Saturday, January 27, 2018

Family stay at Hyatt Place Goa

It’s never easy travelling with kids, no matter how pretty the pictures, there is always a certain level of strife getting to that stage. But, for all the exhaustion and the planning, it’s wonderful to see them experience something new .
The last staycation we went to , had my son learning to dip biscuits in tea and have them. It had him in a thrall, and he wanted to go back to Jaali Cottage just to have oreo biscuits dipped in tea. Holidays are also times when the rules of the house are slackened a bit, sleep time is pushed to a later hour, and sugar laden biscuits are part of the breakfast menu.

Here is our staycation at Hyatt Place Calangute, a mid level hotel, which has a bit of everything for everyone. And what was baby foodies new experience at this staycation ? read to find out...

In this picture lies Baby Foodies unique holiday moment , Hyatt Place Goa

Tasty Indian food at Hyatt Place Goa, Candolim

Baby kingfish for baby foodie at Hyatt Place Goa

Recheado King fish for Dada at Hyatt Place Goa

Chocolate board for Mama , hyatt place Goa

The cutest chocolate cupcakes and a chalkboard platter for baby foodie, Shreysht; Hyatt Place Goa
Child friendliness of the hotel
1.       No balconies, so no fear of toppling out of the room.
2.       A cozy corner, which easily doubles up as a play area for kid, shreyu loved jumping on ‘nice bed’.
3.       Friendly staff accomadating of children.
4.       High chairs in dining area.
5.       Baby pool, as well as rock pool to dip feet, and plenty of water bodies for him to dip his hands in. (although not sure how clean the water is, and he wanted to drink water from every water body)
6.       Lots of place to run around , especially in a second courtyard of faux grass, good for kicking around a ball.

Practical meets plush in the Hyatt Place

Loved the use of muted Azulejo tiles in the rooms, for a Goan inspiration at Hyatt Place Goa

The cute cozy corner in each room, a lounge area where one can read or see tv from 

My favourite place in the room was the cozy corner. Hyatt Place Goa.

Shreyu clearly loved the floor
What I would have liked more of:
* A play garden , the hotel has only two swings for kids.
*the bathroom door is easily lockable by kids from inside, and I feel that could be dangerous, would be better to have locks higher up. be careful of that.

Sangrias and watermelon juice, two plus one on Holidays with the foodietrails

Dont miss out of butter garlic prawns at Hyatt place Goa

love the azulejo tiles in the hotel reception areacum restaurant, check in and sit to eat! incase you were wondering, that's icecream hidden under a mountain of  chocolate sprinkles

Hyatt place has the best vertical garden in the whole of Goa, thats my verdict

couldnt get over the jam filled donuts and the four storied vertical garden at Hyatt Place Goa

Breakfast stories at Hyatt Place, build your own sandwich , they said, so I put in three different types of cheese, three different cold cuts and meats along with chutney, butter, cucumbers tomatoes, and a mushroom omlette too. yup, breakfast sorted.

Pepperoni pizzas for lunch, Hyatt Place Goa

Baby Foodie can't get over his blue juice, blue curacoa with pine apple juice :P

Marriage and the Martini glasses, a blue Juice was the unique experience for Shreysht at Hyatt Place Goa

The three of us, and our platter of fish.
all the kids were crazy about the many water bodies at the hotel

Boys will be boys

Highlights of our stay :
1. The staff and F 7 B team. from the wonderful welcome by Vishal head of Fn B and chef Narsinh.
2. The prawn curry and the king fish rawa fry. I honestly did have a picture of it, but seem to have misplaced it. Almost every guest raved about the fish curry and I now know why. the prawn curry was unlike the normal prawn curries of Goa, this was more like a mangalorean prawn gussi, with many more layers of flavour.
3. the cozy corners in our rooms.
4. The extremely accesible location of the hotel, right in the thick of the touristy candolim,calangute, baga stretch.
5. the most amazing vertical garden made of real living plants , just looking at it was like breathing in fresh oxygen.

Hope this makes you want to go on a family staycation of your own, need more convincing on why a staycation could be good for you , read my reasons of LOVING a staycation HERE

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Jaali cafe and boutique, South Goa

There is a reason the word Art resides in the word ‘Heart’ , because when it comes to matters of the art, the brain has very little to do with it. And so when I saw a picture of Jaali restaurant on social media, I knew I had to go there, and that lead us to cross two rivers and a mountain ghat to reach Patnem to this Idyllic Boutique , cum café , which also houses a massage center.

