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Fes Food, Eating Well in Fes, Morocco Travel Guide

Posted by Alecia Cohen on March 27, 2015 at 8:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Riad Dar Roumana, Fes

Fes is the culinary and cultural capital of Morocco. The city of Fes is a leader in Moroccan cuisine. The ancient traditions of Fes cuisine come alive at a variety of riads and restaurants throughout the old city of Fes. New on the scene are a wide variety of boutique riads that have opened their doors to the public and are merging traditional Fassis table cuisine with French and International flavors.

Morocco Travel Specialist, Alecia Cohen, takes a look at the best places to dine and experience cuisine in Fes to tempt your pallets on a Morocco Tour.

The world famous Fes Sacred Music Festival takes place each June and Dar Roumana’s restaurant at 30 Derb el Amer Zkak, Roumane in Fes Medina is open daily offering pre-concert dinners from 6pm - 8pm Dar Roumana and they also offer a smaller menu (2 starters, 2 mains and 2 desserts) for a reduced price of 300dh for three courses or 225dh for two courses. For those not attending the festival Dar Roumana's usual dinner service will continue as normal from 7.30pm - 9pm. It is essential to book well beforehand during this busy period. Dinner is served in the patio and on the terrace with spectacular views of the medina and includes varied delicacies such as roasted beetroot, orange, mint and feta salad, spiced roasted quail with dried fruit orzo, moroccan fishcakes with cucumber and radish ribbon salad and sweet harissa dipping sauce, baked chicken thighs with honey, hazelnut and saffron with carrot and cumin mash.

Dar Roumana is run by husband and wife team Vanessa and Vincent. Vincent is a Le Cordon Bleue certified chef and serves up a great table in Fes. Vanessa and Vincent are fabulous hosts and dining at Roumana is a must when in Fes. The garden restaurant attached to Riad Idrissy at 13 Derb Idrissi, Sieje, Sidi Ahmed Chaoui, referred to as the Ruined Garden, is set in the romantic remains of a crumbling riad which has been turned into a delightful garden, with mosaic floors, fountains and exotic foliage. Lunch is prepared using fresh produce from the souk and includes salads – such as zaalouk (smoky aubergine, tomato and paprika puree) and tfaya (chickpeas, onions, raisins and cinnamon) – and street food, cooked to order in the garden, such as sardines marinated in chermoula (garlic, paprika, cumin, olive oil and lemon juice) with a polenta batter and makuda, spiced battered potato cakes. Afternoon tea is a blend of English and Moroccan, including tea made from homegrown mint and wormwood. After 7pm, the garden is open for dinner by prior arrangement only, offering mechoui lamb (anything from a leg to a whole animal) cooked for seven hours over charcoal, Sephardic suppers and Roman banquets.

The ruined garden at Riad Idrissy will operate as a festival green room - where artists, journalists and the audience can mingle between the Fes Sacred Music Festival concerts. Opening hours are between 12 noon and 9.30pm. There is also the great boon of no background music. Another great lunch and dinner venue in Fes is Palais Amani at 12 Derb el Miter, Oued Zhoune.This imposing Art Deco former palace has superb gardens Is known for excellent high class Moroccan cuisine and you can dine in the restaurant or the patio, booking is essential.

Restaurant Numero 7 Fes, Chef in Residence

Numero 7 has a rotating Chef in residence program that uses seasonal produce sourced from the markets in Fes and nearby farms for its cuisine. Located in the heart of Moroccan gastronomy each chef in residence utilizes Numero 7 as their center stage to create a table of unique cuisine through their own interpretation. Numero 7 is owned by Stephen di Renza, a former fashion director for Neiman Marcu and Bergdoff Goodman. He divides his time between Fes and Mararkech. Di Renzi is also the creative director of the Yves Saint Laurent Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech. Numero 7 is a must dine experience for those interested in modern, creative cuisine with a Moroccan touch.

La Maison Bleue offers a classic table in Fes and reservations are also necessary at this elegant riad restaurant. The setting is intimate and romantic, with diners serenaded by an oud player (replaced by livelier Gnawa song and dance at the end of the evening). You’ll be treated to an array of cooked salads, tajines, couscous and bastilla (savoury pastries), plus filo pastry desserts.

At Dar El Ghalia, a restored 18th century palace you will find Dar Tajine, one of the best known restaurants in Fes. You can choose from set menus or à la carte: there are salads, excellent Harira, grills, fresh fish, tagines and couscous.

Chez Vittorio is in the rustic Italian restaurant angle well, right down to the candles and checked cloths. The food is good value, Go for the pizzas or steak and enjoy the wine.

Dar Anebar is a riad you can dine in fne surroundings, in the splendid courtyard, or one of the cosy salons. The menu is strictly Moroccan, but of the highest standard, and wine is available.

Palais Jamaï is a five-star hotel has a superb position overlooking the medina. There's a French restaurant and a Moroccan restaurant. At lunch they serve a good buffet on the terrace above the pool (or in the dining room in winter): there's the salad buffet, or the salad buffet with barbecue and dessert. Fes is truly international and Kiotori restaurant offers sushi with a Japanese chef.

Café Clock is a restored town house and is an important and highly original cultural centre which offers a varied menu with offerings such as falafel, grilled sandwiches, some interesting vegetarian options, a substantial camel burger, and delicious cakes and tarts. It is open right through the day into the evening so you can eat whenever you want.

