The Kochi- Muziris Biennale 2016 launched this week in Fort Kochi, Kerala, a historical region in Kerala, India that has emerged as a “must see” destination to international art lovers, global wanderlusters, and those intrigued by its historical connection to the famous Malabar spice route. As one of the key harbors on the West Coast of India focused on the spice trade between the Middle East and China in olden times, Fort Kochi claims a rich and colorful succession of rulers over the centuries including the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch, then the British, until India’s independence in 1947 where it was finally restored to Indian hands. Such a turbulent but vivid history has created a quaint and distinctive township where one of the oldest Jewish settlements sits not so far from the famed St. Francis Church, built by the Portuguese in 1503, home to the remains of none other than the famed Vasco da Gama.
While taking in art new and old at the Biennale, I have taken the liberty to draw your attention to a few eclectic choices to dine, sip your espresso or just take in the interesting Dutch and Portuguese style architecture. Here’s my go to list for a fun-filled day in Fort Kochi:
Café Oissa-Modern, trendy, international, this café grinds each cup of coffee true to the tradition of the other desirable hipster café’s around the world but frankly this place excited me because it is in Kerala, where coffee is often found in traditional no nonsense Brahmin restaurants. The indulgent, carefully chosen design sense of the café, all the way up to the glass jars with eager live goldfish on the coffee bar made this a fun find in Fort Kochi.
David Hall- This gallery cum outdoor café created from an ancient Dutch bungalow is a must go destination for pizza lovers who like a thin crust, wood fired pizza with fresh ingredients. Yes, once you place the order, you see them roll out your pizza, throw on the fresh veggies and stick it in a interesting outdoor oven to cook it to a perfection which I have frankly have not found in many restaurants, even the fancy ones, in Kerala. Their cappuccino was lovely as was their ice tea which has a reputation in town. Sitting outdoors was perfect as it has privacy and an indoor courtyard feel even though it is central to the Fort Kochi action.
Malabar House- I have seen this hotel over the years with its European design sense and it never fails to disappoint. With its indoor outdoor feel complemented by its central location in Fort Kochi, this hotel makes for an interesting option to explore either for dining or lodging.
Brunton Boat Yard- Though a bit on the pricier side, its location is pristine, right on the harbor and steps away from all of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale action. Both of their restaurants are top mark and offer an extensive selection of local Kerala menu options as well as Western comfort foods along with a fun lineup of healthy and indulgent beverages. The architecture of the hotel is a throwback to the 19th Century Malabar period and is Kerala inspired.
If you visit any of these locations, let them know you were recommended by Belle Desi at www.belledesi.com and you would have made my day! Follow me on Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest for more travel tidbits and questions on Fort Kochi, Kerala!