Vivek Menezes lists 15 new things to look out for in Goa this season.

Ever since the millennium New Year, Goa has boiled over every tourist season. 
of thousands of visitors, mostly foreign but increasingly Indian, stuff the 
coastline and the state's population actually doubles from November to March. 
commercial strips along the beaches of North and South Goa are packed tight 
sun-bathing humanity. But even in season, there is a lot to Goa besides beer 
bikinis, and something new is always springing up if you know where to look. 
are 15 new things you need to know about your favourite vacation spot.

Where to eat
Café Chocolatti
Café Chocolatti has long been one of the best daytime establishments on the 
strip of North Goa. Run by a relaxed Goan-Parsi couple, it serves outstanding 
salads, sandwiches and shakes, brilliant baked goods and home-made chocolates, 
including the sinfully addictive chili truffles. Much of this repertoire will 
now be 
available in Panjim. Chocolatti has opened an outlet in the restored courtyard 
of a 
grand old house on the Altinho ridge, which soars over the centre of the city. 
house is "Sunaparanta - Goa Centre for the Arts". It's an initiative by the 
mine-owning Ambani in-law, Dattaraj Salgaoncar, which promises to "encourage, 
sponsor and promote innovative work in the visual arts" and to support art 
For now, we're just grateful that they promote and support truffles.
Café Chocolatti Sunaparanta - Goa Centre for the Arts, 63/C-8, near Lar de 
Estudantes, Altinho, Panjim (0832-2421311, Call for restaurant 
hours, which were not available at the time of publication.

The newest restaurant in Panjim's oldest neighbourhood is an instant classic. 
in the Latin Quarter, which stretches along the Rua do Ourem, is a 
neighbourhood of 
pastel colours and winding streets, gorgeous and miraculously intact. Here the 
Alvares brothers have converted part of a century-old house into a lovely 
avatar of 
their former digs at the Clube Vasco da Gama. Ernesto's feels like 
Goan hospitality, with a relaxed atmosphere and a constant crowd of regulars. 
dedicated fans of chef Vasco Alvares, a man-mountain who goes by the ironic 
Vasquito, "little Vasco". He has become famous across Goa for his deft 
treatment of 
meats, like the filet-mignon with blue cheese sauce, his signature barbecued 
and the super-satisfying burger. We also endorse the chicken Zambezi made with 
coconut cream and real piri-piri peppers, and any of the fish items (but 
the smoked salmon carpaccio). Save room for Serradura, the "sawdust" pudding 
from powdered biscuits and whole cream.
Ernesto's House 6/49, Mala, Panjim (below Maruti Temple) (0-98230 -15921, 
0832-3256213). Daily 11am-3pm and 6.30-11pm. Meal for two Rs 800. No credit 

Republic of Noodles
Times have changed on Goa's main tourist drag between Baga and the Aguada 
Once the realm of coconut-thatch shacks, it's now a concrete jungle of 
hotels, restaurants and brand-name coffee shops. This is the world occupied by 
Republic of Noodles. A start-up with ambitions of becoming a national chain, it 
comes with a full package: website, slick concept and merchandising, 
décor. The vast menu draws from the cuisine of South-East Asia: Burma, 
Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia. But there's a basic problem with 
multi-cuisine restaurants - they're sometimes formulaic by nature. This is the 
with Republic of Noodles. Most dishes - satays, barbecued ribs, tofu with 
rendang curry - are carefully constructed but soulless. The contrast appears 
you try the simple Bangkok pad thai, an unexpected highlight, scrupulously 
and executed with zest. Achieving that quality consistently, even for a 
of the caliber of Republic of Noodles, is impossible when your menu lists a 
items from ten different countries.
Republic of Noodles Lemon Tree, Amarante Beach Resort, Vadi, Candolim 
(0832-2489600, Daily 7-11.30pm. Meal for two Rs 2,500. All cards 

In season, Goa's restaurant scene is mind-bogglingly diverse. It features, 
others, some of the few genuine Spanish and Greek restaurants in the 
But one international cuisine has been missing - Japanese. That gap is now 
filled by 
Tamari, the restaurant at the new Vivanta by Taj, which sits like a 
sealed cube on the edge of the heritage district of Campal, in the state 
capital. It 
is decidedly odd to eat fish flown in from Norway while sitting in 
Old Panjim. But there's no doubting Tamari's careful execution and presentation 
its nigiri, sashimi, other wraps and rolls, and the dishes whipped up in front 
you at the live teppanyaki counter. We gobbled it all down: salmon, tuna, eel 
fish roe, followed by hearty bowls of real soba noodles tossed with vegetables 
tender chicken. A great new addition to Goa's restaurant scene.
Tamari Vivanta by Taj, D B Bandodkar Road, St Inez Junction, Panjim 
(0832-6633636, Daily 12.30-3pm, 7-11pm. Japanese meal for two Rs 3,000. 
cards accepted.

