Monday, April 24, 2017

Cashew trail 2017 at Park Hyatt

while most of the world is aware of the versatality of the cashew nut, and you can read more about it HERE in my blog about cashew trail 2015, very few know about the versatility of the cashew fruit, which serves as a fruit, can be converted into a fresh liquor known as Urrack, and later distilled and formed into Feni, the alcoholic drink which has a Geographic Index to Goa.

While the political parties of the state believe the coconut to be the symbol of Goenkarponn , but Coconuts are available every where from Miami to Mumbai, and every coastal region in between, the cashew on the other hand is not celebrated as much. 
But the Park Hyatt resort and spa, in Cavellosim has been diligently doing its best for the cause of cashews and it's fruit, nut, and liquor for the past 6 years. As a celebration of 15 years of the Resort in Goa, and part of their giving back to the land  and it's people, they had a week long celebration which began with a vintage car rally which began at the cashew farm, and ended at the resorts beach side eatery palms. and the celbrations culminated in an extravagant cashew trail brunch at the magical forrests at the sprawling property itself. 

So much happened through the week, that it best be captured as a photo album to give you a glimpse into the Goan way of life. 

Easter themed brunch with colourful boiled eggs and seafood fillings with seafood tartare , and tuna mousse, and calamari pizza.

rocky road brownies, carrot cake , simnel easter special cake, dor dessert

a vintage car rally with cars as old as 1939 ! feel like royalty to be amongst such precious possessions

Hot crossed buns, traditionally given to each family on good friday, as a symbol of the body of christ, and the spices in the spiced bun representing the spices used to embalm the body of Chrst.

After the grand begiining of the Cashew trail pon 16 April, the whole week saw many events, including an art exhibition on monday, a culinary contest on tuesday, a mother and child session on wednesday with aqua Yoga, a farm visit to the villagers who depend on cashew plantation for their livelihood on thursday, but it was only on friday evening that I could make it back for the celebration.
Friday night Osette Mascarenhas along with the members of Goan culinary club Fatima Da silvaGracias, Orty Soares Maria Fernanda CostaSouza got together to curate a meal which brought to the fore front portuguese inspired Goan dishes from the hidden kitchens of Goa.

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Too many cooks needed to prep the broth, and it wasn't spoiled at all!

The broth in question had chunks of Spicy portuese chorizo sausages, quite different from the garland Goan chorizo sausages. salty, meaty, and bagful of flavour they provided the surprise element

cups brimming with potato based broth

A palate cleanser made of lime and feni in a sorbet, was a delicious interval between courses

The showstopper mutton which was cooked on the bone, but so tender that it was falling of the bone. Traditionally the perna de cordeiro has the mutton taken off the bone especially in the affluent families.

Pasteis de nata, an egg tart made exclusively from the egg yolks, traditionally by the nuns who used the egg whites to starch their uniforms, and using the leftover egg yolks in creative desserts,

Saturday saw the introduction of an avid room of people to Feni. Feni a drink so uniquely Goan, that it even has a geographical index a GI status . It was my first tryst with Feni, and we began with the Urak the first distil or the first form of fermented cashew fruits. this one was distinctly fruity, and the cocktail with kokum juice was surprisingly good. then came the feni , they called it big boss, and honestly when the sommelier Jeffery Manuel went around asking people what it smelled of, I would have answered nail polish remover. we then moved on to an aged version of feni called Lembranca or memories in Portuguese, and in my head (and now on a blog) I wonder how fermented nail polish varnish would smell. surprisingly mellow and woody to my surprise, with an afternote of cashew apples. 
They even have a new feni launched by non other than ex Defence Minister Mr Manohar Parrikar of the surgical strike fame, and it's called bullet proof. 
It reminded me of the song from the Netflix Marvel series "Luke Cage" the catchy bullet proof love. if you haven't watched the song, do so, it's all I can hum these days.

Kokum urak cocktail

Feni goes fancy 

we need a new Deepika padukone movie called finding Feni

23 April saw the culmination of the week long festivities. The previous general manager of the resort Mr Thomas Abraham whose brainchild the festival had been 6 years back , was present to see the vigour and verve of his labour of love.The owner of the resort was there to grace the 15 years of Park Hyatt celebrations

summer coolers for a balmy sunday afternoon

cashew apple table centre pieces, a beautiful way to showcase the fruit.

Goa tourism had brought their spanking new Hop on Hop off buses, and I am looking forward to the joy ride whenever they begin.

a sprawling spread celebrating Goan and international cuisine. My favourite was the Burmese Khau sue counter and the Asian bao counter. 

There were two award winning dishes by Home chefs, and these were Nikita Prasad with the Kaju Chicken , and Vaishali Joshi's Kasuri Methi kaju kukkad makhan Marke. the first dish remined me of the northern frontier and butter chicken, and the other went even further north with an Afghani chicken called chicken Rashida I had once had. Showcasing how versatile the cashew nut can be in savoury dishes.
steamed Baos, aparently the portuguese brought the Bao to India, and instead of steaming they introduced baking these baos, and thus the name 'PAO'. use of very interesting fillings as well

The dessert counter is always special at the cashew trail, with showcasing of cashew fruit as well as nut, they had stewed cashew apples in cinnamon and spices, cashew fruit baked in a crumble, baked into mince pies, cashew nut fudge tarts, chocolate and cashew bread pudding, linzer cake with cashew jam and so much more.

The newly launched Bullet proof feni.

