From Tagine to Pastilla: Three Moroccan Cookbooks

From Tagine to Pastilla: Three Moroccan Cookbooks

06/19/12

The food of Morocco is deceptively complex. Glancing at a menu or visiting a welcoming Moroccan’s home for a meal appears to offer merely variations on tagines, couscous, bastilla, and fresh salads. But after wandering through the souks for an afternoon and spying the tins of deep scarlet, electric yellow, and terracotta spices or smelling the sweet and earthy fragrance from a modest pot of soup offered out of an equally modest store-front, one knows that the local cuisine in anything but...

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7 Great Restaurants: Casual Lunch to Upscale Dinner

7 Great Restaurants: Casual Lunch to Upscale Dinner

04/05/12

Le Riad Monceau If you want a classic Moroccan meal in a romantic setting with a fantastic wine list… go to Le Riad Monceau. Located a very short walk from Djemaa El Fna and down a narrow alley – the splendor of this house is enough, but the food that comes from the kitchen allows the day to melt away. Décor aside, it is the renowned artist Isabelle Aubry’s large scale artwork that sets the riad’s elegant tone.  (7/8 derb Chaabane, Riad Zitoun Lakdim, Marrakech Medina 011 212 524...

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Buried In Vermicelli (Shaariya Medfouna)

Buried In Vermicelli (Shaariya Medfouna)

03/29/12

The cuisine of Morocco combines complex blends of spice with sweet flavors of honey or sugar. Many dishes straddle the line between sweet and savory. Diners often find a beautiful jewel presented to them as they uncover a tender lamb shank from a mound of couscous or some slowly cooked chicken in earthy and sweet spices buried in sweet onions and small pieces of steamed vermicelli that are almost feather-like. The surprise is what lies underneath and inside. From Fez, this Moroccan chicken dish...

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Cooking Schools of Marrakech

Cooking Schools of Marrakech

03/19/12

As I tied the apron around my waist, I looked at the ingredients on the table set out in matching bowls next to our cutting boards and knives. I was surprised that I could identify everything on the table – whole onions, turnips, carrots, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes, and peas, plus small bowls filled with ground tumeric, paprika, cumin, garlic, coriander, and preserved lemon, fingers of ginger, and sticks of cinnamon. How was it, I wondered, that I could come halfway around the world and see...

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The Hospitality of Couscous

The Hospitality of Couscous

03/18/12

My first meal in Marrakech was Friday lunch. Our guide, Stef, had led my friend Kay and me to a small square within the medina – the walled inner city – and to an open air café. The view was everything I would have expected from a city known as a cross-roads for tradition and progression: we sat side by side western travelers with cameras and young Moroccans in pants and blouses, conversing in French and Arabic. The café looked out upon a small marketplace, where unvarnished tagines –...

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Cultural Love Affair

Cultural Love Affair

03/16/12

It was a feeling so strong it changed my life. I’d fallen in love like never before. I’d always been attracted to a desirable lifestyle, interesting culture, and delicious cuisine. A shared love of music was a definite plus. Amazing style and beauty were added bonuses. Yes, Morocco captured my heart. In fact, by day four of my 17-day Moroccan vacation, I knew I was coming back. I didn’t know how long I’d stay. Or what I’d do. But I’d figure it out. Let the journey begin! So I gave...

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A Conversation with Thalvin Winery

A Conversation with Thalvin Winery

03/14/12

Morocco is considered by many to be a “new-old” wine producing country. The history of wine in this country is very old – over 4,000 years. But winemaking and vineyards on any sort of commercial scale appeared and disappeared regularly in that time because of religion, war, and other cultural factors. When Islam came to Morocco around 700 AD, the production and consumption of wine disappeared because Islam prohibits alcohol. However, viniculture reappeared a few centuries later when the...

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Eating Exotic in Marrakech

Eating Exotic in Marrakech

03/06/12

After seven days of sunshine, chaos, and less than optimal hygiene standards, I finally had it with the national dishes of Morocco: couscous and tagine. I had it with very overcooked chicken. With vegetables. With lamb (with and without dried fruit). With beef. And one offered a camel version, but I didn’t partake. It’s not that I don’t love tagines or couscous. They’re great- and the Moroccans are the only ones that can do it right (sorry wanna-be ethnic cooks). But if I got sick of...

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