4 days in Marrakech last week were generally made up of the following 4 things:
- Souk/Medina rage. The seemingly impossible to navigate terracotta roads/lanes/alleys, which made no sense to my general feeling of direction. One day it took us approximately 2 hours to find our Riad. We then couldn’t even find wine to ease said rage.
- Lots and lots of round loaves of bread. Most white, some chewier crusted, some a little more wholemeal, but served with every meal. Used for scooping up food, or even stuffing full of rusty coloured merguez. I had to self-impose a complete bread-ban once returned, after what felt like 3 mini loaves each day.
- Hamman and messages. Do go to a hammam if you visit (we did the fancier spa ones rather than the very traditional, and perhaps the more scary). A little sniggering from buckets of water poured on heads/lots of all-over scrubbing, but super soft skin and very relaxing combined with a massage (until the exhausts of motorbikes once outside).
- Mint tea. All day, every day. Just ask for it without sugar (there are lots of dentists in the medina).
I think Marrakech needs a little bit of searching/researching to find excellent food, with lots of reports of just rather passable tagines and/or mild food poisoning. I’ve put together my recommendations from the long weekend, for a few ideas if visiting:
Do go to the main square for dinner one night. A smoky, intoxicating bustle of dried fruit sellers, rows and rows of orange juice places, food stalls with steaming make-shift kitchens, snake charmers and maybe even a monkey on a lead. The places to eat are crammed next to each other, most with the trestle tables boxing in the little kitchens. Grilled meats seemed to be the key thing at most, piles of sausages at the sides, with a mini loaf of bread and dish of crushed up tomato at your place, tangy harissa at some. The stalls are numbered, so head for either 32 (my favourite, with delicious mixed kebabs), 31 (very good aubergine and spinach alongside the sausages) or 1 (great harissa, spicy merguez).
The strangest thing we had was a scoop from a sweet brown mound, a bit cake like but quite indeterminable, full of spices and sesame maybe. Served with even sweeter cinnamon tea. Maybe not quite as daring as lamb head or stuffed camel spleen, which I maybe avoided.
When we got hopelessly lost on the way back to our Riad on the first night, we stopped at Café Atay, firstly for directions, for wifi to help the first, and also a drink (not booze though) and plate of Moroccan pastries. It turned out to only be about 5 minutes from where we were staying when we did eventually find the way, and we went back, partly out of gratitude, partly because the pastries were some of the best we had. Dinner was very good value (I think £4 or so for the main course) – try the meatball and egg tagine.
Our favourite restaurant was Souk Café, one of the cheapest, with a lovely little roof terrace on the top (even if it was in the middle of a building site of next door). Along with the beautiful mixture of Moroccan salads (6 little bowls of delicately spiced vegetables and lentils), we had a really tender lamb and prune tagine with fluffy cinnamon couscous. They do brilliant smoothies too, especially if you need a break from tagine/sausages.
|Café de la Poste|
We were slightly bad tourists in searching the (predominantly dry) city for the best place for a drink of wine. After souk rage one day, we gave up on our search, but felt a little smug once we had a few glasses of gris (their very light rose), on a beautiful roof terrace, watching the sun set over the medina the next day. Our favourite in the medina was the roof of Riad El Fenn (absolutely beautiful inside – a very stylish place to stay), but we also loved Café de la Poste outside of the medina walls. A great terrace at the front for people watching.
I left a little ready to say goodbye to tagines/sausages/motorbikes/getting lost, but after having some brilliant food. Obligatory tasselled slippers from the souk and questionably cheaper than at home spices tucked in my bag.