This post is a part of the What’s On My Plate series
Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva
My much beloved minced meat Goabanõ
I’d like to start this particular piece like a John Grisham novel, a badly written one at that. The night was dark, grim, and it had just begun to rain. Yet, he longed for that connection, that unending bond that would fill him with warmth; food, basically. Yes, it was a dark and rainy night, and while I decided to drive to my favourite cutlet pão haunt in Santa Cruz, my cutlet pão provider decided that the rain was a good enough reason to desert me in my hour of need and go home. I decided I could survive until I got home and moved a little further down the road, where I decided it would be wide enough to take a U-turn. That’s when, all of a sudden I saw what may have been able to save the day.
In the midst of the rainy darkness ‘glowed’ a van. Picture the ‘Mystery Machine’ from Scooby Doo, but in all-orange. That’s the first mental image that came to mind. The menu consists of a solitary sheet that announces the name of the place, ‘Athenaz’. Under that there is a list of offerings, titled, ‘Goabanõs’. Let me break down these delicious not-so-little things, for a greater understanding of what it is that they comprise.
Clear your mind of all the clutter that may be there on a regular basis. Now picture a typical Goan multigrain poie. Slice it open; fill it with any of the following: minced meat (kheema), chilli roast pork, local sausage (choris), roast beef, ox tongue or chicken cafreal; top it with a fried egg; add a dollop of garlic mayo to that; close the gap in the poie and toast it, before plopping it onto your plate and walloping it. If anything redefines the term ‘finger licking good’, this does. Adrian also dishes out a mean hot-dog and a fairly promising pasta. However, the Goabanõs are a signature that he should not waver from.
My personal favourite is the minced meat (kheema), purely because it is texturally perfect, in my opinion. The mince is of a molten texture, and the yolk of the egg is just cooked, leaving it nice and runny. That marriage by itself is heavenly. Adding to that is the crunch from the sautéed onions that make up part of the mince which also has hints of coriander, which give it an additional lift. This is not to say that its counterpart fillings are poorer in nature, but merely to suggest that if you had to pick from the lot, this one should ideally get the nod.
Athenaz is the brainchild of Adrian Gomes, a chef from Chandor, who plies his trade in Santa Cruz, assisted by a lovely young lady that I have heard a fair few diners refer to as his ‘Girl Friday’. I’d be very happy to be marooned on an island if Adrian promised to cater though.
If I had to pick on just the one niggle that I have, when it comes to Athenaz, it would be this: For those that cannot eat without accompanying their food with a beverage, the orange truck is most certainly on the back foot, for Adrian serves none. However, every health nut will rejoice at the sound of the words ‘cold-pressed juice’, which could soon be on the cards, at the truck. For those less enthusiastic on the healthy side of gastronomic life, a cold pressed juice is made using huge hydraulic presses that press fruits and vegetables through fine mesh, getting nearly all of the juice out of the produce. For citrus fruits, they use high speed extractors to get deliciously bright juice from oranges, grapefruit, lemons and limes. When the extraction process is done, you get a naturally vibrant juice. While many debunk the theory of it being healthier than regular juice, one can’t deny that it certainly tastes better.
Even if you kept the juice aside (and why would you), the future for Athenaz looks pretty bright, to be honest. Things are already on the up, and the food is outstanding. Furthermore, Adrian shares in an aside that he plans on offering add-ons like bacon bits and caramelised onions, in the near future. There isn’t anyone out there that can’t possibly find anything to counter that as a good enough reason to go visit the food truck. To begin with, as things stand, there isn’t a good enough reason to go visit the food truck. All in all, if you haven’t explored this outlet as a viable place to go eat, you haven’t truly discovered Goa’s food circuit, in all its vibrancy.
Athenaz isn't a 'blink-and-you-miss-it' sort of establishment, but its fairly off the beaten track. As such, map your way to the Santa Cruz football ground, and you will find the orange truck staring you in the face.
Carry something to drink with you, if you need a beverage with your food, as Adrian only (currently) serves bottled water.
The average cost of a Goabanõ is ₹100 (at the time of publishing this review).
How to get there
Beside the Santa Cruz Football Ground, Santa Cruz, Goa 403202
Food is a huge part of any culture and for me, chancing upon a good meal is synonymous with having a great day. The What’s On My Plate series of posts is where I discuss food, great places to eat, and anything gastronomically moving. This could be anything from a great place to eat, to an obscure kind of food, to an origin story. After all, there is no love like the love of eating.