Gourmet Travel Morocco Travel Junkie Diary of

Samantha Wood

Thursday, July 18, 2013
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As a result of a long time fascination with restaurant reviewing and a real gap in Dubai for an online resource dedicated to impartial restaurant reviews, Samantha Wood, a restaurant reviewer and food blogger, launched FooDiva just over two years ago and within nine months it won its first award, with the second following a year later.

Destination  Morocco

Spices used

  • Ras El Hanout is the signature Moroccan spice – a blend of many spices mainly cardamom, clove, cinnamon, chilli, coriander, cumin, peppercorn, paprika, fenugreek and turmeric. You can buy it already blended.
  • It’s also worth mentioning harissa – more of a hot chilli pepper paste whose main ingredients are chilli pepper, garliccoriander, caraway, salt and olive oil.
  • Chermoula is a moreishly good marinade with coriander, parsley, garlic, cumin, paprika and cayenne pepper, lemon and olive oil – works wonders on fish.

Traditional dish

  • Tagines are the most traditional and most famous – a stew slow-cooked in earthenware pots with conical lids. There are many variations, but my three favourites are kofta and egg, chicken with preserved lemons, and lamb with artichokes and potatoes.
  • Pigeon pastilla is another popular dish – a sweet-savoury crisp and tissue-thin pie from the city of Fez. Shredded pigeon and almonds sprinkled with icing sugar and cinnamon. Pretty to look at too!

Dish to devour

  • Aside from what I’ve already mentioned, the rghayef – a fried, square-shaped pancake served at breakfast in our guest house in Ouarzazate is absolutely sublime. Traditionally drizzled with honey but as I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, I slather on cream cheese.
  • I was seriously impressed by the Moroccan wine, red grapes in particular – the Medaillon Cabernet 2010, Terres Rouges – La Ferme Rouge 2011 and Volubilla 2009. So much so, I brought a few bottles back.
  • Not really Moroccan, but our stunning riad in Marrakech served us a different home-made breakfast every morning. My favourite was the baguette pain perdu…I can still taste it now.

Best restaurants

Here are my top picks for the destinations I visited. Bar one restaurant, all specialize in Moroccan dishes. When I travel I tend to embrace local culture and wrap my taste buds around that country’s cuisine.

{Ouarzazate}

  • Jardin des Aromes – all hidden alcoves.
  • La Kasbah des Sables – beautiful hideaway complete with flickering lanterns. Moroccan and French bistro-style cuisine.

{Marrakesh}

  • Le Foundouk – I guarantee you’ll get lost finding this gem in the maze of the medinah, but that’s part and parcel of the Moroccan experience.
  • Al Fassia – in the Gueliz district where all staff both front and back of house are women.
  • Café Arabe – a delightful, relaxed lunch spot in the heart of the Medinah with staggering rooftop views.
  • Bozin – Asian fusion restaurant and lounge, and where I celebrated my birthday.

Tips

In one restaurant, we spotted horse fillet which my brother-in-law ordered and loved! I would have eaten it had the sauce appealed to me – just depends on how adventurous your palate is.

La Mamounia, the grand dame of hotels in Marrakech, nearly a century old, but beware it’s like Fort Knox getting in. We made a restaurant reservation and wangled our way through – so dark and eerily quiet, almost museum-like. Very disappointing so don’t bother. The exterior façade is beautiful enough for photos.

Hotel recommended

  • {Casablanca} The Sofitel Tour Blanche with a bird’s eye view of the mosque, the second largest in the world after Makkah. It has a stunning boutique feel with scatterings of unusual art and sculpture.
  • {Ouarzazate} A riad, Le Temple des Arts. Base yourself here for day trips into the Atlas mountains.
  • {Marrakech} Split your stay between Palmeraie (named after the never-ending boulevards of palm trees) for some relaxing pool time and the Medinah for the hustle and bustle of a souk.
  • {Palmeraie} Mosaic Palais Aziza. The in-house restaurant Maroliano is worth mentioning for its rather unusual marriage of Moroccan and Italian cuisine. I am not normally a fan of mixed-concept restaurants but this one has pulled it off. If you have a never-ending budget, then opt for Ksar Char Bagh for its privacy and exclusivity – where the celebs stay apparently.
  • {Medinah} Riad Adore part of the British-owned Pure Riads group – the highlight of my stay! Hidden away in the alleys of the Medinah, this teeny five-room riad is a haven of understated luxury and a heavenly escape. Each room is individually designed and overlooks a beautiful courtyard where home-made brekkie is served. There’s a library with an honesty bar and a rooftop terrace for dinner.

1.Tagines galore 2.Rghayef pancake 3.Riad brekkie incl pain perdu 4.La Kasbah des Sables restaurant - Ouarzazate 5.Café Arabe - Marrakech Medinah 6.Sofitel Tour Blanche Casablanca 7.Mosaic Palais Aziza - Marrakech Palmeraie 8.Riad Adore - Marrakech Medinah

 

 

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