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15.10.2018

Our favourite Goa insider and chef Shilarna Vaze scopes out the best new and upcoming Goa pizzerias, bars, restaurants and bakeries (even a sexy new grocery store), so you can plan your season pass. She really does have her finger on the pulse(s).

Darvish: A Persian and a Spaniard walk into a bar. What do you get? Patatas bravas, mussels with crusty bread, paella and kebab koobideh. They also have amazing specials like lamb shank with pilaf that I washed down with mojitos made from fresh pomegranate juice. PS: Keep an eye out for the dried pomegranate powder they serve with everything; it’s like rock salt and lime zest had a purple baby. Near Vagator Petrol Station, opposite Hacienda Resort, Panchayat Road, Anjuna, call 7350304335.

Coco Thai: From cooking for her kids to selling out her pad thai at the Saturday night market and then operating her little street-style Siolim restaurant, we are so proud of Coco and the evolution of her fantastic food. A small menu that is made from scratch (try her tamarind prawns and chicken & pumpkin red curry) that often sells out, this is our go-to place for a quick meal or for a take-away. (Goa hack: she does not have an alcohol licence, but feel free to carry along your flask). Aguada, Siolim Road, Siolim, call 8975650082.

Tripti Tiffin: Following the home-delivery trend that city slickers have come to expect in Goa, here is Tripti Tiffin run by Radhika and Sourav Ray from Calcutta. They deliver half kg or one kg portions of chingri malai, laal maas and hara bhara pork curry to the chillers that do not want to move from their homes or hotels. REDBRICKSHOP, 127/1, Bairo Alto Vaddo, opposite Casa Pallotti Institute, Assagaon, call 8999720928,

Mahé: Bonobo & Jamjar Diner’s Parth Timbadia and Esca Brahma & Curry Tales’ chef Sandeep Sreedharan come together with a concept that is sorely missed in Goa- modern coastal food from the Indian Subcontinent. Abhishek George (Spiffy Dapper in Singapore) has conceptualised the cocktail menu and we can look forward to mussels with rice dumplings and grilled fish with moily foam served in a beautiful heritage house in Anjuna (go have a gelato at CreamChoc around the corner after). House 1111, Mazal Waddo, Anjuna, opposite cream choc gelato.

Gaia Gourmet Goa: Owned by this writer and her husband Chris, Mumbai A-listers’ fvaourite Gaia gourmet catering is now in Goa (again!). Operating out of Isprava Villas across Goa, they provide all day in-room dining as well as catering for poolside barbecues, picnic baskets, cheese platters, parties and weddings in Goa. Visit www.gaiagourmet.in, call 9819373023 / contact@gaiagourmet.in.

Botanique: Want a supermodel to do your laundry and a Parisienne chef to whip up a Frazier while you lounge in a tropical jungle with one of the best pools in Goa? Then head to Botanique, a beautiful boutique hotel run by model Carol Maria Gracias and her husband Sam Ziza, along with their besties from Paris, chef Emily Roy and Richard, for French bistro style food, amazing dessert and a leisurely pool dip (even if you aren’t a guest; pay a nominal fee of Rs 200 per person). PS: they will soon start weekly organic baskets from my favourite Offerings Farms in Pune. No, 45, Mapusa - Anjuna - Chapora Rd, Assagao,  call 9930242350, visit http://www.botaniquegoa.com.

Meiphung: With reports of soaring temperatures, Meiphung might literally be the hottest new restaurant in Goa right now. Situated on Baga River, it offers Thai and Naga food: feast on escargot with pork, spicy beef salad and rice beer. Live North Eastern acts like Alobo Naga & Zubeni Tangoe are also on the playlist. Warning: drink a glass of milk to line your stomach before you visit. Baga River Creek, near The Blue Whale Water Park, Baga, call 9561312044.