Fes Cafe, Jardin Des Biehn

Fez Café is set in a fine garden in Le Jardin des Biehn, Dinner is available both before and after and during concerts.

Le Kasbah restaurant is on several floors at Bab Bou Jeloud, and occupies a prime spot: the top floor looks out over the medina, making it a good place to relax over food. The menu is traditional Moroccan fare, tajines, couscous and grilled meat. Fes is famed for its street food and probably the most well known establishment is Thami’s at Bou Jeloud, 50 Serrajine in the Medina. It is highly recommended by the website “The View from Fez.” They recommend Thami’s kefta tagine with egg, the melange and the fish. Fes has many such small establishments and a visit to the vegetable and spices souks will enrich your knowledge and appreciation of Moroccan daily life and the variety of its cuisine even in very simple establishments.

And for those who want the intimacy of a leafy garden, try Ryad Mabrouka as this delightful guesthouse in the warmer months is perfect for lunch, or in winter in the 1st-floor dining room overlooking the medina. Traditional fare is served in a three-course set menu, and wine is available. It's necessary to book 24 hours in advance. 

For more information Fes Food or a Fes Tour. For more information about the Fes Festival of World Sacred Music Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Morocco's Rural Markets, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Posted by Alecia Cohen on March 22, 2015 at 7:35 PM Comments comments (1)

Sidi Mokhtar, Souk, Breakfast - Photo by Lynn Sheppard

Sidi Mokhtar, Souk, Breakfast - Photo by Lynn Sheppard                

Even if your trip to Morocco is mainly centered around the major cities, it is worth getting out for a day into the countryside to see rural life. Although the majority of the Moroccan population now officially lives in urban areas, many retain an attachment to the land and their native town or village. It is worthwhile, therefore, seeing Moroccan life in a different context, as it is still lived by many people. Despite increasing urbanization, the agricultural sector in Morocco still employs around half of the workforce and there is nothing quite like the hub of activity on a Moroccan market day! On any day of the week, a market (or souk) will take place somewhere in each Province (a region like a State in the US or a county in the UK). The souk often takes place in one of the larger towns or in a village which acts as a hub for the surrounding rural area and local farms. The weekly market is so ingrained in local culture that many towns include the day of their souk in their name. Take a look at a map of Morocco: any town with "el had" in its name has the weekly souk on a Sunday. Likewise, "khamiss" means the market is on a Thursday.

Souks and Markets, Morocco

Souks and Markets, Morocco                  

Rural markets provide several essential services for local people. As well as being an opportunity to buy and sell essential items, the souk is a weekly meeting point. Unlike in other cultures, it is mainly men who attend the souk, picking the shopping according to the strict instructions of their wives and mothers. While they are at the market, they take the opportunity to pause for a cup of tea or three and catch up on local gossip with their friends and the itinerant traders. The weekly souk might also be a chance to use services that we might be more accustomed to accessing on a high street or in a mall. Dotted around the edge of any souk are the barbers' tents, doing a brisk trade in haircuts and close shaves. And whereas in the West we might park our car in a multi-storey parking lot or leave it with a mechanic for a service, Moroccan farmers tether their donkey at the roadside and catch a taxi to the market, or bring their donkey along for a once-over by the vet or blacksmith. At the larger markets, for example the Sunday market at Had Dra between Marrakech and Essaouira, early risers will be rewarded with the sight of cattle auctions and camel trading. On-site abattoirs ensure that sheep, cattle and goats traded that morning are slaughtered according to Muslim customs before being sold by the kilo or as a quick barbecued snack for those needing some sustenance before the journey home. People travel long distances to reach the souk and public transport is always packed on market days. If you have the opportunity to visit a rural market, it is unlikely you will find much of interest to buy. Unless you are self-catering, the heaps of fresh fruit and vegetables are more likely to be of photographic interest than for purchasing. If you do buy something, make sure you buy a sack or a woven basket to carry it in. You will marvel at the recycling ingenuity of rural people, who upcyle tires into feeding troughs, plastic into grocery baskets and old jars into storm lanterns. Pause for a beldy (authentic, rural) breakfast - buy all of the ingredients for your breakfast by weight (a couple of dirhams of tea, a few ounces of sugar and a bunch of mint) and take them to one of the pop-up cafes to have someone brew the super sweet tea. Pick up a freshly baked loaf, a packet of homemade cookies, handful of olives, a half pound of fruit or some grilled nuts. If you dare, grab a couple of bits of meat or offal and have them grilled over charcoal. Your cafe host will supply plates and - depending on your region - some olive or argan oil for dipping your bread in. If you are based in Marrakech, nearby souks worth a visit include Asni (Saturdays) or Tahanout (Tuesdays). Around Essaouira, as well as Had Dra on Sundays, you can visit Smimou (also Sunday), Akermoud (Saturday), Ida Ougourd or Sidi Mokhtar (Wednesday) or Meskala (Thursday). Depending on your route, these might be a convenient stop-off on your way to/from Marrakech or Agadir. If you are travelling in the Middle Atlas, the Sunday souk at Midelt is large and well-known for local carpets and - in season - apples. Travelling up the coast to Casablanca, the Saturday souk at Oualidia is also worth a visit. Remember, rural folks live simple, conservative lives. Always dress appropriately (no short shorts or skimpy tank tops) and be discreet when you take photographs. The weather-beaten faces of rural people are fascinating, but the owners do not always welcome the attention of the lens. Written by Lynn Sheppard  Lynn Sheppard has lived in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast for more than 2 years, supporting local non-profits, writing and becoming an expert on all things Swiri (ie. Essaouiran). She blogs at Maroc-phile.com and for other travel industry clients. For more information about Moroccan Souks and Markets outside Marrakech Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Meat Free in Morocco, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Posted by Alecia Cohen on February 28, 2015 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (1)

