The last 12 months have made travel to south Goa – my one true love – pretty difficult so when I finally went back, I headed straight down to my favourite place for familiar faces and old friends. Kate Abramovitz has spent lockdown working twice as hard as she usually does. She expanded the Jaali brand by adding another feature to her Jaali Café cap with Casa Jaali Resort, and I was so pleased to discover a sparkling new gem in Patnem.
Jaali Café opened in 2015, a labour of love for food enthusiast Kate from South Africa and her British friend L-J, who is her chef and restaurant consultant. From those sensibilities – of turning local into global – came Casa Jaali, a seafront property with seven rooms that makes ‘the perfect location’ take on a whole new meaning.
Unhindered views of Patnem Bay, & Rajbag Beach in the far distance explode before each cottage; only the sky is shaded over by the swaying coconut palms above. Pretty sit-outs along the edge of the waterline tempt you and your book or coffee cup all day, an idyllic spot to watch the sun dip beyond the peninsular every evening.
Inside, each room reminded me of living within the heart of a flower – surrounded by various shades of leafy greens punctuated by bursts of reds, pinks, magenta. There are little garden spaces outside each room that attract exquisitely coloured butterflies while the expanse of the sea ahead could snag you a glimpse of a passing dolphin. Casa Jaali truly brings the outdoors in.
Kate has been inspired by the local culture and village that surrounds her, so each air-conditioned room is built along the lines of a fisherman’s hut with thick stone walls, sloping roofs and tiles that keep them cool in the summer and warm in the cool season. The largest space is a two-bedroom house with a kitchen and private garden ideal for a bunch of friends or a family.
Jaali Café remains a hot local favourite with its innovative and beautifully presented food, DJ nights on Thursdays and Saturday brunches with live jazz. L-J and Kate curated a menu influenced by Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavours, but use locally available ingredients to ensure the food is as fresh as ever.
This is reflected in Jaali Kitchen, except here, you can expect quick service food – wraps, salads, sandwiches and the like. It’s still all fresh and local, just not as extensive as Jaali Café. Guests will find an extensive and diverse breakfast menu, which you can order all day (because at the beach there’s no clock!). At lunch, there are delicious salads and sandwiches all made with gorgeous produce from around the area. Juices, smoothies, specialty teas and coffees rule the day. In the evening, they give way to knockout cocktails that pair beautifully while the sun is setting, a daily celebration with Mexican tacos and margaritas. They are launching a new, fairly extensive dinner menu that I will be heading back down south to try soon.
You can also satiate an itch to shop at the Jaali Boutique where Kate’s adventures across India have brought unique and interesting gems to the sprawling house and verandah. There are elegant and maverick pieces including one-off vintage finds, engraved brass tiffins, framed prints of Hindu deities, Jaipur miniatures, vintage erotica and 50s tinware, along with the Jaali Boutique clothing label and curated collections from other Goan designers.
There’s a certain feeling of contentment at Casa Jaali that’s rare at other places in south Goa. Thanks to its incredible location, you don’t quite feel like leaving. But if you do, everything you might want is within walking distance. Within minutes you can be at Colomb beach, take a stop at Kala Bahia, Laguna Vista & La La Land for some fab cocktails, or grab some dinner at Hare Rama, Salida del Sol and Nada Brahma on Patnem Beach. The tourist population is thin in these parts, particularly Patnem, which makes visiting the beach so refreshing and secluded.
I’m super proud of Kate and this new venture in Patnem. Considering her success with Jaali Café & Boutique, I have absolutely no doubt that she will gain equal admiration for Casa Jaali, easily one of the finest boutique properties in South Goa.