Madame Rosa feni distillery has been part of the cashew trail from its inception , and while I myself am not a huge feni fan, one cannot deny its importance in the heritage and culture of the land, and I am glad that such a festival highlights the unique drink from Goa.

The gorgeous photobooth decor, with a vintage theme complete with brass candle sticks, and wooden antique looking furniture.

I hope I was able to give you a glimpse of the week long extravaganza that is The cashew trail. Foodie trails , is all about travelling a place through food, and the cashew trail is a unique way to experience Goa. when you travel to darjeeling you think tea plantations, when you think of Coorg one thinks of coffee plantations, with Goa almost everyone goes back home with packets of Cashew. the cashew trail is organised around the unique time of Cashew harvesting, allowing you to make the most of your stay in Goa, and a more immersive cashew experience.

To read more about Goa

cashew trail 2015

dine in the dark

spend an evening in company of Fado and Fadistas

the three best times to visit Goa

Friday, April 21, 2017

New York dessert trail

New York, the home to the size zero diet conscious, as well as home to the most audacious flavour combinations, and the most innovative desserts .
On our visit to the big apple these were some of the fancy desserts that I took fancy to.

Much ado about Matcha: The whole city is crazy about the green stuff. the powdered green tea extract, is used in everything from gelato, icecreams, coffees. cakes, and even macarons.The green tea plants are grown in the shade for three weeks, and that leads to increased formation of Theanine and caffiene, such that it contributes to a kind of zen like state of calm energy. plus the added benefit of anti oxidants and anti ageing properties green tea is blessed with. This Matcha and cranberry frozen dessert was a humongous serving, and I loved the tartness of the cranberries against the herby flavours of Matcha, but honestly I am not a big fan of green desserts.

The croissant icecream: Icecreams served between baked breads is not a new concept. There have been icecream sandwiches , and even the local Italian favourite of a gelato within a Brioche bun, but icecream served within a flaky buttery croissant? That is Newyork in all it's decadence. Layers of puff pastry rolled out with butter, served with stewed apples, nut crumble and icecream, what's not to like about this one?This one was quickly finished by all of us. The familiarity of the flavours helped.

Crepe cakes: On our visit to NewYork in the spring of 2016, crepe cakes were all the rage. While I write this blog post I am not sure if it is still true. Crepes are a form of pancakes, in fact they are made from the very same ingredients pancakes are made of; that is egg ,milk, flour and sugar. and yet the consistency and the addition of raising agents change their texture and even the taste. Newyork Loves its Pancakes, if you follow any new york instagrammer you will find atleast one picture of a stack of pancakes, and they need not be food bloggers, just about everyone in New york loves a stack of pancakes, be it for sunday breakfast or post binge hangover cure, and so a stack of crepes were the obvious evolution from a stack of pancakes. these crepe cakes come in all flavours tooo, from berry to nutella.

 The cronut: Now this dessert got pretty famous, infact the whole trend crossed over the oceans to India aswell. the cronut is a cross between a crosissant and a donut. a crosissant is a baked dish, while the donut is traditionally deep fried, and if I am honest this tasted like a croissant with a whole. the texture is flaky like a croissant, and since this one stuck to the traditional cinnamon and sugar donut flavour that was the only donut reference I could find, other than the ring shape.

This picture is just to confirm that yes, I had all of these desserts, and yes, in one epic dessert crawl across town, and in my sugar haze have forgotten the name of the place where we tried them. in my hand is the churros cone. a churros also belongs to the donut family, in the sense it too is a deep fried batter, and this time intead of a round as in donut, or the traditional ridged sticks as in churros, we had a ridged cone shaped deep fried icecream cone, coated in cinnamon and sugar for added calories.

 No story about New york dessserts can ever be complete without a reference to the hugely popular Hersheys brand and the Kisses that are at the heart of this popularity.
while Hershey's and M and M's are found in every single airport duty free in the world, the stores on times square are a treat in themselves.
situated right across from each other, this is a chocolate lovers dream come true!
huge Hershey kisses, which need a hug just to hold them, and M and M stuffed toys and the M and M 's in shapes, sizes and colours possible were the highlights of my visit to these two stores.

Another dessert that New Yorlk Cannot live down is the New York cheese cake. we were told the best ones were at Juniors in Brooklyn and we made the trip to this iconic eatery. It was truly a museum of cheese cakes, they even had pictures of past presidents who have eaten the cheesecake here. They say you know you have made it big, when you make it to timessquare, and there is a huge Juniors cheesecake store in Times Square. But the brooklyn diner is just a slice of retro all its own. the classic high chairs, the scuffed floors, the writings on the walls in the washrooms, everything adds to the aura surrounding the slice of cheesecake. How was it? Somethings need to be savoured , not just written about. There is definitely a largese and a generosity of spirit that brooklyn is famous for, that one can see in the cheesecake and the toppings.

Obama and Clinton at Juniors.

cheese cakes as far as the eye can see, so decadent , so delicious

M and M store

M and M store

New York is a foodies paradise. From adventurous patisery chefs and chocolatiers, willing to try extravagant to outlandish creations, to an experimental food lovers who are willing to try everything once, and are willing to wait in line a full block long if they have to, for appreciative food bloggers and instagrammers just waiting to blitz the next creation to social media hall of fame, New York has it all.
This was by no means our only dessert trials, we had so many cupcakes it is not even funny, a whole box of 'baked by Melissa's' over even before one could say "baked by Melissa" .

do share your favourite desserts and the outrageous ones in the comments below.

some more of my New York escapades

The day I met Kim Kardashian

Ramen food trail in Manhattan

my thoughts on the statue of liberty