Ruined Garden Fes Vegetarian Cuisine

For travelers with specific dietary requirements, such as vegetarians and vegans, a key concern when planning a trip to Morocco is whether they will find enough variety in their meals. Part of the fun of travel is discovering the local cuisine and the good news is that even those who don't eat meat can experience the unique flavors of Moroccan food. Moroccans live in tune with the seasons and tend to shop fresh and local. You will see souks (markets) piled high with freshly-harvested fruit and vegetables.

Much of these have not been treated with pesticides or artificial fertilizers and after a quick rinse or peel, these are ready to eat! In summer, men set up carts laden with Berber figs (prickly pears) which they will deftly peel for you right on the spot. These, along with grilled corn; boiled and salted garbanzo beans and fava beans; ma'aquda potato patties; freshly roasted nuts, or a handful of dried fruit make great vegetarian snacks and all this street food is readily available for a few dirham in a paper poke. But let's get on to the main affair... Morocco's famous tajines and couscous! Can vegetarians safely eat the Moroccan national dishes? The good news is that yes, these are easily adaptable for non-meat eaters. The less good news is that Moroccans typically eat meat every day and rely on it to flavor the dish - they may find your request strange, but in tourist centers restaurants will be accustomed to requests for vegetarian tajine or couscous. Strict vegetarians and vegans may find it harder to ensure that their dish is not simply the normal version with the meat picked out. The safest way to avoid this is to order your meal in advance, for example from your riad. To make meat-free tajine or couscous more interesting (and authentic), request the addition of chickpeas (in Arabic: hoummus) or a garnish of caramelized onion and sultanas (tfaya).

Riad Dar Roumana Tomato gazpacho

All those fresh veggies are fabulous in salads. Once you've had enough of the standard salade marocaine (diced tomato, cucumber, onion and herbs), track down the full range of cooked Moroccan salads. These take longer to prepare, so are often found in more formal restaurants, but they are worth it! The combination of herbs and spices in a selection of small taster salads - like a Middle Eastern mezze - is a real treat and they are all generally vegan, made with olive and argan oils.

Try shakchuka (roasted pepper and tomato), zaaluq (pureed eggplant with tomato) or salads with carrots, pumpkin, beets or beans. The classic Moroccan soup, harira, is also often made with a vegetable stock (but double check to be sure!) Served to break the fast during Ramadan and a favorite as an early evening snack all year round, it is like a meal in a bowl. Containing tomatoes, garbanzos, lentils, pasta or rice and herbs, it is flavorsome and - served with dates, sweet pastries or fluffy msimen pancakes - sure to satisfy your appetite! Another popular vegetarian soup is baysara. You'll find this thick soup of pureed fava beans, with its characteristic slick of virgin olive oil and sprinkle of cumin, only in the mornings - it's a popular breakfast dish for workers, costing only a few dirham. For those with a sweet tooth... You are in good company in Morocco!

Moroccans love cakes, pastries and biscuits. Some may be made with butter, although traditional breakfast/teatime snacks such as sfinj (ring donuts), msimen (flaky pancakes), bghrir (full of holes like English crumpets only larger and thinner), shbakia (fried cinnamon twists) and breads tend to be made with oil or water. Pastries such as the classic 'gazelles horns' and other sweet treats may contain butter, so vegans will need to check. For a healthier sweet option, there are a myriad of juice and smoothie combinations and many juice bars can also make up a fruit salad on request. If you like your juice natural, ask for sans sucre (no added sugar). To finish at the start of the day, breakfast is seldom an issue for vegetarian travelers in Morocco. Typically riad guest houses and hotels serve a selection of breads and pastries with jams, honeys and oils, perhaps some local olives or fruit and orange juice. Eggs are available everywhere and a "BM" or Berber omelet (an omelet on a base of spicy tomatoes and onions) is something every Moroccan can rustle up - even in the remotest desert or mountain locations.

For those almost-vegetarians who eat fish, you are in for a treat on Morocco's Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines in cities such as Agadir, Essaouira and Oualidia. And if you hanker a little variety and yearn for something more familiar on one night of your vacation, you will find a selection of restaurants in large cities serving everything from Thai food to pizzas; Lebanese falafel to sushi and spaghetti to curry. An entirely vegetarian restaurant, however, would be rare in Morocco! Then there are Moroccan riads that specialize in cuisine and offer meat free options. Wonderful vegetarian and even wheat free cuisine can be found in Fes at Dar Roumana, a boutique riad run by French chef Vincent Bonnin and his wife Vanessa. Riad Idrissy and The Ruined Garden in Fes offer an interesting take on vegetarian dishes as does the famous boutique hotel La Maison Arabe in Marrakech that can serve up one of Morocco's most tasteful Berber Vegan tajines. As a Morocco traveler you are guaranteed contemporary inspired and traditional cuisine in Morocco that is meat free. Besawaraha! (Arabic for "Bon Appetit!" or "Enjoy!") Written by Lynn Sheppard  Lynn Sheppard has lived in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast for more than 2 years, supporting local non-profits, writing and becoming an expert on all things Swiri (ie. Essaouiran). She blogs at Maroc-phile.com and for other travel industry clients.

