Within the ancient walls of Marrakech resides the city’s culinary soul: the medina and souqs, the communal bread ovens and workshops, mounds of olives, aromatic herbs, cubbyholes offering spice concoctions with dozens of components…. It is here, among these raw materials, that the magic of this remarkable cuisine begins.
In conjunction with the legendary restaurant, riad-hotel, and cooking school La Maison Arabe, Moroccan cookbook author Jeff Koehler will begin leading a series of private gourmet walking tours followed by a traditional, multi-course tasting menu. These will happen four or so times a year, the next being January 16 though 22, 2013.
Join Jeff on a winding stroll through Marrakech’s narrow lanes to learn how ingredients come to create, even define, one of the world’s great cuisines. While hearing about food’s deeply-rooted role in Moroccan culture, you will sample different date varieties from the Sahara and small, pointed almonds from the High Atlas, get a ras al hanout spice blend designed exclusively for your tastes ground in front of you, maybe even pick up some hand-carved wooden spoons or an unglazed tagine. Then sit down with some ornate pastries in a café at the edge of the frenetic Djemma el Fna to witness one of the world’s most exhilarating sights over sweet mint tea.
Return to La Maison Arabe for lunch, an unhurried, multi-course tasting menu specifically created for the tour. Beginning with stuffed savory pastries and a wide selection of fresh and “cooked” salads, you will savor Moroccan flavors at their finest while learning from Jeff how these dishes are prepared and their role at the family table. Sample four different tagines—including a sublime one with lamb, candied orange peel, and saffron threads from the book—as well as two types of couscous, a Friday staple in every Moroccan home. Finish with traditional deserts, pastries, and, of course, mint tea, poured high from above the table. The courses are paired with top Moroccan wines, whose industry dates back some 2,500 years and is experiencing a breathtaking revival.
Along with a signed copy of Jeff’s book, you will take away an understanding of the tightly-linked relationship between food and culture in Morocco. It is, simply, the best way to get into, discovery, and appreciate this complex, fascinating place.
Jeff has travelled for many years in the region since moving to Spain in 1996. His most recent cookbook is Morocco: A Culinary Journey with Recipes from the Spice-Scented Markets of Marrakech to the Date-Filled Oasis of Zagora. His writing, recipes, and photographs have appeared in Saveur, Food & Wine, Gourmet, Afar, Men’s Journal, Virtuoso Life, the Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times, and have been selected for Best Food Writing 2010. He is also the author and photographer of La Paella, which has become the standard work on Spain’s iconic dish, and Rice, Pasta, Couscous. In Barcelona, his popular private gourmet walking tours and tastings have reached hot list status and been included in Condé Nast Traveler’s “iconic itinerary” of the city.
“Some international cookbooks stimulate appetites and others induce wanderlust—this survey of Moroccan cuisine does both,” begins Publishers Weekly’s review of his Moroccan cookbook. “[He] captures the complexity of his subject matter with the exacting detail of a scholar and the color and sensuality of a spice market.” Come and experience this firsthand with Jeff as your personal guide.
Tours begin at 10:00 a.m. and finish after lunch. Price for up to 4 people including transportation in Marrakech, guides, snacks, lunch with wines, and two copies of Jeff’s book is $1200.