• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Louisa Chu

Marrakech Morocco - recommendations?

42 posts in this topic

gallery_41537_6016_73563.jpg

The Moroccan people are quite possibly the most hospitable and accommodating people I have met on any of my trips and the food, oh the food.

gallery_41537_6016_17152.jpg

After arriving early in the morning, we visited a Hammam to have treatments—a recommended activity as it really helped me loosen up after the long flight. When I say this was the best spa experience ever (and, I consider myself a bit of a junkie), believe me. After sipping on some strong fresh peppermint tea (the first of many glasses), my sister and I were led into a steamy blue tiled room with fountains overflowing with pink rose petals. After relaxing on some towels for a few minutes, two women entered and washed us with black soap (Savon noir) before scrubbing the heck out of us with these little mitts. After the scrub we were covered in a special mud and left to dry. The treatment finished with a good wash in some Argan oil-laced hot water and a relaxing massage with rose oil. It was absolute heaven and we came out with glowing skin smelling like rose petals.

After the Hammam, we jumped in taxi to go check out a spot in the Medina recommended a local. He referred to it as a “meat boutique” and informed me there are many of these around Morocco. Any mention of lamb and grilling to my father and we are there. The way it works is you choose your meat and then they go grill it over charcoal. There is a small glass case filled with freshly butchered cuts, but we just chose the mix of merguez sausage (my favorite sausage in the world), ground lamb patties and lamb chops. While the meat is being cooked, the waiter arrives with bowls of freshly ground cumin, crunchy salt, an assortment of local olives, some small tomato salads and loaves of slightly sweet bread.

gallery_41537_6016_37265.jpg

gallery_41537_6016_13241.jpg

gallery_41537_6016_46073.jpg

gallery_41537_6016_53071.jpg

When the main comes, you grab the meat with the bread—your utensil—although I saw many people using their fingers, which were subsequently covered in hot lamb fat. This is a meal that definitely brings the out your inner carnivore, because I abandoned the bread halfway through.

gallery_41537_6016_66992.jpg

To ensure we did not fall into a meat coma, we headed to the Djemaa el Fna, a market around the corner. This market is know for being a foodie's paradise after dark and Bourdain hit it on his TV show, but we had other plans every night. Instead, we walked around the maze of vendor-lined alleys after buying a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice at one of the stands in the main square. The juices in Morocco are insane and we actually had a couple of orange trees outside our bedroom window.

gallery_41537_6016_21524.jpg

gallery_41537_6016_64764.jpg

gallery_41537_6016_55518.jpg

gallery_41537_6016_64755.jpg

Upon returning to the hotel with my tagine in hand (if you do go and want to buy one, make sure you don't get talked into one that is for decor only. Look for unadorned ones with a heavy feel), we plopped down on the couches in the bar for some afternoon tea and sweets.

gallery_41537_6016_4308.jpg

gallery_41537_6016_60971.jpg

That night we went for a diffa, or a multi-course feast, at Le Tobsil. After arriving to the area where the restaurant is located, a representative greets you and leads your party down a long abandoned alley. My family and I nervously smiled at each other, but I know they were all thinking, "what the hell has Jennifer gotten us into this time?" All of sudden, we reached a large wooden door and it creaked opened. A smiling woman peered out and greeted us as she opened the door to a gorgeous old house decorated in warm yellows and reds.

gallery_41537_6016_28387.jpg

A pair of musicians played in the corner and rose petals were strewn everywhere. I had done good. You don't place an order at this type of restaurant, so we just sat down a sipped on our fresh fruit juice spiked with a little vodka.

After a bit, our waiter brought us a large assortment of salads and bread.

gallery_41537_6016_1764.jpg

gallery_41537_6016_41406.jpg

gallery_41537_6016_23691.jpg

gallery_41537_6016_4389.jpg

gallery_41537_6016_17319.jpg

The next day was our day with a guide when we went to see the city's many sites. On our way to one of the locations, I spied an open door to the fires beneath a Hammam. Locals bring their tagines to such places and leave them to cook all day before picking them up. See the cluster of them in the corner? The smell of cooking meat and fire was unreal.

gallery_41537_6016_61461.jpg

gallery_41537_6016_2415.jpg

For lunch, we headed to Al Fassia, a place I'd found in my guide book (Time Out puts out such great travel books). The restaurant is run by sisters and an all woman staff. They source their ingredients from small producers rather than large distributors and the flavor was definitely there. Such a quaint little place and excellent service.

gallery_41537_6016_4776.jpg

gallery_41537_6016_89344.jpg

gallery_41537_6016_37636.jpg

gallery_41537_6016_15233.jpg

gallery_41537_6016_90865.jpg

On our way home from seeing all the sites (which you can view HERE) , we saw this little patisserie and had to stop inside and grab a few treats for later.

gallery_41537_6016_76733.jpg

gallery_41537_6016_30460.jpg

gallery_41537_6016_21444.jpg

We had a great trip and it was nice to finally see Morocco after wanting to all these years. Just beautiful, but four days was more than enough because it is an intense place (even for me). We hit La Rioja next. Stay tuned for that post.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Gorgeous pictures and a wonderful report! Thank you for sharing it. Marrakech has long been on my short list for travels and you've re-whet my appetite.