For more Meat Free Morocco or A Taste of Morocco Tour Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Moroccan Mint Tea, Morocco Travel Tips

Posted by Alecia Cohen on February 7, 2015 at 4:25 PM Comments comments (44)

Tea Ceremony Morocco

Morocco It is impossible to be in Morocco for long before you are offered a cup of frothy, steaming mint tea. A key part of the legendary Moroccan hospitality, hot sweet tea is used to welcome a guest, to revive a flagging spirit, to facilitate social interaction and to oil a business transaction. In a predominantly Muslim country where many people do not drink alcohol, tea is used for almost every social situation. The tea leaves used in Moroccan tea are typically Chinese green gunpowder tea.

A Tea Museum is planned in collaboration with the Chinese Government for Essaouira to celebrate this long-standing link. A preview of the new museum is on exhibition in the city's Musée Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdullah until mid-July 2015. The exhibition offers an opportunity to learn about the long-standing tradition of mint tea in Morocco and the role of Essaouira in its popularity. The decision of Sultan Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdullah (Sultan Mohammed III) to make Essaouira (then Mogador) Morocco's principal port was instrumental in the propagation of Moroccan tea culture.

The Sultan wanted to open Morocco to international trade to profit from the opportunity to export Africa's wealth and modernise through the influence of the West. To achieve this, he commissioned a French architect to build the Kasbah (King's Quarters - the basis of the medina we see today) and invited 10 key Jewish merchant families to manage the trade through a newly foritfied port. Soon goods were flowing from the camel trains onto vessels and across the oceans. Essaouira became the port for Timbuktu, also a key Jewish enclave at the time. During the 19th century, Mogador was receiving an influx of consulates, negociants, merchants, Jewish families and the rural poor, all seeking to make their fortune. The merchant navies of the European colonial powers called in at Essaouira on their way to and from the ports of England, Holland and France. The goods exported included hides, olive oil, sugar and slaves.

Moroccan Mint

The import of tea through Mogador and the subsequent development of a significant element of Moroccan contemporary culture is allegedly a result of equal parts happenstance, geopolitics and economic opportunism. British ships were unable to deliver tea to the Baltic ports in 1854 due to the Crimean War. The decision was taken to offload this cargo in Mogador and Tangiers, thereby providing access to a product which hitherto had only been offered as a gift between British royalty and their Moroccan counterparts.

Moroccans were already using local herbs with medicinal and culinary qualities in infusions. With the addition of green tea, with its inherent caffeine, a new added benefit was achieved! Originally from Al Andalus, the Corcos family became influential merchants and dominated the tea trade into Mogador. Solomon Ben Abraham Corcos was son of Maimon, one of the original 10 'Sultan's merchants.' Solomon became British consul in Mogador in 1822 and was said to be very influential in British politics.

This connection with the UK - particularly among Mogador Jews and their Manchester kin - not only brought the tea into Morocco but also the silver and stainless steel teapots and accessories used to serve it. Today, of course, thanks to another shift in the global economy, the tea comes from China, as do the teapots! A traditional Moroccan tea ceremony is as elaborate as any in Asia. It requires a kettle on a brazier, the trinity of teapot, tea caddy and sugar pot and a certain degree of flourish! Sugar cubes are common today, but many still use sugar cones in rural areas and they are still offered as wedding gifts.

Tea is traditionally prepared by the man of the house in front of his guests, first by rinsing the tea once or twice in boiled water to remove the bitterness. Once the pot is rinsed and it is refilled with hot water to about 3/4 full. The pot is placed on the heat to allow the tea to brew. When the leaves rise to the surface before the water boils completely, the pot is removed from the heat. Now, the sugar along with the mint. The flavour develops through the dramatic high-pouring of the tea into small, often ornate, glasses and pouring it back into the pot. This mixes the sugar through the tea without stirring. The best tasting tea has a crown (raza) of froth on top. Depending on the season and the occasion, many other fresh herbs are infused into tea in Morocco. In winter, absinthe (shiba) is believed to heat the body. Herbs such as thyme (zaaytra), oregano (zatar) or rosemary (azir) are believed to aid digestion. Other popular additions are lemon verbena (louiza) or sage (salmia). Although it may have foreign origins, the sharing of tea is a quintessential element of Moroccan culture. Be sure on your trip to Morocco to take the time to share a glass or two of atay b'nana (mint tea) with the locals.

Written by Lynn Sheppard  Lynn Sheppard has lived in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast for more than 2 years, supporting local non-profits, writing and becoming an expert on all things Swiri (ie. Essaouiran). She blogs at Maroc-phile.com and for other travel industry clients.

