Monthly Archives

November 2012

Catania

November 29, 2012

Catania is not pretty. It’s kind of grungy. Some parts are lovely and clean but mostly it’s just dirty…and a little stinky. But that’s ok. I appreciate it for what it is.

Despite it’s lack of shining, sparkling side-walks, Catania will always hold a special little place in my heart. It will forever be the place where Ben and I started our journey, road tripping across Sicily. It’s where we sat in the square drinking pleasantly tart limoncello in the hot afternoon sun, where I bought my cute leaf ring and where we had gelato for lunch. Two serves. It’s where we explored the raucous morning market and stocked up on sweet Summer peaches and melon for the car trip. It’s special to me, dirty, grungy Catania.

The morning market is a vibrant sight. Shopping amongst locals was a real highlight.

 

 

 

Gran Moritz gelato…you should definitely do this.

 

It’s always nice to enter the evening in a limoncello, sun-kissed daze. We lazed before a lovely dinner date at Restaurant Metro.
Tuna carpaccio and whole fish were highlights.
Morning exploration…

Cipollini at Bar Sgroi. These soft pastries filled with onion, ham and tomato were essentially a pizza danish. Entirely indulgent.

Gelato in brioche is an acceptable breakfast in Sicily. It’d be rude not to…

After a day of wandering and walking and walking, we then walked some more to collect our hire car.  We reluctantly passed on a romantic, old, red mini Fiat and went with a sensible Nissan, which we named Laine (after Elaine Benes). Note, it took us an hour to get out of the city, a task which local drivers would complete in about 10 minutes. One way streets, that’s all I have to say.

Our next stop was Ortygia. My beloved Ortygia…

Heidi xo

Catania Notes

Length of stay:

1 night. We were happy we hadn’t planned on staying longer, there is more beauty to be seen in Sicily, in my opinion.

Accommodation:

Il Principe and we were thrilled with the location, cleanliness and price.

Where we ate:

Gran Moritz gelatoBar Sgroi and Restaurant Metro.

Highlights:

exploring a new, fairly un-tourist friendly city. Gelato for breakfast and lunch. Shopping at the morning market. Starting our Sicilian journey…

Pumpkin Spice Wholemeal Quinoa Pancakes

November 26, 2012

Pumpkin spice wholemeal quinoa pancakes…That’s a bit of a mouthful, isn’t it? Well let’s just go ahead and through some more delicious descriptions to these lovely little spiced cakes. More deliciousness? Yes indeed. I’m talking two different tasty toppings for you. Trust me, it’s worth the extra mouthful.

Why two toppings? Well, you’re not always in the mood for the same bite, are you? Choice is good. And I like my choice to be in the toppings. It’s how I play to my often rambunctious flavour mood swings. It’s also how I control elements such as sweetness, instead of sweetening the pancake batter itself. Really, toppings are just a fun way to mix things up. And I like to mix things up.

So here we go….today I’m giving you the choice of pumpkin spice wholemeal quinoa pancakes with a maple pecan crumble….or if you are so inclined, you can have your pumpkin spice wholemeal quinoa pancakes with a spiced molasses syrup. Whichever way you want to elaborately describe these merry morsels, the choice is yours.

Pumpkin Spice Wholemeal Quinoa Pancakes with Maple Pecan Crumble


Makes 6 small-medium pancakes

Note: * ensure your pumpkin is chilled in the refrigerator before use. It yields a nicer pancake.

Ingredients

For the pancakes

1/4 cup Pecans (processed finely in a hand held blender)
1/2 cup Wholemeal Plain Flour
1/4 cup Quinoa Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon ground Ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground Cinnamon
A pinch of ground Cloves
A pinch of freshly grated Nutmeg
3 pinches Salt
1 Egg
1/2 cup *cold Canned Pumpkin Puree (I buy mine from USA Foods. Alternatively you can make your own by steaming and then pureeing (and chilling) pumpkin)
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 tablespoons runny Honey
2 tablespoons Milk
Butter to grease your pan

For the crumble topping

1/3 cup Pecans
1 1/2 teaspoons Pure Maple Syrup

To serve

Pure Maple Syrup
Greek Yoghurt

* Ensure that your pumpkin has been chilled in the refrigerator prior to use. Room temperature pumpkin will give you different results.

