Monday, December 27, 2010

Dine, Moroccan style

Back in time for my favorite holiday, we headed out to Marrakech this December, ready for time relaxing at our amazing riad, warmer than London weather, overeating and celebrating the welcome demise of my youth... I long for a return (But not in the hot season. We were told it was 40C at Ramadan, yikes!).

I could chatter for days with my impressions of Morocco, to anyone who cared to listen. But let me regale you with some snippets of what we ate. And pictures, of course!
crumbs after breakfast

First course plate- one of several
Our amazing riad- Dar Chelita was absolute perfection from the moment I made contact with it's lovely owner, Trevor. He set up a driver to receive us at the airport- Abdul, who was our guardian everytime we crossed the threshold of his beige Merc. We had a feast awaiting us when we arrived at the riad, perfect atmosphere on the rooftop balcony after and stars. So many stars. I'm convinced that Trevor collaborated with Driss (our house manager) on that! Aicha fed us like royalty the whole trip, making regional dishes and always had an endless supply of kid treats for our toddler, who thanked her with hugs, kisses and a flood of affection.

And another, faint drizzle of honey
Dry cured olives with red pepper strips
And another, pink olives and artichoke
I was so relaxed and blissed out I mostly forgot to take pictures of 80% of what we ate. I failed to photograph the massive tray of mutton I scarfed (alone) with pink olives purchased from the souq across the way. (£1 for 1 kilo, unbelieveable). I never took any pictures of the numerous dishes being prepared in the street, not just tagines, but once in a while I put my jaw back in place, pulled out the camera and caught a few good snaps.

That bread... aaah.
Cous cous with melting beef shin
There was the cafe outside of the Saadian Tombs that served up simple kebabs, Moroccan salad (very similar to salsa) and the ever present not-so-flat-bread which I could live on. Cellars of salt and the local cumin, which I daresay is vastly different form Mexican and Indian- so green, so easy to grind (you can pulverize it between the balls of your hands), on the tables and ras al hanout were all the condiment needed.

I managed to document a few courses from a couple of Aicha's beautiful meals and have scattered them around this post. That desire to return is even deeper now that I've browsed through these pictures and memories again...

The lamb heart and fat kebabs I devoured in lightning speed
Moroccan salad
After 3 hours at the Hammam I was famished!

The wee one chats with his lamb kebab

Local cumin

Fed and happy

Aicha, kind, talented and so affectionate

What a gorgeous herb garden. Genius!
Driss, a star

Last but not least, Aicha's pumpkin confit. Sublime.