For more information Moroccan Mint Tea or Tea in the Sahara Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

A Guide to Gluten Free Eating in Morocco

Posted by Alecia Cohen on December 16, 2014 at 4:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Moroccan Bisara, Dar Dara Guest House Chefchaouen

Chefchaouen[/caption] Traveling abroad can seem daunting for those who have special dietary requirements or allergies. For people who follow a gluten or wheat-free diet, with its staple carbohydrates of bread and couscous - can seem particularly challenging. Do not worry - you can enjoy a great trip to Morocco - even without eating wheat - if you consider some key pointers before and during your trip. Moroccans typically eat bread three times a day (or more). It seems at first to be hard to avoid.

If you are staying in guesthouse or hotel accommodation, let them know about your dietary requirements. For breakfast, you could enjoy Moroccan beysara (a traditional soup made of dried pulses and topped with olive oil and cumin - it's very common in Fes) without the accompanying bread or a simple meal of orange juice, omelette and tea or coffee. Either option is readily available in Morocco in the mornings. It is worth noting that bread is baked in Morocco several times a day and each city has a slightly different variation on the flat, round theme. As such, it does not contain preservatives and only stays fresh for the day. Many people who do not tolerate commercially-made bread at home tolerate Moroccan bread well because of this. It is possible to source a range of flours in Morocco and your hosts may be able to prepare wheat-free bread or pancakes for you if you explain your needs carefully.

Some useful vocabulary:

English                     French                                      Moroccan Arabic (Darija)

Wheat                       blé                                              gemah

Rye                            seigle                                         chaâir

Barley                      semolina semoule d'orge        belboula, tchicha

Buckwheat              sarrasin (blé noir)                   el hanta souda

Cornmeal                semoule de maïs                       bdez

Corn flour               farine de maïs                           Maizena

The shining stars of Moroccan cuisine are the tajine and couscous. The former are like stews or hotpots, prepared on the stovetop or on a fire in a conical-shaped dish, which is also called a tajine. Typically, they contain meat or fish plus vegetables or sometimes dried fruits. Vegetarian versions are increasingly available in restaurants.

They are usually eaten by a group of people or a family, who collectively dunk bread into the sauce and use it to scoop out the stew. If you prefer not to eat bread, simply ask for a fork or spoon. Couscous refers to a broth of meat and/or vegetables on a bed of fluffy, steamed semoule (ie wheat semolina, a micro-pasta prepared by rolling and steaming the flour). Any couscous you find in a restaurant is almost certainly made of wheat. However, if you are staying in a riad guesthouse, you could request bdez (cornmeal) or tchicha or belboula (barley - note, it's not gluten free but it is wholemeal). Riad owners often employ local women as cooks and they know all the best recipes! The classic Moroccan soup, harira, often contains wheat pasta and is thickened with wheat flour. Again, you may be able to ask the chef in your riad to prepare it with rice noodles and cornflour. Other meals that are suitable for those on a wheat-free diet include lentil (aâdis) or bean (loubia) hotpots (often found at workers cafes and truck stops), and roasted or grilled meats or fish. The latter are typically served with sautéed vegetables and rice (with meats) or a classic Moroccan salad (diced tomato, onion and cucumber) with fish.

Morocco has long Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines and the seafood in towns such as Essaouira, Agadir or Oualidia is not to be missed! Ask around for smaller restaurants owned and run by chefs - they are more likely to be accommodating. In cities such as Casablanca or Marrakech, you will find more international cuisine options such as Asian food with its basis in rice, or Brittany crêpes from France made from gluten-free buckwheat flour. One way to be sure of what you are eating is to chose a self-catering option for your trip or stay in a riad where you have access to the kitchen. In large cities you will be able to access wheat-free breads in French-style bakeries as well as wheat-free staples such as oat flakes (porridge), corn chips, rice crackers and other imported goods in most large supermarkets. You are unlikely to find quinoa very easy, but you will never be far from a potato! Part of the fun of a self-catering vacation in Morocco is shopping in the souks, where you will find an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, dried fruits, nuts, meats and fish at a fraction of the price in the US or Europe. Whether you choose to cook for yourself, or eat in restaurants, hotels and guesthouses where your meals are provided, with a little preparation and forewarning, you are sure to enjoy the best that Moroccan cuisine has to offer!

Written by Lynn Sheppard 

Lynn Sheppard has lived in Essaouira, on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast for more than 2 years, supporting local non-profits, writing and becoming an expert on all things Swiri (ie. Essaouiran). She blogs at Maroc-phile.com and for other travel industry clients. You can contact Lynn at: lynn@maroc-o-phile.com

For more information about Gluten Free Eating in Morocco or a Morocco Food Tour Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Travel Exploration Launches Culinary Trips to Morocco

Posted by Alecia Cohen on November 15, 2013 at 6:40 PM Comments comments (0)

Morocco has an exceptional history of cuisine with  long standing reputation and allure for the Western traveler. Being at the crossroads of many civilizations Morocco is a mélange of Arab, Berber, Moorish, French, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean African, Iberian, and Jewish influences. Keeping up to date with new travel trends, Travel Exploration has launched a Culinary Trip to Morocco for food enthusiasts. Morocco is a key destination for foodies, adventure travelers and those who wish to explore an untouched country that is full of culinary surprise and old world culture.