Method

1. Using a hand-held blender, process the pecans for the pancake mix until finely chopped – you’re aiming for flour-like/powder consistency but a few lumps are fine. If you do not have a hand held blender or food processor, you could very finely chop them up with a knife until as ‘flour-like’ as you can get (some lumps are fine, the batter will just be more lumpy).
2. Sift the wholemeal and quinoa flours into a large mixing bowl (adding back to the bowl any remaining fibre flakes). Sift in the baking powder and spices, then add the salt and pecan mixture and stir to combine.
3. Whisk the egg in a separate, smaller mixing bowl. Add the cold pumpkin, vanilla, honey and milk and stir to combine.
4. Fold the wet ingredients through the dry ingredients until just combined (do not over-mix). Let the mixture sit while you make your crumble topping.
5. For the crumble topping, pulse the pecans in a blender until roughly chopped (alternatively you can chop with a knife). Toast the pecans in a non-stick pan over low-medium heat (shaking the pan to ensure even toasting) until lightly toasted (~4 minutes). Once toasted, turn the heat off and add the maple syrup, stirring to ensure even coating. Set aside to cool.
6. Cook your pancakes by heating a non-stick pan over low-medium heat with a dob of butter (ideally use two pans and cook all your pancakes at the same time). Test that the pan is hot by flicking water on the pan (if it dances, it’s ready). Spoon heaped tablespoons of the mixture onto the hot pan and form into pancake shape (keeping in mind you’re aiming for 6 pancakes). Cook for ~4 minutes until golden brown. Flip and then cook for a further ~3-4 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.
7. Once cooked, stack the pancakes on top of each other, then top with a spoon of greek yoghurt, the pecan crumble and an extra drizzle of maple syrup.

Alternatively, you can skip the crumble topping and slather your pancakes in leftover Spiced Molasses Syrup from when you made Jamie Oliver’s Apple Pepper Pot Cake…oh yes you can.

This syrup will generally make everything better.

If you combine the two toppings you’re in a totally different league to me. I can’t even handle that mouthful.

 

Heidi xo

Resplendent Eats in Rome

November 23, 2012

Here we go, my last Rome post. Are you ready for this? I’m not, I dearly miss this city.
July seems like a lifetime ago to me right now, sitting in my often chilly Melbourne home longing for one more gelato scoop… *sigh* Let’s find some solace in the fact that this post is wholly food focussed. Let’s call this virtual comfort food.
First up, why don’t we fuel ourselves with coffee? I definitely recommend visiting Sant’Eustachio for a coffee granita. It’s refreshing indulgence.

Oh, and you absolutely must visit Il Gelato di San Crispino near the Pantheon. Here is quite possibly the best gelato you might ever taste. Favourite flavours were honey, hazelnut with meringue (I die), chocolate rum and apricot. We sampled a few Gelatarias in Rome and this was hands down our favourite.

 

Another lovely foodie activity is to wander Campo de’ Fiori, picking up some produce before moseying away from the touristy market clatter and losing yourself in Rome’s often chaotic though sometimes eerily quiet streets.

Cherry tomatoes like candy and blueberries like sunshine.

Let’s have Dinner at Roscioli tonight. Have a shower, scrub up a little. It’s a date.
Located close to Campo de’ Fiori, this cozy deli restaurant will deliver you a gorgeous meal with many options and beautiful, fresh produce. Their wine selection is fantastic and the waiters very helpful. We visited twice and on both occasions we left very pleased. We enjoyed some stellar plates and some less dazzling, however the less standout dishes were still very tasty. And importantly, the wine was always excellent.

 

Burrata with anchovies. Dreamy.

Grilled parma ham, buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes. Yes.

Steak and potatoes. Classic.

Carbonara. Reported to be the best in the city. I wouldn’t argue heavily with that statement.

Second visit…
Amatriciana. Not my favourite version of this classic Roman dish, but still yummy.

Spaghettone with tuna. Again, not a favourite. We enjoyed our seafood pasta in Sicily more than this lovely plate, so yes, I’d recommend trying the carbonara at Roscioli for a stellar pasta dish.

Le Polpette. Heavenly, truly delicious meatballs with smoked ricotta and chestnut polenta.