Chef, Curious Kumquat, Silver City, NM

A recent write-up in Dorado magazine

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Outstanding! Can you please tell us more about some of the dishes that you ate?

I'm looking forward to your Rioja experience.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This looks wonderful - I'm getting hungry just looking at these pictures. Can you please also give some addresses?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This looks wonderful - I'm getting hungry just looking at these pictures. Can you please also give some addresses?

Some of the places--like the meat boutique and pastry shop--were just places we happened upon.

But, here are the spots I do have info on:

Le Tobsil: # 2, Derb Abdellah ben Hessaien, R'mila Bab Ksour, Marrakech, Phone: 024/44-15-23

Dar Moha (not pictured): 81, rue dar el Bacha, Marrakech, Phone: 024/38-64-00

Al Fassia: # 5, bd. Zerktouni, Res. Tayeb premier, Marrakech, Phone: 024/43-40-60

Afternoon tea at the Amanjena resort: http://www.amanjena.com/ (out of the way but a beautiful place for tea or dinner). You can find plenty of upscale tea places in the new city though.


Edited by The Blissful Glutton (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lovely images, I don't think that I have seen better.

The dish cooked at the bathhouse is a "Tangia", years ago there was a discussion on the origin of the dish here.

Now several years later I have seen similar cooking methods in many parts of northern Africa and even into Anatolia. I've even eaten fish dish based on these northern African models in Liguria.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is a little late, I realise, but I just uploaded a post on Marrakesh, so I thought I would add it here for future info seekers.

I spent a week here in August and generally found Moroccan food very pleasing: I only had one bad meal the whole time and that was at Bô & Zin i.e. fushion Thai food, not local cuisine. In Marrakesh, I had a good meal at la Maison Arabe and an unforgettable one at Dar Marjana. I also stayed a couple of nights at Kasbah du Toukbal in the Upper Atlas Mtns. where I enjoyed several decent meals - these were mainy in the form of tagines.

Here is my my Bô & Zin post.

This is Dar Marjana.

P.S. Blissful Glutton - great photograhs. May ask what camera you were using?

Merci,

Food Snob


Food Snob

foodsnob@hotmail.co.uk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have just written up my account of La Maison Arabe in Marrakech:

La Maison Arabe, Marrakech

It was a decent meal, the tagines were the best part of it; a greasy vegetable pastilla and pastilla au lait et amandes were the worst.


Edited by Food Snob (log)

Food Snob

foodsnob@hotmail.co.uk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looking to go here in march and have recommendations on Le Tobsil-Le Pavillion- Yacout- and The Jad Mahal. Any thoughts on these or other recommedations? also what should i bring back?

Thanks


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

have pretty much sussed restaurants out now - any ideas on cookery classes? We would only want to do acouple of hours....


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems like this forum has sadly been fairly dormant save for some great activity a few years back. I will be spending a week in Marrakesh starting 21 Dec, and would ADORE any advice on eating, markets, products, etc. I am in the process of reading through all the links provided in former entries in this thread. Also, specifically interested in any advice for places just outside of Marrakesh, as I'm especially interested in seeing the desert and heading to some of the Berber villages in the mountains. I am obsessed with bread, and have read a few accounts in the past (although in my attempt to recall the titles, I failed..) about their "bread" culture, and it is no doubt intriguing. If anyone has any personal insight, experience, contacts, etc., I would adore it. Thanks a lot, and I will of course thank everyone with copious amounts of photos.

Also, is it worth checking out some of the European (ex-Michelin chefs, etc) joints in Marrakesh? I am interested in very local foods/flavors/traditions but was wondering if it's worth a jaunt to the other places... Also, any information regarding sweets (I'm a pastry woman) woudl be great...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bump!

Lots must have changed since 2009 - I'm heading there a week on sunday, and I was wondering if anyone had any reccomendations! Looking for authentic 'hole in the wall' type places as well as some more upmarket places as well!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Definitely eat in the main square -J'mna al fnar (or there abouts!) in the evenings there are loads of food stalls where you can buy everything from sheeps heads and sheeps eyeballs, to frogs legs, kebabs and the like - it is a real experience and we didnt really have a dud. Start by watching the sun go down from one of the ridiculously over priced cafes around the sqaure with a fresh avocado juice (or something similarly exotic) and then explore your options in the square, as well as the food items fresh mint teas and orange juice is also plentiful, you can even buy a glass of water from the fabulously dressed water men (they look almost like mariachi bands!) We had a very very good meal at Tobsil, its a beautiful setting, generous portions and we really enjoyed it as our one " fancy" meal - probably set us back 50-60 euros a head.


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Planning to go there in October this year. I also would appreciate some more recent advice on which restaurants to go to when looking for authentic food.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FWIW, I didn't think any of the food I ate in Morocco (I was there for just over three months) was inauthentic. Some restaurants may have had better food than others, but even the expensive clearly-targeted-at-tourists places were just as good/bad as the local places. The reason for this is most likely because Moroccan food prepared in restaurants is just not as good as home-cooked Moroccan food.

(ymmv, of course, and there are exceptions, such as restaurants associated with some of the uber-expensive riads)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

yes i was puzzled by the "authentic" - unless you are eating the Mac Arabia burger at Mc Donalds this isnt really a problem....


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.