Travel Exploration's first Culinary Trip is scheduled for May 2014 and will enable travelers to experience a cultural tour whiling eating there way through Morocco's ancient medinas, taking two of the country's top Morocco cooking workshops and to saunter the old medina of Imperial Fez on an unforgettable Fez Food Tour. Travel Exploration's Culinary Trip to Morocco offers a chance to discover traditional dishes in the Imperial Cities such as bastilla and couscous, bake bread bread with the Berbers in Southern Morocco and exotic eats in Marrakch's Djemaa El Fna Square.  Travel Exploration's first Culinary adventure to Morocco will take place over the course of 11 Days.

FOR A MOROCCO CULINARY TRIP ITINERARY EMAIL: alecia@travel-exploration.com

DATES OF TOURS 2014: May 15th 2014 / September 15th PRICES FOR MOROCCO CULINARY: $5,150 single, $3,950 double occupancy All prices are per person. Maximum of 10 people in group.

PRICES INCLUDE: Accommodations at Charming Moroccan Riads and Boutique Hotels in 4/5 Star Category, two meals per day, all cooking workshops, food tours, guided historical tours, wine tasting, and ground transportation in comfort luxury vehicle. Airfare is not included.

For More Information on  Travel Exploration's Culinary Trip to Morocco  Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

10 Street Foods to Eat When Traveling to Morocco, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Posted by Alecia Cohen on August 18, 2013 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (1)

Eating in Djemaa El Fna Square, Marrakech Street Food

Eating in Djemaa El Fna Square, Marrakech Street Food Moroccan Street Food is a great way to discover Morocco's local culture.  While the best Moroccan food is said to be found in a Moroccan home, very reasonably priced  street food is available in small stalls and roadside cafés all over Morocco. Eating Moroccan Street Food in the old medina of Fes, Marrakech and Essaouira allows for a great opportunity to meet Moroccans during breakfast, lunch and dinner or just for a snack. Moroccan Street Food is also the best way to discover local Moroccan fresh foods that are well cooked and full of flavor. For breakfast small stands provide an array of pancakes like  beghrir (spongy bread, a bit like crumpets), harsha (buttery bread made of fine semolina) and rghaif (flaky, layered flat bread). Topped with honey or goat cheese, they make a good breakfast  snack with oven baked bread called Khobz.

Ramadan Pastries, Chebakia

During Ramadan you can break the fast at Iftar around 7 pm as the sun goes down with dates and the delicious tomato paste soup harira with chebakia, which are flower-shaped cookies soaked in honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Moroccan soups are hearty fare to be savored at any time including bessara which is fava bean soup with oven baked khobz, small eateries serve it for lunch with lemon-infused olive oil and a sprinkle of cumin and chili. Stalls selling steaming vats of snail soup are popular throughout Morocco. You pick the snails out of their shells with a toothpick and then drink the broth which is served with a concoction of spice which Moroccans believe is good for  a fever and aids digestion. hssoua belboua is barley soup with milk. It combines barley grits with milk to yield a rich, creamy soup that's both nutritious and satisfying.  

There is also Semolina  soup with milk, anise seeds and honey. The overpowering smoke rising from various eateries on the Djemma el Fna at night is from brochettes of chicken , lamb or beef. The meat is rubbed with salt and spices, such as paprika and cumin. Spiced ground lamb or beef (kefta) is impaled on a skewer and grilled. Brochettes are served with khobz, harissa (red pepper sauce), red onion, cumin and  salt. Other delicacies, not for the faint hearted, include sheep’s heads which have been steamed for five hours sold as either a half or a whole head with or without eyes. During the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha (Feast of the Sacrifice) sheep are slaughtered by the head of the family. It is a reminder that meat tends to be a delicacy. You see sheep being born home in cars, on bicycles, mopeds and any vehicle that can be utilized for the purpose. A whole sheep’s carcass will last for a month. Also served are  calves’ livers, crumbed and fried.

You can also sample camel burgers, Café Clock in Fes serves it as a speciality of the house. In many coastal towns sardines are served with stuffed with a spicy chermoula paste made of tomato, coriander, chili, garlic, paprika, cumin, olive oil and lemon juice. They are coated in a light batter, fried until crisp and often served with a fried green chili. Vegetarians can enjoy sliced aubergine dipped in sweet smoked paprika batter and deep fried or spicy lubia (white haricot beans stewed in tomatoes, cumin, paprika, garlic and ginger) or fresh salad. Moroccan farmers produce the best quality organically grown vegetables. You will also find sweet pastries ,biscuits and cookies  in abundance especially during Ramadan as sugar is an important source of energy, diabetics do have to beware. However seasonal fruits are also served. Makrout with Dates and Honey is another special occasion sweet which is popular in Ramadan. A mild date paste is enclosed in a log of semolina dough, then the  cookies are sliced, fried and dipped in honey.  There are baked Moroccan Tea Biscuits known as fekkas scented with orange-flower water.

Try m'hanncha, called "snake cake" for its concentric circles. Another favorite is triangular or cylindrical phyllo briouats. Briouats, are pan-fried to golden perfection. Some are savory, stuffed with fresh cheese and finished with a drizzle of honey, while others are sweet, filled with crushed almonds, sugar, and spices. Almond Briouats are made by folding almond paste flavored with orange flower water and cinnamon within warqa dough. The pastries are fried and then soaked briefly in honey.  Cheese briouats are served with cream cheese filling. Herbs or hot peppers can be added for more flavor. Sellou is a  Moroccan sweet  served during Ramadan made from toasted sesames, fried almonds and flour that has been browned in the oven.