Maybe we’ll end our night with more gelato in this dazzling city. Gelato by the Pantheon? Yes that sounds about right.

I quite favoured our evening strolls in Rome, stumbling across ancient beauty. Overwhelming ancient beauty. I’m constantly in awe of Rome and it’s purposeful architecture.

Oh Rome, let me come back into your arms soon. I’m just going to put it out there, you’re my favourite.

Heidi xo

Rome Notes

Length of stay:

3 days and nights. This was my fourth visit to Rome, so again I was already a little familiar with this city and did not need to spend much time visiting tourist sights. For a first visit, allow at least five days to see this city at a happy pace. If visiting The Vatican City, allow an extra day.

Accommodation:

Donna Camilla Savelli in Trastevere.

Where we ate:

see previous post, Tasteccio…where I wish to be and above.

Highlights:

exploring Trastevere, espresso in the square and visiting Gianicolo Hill again and again for the best view of the city. Gallivanting around Testaccio and all the divine eats we had in this beloved pocket. Listening to Ben’s tales on ancient Roman history as he read a book on the subject, and hearing him recount tales as we walked around this historic city. Wandering, wandering, wandering. Having sweet scoops from Il Gelato di San Crispino as we sat by the Pantheon. All that history, all that vino, all that beauty…

Testaccio…where I wish to be

November 20, 2012

I have a new favourite suburb. It’s name is Testaccio, and it’s in Rome.

Testaccio is not the most aesthetically beautiful area, no, but it’s certainly charming. And it’s undeniably cool. It’s Rome without the mayhem, and it’s where I wish to be.

Let’s talk food. Testaccio is filled with tasty eats. Wholesome, delicious, deeply nourishing and often indulgent. It’s where I wish to be.

Ben and I would cross the bridge from where we were staying in Trastevere and hang out in Testaccio. This became our most well trodden path, under the ancient arch and over the Tiber. We’d retreat here for nourishment. And we were always always pleased. Pleased? Please…we were ecstatic.

 

…..

Here we have our most favourite Roman restaurant, Felice. Few menu choices, all done simply and all simply wonderful.

Bread and vino. Spaghetti with salted ricotta, tomato and basil. Rigatoni all carbonara. Involtini al Sugo (beef roll in tomato sauce). All shared, all outrageously delicious.

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If you’re after classical Roman-style pizza with a super thin base and classic, clean toppings, you’ll be very happy at Nuovo Mondo. The waiters are super friendly and the prices decidedly un-touristy. We shared a magherita pizza, a prosciutto and mushroom pizza and some arancini. This was our very first meal in Rome, and we were very happy indeed with this delicious introduction.

…..

Speaking of pizza in Testaccio, let me show you 00100 Pizza. It’s where I wish to be pretty much all the time.
This hole in the wall joint, the creation of two young chefs, is completely fuss free and produces downright delicious food. They specialise in trappizzini – crisp, dreamy triangular slices of pizza filled with delicious stew-style dishes. It’s a revelation. They also serve pizza by the slice (“al taglio”), of which we sampled many.
To drink, they have specialty beers available, as well as boutique soda. Fabulous.
Some of the bites we had…
Pizza al taglio with pureed chickpea topping,
and blue cheese with balsamic reduction.
Trappizzini with braised octopus filling,
and another with chicken cacciatore. It’s where I wish to be, in this pizza pocket. Right in there.

…..

Lastly we have Volpetti. Any visit to Testaccio, to Rome, is not complete without a visit to this Italian deli extraordinaire. Our first visit saw us selecting goodies from the main deli for a picnic in a nearby park. Park…picnic…perfection.

We had mozzarella balls, spinach pie and thick slabs of tomato herb pizza.