What to do
Goa 1556
Despite its longstanding reputation as a sleepy cultural backwater, there is a 
renaissance taking place in Goa. One indicator is the sheer amount of books 
published each year in Konkani, Marathi and English, which makes the state the 
"self-publishing capital of India" according to anthropologist and Goa resident 
Rahul Srivastava. At the vanguard of this movement in self-expression is Goa 
run by veteran journalist Frederick Noronha. The company's name memorialises 
date when the first printing press in Asia came into operation in Goa. Noronha 
his company doesn't seek profits but exists because "today, more than ever, Goa 
needs a voice to articulate its own priorities". Goa 1556 publishes a book 
every few 
months, most recently a beautiful revised edition of Medieval Goa by the 
Dr Teotonio de Souza, an essential text that had been out of print for decades. All titles available at Broadway Book Centre, 
Building, next to Rizvi Tower, 18th June Road, Panjim (0832-6647038,

Feni Geographical Indication
Cashew feni has found its pedigree. On February 27 (doff your hat now, please), 
name of the Goans' hallowed local drink was registered as a Geographical 
in India. It took two years of wrangling, political mobilisation and social 
to make cashew feni the first Indian alcohol with a GI, joining Mexico's 
tequila and 
France's Champagne as protected intellectual property. Along with the 
came a fascinating case study, funded by the UK's Economic and Social Research 
Council and headed by a lucky man, the Principal Investigator of Feni, Dwijen 
Rangnekar of the University of Warwick. Rangnekar surveys the social practices 
have evolved around the production and consumption of this famously redolent 
It concludes, approvingly, that "the successful mobilisation of interested 
and resources to secure the feni-GI is testimony to the cultural and economic 
interests vested in feni". We say cheers to that.
See Feni is available at every bar and tavern in Goa.

Goa is the only state in India which has legalised gambling, and 18 separate 
have licences to conduct business. But it's far from boom time for the 
last year, the collected operators reported just over two lakh entry tickets 
across the board. That's less than 30 visitors per day per casino, not enough 
keep even a beach shack afloat. Things have been looking even bleaker since the 
government reacted to concerted local activist pressure by raising the casino 
fee from Rs 200 per person to Rs 2,000, just last month. Many casinos are 
and will refund your fee in the form of chips, but be aware that you're going 
have to fork out a cool two grand just to get into the building before you're 
to lose your shirt. Entry fee now Rs 2,000 at all 18 casinos in Goa.

Goa Chitra
One of Goa's most charming attractions is the deeply personal "ethnographic 
Goa Chitra in Benaulim. Founded by the artist-turned-curator Victor Hugo Gomes 
as "a 
tribute to his ancestors and their way of life", this little rural complex 
thousands of traditional implements, vessels and tools that evolved over 
in the agrarian heartland of Goa in the service of farming and other 
trades. What's best is that these items are showcased in the context of a 
organic farm, amid a variety of birds, animals, cultivated fields and fruit 
There is enough to delight any age group. Children in particular will gain a 
deal from a visit to this labour of love in its pretty corner of South Goa.
St John the Baptist Church Road, Mondovaddo, Benaulim (0832-6570977, 
www.goachitra. com) Tue-Sun, 9am-1pm, 2-6pm. Entry free.

Casa Museu Vincento Joao de Figueiredo
The magnificent Figueiredo House in Loutolim, a time-capsule of 
aristocratic high-life, was for decades fiercely guarded by the formidable 
Georgina de Figueiredo. Upon her death, the house and its priceless collections 
furniture, porcelain and art passed into the hands of her sister, Maria de 
Earlier this year, de Lourdes dedicated it as a permanent museum for the 
benefit of 
the people and culture of Goa. It is a remarkably preserved vision of a bygone 
bookshelves filled with volumes in French, Portuguese, English and German, 
portraits on the wall.

De Lourdes is a gregarious and winning guide to her family legacy. Best of all, 
you give her 48 hours notice, she will prepare a lavish Luso-Indian lunch for 
party (minimum six people), using recipes that have been passed down for 
generations - just like the crockery you will be served from, and the dining 
room in 
which you will sit.
Loutolim (0832-2777028) Tickets Rs 150 per head. Lunch in the Museum dining 
room Rs 
1,200 per head.