For More Information about a Fes Food Tour of Moroccan Street Food Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.  We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Moroccan Ramadan Sweets and Soups, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Posted by Alecia Cohen on July 11, 2013 at 6:20 PM Comments comments (2)

Moroccan soups are tasty and fortifying and are accompanied during Ramadan with an assortment of sugary sweets to boost energy levels after a day of fasting  The Ramadan fast is broken with harira a lentil and tomato based soup. dates and dried figs and  chebakia, which are flower-shaped cookies soaked in honey and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Sweets are an integral part of the social aspect of Ramadan and the ftour meal. Stuffed Dates include Orange flower water and cinnamon which are used to flavor the almond paste filling. Makrout with Dates and Honey is another special occasion sweet which is popular in Ramadan.

A mild date paste is enclosed in a log of semolina dough, then the  cookies are sliced, fried and dipped in honey. Hssoua Belboua is barley soup with milk. It combines barley grits with milk to yield a rich, creamy soup that's both nutritious and satisfying.  There is also Semolina soup with milk, anise seeds and honey. After the soup comes a variety of breads such as msemen and rghayif (layered flatbreads cooked in a skillet); puffed, pita breadlike rounds called batbout; and perhaps some harcha, an unleavened flatbread, sometimes made with cornmeal. Arrayed with them on the table are marmalades, butter, and cheeses, often including the fresh cheese jben.

There are bowls of olives and others of hard-boiled eggs, which are peeled and then dipped in ground cumin or black pepper. Moroccans living along the Atlantic coast will also serve fried fish, usually sardines. Another  favorite are triangular or cylindrical phyllo briouats. Briouats, are pan-fried—not baked—to golden deliciousness. Some are savory, stuffed with fresh cheese and finished with a drizzle of honey, while others are sweet, filled with crushed almonds, sugar, and spices. Sweets reappear at the end of the ftour meal. Platters are piled with cookies, among them twice-baked Moroccan Tea Biscuits known as fekkas with their lovely scent of orange-flower water."Treats such as m'hanncha, called "snake cake" for its concentric circles, are another representative dessert. Dates reappear on the table, this time stuffed, often with a homemade almond paste. Sellou is a  Moroccan sweet  served during Ramadan made from toasted sesames, fried almonds and flour that has been browned in the oven.

For More Information on Moroccan Ramadan Sweets and Islamic Holidays

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Almond Briouats are made by folding almond paste flavored with orange flower water and cinnamon within warqa dough. The pastries are fried and then soaked briefly in honey.  Cheese briouats are foiled with cream cheese filling. Herbs or hot peppers can be added for more flavor.

Cooking Up Morocco, Best Cooking Classes, Your Morocco Tour Guide

Posted by Alecia Cohen on July 6, 2013 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Learning some of the basics of Moroccan cooking can be an enjoyable experience and adds to your own culinary skills back home. Many riads offer cookery classes for their clients during their stay. These usually begin with a trip to the souk accompanied by one of the staff to buy produce and spices. In contrast to shopping at home everything is bought fresh, for home-cooking. The market stalls include  piles of spices, and fresh fruits, nuts and fine local vegetables all beautifully laid out with the fragrance of mint and cilantro . Shopping in the souks of Morocco is a keen sensory experience, as well as a chance to experience local daily life as buyers and sellers haggle over prices.

Learning how to use spices is a key element in Moroccan cuisine. Salt, pepper, ginger and turmeric are essential to many tagines and stews. Make sure you pick up plenty of ras el hanout(the best spices in the store) so that you can cook up authentic Moroccan dishes back home, and consider stocking up on saffron too. Charmoula is a popular Moroccan sauce that can be used on everything from fish to vegetables. Coriander and cumin are the leaders of the spice mix. The spices are ground with garlic, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. Spices and pepper can be added for taste to suit individual preference.

When you return from the souk you can begin the cooking class under the instruction of an expert chef. Each person in the group is allotted specific tasks in the cooking process and a after a lesson or two you should know how to dress a salad, create a main course and a desert. Longer intensive courses are available and your travel agent should be able to advise you on this. Learning to cook in a Moroccan kitchen gives you a unique insight in to family daily life. Finally you get to sample and enjoy your joint efforts over lunch or dinner.

Some examples of Moroccan dishes include tangines,  slowly cooked  meat and vegetable dishes in a  pot with a cone shaped lid that gently cooks fish, beef, dried fruits and olives. Vegetarians can enjoy vegetable tagines. Other recipes include lamb with prunes and almonds, chicken with lemon and fruits are blended with meat dishes such as lamb with pears.

You can learn how to make couscous, which is small grains of semolina which is steamed and eaten with a spicy broth and vegetables and meat. Moroccan families gather after Friday prayers to get together over a couscous.

Harira is a renowned traditional soup made with tomato paste lentils, chick peas and spices and sometimes pieces of lamb. It is served with dates when Moroccans break their fast during Ramadan.

Moroccan salads can be served as a starter or as a side dish and orange blossom water is sometimes used in salads. Moroccan cuisine has strong aromatic qualities.  The Al Fassia restaurant  in Marrakech serves several dishes of salads as a starter and to appreciate the art of salad making and superb tangines it’s a wonderful place to experience the very best in Moroccan cuisine before you start  your own efforts.