 

With berry and apricot torte for dessert.
Now that’s a picnic I always want to be a part of. With this guy.
On our second visit to Volpetti, we sat in the informal cafe next door to the deli. This cafe is filled with a huge variety of freshly made dishes to takeaway or eat in. Deciding what to eat here is unequivocally one of life’s toughest decisions. True story. Plus, this was our very last meal in Italy. After three weeks, it was terribly hard to say goodbye…
More pizza slabs, fried zucchini flower, a plate of sautéed spinach, a beautiful eggplant orecchiette dish and an open caprese sandwich. Much, much deliciousness.
Volpetti love.
Busted posing for a photo out the front like a true geek. Red cheeks. Embarrassment.
I can’t help it, I just love this place, and that’s the whole truth. Testaccio. It’s where I wish to be…
Heidi xo

Trastevere Dreaming

November 17, 2012

Ahhh Italy. My goodness, I love this country. We spent three weeks travelling throughout Italy on our recent honeymoon. Three of those nights were spent in Rome, blissfully so, before heading to Sicily.

Ben and I have been lucky enough to spend quite a few weeks in Italy on past trips, exploring many regions, from Cinque Terre and San Gimignano to all throughout Sicily. And back in 2003, my mum and I spent Christmas in Reggio Emilia – a time I will always, always cherish. In fact, I cherish any part of my being that connects with the values of this country and its people…a passion for family, food, life and love – it’s such a beautiful culture. It’s how I like to live.

On this visit to Rome, a dearly beloved city of ours, Ben and I stayed in Trastevere. It was the best decision we could have made. This area is becoming more and more touristy, but thankfully still retains that grungy feel, which is very much unique to the area. Plus it’s close to Testaccio, my other favourite corner in Rome (namely for all the delicious eats you can find, and its distinctly un-touristy feel). But that’s for another post…
For now, let’s explore Trastevere.

I just loved getting lost in Trastevere, in all it’s winding, cobbled glory.
We stayed at Donna Camilla Savelli, a beautifully restored 16th Century Monastery. This hotel is stunning and the location fantastic. Booking via hotels.com allowed us to snag cheaper rates, too. It was all perfect.

 

Pre dinner cocktails with this smiley fellow. Always smiling.
A White Lady (gin. love) and The Godfather (amaretto. love). All for a tidy 6 euro. Who said Europe wasn’t affordable?
Trastevere bars are some of the best in the city. If you’re after great beer, visit this gem (link). Or just wander and see where you end up. That’s how we like to roll…

As much as Trastevere is known for its night life, the mornings here were my favourite…
…Ben and I would wake and go for a run up to Gianicolo Hill to revel in the spectualur views of the city.
True beauty. This city…
After our morning run (gotta keep those appetites up) we’d go for an espresso in the square. This was an activity I dearly loved. Sitting, drinking and dreamingwe would wonder what was happening behind the old and mostly closed blue, grey and white shutters. We would create lives for people we didn’t know. And we’d ponder which apartment would be ours.
In another life…
Trastevere dreaming.

 

Heidi xo

This is Rome

November 14, 2012

What was it about Rome this time around? I cannot stop thinking about this city, wishing I was once more strolling the streets of Trastevere, losing myself in ruins, pondering by fountains, shopping at Volpetti and drinking wine in the afternoon. Rome, I adore you.
I have always favoured this ancient city. I recall my first visit in 2003 with my mum. I was floored, stunned by it’s brilliance and completely mesmerised by the vibrant hues of the buildings. It was like a fantasy land, like nothing I had ever seen before. And with each visit I have fallen more and more in love with Rome – its energy, its passion, its respect for tradition and life past and present. Life is valued here, and this reverence for beauty, life and love is infectious. You’re compelled to live well here. And so we did, lodging in Trastevere, exploring all turns and corners of the city, savouring delectable eats (some of the best I’ve ever had) and lazing the evening away with wine and affectionate sunsets.
This is life, this is love, this is Rome.


 

 

 

 

Heidi xo

Banana, Millet and Maple Self-Saucing Pudding

November 11, 2012

An abundance of overripe bananas tends to encourage baking, does it not? Coveting neglected, increasingly blackened logs compels you to construct some sweet concoction.

Whether it’s an old favourite, such as banana bread, or something new, like that lovely banana muffin recipe you stashed away for a banana-rich day…you’re in good hands with overripe bananas. Deliciousness is truly assured. Naturally sweet and the perfect partner of so many scrumptious additions (from chocolate to nut butters, spice, honey and yoghurt), I quite favour them to be one of my most beloved baking ingredients.

