Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Fun at the Tinto

Remember those days of yore…, fun and frolic? It is here back again. Two enterprising Goans have put together a venture to give you a taste of Goa before the millenium Sebastiao’s Tinto next to Kingfisher Villa in Candolim. There is a saying… ’curiosity killed the cat,’ but in this case the cat got to lick the cream. And is still doing so as I write this.

It all started with the Advertisement…a small cartoon in the newspaper. ‘Hey Joe, this looks like you,’ I chortle looking at the dapper little man, a sort of golf cap on his head, a shopping basket in his hand and an umbrella. Of course sans the pot belly. Now if any of you have seen Joe on the streets of Panjim with that trademark cap and his bright red satchel will know what I mean. ‘He is cute,’ Joe smiles, ‘and today they have Samba de Goa..let’s check it out.’

And so here we were in the brightly bedecked courtyard meeting with Remy and Vency the duo in this enterprise. ‘I’m Vency,’ one of them smiles, ‘easy to remember ‘when-u-see-me-Vency.’ Now here was a man who loves to entertain as I realised as the evening progressed. The band ‘India’ was belting out popular numbers as we sat on the table around the red cemented dance floor. Colorful caricatures and balloons added to the air of festivity…during this Christmas season we had a carnival in progress. ‘It’s the full works every Wednesday,’ states Remy, ‘parade, balloon sculpting, face painting and a surprise item.’ Joe perks up. Besides food, he loves those suprises.

Chef Paul with years of culinary experience offers us an insight into the menu. What are the specialities? Goan and Continental we are informed. So we sit back watching the children rollick around with their face painted, sculpted balloons on their head, a couple jiving on the floor as the band upped the tempo…and the food arrived.

Chef had recommended Shark Amotik and Crab Xacutti with Pulao. Now I had eaten a Crab Xec-xec, masala, red gravy…..but never a Xacutti. Mentally programmed to accept a chicken or a mutton Xacutti I wondered what we were in for. We heaped a little of the Amotik and Xacutti onto our plate. But before we could start Vency had announced the arrival of Salma. I guess that was the surprise item cause for a moment Joe lost interest in his plate as the gyrations began. Now this is definitely not Joe’s movement in the chair though the chair did creak at times. The sensuous movement of the metallic blue body clad figure with the hoola's had the guests applauding enthusiastically. I nudged Joe pointing to the food at his plate. He nodded absentmindedly, went through the motion of putting the food to his mouth and then stopped. His eyes closed as the spices began to invade his senses, as they did mine too. Whatever the chef had put together in that Amot tik had us scrambling for more. Sweat began to bead around Joe’s upper lip and it was not because Salma had begun her ritual of eating fire. It was the mouthwatering experience of that dish, (maybe Salma could have contributed too,) that gave him that glazed expression.

Now coming to the Crab. The green coarsely ground masala was a perfect contrast to the orange pink shell nestled there. I took a big bite to crunch at the hard shell and the green masala now made its presence felt. Did I say that crab with the Xacutti masala was a mismatch? Now I beg to differ. The soft flesh of the tender meat and the coarsely ground coconut based masala was to die for…and the yellow Pulao? Very rarely found in restaurant’s today. Just like mother makes it at home, down to the fried onion strips that garnished it.

The tom cat was purring with contentment and as I waited for my old favorite, Caramel custard, the toddy tapper smiled benevolently from the mural above. He seemed to say ‘hey those are my coconuts that made the masala.’ A twin brother of Sebastiao had a polka dot dress lady doing the quick step. The friendly waiters, Bosco at the helm smiled at the guests as they scurried about the place. It took me back to the days of ‘Haystack’ in the early 80’s.

Perhaps there would be a family visit this season, despite the ongoing tensions. Remy and Vency have provided Jazz Tuesdays, Samba de Goa Wednesdays and ‘Jam up’ Saturdays. ‘Muscicians come here to jam-up on this night,’ Vency explains, ‘in fact last Saturday we had someone on the banjo and another musician playing two flutes simultaneously on either side of his mouth.’ ‘And to add to that,’ Remy states, ‘locals will get a surprise addition at the end of their meal.’ Now that sounds interesting…a parting gift. Well Kingfisher Villa had better look out…cause just next door one can have more fun at the Tinto.

Address: Next to Kingfisher Villa, GHOGM Road, Candolim Bardez, GOA

Contact: Mr Remy 98501 83260

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