Other dishes include Bastilla which is pastry dusted with cinnamon and stuffed with sweet and savoury ingredients including pigeon. It can be served as a starter of a main course. Birouettes  are small triangles of pastry with savoury and spicey fillings such as minced lamb or fettah cheese with spinach. It can also be a dessert with groundnuts and honey. Moroccan  pastries are served with honey . Learn to bake Moroccan bread which often has added spices and how to make Moroccan mint tea to accompany the meal.

Travel Exploration Morocco's Recommendations for 4 of Morocco's Top Cooking Classes are: 

La Maison Arabe - A long standing name in Marrakech for it's restaurant and boutique, luxury Riad, La Maison Arabe boasts one of the most professional and detailed cooking classes in Morocco. Headed by a Dada Chef guests experience a stroll through the souks, learn how to purchase spices, then cook up a three-course meal. Options of wine pairings to match and everyone departs with a complimentary tajine. This is the cooking workshop for professionals and also for those who love the art of cooking.

Riad Monceau - Haute Cuisine at this French owned Riad and cooking class is what can be prized most. An elegant and charming setting within old Marrakech's Red Hamra city Riad Monceau's owner Ludovic Antoine offers guests a top notch class. With their widely esteemed cook book, local chef and hands on approach this is a great way to discover the art of Moroccan cooking in Marrakech.

Cafe Clock - Set within the old Fes Medina just down the street from Maimonides is the ever so hip and charming Cafe Clock. Cafe Clock allows participants to select their own menu, then takes them on an authentic shopping expedition in the Fes souk where you choose your own ingredients, learn about bread baking and other details of Moroccan cuisine. Cafe Clock offers a Moroccan bread baking workshop or a one-day patisserie class. Complimented by their cafe which is an active place for locals and foreigners Cafe Clock serves one of the most exciting cooking workshops in Morocco.

L'Atlier Madada Mogador  - In Seaside Essaouira this fabulous cookery workshops is perfect for small groups who collaborate together in a charming Riad near Morocco's seacoast. They prepare a full meal before sitting down together to dine in a traditional setting. A walking tour option in the souks after is a nice add on to this day.

For More Information on Moroccan Cooking and Moroccan Cooking Classes 

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate

Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

Ourika Valley's Nectarome Products and the Moroccan Art of Body Care

Posted by Alecia Cohen on June 20, 2013 at 6:45 PM Comments comments (1)

In the village of Tnine in the Ourika valley Nectarome has an organic garden with aromatic plants and medicinal herbs where their products are created and a shop selling a range of soaps, shampoos aroma therapy and massage oils. There are also several outlets in Marrakech and Casablanca. The company has a team of experts in essential oils and pharmacy. Nectarome combines ancient Moroccan traditional cosmetic formulas with the modern aromatherapy using essential oils and phytotherapy techniques for natural body and wellness treatments, with massage with oils. The famous Argan blended with other essential oils with moisturizing properties and essences such as almond or sesame oil. A range of soothing body lotions including rose,green tea and neroli (orange blossom) are available at their Ourika valley location. 

The soaps are based on essential oils such as Argan, Almond, Nigella and Ghassoul in addition to various glycerine soaps, Verbena, grape fruit, orange blossom, Amber, Musk and Rose. There are also liquid soaps such as cedar and orange. Rose water and orange blossom water are used for toning and regenerating skin and perfuming the body and clothes. Face masks can help smooth wrinkles and anti aging with honey and essential oils and a gelling mask, natural clay face masks and cleansing masks. There is a range of natural bath oils with eucalyptus and rosemary which helps to tone and relax the skin. Bath salts help to detoxify and purify the skin. Natural shampoos without chemical additives benefit the hair and scalp and treat dry or oily hair. Nectarome products also include shower gels in rosemary of bitter orange and a range of natural scents such as mint, tangerine and cinnamon. The famous ancient black soap called beldi, is a mixture of olive and argan oil water and salt and is used in the massage to prepare the body for scrubbing and removing dead skin with a special horse hair glove. Ghassoul, is a typical Moroccan clay, it is a deposit in the region of Fes . This clay is used in Morocco, mainly by women since the 12th century as a shampoo and skin cleanser. Nectarome also provides natural henna recommended for skin infections and eczema, with restorative properties for skin and hair as well as decorating the hands and feet in traditional berber style. Nectarone cautions against henna with chemical additives which can be harmful to the skin.

For More Information on Nectarome in the Ourika Valley

Morocco’s Imperial CitiesSeaside Resorts,Sahara Desert,Berber villagesA Taste of MoroccoMagical Kasbahs, Ruins & WaterfallsAbsolute Morocco, The Best of MarrakechFes, and Ouarzazate
Discover The Best of Morocco - Travel Exploration
Travel Exploration specializes in Morocco Travel.We provide Tours and travel opportunities to Morocco for the independent traveler and tailor-made tours for families and groups with a distinctly unique flavor. From Morocco’s Seven Imperial Cities, to the Magical Sahara Travel Exploration offers a captivating experience that will inspire you. At Travel Exploration we guarantee that you will discover the best of Morocco! Call Travel Exploration at 1 (800) 787-8806 or + 1 (212) 618882681 and let’s book a tour to Morocco for you today.

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