Started by Kate Abramovitz, who is a designer by profession and has had her boutique store in the same place for 3 seasons now. And when I mean seasons, I mean the Goan tourist season, which begins in November and goes  on to March. Women travellers were instantly drawn to the place ( Just like me) , but the men needed more convincing, and so she decided to add a café, where the men and children could enjoy , while the lady spent unhindered time in the boutique store. Her friend L J curated the Mediterranean themed tapas menu, and thus Jaali boutique and Café was born.
Jaali cafe, patnem

Jaali cafe , south Goa

Kate, the curator and designer owner of  Jaali cafe

jaali cafe and boutique

 Jaali has the perfect Goa vibe for me. Now what would the Goan vibe be for someone who lives in Goa, you ask ? for most of the tourists I see them clicking pictures of cows and buffalos on the beach, and I wonder why, but then I realise maybe that is their idea of a ‘Goa vibe’ the ethos of a place. For me it is discovering my state in the little bylanes, where there are more non Goans than Goans, discover a pretty boutique shop with exotic and pretty curios , meet people from around the world who love India and cant get enough of India, and I fall in love with my land when I see it through their travellers eyes.

That is exactly what Jaali is, a rediscovery of the aesthetics of India. The place is filled with a trellis of netted pattern representing the Jaali work found in Rajasthani palaces, as well as Mughal Architecture. As an architectural pattern the Jaali was the ingenious idea of air conditioning in the hot dessert regions of Rajasthan. Following Bernoulli’s principle, when air passes through a large area and flows through a narrow aperture, the temperature of the air is lowered. So when the hot arid winds blew through the Jaali windows, they provided a cooler waft of air for the residents within.

The restaurant Jaali with it’s uniquely Indian use of Indigo patterns, and verdant green garden style surroundings is a similar breath of fresh air.
Oder then a selection of fruit spritzers made from fresh fruits and sparkling water; we tried the watermelon mint spritzer, the pomegranate and the lemon spritzers. Each refreshing and yet unsweetened by artificial sweetners, delicious.

Jaali Cafe , Palolem

L J and Kate , the minds behind the cafe and Boutique 

We ordered the Carni platter which had meatballs, chicken liver pate, chicken roasted with middle eastern spice rubs, and the famed chilli jam made inhouse as well as sold in the boutique store.  What was exceptional though was a cauliflower tapas, also part of the mezze carni platter. A cauliflower roasted and then mixed with a tahini based sauce felt just out of one of Yotam Ottolenghi’s cook books. Yes, that good.

even the plates are custom designed at Jaali boutique and cafe

Indian fabrics and home decor at Jaali boutique

What I Love about the carni board is the little details like the multi grain crisps which are used to scoop on some pate and chilli jam, or the use of Goan poi bread as a flat bread naan variant. Also the healthy mix of salad greens and veggies.
We tried the hummus and the fish in salsa verde too, both kid friendly dishes which my two and a half year old enjoyed.

The desserts stole the show though, I cannot rave enough about the gluten free chocolate and orange cake, made with almond meal, it was high in protein and who am I kidding , the tastiest dessert I have had in weeks. It was so good, I had to pack one for later, because this thing needs to be shared with everyone, and I wanted the folks back home to try it. And the churros with chocolate sauce and cream, a crowd pleaser everytime, anytime.

The brilliant gluten free chocolate orange cake made with almond meal. YUM YUM YUM  at Jaali cafe

We also experienced the sleepy Goan village life in the Jaali cottage in Patnem village, and it was cute and cozy . with so much natural light streaming in and gardens filled with Bouganvilleas and a backyard with a lovely sit out to enjoy the evening cuppa, the cottage had lovely nooks to just read, or even write if you wished, with writing desks overlooking the garden space. The place even though simple has been thoughtfully and aesthetically designed. A salve to the city bred soul.
Jaali cottage

Jaali cottage

It is not every day that one discovers treasures in your own back yard, and jaali is just that.

If you want to read why I love staycations read it HERE on the blog.
Interested to read Istanbul food trail also with similar flavours of the middle east ? read HERE

mediterranean food boards at Jaali Boutique and cafe

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Why I love staycations

When I started writing my food and travel blog, I intentionally hid the fact that I was a doctor, and tried to write like the classic ‘travel bloggers’ of that time. But I soon realised I was not your average food and travel blogger. I was a full time working professional, who loved to travel , but time was a precious commodity not on sale on Amazon or other online sites. And when they say ‘ must have items in your travel bag’ they rarely add ‘time’, when in actuality that’s what defines the kind of travel you do.

In 2017 we didn’t travel anywhere outside of India, and even national travel was restricted to travelling home to Pune or for medical conferences, but what we achieved was a record number of staycations in and around our own city, and that’s what kept me sane.

This year 2018 , has a record number of long weekends, is what I read in the newspaper. But, it doesn’t matter to me, because I work on public holidays as well, infact for the first major ‘long weekend of the year ‘ 26 jan to 28 Jan we are actually working on 26 January on a special ‘Dry eye educational camp’ in the clinic.