Few people are aware of the small but outstanding wildlife sanctuary literally 
within sight of Panjim and Porvorim's concrete. The Dr Salim Ali Bird 
Sanctuary, on 
the downstream tip of the river island of Chorao, comes into clear view from 
twin bridges across the Mandovi. A few weeks ago, the Conservator of Forests in 
declared his intention to turn the sanctuary and its adjoining mangroves into a 
Critical Wildlife habitat, as provided for by a 2006 law. This could mean an 
level of protection, after which entry to the sanctuary could be restricted. 
the chance to see what all the fuss is about with Pankaj Lad, the enthusiastic 
naturalist who runs Canopy, "an ecotourism venture with a difference". We 
his boat safari and marsh birding trip to Chorao: you'll spot dozens of species 
birds, including, if you're lucky, the rare collared kingfisher.
Dr Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary Tours run by Canopy 
The boat safari and marsh birding tour is Rs 1,000 per head and lasts four 

Goan Football
When Goa won the Santosh trophy four months ago in Chennai without conceding a 
single goal in regulation play, The Times of India underlined what every 
fan in the country has known for some time: "The heart and soul of Indian 
is now overwhelmingly Goan, anyone with a spirit of the beautiful game in their 
veins will agree." Since then, Churchill Brothers has won the IFA Shield and 
Durand Cup in quick succession. The run of triumphs by Goan teams includes five 
the last six national professional league titles, and an unprecedented run in 
Asian Football Cup by the Dempo team, which ended only after they became 
first club to qualify for the semi-finals. Although most of the Indian team 
plays in 
Goa (six national starters play for Dempo alone), the cradle of the state's 
culture is its village teams and youth tournaments. Grab a seat the next time 
pass a game in the paddy fields, and mark out the best performers - the next 
you see them they could be wearing national colours.
See for the professional league schedule.

Goa Kayaking
Hit the coastline of Goa this year, and you're going to observe a new 
phenomenon: a 
real kayaking movement that's picking up speed. People are taking to the water 
droves in these basic, colourful fibreglass boats, which have become easily 
available in Goa. Kayaking has to be the easiest form of boating around: the 
sit-on-top models are virtually unsinkable, and paddling along in Goa's gentle 
waters is almost effortless. It's the perfect shallow-end entry into 
for teenagers. New organisations are springing up to promote the activity. 
Check the 
schedule at the Goa Kayaking blog ("kayaking for fun and health!!") for one-day 
introductory courses that take you from basic strokes to navigation, with solo 
practice for every trainee.
(, 0-94220-56037).

Tiger Boxing and Fitness Gym
On January 1, 2000, the Italian boxer Fabrizio Petroni arrived in Goa to start 
a new 
life with his newfound love, Daria Dell'Antonia. Later that year, he set up the 
Tiger Boxing Gym in the unlikely setting of Chapora, a rugged North Goa village 
nestled in the shadow of a medieval fortress. Petroni emphasised speed and 
flexibility for his boxers, and his intense evening workout sessions gained a 
following. His techniques produced impressive results - boxers from the Tiger 
have come to dominate the sport in Goa. Several of his fighters are touted as 
Olympic prospects, especially the fearsome female pinweight, Soniya Parab. 
to Tiger Boxing and Fitness can register for individually-tailored training 
regimens, or simply show up for the hellacious evening fitness sessions of 
cardiovascular and endurance training, power training and flexibility and 
coordination drills.
Chapora. For boxing or fitness training contact 0-98200-55053 or

What to buy
Rebelo's Arte e Mobilia
When Kevin Pinto Rebello finally managed to get the tenants out of his old 
building in the heart of Panjim, he knew exactly what to do with his share of 
space. He opened Arte e Mobilia, a light-filled and eye-pleasing space, right 
the public square in front of the iconic Café Bhonsle. Rebelo has been in the 
antique furniture business for a long time, but this is the first time he's set 
up a 
formal showroom. It's full of interesting and unique objects sourced from Goa, 
Mumbai, Kolkata and beyond. More intriguing still is Rebelo's plan to 
display-space to items that anyone might want to sell, for which he charges a 
10 per cent. Thanks to this policy, all kinds of fascinating Luso-Indian items 
up in his boutique, making it well worth a visit when you're knocking around 
centre of Panjim.
Rebelo's Arte e Mobilia Rebelo Building, first floor, Rua de Ormuz, opposite 
Bhonsle, Panjim (0-98231-00400). Open Mon-Sat 10am-1pm and 4.30-8pm, Sun 

Where to stay
Casa dos Colacos
These days Margao, the capital of South Goa, is choked with traffic and 
with ugly constructions - a place to avoid. This is a great pity, because the 
contains the most impressive domestic architecture in the state. Spectacular 
were built during the cultural flowering of the late nineteenth century, when 
local elites came into their own. The very best of these mansions are in the 
neighbourhood of the Holy Spirit Church, and at the centre of this heritage 
Felipe and Lorna Colaco have lovingly restored their palatial Casa dos Colacos 
a "boutique bed and breakfast". Guests experience the full grandee atmosphere 
this courtyard house, with its impossibly lofty ceilings and century-old 
tiles. The attentive hosts can draw up daily plans that include backwater 
cruises or 
ayurvedic massages. But we recommend just staying put and living the history.
Bernardo da Costa Road, Margao (0-832-2726860, Double 
from Rs 2,500 per night.

Source : Time Out Mumbai ISSUE 5 Friday, October 30, 2009

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