Recently, I’ve found myself reaching for bananas more and more when doing my shopping. Perhaps it’s the golden glow, reinforcing the presence of Spring sunshine. Or maybe my craving for banana smoothies is surfacing after a Winter without. Whatever the reason, I’ve rolled with it, freezing some and leaving many for smoothies, porridge and, my newest baking adventure, banana self-saucing pudding.


I experimented fervently with this recipe, searching for that perfect balance of wholesome flours and desired, fluffy pudding-like texture. More recently I added millet to the mix, and that was it. I was done. The gleeful pop this grain provides is a true delight.

This is a well-enjoyed recipe in our house, providing both comfort and nourishment. And of course, refuge for those overripe bananas.

 

Banana, Millet and Maple Self-Saucing Pudding


Serves 4-6 (depending on how hungry your pudding people are)

Notes: The “self-saucing” element tends to stay on the surface of the pudding, rather than romantically seeping through the mix. If you favour baked goods that are not very sweet (and are using very ripe, very sweet bananas), I might suggest using less maple syrup (say 1 1/2 tablespoons) to reduce the sweetness of this dish.
I highly recommend serving this pudding with natural yoghurt (preferably a lovely thick variety such as Roaming Cow Dairies), which cuts through the sweetness wonderfully and adds extra nourishment to this already nicely nutritious dish. Leftovers prove to be a wonderful banana-cake style affair, sliced and packaged for loved-ones to take to work or school.

Ingredients

1/4 cup Millet (from health food stores)
1/4 cup Almond Meal
1/2 cup Wholemeal Plain Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Baking Powder
2 pinches Salt
1/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 Egg
2 small very ripe Bananas (~275g with skin on)
2 tablespoons Pure Maple Syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
3/4 cup Boiling Water

Method

1. Preheat your oven to 180 Degrees Celsius, convection setting. Grease a circular baking dish with butter (I use a 15.5cm dish, 7cm high and I wouldn’t want a smaller one for fear of bubbling over).
2. To a large mixing bowl add the millet and almond meal. Sift in the wholemeal flour (adding back any fibre flakes that are left in the sieve) and then the baking powder. Add the salt and cinnamon and stir to combine,
3. Whisk the egg in a separate, smaller mixing bowl. Mash the banana in with the egg and add the maple syrup. Stir.
4. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and gently fold through until combined. Pour into the prepared baking dish and flatten the surface with a spatula.
5. Boil some water and in a mug combine 3/4 cup boiling water with the brown sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
6. Pour the sugar water mixture over the pudding batter, using the back of a soup spoon (concave side) to soften the flow.
7. Bake in the oven for ~25 minutes, until the middle is fluffy and the top becomes a bubbling syrupy sauce. Serve warm with natural yoghurt (I favour Roaming Cow Dairies Natural Yoghurt).

Scrape it clean.

 

Heidi xo

Dad’s Birthday Pheasant

November 8, 2012

Because who wouldn’t want pheasant on their birthday?

Another rosy Red Hill lunch with loved ones. Life is good down there. Food always tastes that little bit more special. Cakes are always involved. Cakes or tarts…maybe a crumble. It’s such a scrumptious ritual.

Happy birthday, Dad. Your constant support and creativity both ground and inspire me. I love you.

Let’s eat.

Salad making and recipe research.



Pheasant time (recipe link).






Dad’s creations are ever-welcome. Especially this chartreuse ice-cream (recipe link).



Just a taste…


Although none of us could guess what flavour it was. Maybe that’s a sign I need to drink more French liqueur.



I decided not to douse my ice-cream in chocolate sauce, preferring the naked flavour. How rude.


But this silky cocoa stream did make for a pretty picture…


Time for cake. A freshly baked, warm homely apple pepper pot cake (recipe link) with fragrance and zest. Lashings of rich, earthly, molten spiced syrup replaced candles this year. And I quite think Dad preferred the syrup.


 


 



I took a quarter of this cake home. Ok, maybe a third.


Happy birthday, Dad. I hope you enjoyed your birthday pheasant. And I hope you felt spending hours plucking the birds was worth it. I appreciate you and your dedication to deliciousness. Sorry for taking so much cake home.