So, where does that leave a full time doctor, a working mom, and a walderlust traveller ? Bound by time , I seek solace in the weekend (I work Saturday mornings too) and check in for a staycation.
A day trip to Mahabaleshwar from Pune, I guess counts as a staycation. 

Travelling as tourists in our own city
 A staycation is a stay in your own city, or within a two hour driving distance from your home is how I would describe it. And while I stay in Goa, and a two hour driving distance can take me to a beach, a spice plantation, a waterfall, or the western ghats. Almost any city or town you live in has that one fancy hotel, with the best view of your city, or that one attraction that you can plan your staycation around .

My husband says I become a different person when I am on holiday, and going on a staycation is similar. There is a sense of adventure and sense of anticipation that one is going on a discovery, while still being firmly rooted in the safety of your own city and surroundings. This post is specially for all the workaholics like me, who are also looking for the instant break.
Here are my reasons to love stay cations:
1.       Hyper close time with family: While we are a close knit unit, staying overnight in a place with only one room shared by husband son and me, allows us to be close as a family . At home we are each in our own rooms, here we tend to be physically closer, even if we are still seeing TV or watching car cartoons on the phone.
check in on saturday checkout by sunday; the life of a doctor. 

Car seats are the biggest boo n while on long road trips, the geography transforms in just 2 hours, try a staycation in your own city.
 House cleaning: Imagine breakfast in bed , where you neither have to make the breakfast nor the bed ? Yup, someone else cleans up after my son, and an upturned bowl of Cheeselings is just a house keeping call away. Hotel rooms are also somehow less filled with breakables as opposed to the home.
3.       Discovering your city through relaxed travellers eyes: I have heard so many of my friends in Hyderabad stating that they havents been to Ramoji film city, and Mumbai-ites not been to elephant caves. Sure you can go there without a staycation aswell, but the luxury of time seems a real joy, when you can wake up at your destination really makes it feel like a holiday.
4.       Giving the home makers a break: Do you live in a joined family? Do you have one person who stays at home and manages the house? A staycation is the best way to give them a break from doing home work. We ofcourse do it the other way around, my house keeper, cum child’s nanny could do with a day off sometimes, and when we go on a staycation, she gets a breather, and has a day to herself as well.

5.       Recharge: I love to go to spas, and on a busy work week, the lunch break is the only time I can go for an hour of relieving the knots in my shoulder, and within the hour I am back in the thick of work, never really able to enjoy the small fraction of calm. And having an extended day, where I can leisurely spend my day without the guilt of not spending quality time with my family. At a staycation, while the son and husband enjoy the swimming pool or the play area, I choose to steal a few hours for myself.

Goa state of mind

even drinking tea in a new surrounding is refreshing

6.       Enjoy the luxe life on a budget: When we used to study in hostel, we would try and save for a fancy meal like a breakfast buffet at a five star just to soak in the luxe life. And living in a small apartment,to check in to a hotel with  the luxury of a bathtub the size of your bed, is what makes it all worth while. I know so many people who check into hotels for a good nights sleep, honest, they do. It’s not just that the bed is comfortable, it’s also that one can leave behind all the worries and energies floating around in your head while at home. It is an instant recaliberation.
7.       No need to pack big bags: when I travel the anxiety of packing os real. Will it rain? Is it cold? How cold? Light shawl cold, or sweater and jacket cold? Should I carry denims, pants, a dress and shorts? And packing for a toddler don’t even get me into that .
With a staycation, you can quickly get into the holiday mood, check out from the household worries of ‘what to make for lunch’ , the ‘what should we do today?’ inertia, and being AWOL for the day, to be back at home and life in a jiffy.
I know a lot of travel blogs say ‘ the journey is part of the destination’ and the journey is great too, but when you don’t want to pack have your house for a trip for four nights and three days of which ten to twelve hours is spent reaching the destination. Sometimes it helps to bring the destination to your city and to your doorstep.
Some of the best times to book a staycation?

Goa, it may fi on a beach towel, but there is more to Goa than beaches.


Newyears eve : Drink , don’t drive, just check in.

Birthdays , anniversaries, valentines: check in on a Saturday, spoil your better halves and rekindle the magic , and the best thing is it is a perfect surprise! Whisk her away to lunch, and return only the next day!

we spent 24 hours in MORJIM read about it HERE
Check into a yoga and ayurveda center for the weekend, I did that beginning of last year, read about it HERE
Deciding to stay in a cute home stay in a spice plantation ? we did that once read about it HERE
My son loves these outings Are we going to Resort ? he asks every time we pack our bags for the weekend  read about one such kid frindly resort HERE

Monsoons: The house seems musty and gloomy, check into a hotel/resort and feel refreshed . Get great rates too. WE went to Amboli Ghats last monsoons and it was a fab trip 

So this is the second Travel resolution for you this year : Go for a Staycation. Wondering what the first resolution was? It was to make a travel journal of atleast one of your holidays this year.