GRAPE ESCAPADE TREATS…

POMAR DE FRUTAS: A German tourist at the Great Escapade enjoying his mango wine

by Tara Narayan

BOTH the Grape Escapade and carnival were in town over the weekend so being a keen Ponjekar I stepped out in the evening more often to see and savour the sights! Although every time I take to walking down the Campal promenade I get annoyed anew by all the encroachments which have taken place over time and the crooked lines of pavements none too well maintained. Why do Goans think if they keep on dumping dry waste in front of their homes on public open space they may soon be able to privatize them into their own larger garden compound with nobody the wiser? It’s just sly stealing of public pavement space possibly after greasing some hands high up in the civic bureaucracy. Acts of theft really, although these worthies think it’s okay to steal some bits of public land at public cost and safety.
As if the bigger your garden compound and the narrower the pavement space outside the better the quality of their life behind hypocritical pretensions of being virtuous or righteous! Why won’t citizens understand that what is outside is also ours, we, the people’s and it matters what kind of a quality of life we and our children, our senior citizens enjoy while walking pavements, streets, street corners, gardens…all public places? The Corporation of the City of Panaji of course is happy to be a rotten housekeeper constantly turning a blind eye to citizens’ thieving ways.
After going round and round down the Campal promenade I managed to find a place to park my Blue Angel at the Grape Escapade venue (the VIPS and VIIPs with 4-wheelers enjoy premium space of course) to walk in — what a lot of wines are being made in India today! Everyone was walking around tasting from outlet to outlet in little plastic glasses — I had my wine glass in bag and with a flourish produced it so that whoever could pour my order into it instead of those flimsy cocktail pet plastics…so I enjoyed my sangria and mango wine on different evenings, watching the entertainment on stage and saying hello to friends.
My friend Delia Morenas was happy making sorties around to taste wine here and there and finally returning to table where her hubby Raymond and me were parked for a while taking it easy. She grumbled even a thin slice of fried kingfish was selling at 200 to350, and even a pile of potato fingers nowadays are 100 everywhere, but those she’s got were from the O’Coqueiro stall and the best real potato fingers! Dear Raymond explained to me how I could make the best potato fingers at home, “Wash potatoes, skin if you wish, slice into fingers and toss in olive oil, salt, black pepper and grill in oven — they’re yummy!” Come home and make them for me one day, I replied. I’d got a plate of steaming veg momo from Sua Casa (although newcomers Nainital Momos were also there with a stall) and an inviting fruity sangria from the Toro Toro grill people from Baga-Arporo. Since they were also doing pizza and seeing a vegetarian roasted veggies and cottage cheese (paneer) pizza on the chalked up menu, I ordered one to take home. Alas, it was not a good decision. As usual I rue the fact that pizza base — thin or pan thick — haven’t gone wholegrain affairs yet in urban India despite the pizza mania all around. And I forgot to tell the pizza guys no mozarella cheese topping for me please (I always do that because I’m not into chewing mindlessly heated to high temperature plastic-styled cheese)! So back home my320 something pizza was worth chucking in the bin, the roasted veggies were visible and tiny paneer cubes too stingy a scattering). Why must pizza sellers cheat even when it comes to primary tomato sauce, they ladle on just a thin sketchy layer and this offers no real flavour to pizza. One of these days I’m just going to boycott junk food cheating pizzas.
There was lots of meaty Goan food going of course with sizzling slices of kingfish, grilled prawn plates, rissois de camarao, sorpotel-sanna, chicken xacuti/cutlets/lollipops, choris-pao, beef chops, all kinds of meaty roasts/curries and biryani of course is very popular with most everyone (I would declare biryani as the national dish of India).What do you know, this time around there were some young entrepreneurs promoting liqueur chocolates — the Inabo liqueur chocolate truffles filled with Gilmore Whiskey, Dark Mate Rum, Baudin Brandy, Cabo Coconut liqueur, Swirl Triple Sec Liqueur, Voodoo Crèam Liqueur…and so on…I fell for only the Swirl Triple Sec liqueur chocs! Not cheap — 300 per box of nine chocolates. Funny how so many complained about taxes in Goa screwing up their entrepreneurial business — is the government of Goa really serious about encouraging Made in Goa goodies? Well, don’t slap on the taxes so cruelly! Since it was the Grape Escapade there was lots of wine around…Fratelli, Big Banyan (don’t miss their logo of a banyan tree advising wine drinkers to “Drink Responsibly”), the Indiosa chenin blanc and shiraz came highly recommended but I didn’t taste because I didn’t want to get lost in a maze of inebriation, I mean I had to get home later. I was happy enough sipping my deliciously chilled Pomar De Frutas alphonso mango wine developed and manufactured by Codon Biosciences, the pretty bottles were showcased in a basket surrounded by fresh fragrant Devgad alphonso or “afoos” mangoes (early in the season but I’m told they’re already selling at150 per mango in the Panaji market). I don’t know why anyone should feel like eating mangoes out of season?
All this and much more at the Grape Escapade. I became quite fond of sitting somewhere around artist-filmmaker Raviraj Naik who was diligently doing portraits for whoever was willing to pose for 20 minutes or so…he turns out good portraits too, forgot to ask him how much it would cost to do a portrait of me! Don’t ask me why so late in my life on the good earth I’m filled with a yen to acquire a portrait of myself before I grow too old …just some latent vain streak I suppose, but then like all fleeting desires this one too shall pass on in time.

Grape Escapade: On stage are Salil Naik (Konkani Film Actor), Monty Sally (fashion designer), Cecille Rodrigues (DID supermom contestant), Grape Escapade 2019 runner-up – Alisha Pilgaonkar, Grape Escapade Queen 2019 – Meurel Viegas, Sanjiv Gadkar (Director of Tourism, Govt. of Goa), Ivan Fernandes (Air Arabia) and Pallavi Subhash (Indian film actress)
Artist Raviraj busy doing portraits… in great demand!

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