and chicken doused with a marinade of your choice. It was Mediterranean that night.

The Two P’s? All for 245/- Now that is a steal for Passionate Pastas. The Penne, Linguini especially Mina’s quick fix mint and lemon preparation had Joe slurping on those slim twisting slippery ones which tended to elude his fork. Don’t get ideas…this was the Linguini pasta I was referring too.

Now you have noticed that I have left the 4 S’s for the last. The reason …we were sitting with her. Sexy Samta’s Sumptuous Sandwiches. Well you can leave out the Sandwich bit…we had landed there for dinner. But if you ever land there anytime between 11.30 am onwards, the fillings will definitely tempt you-Tuna, corn and mayo, Cajun chicken, Bacon, avocado and cheese or under the same heading another two S’s- a Saucy soup and the Sexiest Salad. I can see Joe going Sssss… as he reads the draft.

Meet Samta Gupta, the proprietor, chef of this lovely place ‘a twist of lime.’ A terraced restaurant-the terrace overlooks the Baga waterfront, the beautifully canopied interiors…’naturally canopied by the trees’ speaks of years of experience in this trade. She had her very own restaurant called ‘Mulakat’ in Delhi named by none other than Madhu Limaye, and was patronized by the ‘intellectuals’ like MF Hussain etc.

Joe was drooling over his ‘Leninade’ a cocktail of Vodka and lemon which has a pleasant taste and a kick of a mule. I realized it’s after effects only on our way home- his musical repertoire was in full bloom. Of course I would partly blame it on Sigmund. You see his beautiful rendering of some old favorites started the ball rolling.

Anyway coming back to the food. The chili nuts with fresh coconut…crunchy, sweet and tangy…a perfect snack with a drink. ‘I use a lot of honey and lime with my preparations,’ confesses Samta. Then comes the Olya’s mushroom caviar. Now don’t get me wrong, this is not fish roe from Russia, though the name could ‘fox’ you. Pure vegetarian and delicious. The mushrooms were minced and marinated with herbs and spread on top of hot grilled and buttered ‘Goan bread’. ‘I use a lot of local material,’ Samta states. Well, I have had Goan bread umpteen times but it had never ever tasted sooo delicious (pardon me the ‘s’ seems to slip in so easily) perhaps the effect of Samtas company. And the Thai chicken balls…crisp on the outside, soft within…a dip in the tangy dressing and you are in heaven. ‘There seems to be twist of lime in every plate,’ I remark. Samta smiles. Now I know why she chose that name.

The 2 P’s are next. Well I did remark about Joe’s obsession with Mina’s quick fix linguini. Now if you feel that I am leading you on with the names, I suggest that you check the menu out for yourself…although the ‘warning’ in big print down below states ‘Dishes on the menu are prone to go off for a dip in the ocean once in a while!!!!’ ‘Why Mina, Olya, Deepak?’ I query. ‘Friends of mine,’ Samta says, ‘I believe in relationships and I would like this to be a place where people meet. Moreover Mina is a Tarot card reader and she will be at the restaurant twice a week to read cards.

The Not so Traditional fish and chips arrive…why untraditional? Because the coating on the fish and French fries are definitely untraditional. As is the full glassed air conditioned lounge for people who would prefer the air condition to the natural sea breeze.

But stuffed as we were we still had place for Deepak’s (aka Motu) Delicious Desserts. Another friend and the explanations say it all. Well there is ample choice Toffee cake with cream, twisted lime pie, lemon sponge…well we decided on the lemon cream cheese pie…after all even the sweet finale should have a ‘twist of lime.’ Topped with ice-cream, this creamy concoction would have you shouting for more…’C’mon baby now,’ was that Joe? And who was he talking to? After all only Samta was at our table. I give a huge sigh of relief. The vodka had put him in a mellow mood; he was telling me that it was time to go.

So if your driving down the new Baga bridge, all you have to do is say....’C’mon baby now, twist and shout’…you will do so in more ways than one at ‘A Twist of Lime.’


Name of Proprietor: Chef Samta Guptamobie

Contact: 9011 06 1514

Address:New Baga bridge,Overlooking Baga creek,Bardez, Goa 403 521

Open for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner