Friday, February 10, 2017

Fado nights in Goa

every first tuesday of the month, the seaside resort of Cidade de Goa, in Dona Paula, converts into a city in Portugal, as the famous fadistas of the state come down to celebrate a night of Fado.
If you are a fado enthusiast, and live in Goa, this may not be news to you. But if you are a traveller to Goa, or like me, unaware of this traditional portuguese musoc, with its lilting music filled with love and longing, then read on.

To experience the magic of Fado music, as well as truly enjoy reading about Fado nights I would highly recommend watching this  youtube video of Fado night which I specially created for my readers. you could also follow me on instagram @kuhelib and search for the hashtag #noitedefado for exclusive pictures not shared here in the blog. 

The Fado nights celebrate Fado music sung in two styles, such as Lisbon and coimbra , two cities in Portugal. As I previously mentioned we are transportedted to the cities of Portugal, and the place in particular is Alfama. Alfama is one of the oldest districts in Lisbon, and it is famous for the Fado bars and restaurants, thus it is fitting that the Chef speciality restaurant in Cidade de Goa, is named after this historic district, as well as play host to the Fado nights every month.

famous Fado singer Sonia Shirsat.

The ambience and the setting of the restaurant itself is unique. seating at various multilevels, with alcoves and balconies, such that it feels as if you are seated in a townsquare , with sloping roofs, and even street lights as part of the restaurant decor. the floor tiles resemble the pavements of the streets and one of the wall even has a landscape of the cityscape of Alfama, Lisbon.
The fado nights are a reservation only event, and since it is a much awaited event, each month there are only that many diners. make sure to make your reservations in advance, and Might I suggest the balcony seating to get the best panoramic views of the restaurant and the singers.

The unique restaurant setting , which resembles a town square.

Chef at Alfama, proudly displays the 4 course meal to be served through the night.

beautifully plated, contemporary Goan and portuguese dishes.

against the backdrop of the city of Alfama

As a foodie, whichever place I visit, food is always upper most on my mind, and yet at the Fado night Food plays second fiddle to the music. The night begins at 8 pm, where in the musicians come in and do a round of the tables, especially because as the Cotta family patriarch said that they have been playing at Alfama restaurant for the past 12 years almost in continuity, every first tuesday, and some of the patrons have been coming for almost as long. There are some ardent fado lovers in the state of Goa, and one of them happens to also be the consul geeral of Portugal. Families who have friends and relatives living in Portugal, those who speak the language and who have listened to Fado music as children and might even have dabbled in singing a few Fado songs are many in Goa. And to see this unique side of Goa, one must come and attend a Fado night.
For the rest of India it might come as a surprise, that so many Goans have such love and respect for their former 'rulers' , but unlike the British who ruled over the rest of India for 300 years, the Portuguese were in Goa for almost 450 years, and in this time many of them integrated themselves into the very fabric of the society here.

Goans culture and heritage is very unique as compared to the rest of the country, and we see that in the dressing style as well as the food of the state. As tourists , most are content at visiting the beaches of Goa, but as a true traveller, I welcome you to delve deeper into the lives and histories of this fascinating land. And Attending a Fado night is not just about the haunting quality of the music, the passionate songs of love, envy, wrath and longing, it is about experiencing and keeping alive the heritage and traditions of a place.

salada de caranguejo e camarao, crab xec xec salad with marinated shrimp
the first course was the pretty as apicture crab xec xec, and marinated prawns which were delicious if not a bit sparse.The green bean salad was an explosion of flavours, unexpected tones of sweet and sour, and texturally crisp and fresh , this one was a winner.

salada de feijao verde com tomate alho assado e rucula, green bean salad with cerry toamtoes, roasted garlic and arugula.
After anoither twenty minutes of music, we were served small tea cups of soup, and now we were at 9 a clock. we were given twenty minutes to finish each course, until the lights were dimmed for the music. once the singers begin to sing, no movement of staff or guests are allowed. The doors of the restaurant are locked, and you are invited to lose yourself in the music.
By 10 o clock the main course was brought in, and by then we were ravenous. Somehow, I feel there should be some snacks, or some appetisers to help us bridge the gap from one musical interval to the next.
The staggered meal allowed the chefs to plate the food meticulously, and the food did come out fairly quickly once the lights came on, and yet we found ourselves craning to see when the next course was coming. Art cannot be fully appreciated on an empty stomach.
Maybe bread rolls, or even crackers along with our wine would be a nice accomapaniment.

galinha grelhada a portuguesa, portuguese BBQ chicken with carrot mash and garlic tossed spinach.

borrego assado com molho cremoso de amaranth, slow cooked lamb assado bun with creaqmy amaranth sauce.
  The portuguese have been credited with bringing the pao to India, it was initially meant to be a steamed Bao, which is what is served at the dinner, which over the years got a baked version , the Pao.
stuffed with slow cooked lamb, and the locally grown 'tambdi bhaji' or red amaranth leaves, it was an interesting play Goan flavours.
The fish curry rice, got the continental twist with the  seared Modso, with Apricot balchao, over a bed of Cous cous. Very fancy, but we were ravenous by now, and a hasty picture before we dived right into devour the meal.
peixe modso frito com couscous de balchao de damasco e molho de laranja, pan seared modso with apricot balchao couscous and orange sage sauce.

Another half an hour later, and honestly, we did not know how the time flew, we were amazed to know that it was 11 o clock! we had been at the dinner table since 8:30 and for two and a half hours were regaled by stellar musically performances, and spledidly plated meals.
the final dessert course did not get photographed because of our haste but it was a generous helping of three desserts, a cheesecake tart which was splendid, a dense and sinful chocolate cake, and a cocnut icecream with fresh tender cocnut slivers.

We had the best seats in the house, opt for the balcony seats and get a panoramic view of the diners, and the gorgeous town square seating at alfama.

If music is the food for the soul , we returned with our souls full and over flowing.

If you live in Goa then a Fado night at Alfama, Cidade De Goa will connect you with a cherished Goan-portuguese tradition of the land, and will have you coming back for more. If you are a tourist/ traveller to Goa, then you will have travel tales worthy of bragging when you return home along with unique travel experiences to regale your friends with, not to mention memories of  lifetime.

P.S. : If you live in Goa, it might be worth while to get a membershoip to the resort, which lets you avail to almost 50% discounts at Alfama restaurant as well as many other services at Cidade de Goa.

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