Melt Pizzabar: The menu here focuses on naturally fermented pizza (with absolutely the best crust in Goa) topped with organic veggies from the in-house garden. Owner Abhijit Choksi wears a cowboy hat as he hand-stretches his pies and dances to MJ, while trance festival promoter Mohit Mamtani takes your orders and gives your the low down on dough hydration and heirloom hemp flour. Set in a little bungalow with a beautiful backyard (that’s actually really hard to find in Anjuna), MELT is also doing gigs and private events and home delivery (that’s sometimes faster than if you are actually at the restaurant). My favourites are the roasted pumpkin and the glazed bacon and spinach. 1279, 2, Gauwadi, Bouta Waddo, Anjuna, call 8279801420.

Handmade by Namrata Pai: After training at Le Cordon Bleu London, and working at The Bombay Canteen and Magazine Street Kitchen, pastry chef Namrata Pai took the plunge and moved to the sunshine state to open her bakery and central kitchen. Currently working on pre-orders only, she is fast becoming the go-to person for birthday cakes. PS: her lemon bars are off the charts! We wanted to hide them from our guests at a recent potluck. House no 510, Bounta Vaddo, call  9820082170.

The Project Cafe Goa: All the cool gigs and pop ups are now happening at The Project Café. Brand architect Deepti Dadlani, the force behind several top Mumbai brands, has just added to that list events ranging from a Portuguese pop-up by Gracian Desouza to a probiotic workshop by Mo’s Moina Oberoi. TPC also has six studio rooms as well as a new menu at their all day cafe and bar called Bismarckia. The Project Cafe Amalia Villa No. 198, Mazal Waddo, Assagao, Goa, call 832226 8577.

Ecoposro Zero Waste Store: Buy bamboo toothbrushes, paper straws, unbleached toilet paper and dals and groceries that go straight into a glass jar that you can later return to the good folks at Ecoposro (they even do glass jar home delivery to stock your home dabbas directly). Run by local boys Jonah  Fernandes and Eldridge Lobo (remember Eldous on Chapora Road which routinely became a street party in the off season?), Ecoposro is a much-needed concept store in a state that does not have garbage collection even in its busiest tourist belt. House no 220 B, Auchit Vaddo, Verla Parra, Parra, Bardez, GOA, call Jonah 9823550123 /Eldridge 9923128169.

The Village Studio: This is run by artist Laila Vaziralli, known for her gorgeous water colours (we’ve ordered one for our daughter’s first birthday) and for organising Bangalore’s Kitch Mandi. The studio is tucked away in the back roads of Parra, and offers home-style dishes, drawing and printmaking workshops, indie gigs and all things that you would want to do in a secret garden. Okay, not all. 350 Bokeachi Aradi Road, Parra, Goa, call  9845026141.

Flour Power Bakeria: Open only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 7 pm to 11 pm (aah the Goa Life), Flower Power serves seriously legit sourdough bread which goes through a super-long fermentation process. Like Michael Pollan says in his book Cooked, gluten intolerance is only caused by eating bad bread. And try their wild yeast croissants and charcoal sourdough too. St. Anthonys Chapel, Anjuna Flea Market Path, Anjuna, call 9867276541.

Goa Grill Sandwich Workshop & Rottiserie: Devastated that the Belgian Roast Chicken man disappeared from the Saturday Night Market? A man from Moldova has filled the roast chicken gap with a nicely spiced bird as well as the best orange juice in Goa and a really good tuna sandwich too. Do like the locals do: pop in to order your chicken on your way to Ashwem beach and pick it up post sunset on your way home. He also does home delivery. Shop no. 557, opposite Ever Shine Apts, Bamon Wdo, Siolim, call 9823934746.

Olive: Mumbai’s Olive (or ‘Olives’ as it’s sometimes unfortunately called) opens its doors at a sunset spot at Vagator that is probably giving Thalassa sleepless nights. Order the POI BOYS and Vagator Rum Punch. Helipad, Unit #1 , Vagator, Anjuna.

Shilarna Vaze is a Le Cordon Bleu Paris graduate, chef, TV cook show host, writer and co-founder of Gaia Gourmet.  She lives between Goa and Mumbai with her husband and chef, Christophe Perrin, and their baby Zanskar Stella.

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