Mint Tea and the Road Trip
I just had the most wonderful journey to Morocco for two weeks. I choose my holiday destinations by the food I like to cook. Exotic ideas of tagines, chicken pastilla and couscous…couldn’t wait to taste authentic versions in their place of origin.
My husband and I booked a private tour with just a tour guide and driver. Never traveled like this before but loved it. Felt like we were traveling with old friends by the end of the trip.
From the airport in Casablanca, we were whisked into our private Toyota Prado SUV and taken to a roadside cafe for our first glass of mint tea. Just our first, mind you. Sweetened mint tea, poured from a silver teapot high above your glass to create a topping of tea bubbles was the drink of relaxation, of welcome, in fact every stop we made! Berber whiskey, not frisky, it was called because there was no alcohol; and everyone made it a ceremony and were proud to serve us.
We had arrived in Morocco in the morning. We stopped at a roadside restaurant for our first meal. So exciting, what should we have? Oh, the choices of tagines — their version of roadside diner food. We decided to share a kefta meatball tagine with fried eggs; I wanted to try the spices in the kefta. This tagine and every single tagine we ate this vacation was served with a bread basket full of the traditional round bread cut into wedges. The meat was nicely spiced, not hot spicy but aromatic. And all the sauce soaked up into the bread. Not a drop went to waste.
We only toured a few sights in Casablanca…the King’s Palace, Rick’s Cafe (really, the one from the movie) and a mosque….in a city of over 8 million people, it was time to leave the city for smaller cities, travelling east up the coast to Rabat.
We arrived in Rabat for the evening. A light dinner of fruit and nibbles, still full from lunch and exhausted from travel. The next morning after a sound sleep at our first riad, a local guest house, we had a simple breakfast of coffee, orange juice, toast, jams and dates and we were on the road again to Meknes.
I loved Morocco. I took over 600 photos. But food and the markets were my pet project… believe me when I tell you that I enjoyed the touring and history and people and experiences too.
Meknes was our midway stop on the way to Fes. We were taken to a restaurant and up to the terrace for lunch. Wow. I felt like I was eating in a living room. I adored all the mosaics and the comfort. A assortment of salads were brought to our table. Always a plate of olives. A delicious white bean salad (which I hope to emulate in the near future) and an eggplant salad too.
And mint tea.
A delicious local Moroccan soup was served next — Harira, a blend of vegetables, noodles and spices. I will post a recipe for this soup soon.
A traditional tomato and cucumber salad came next, alongside another eggplant salad.
My husband and I always ordered different main courses so that we could share the meals. Here is the first of many pastillas, a Moroccan chicken filled pie wrapped in a phyllo-type pastry. Aromas of almonds and cinnamon, cumin and other spices. It was truly a treat.
I ordered a chicken tagine with potatoes, carrots and cauliflower. Yellow hue from the turmeric. Vegetables cooked soft and the chicken just fell from the bone.
And just a tease of dessert to top off the meal. On the left is a ‘gazelle horn’ — pastry filled with almond paste and shaped to match its name. A coconut cookie in the centre. And a deep-fried almond-filled phyllo pastry.
And mint tea.
We are off to Fes.