I'm a Goan woman, working in Mumbai as the founder of a studio called Totem Creative. I try to make the world happier, safer and more meaningful. I believe education, knowledge and awareness, art, writing and creating Social Impact are my means to achieve that end.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Little Italy

17th August 2012

Today we went to a small place by FC road called Little Italy. I first went there when it had newly opened in Goa; probably in 2000 or 2001. At the time I had never tasted Italian food in my life, and I don’t even remember tasting it. 

In 2011 we went to Italy on a family vacation. It was one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever seen. I’d say it’s my favourite amongst all the places I’ve visited.  I had never really enjoyed Italian food before I went to Italy. I found pastas too heavy, fatty and bland, and the pizzas I’d tasted at Dominos (the first and only pizza joint in Goa) were so dry and had such thick bread and less vegies that I had a strong disregard for Italian food. 

Of course when I came to Pune for MIT, I tried some delicious Italian pastas at good restaraunts, although I was still not fond of all the pizzas after trying local pizzas as well as the popular pizza brands like Dominos, Pizza hut, Smokin’ Joes and Papa Jones. Maybe I’d just ordered the wrong ones. When I am home I often experiment with different types of pastas, their sauces, herbs and vegies. Most of the time they turn out pretty nice, and I’ve gotten a hang of cooking it. Al dente. ;)
Now I hadn’t had great Italian since Italy, and I had given up eating Italian food in India, until my sister Raina decided to take us to Little Italy in Pune, today. I don’t know if this restaurant was under the same management as the one I dined at in Goa 13 years ago; but it was infinitely more memorable. When we got there, there was Valet parking. “This is fancy?” I said to Raina. “Yeah! Haven’t you come here before?” she asked. I shook my head and we went to claim our reserved table in the open air section. The place was packed!

We didn’t get a great place, it was in the corner with dim lighting; so we shifted to a table ahead.
We ordered Sangria port wine (which was nice, but a little too sweet for my liking). For the food, Pasta Perivama (red sauce with sundried tomatoes, olives, zucchini, broccoli, capers), Pasta Barcalava (white sauce pasta with sun-dried tomatoes, basil and broccoli), and two delicious wood burnt pizzas (cottage cheese, coriander, capsicum, tomato and parmesan) and the other (sun-dried tomatoes, basic, mushroom and parmesan). The menu was completely out of the world. I smelled the delicious aromas and it was so beautiful to look at while being served. Every bite I took was taking me on a trip. My taste buds were having an orgasm. The flavours were so popping and so well combined, I was blown away. First I had the pastas and then the pizza, and I ended with the delicious wood burnt thin crusts. 

My family was enjoying the food too, with good conversation, but I was in another world. I was quiet, and I couldn’t help but stay with the food. I think I went to Italy and came back. When I took the last bite, I was so content, so happy and elated, I didn’t even want to drink water, for it would wash down the taste. My parents and aunt looked at me in amusement, enjoying my quiet ride to heaven. I did a small gesture of touching the feet of the chef (something we Indians do out of respect and love). I shook my head in a loss of words. My family laughed cheerfully. 

After a paid the bill, we sat there for a few minutes and then decided to leave. My parents waited near the car, but I couldn’t leave without saying thanks. I told the waiter to pay my compliments to the chef. I wish I could do it personally, but I guess they were having a busy night. He told me to wait, and came back with a feedback form. I wrote a comment, “Thank-you so much for the wonderful food. Every bite was worth it and took me to Italy. It was perfect.”  The waiter smiled, said thanks and went off to give it to the chef. (There is more than one reason why Ratatouille is my favourite 3D Animated feature) I wish more people looked at the finer aspects of eating great food.

My friend, Ishan understands and appreciates food the way I do. He may not stare at it for that long, but he loves food the way I do. He quoted once, “Food is the highest form of art one ever made. It involves all the human senses – we hear, we smell, we see, we touch, and we taste.” Touché, Ishan.