Heidi xo

Lazing and Grazing in Marrakech

November 5, 2012

Here we go, more Marrakech excitement following on from my previous post. Although this time, it’s a little less hectic…

Ben and I, along with our friend Peta who has been living in France, were visiting Morocco this past July. July in Morocco is hot. Some might say too hot. The lovely Ines from Riad Abracadabra was one such person, and suggested the three of us visit a day spa to escape the intense heat. And so we did.

After a short car ride we found ourselves at Beldi Country Club, where we delighted in a day of truly resplendent relaxation. What a stunning wedding location this would be. The three of us indulged in hammam, swimming, poolside reading and a three course lunch. It was one of the most lovely days, the perfect remedy for intense heat and market mayhem.

We left lighter, centred. Ready to tackle Marrakech once more.

…..

Now I’d love to show you our accommodation, Riad Abracadabra. We couldn’t have asked for a more prefect home for our three nights in Marrakech. A short 2 minute walk from Djemaa el Fna, this Riad Abracadabra is elegant and lovely, terribly luxurious but not pretentious. It’s a dream.

 
 

Ben and I stayed in the beautiful “Merlin Deluxe Suite”, and Peta had her own junior suite. With their oh so gorgeous rooms, a rooftop with a pool and lounges, their beautiful breakfast spread and incredibly friendly staff, we couldn’t recommend this special spot more.

 

Breakfast. Good morning.

Rooftop drinks and olives (supplied by us).
I love a rooftop view. With so much going on down below, it puts everything in perspective. Somehow being up high helps to ground me.

…..

Later that night we had a beautiful dinner at Al Fassia. Note, this was Al Fassia Aguedal, not Al Fassia Gueliz. Yeah, we learnt that the hard way.

At this simply gorgeous restaurant, the three of us enjoyed lamb tagine with prunes and almonds, chicken tagine with pumpkin, perfect pastilla and a variety of Moroccan salads. It was all stunning, a real Marrakech highlight. If you’re keen for a restaurant meal as a change from Djemaa el Fna food stall fun, give Al Fassia Aguedal a try. You’ll feel like a little bit like royalty.

Well fed royalty.
…..
And with that, we waved goodbye to Peta (who was returning to France), and headed to Italy. I was terribly sad to say goodbye to Marrakech, a city I truly love. And I was awfully upset saying goodbye to beautiful Peta. But on both accounts it is only goodbye for now. Plus, Ben and I had Italy ahead of us, our most favourite country. I cannot wait to show you all the wonder and deliciousness we encountered.
Heidi xo

Marrakech Notes

Length of stay:

3 days. In 2009 Ben and I spent three weeks in Morocco, where we did a 10 day tour (visiting Rabat, Casablanca and Fes, as well as an overnight stay in the Sahara). We then spent nearly two weeks just chilling in Marrakech, so we really feel like we know the city pretty well. Hence a short visit this time was ok. Of course, more time is always welcome (and I desperately wanted to stay), but we were off to Rome and I also can’t say no to Rome. So 3 days it was. For first timers, I recommend doing a tour as a way to get around the country easily. No tours seem absolutely catered to my tastes, but logistically it’s a good idea for a first visit. I’d recommend at least four-five days in Marrakech for a first visit.

Accommodation:

Riad Abracadabra, otherwise known as paradise.

Where we ate:

see previous post, Let’s Go to Marrakech and above.

Highlights:

all the food, all of it. Scoring some fabulous leather sandals in the souks. The mayhem of Djemaa el Fna. Being pampered at

Beldi Country Club. Showing my bff this crazy, gorgeous land. The heat, the food, the magic of Marrakech.

Let’s Go to Marrakech

November 2, 2012

There is something truly magical about Marrakech. This bustling, tourist-friendly (by Moroccan standards) city is commonly described as “an assault on your senses”, and that’s pretty spot on. Marrakech is intense, vibrant, alluring and energetic. It’s like no other place on Earth. And I absolutely love it.

 

Marrakech can be hot, really hot. It’s a dry heat that is absolutely not relieved by the hot tea offered with zealous regularity. Although I’ll still take the mint tea, thanks, but I’d prefer it without sugar. It’s kind of offensively sweet otherwise. Or maybe just hand me a coke. Yes, please. The only time I crave Coca-Cola is while in Morocco. It’s the heat.

