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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Getting involved in our ocean conservation efforts by the marine biologist at @discoversoneva and the sustainability programme they are working on, for example, the Soneva Ocean Stewards (SOS) programme has taught hundreds of children how to swim and encourages the local community to appreciate the precious marine ecosystem surrounding them.
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