Moving on from the heat, you’ll notice lashings of vibrant colour dancing against the dull salmon and brown buildings. I find myself mesmerised by the stunning hues draped over the ladies of Marrakech – from Kermit the Frog green to blood red, it’s a feast for the eyes. I also find myself stunned by the fact that these women can stand to wear such layers, even if they are fantastically bright. They’re acclimatised, clearly. I am not. Yet.
Marrakech is a boisterous beast, but a friendly one. Eager shop owners luring you in, offering the freshest orange juice for the very best price (far better than their neighbours). Pals engaged in joyful chatter, recounting tales and cracking jokes. “BalAK, balAK!” signals a need to scoot quick smart, as a donkey is fumbling through the narrow street where you’re trying to haggle a price on some fantastic leather shoes (you’ll buy two pairs). And of course, the poetic call to prayer dancing from the rooftops.
And then there’s the food…oh, the food. The scent of simmering stews and charred meat rise from coal-cooking corners and enthusiastic grills, enticing you to take a seat and feast. And so you do, alongside fellow hungry visitors and locals alike. There are few places I’d rather eat than Marrakech. It’s dizzying in it’s brilliance.
Let me take you there.

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By day we like to explore the streets, quite literally loosing ourselves in the souks and doing a little shopping.

 

 

We might visit a herbal medicine man and pick up some argan oil and nigella seeds (great for the sinuses)…

A fan is always a good purchase.
…..
We’ll then find a little nook to have lunch. What’s on offer today?
Bread. Always bread.
Chicken tagine with potatoes.
The perfect meal, even in 40 degree heat.
How could we resist a meatball sandwich to go?
Another day we might visit the Lamb Tagine stand behind Djemaa el Fna (the main market square), opposite all the wonderful olive stalls. You can’t miss this row of shops, the sheep heads on sticks prove to be quite reliable signposts. On this day they had run out of lamb’s face, and so we settled for a lamb tagine, heavy on the preserved lemon. With cumin salt and bread. Perfection.

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Afternoon snack of seasoned naan-like pancake, warm from the grill.

Bliss.

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After all this excitement and exploration, we might retire to our riad for a rest, before setting out for some mint tea or a Coca-Cola at a rooftop cafe. This is absolutely a favourite activity of mine, lazily perching on the rooftop chairs after a day of Marrakech mischief and watching Djemaa el Fna come to life.
You’ll see food stalls beginning their nightly trade, tourists getting duped into paying for photos with monkeys, and kids with balloons dragging their parents around the square. Constant drumming provides a powerful soundtrack for the evening, enhanced by the eery, staccato snake charmer melodies that filter through the air.
As the sun goes down, we rally again for a market meal. I love to brave the crowds at Djemaa el Fna. The mayhem is worth it, as you’re guaranteed an unforgettable night of grilled treats and exotic plates. I recommend powering through the ever-persistent waiters luring you into their stalls with their energetic but flawed charm tactics, and go where the locals are eating. The busiest stalls with the freshest ingredients, those not vying for your business, are where you should eat. That’s the golden rule at Djemaa el Fna.
Are you ready? Let’s go.
Let’s start with some harira soup. Why not? It’s only 40 degrees outside.

 

Next we’ll grab a seat at the terribly popular corner grill.
Tomato and bread with chicken and vegetable skewers. Charcoal-kissed wonder.
The sun goes down but the flames don’t stop.
Merguez sausages. I love these spiced, stubby little sausages.
Done. What’s next?
Let’s visit our favourite stall at Djemaa el Fna, the always popular fish dudes. Once you’ve waited long enough to secure a spot, you’re delivered simple plates of deliciousness – fresh tomato, gooey eggplant and crisp battered seafood. It’s the eggplant that gets me every time…
And for something sweet, we’ll head to my other favourite spot, the spice cake carts. When I first visited Marrakech, I believed these dark scoops would be similar to gelati. It’s not. Rather, this delight is an intensely spiced, dry cake. I find it to be absolutely scrumptious, intoxicatingly so. Especially when served with hot, super sweet ginseng tea.
Initial trepidation at Peta’s first taste turned to assured adoration. I knew she’d get it.
It’s amazing.
Time to head back to the riad, where we’ll read on the rooftop with more mint tea.
Let’s go back to Marrakech…please?
Heidi xo