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September 10th, 2007

savor: Morocco/ Asilah


Just 30 miles south of Tangier, and 5 miles inland of the small, gorgeous fishing village of Asilah, is Berbari, the rural, village equivalent of Dar Nour (see below). But whereas Dar Nour is contained and perfected, Berbari feels open, quirky. The center is the large sitting area with checkered marble floor, shiny black baby-grand piano, red sofas and easy chairs, and wrap around windows offering views of the green and red hills ambling down towards the ocean. The roof is made from local bamboo and red mud covered with rusted, corrugated roofs. These are topped with a couple of immense nests of storks - who are in residence.

The real treat of this homey country lodge is its home-style country food, excellently prepared when I was there by Zohra and Mustafa who take no shortcuts: the lamb, quince, and prune tagine prepared one night took five hours to cook; the garlic and tomato stuffed eggplant “flowers” that preceded it took three hours, and the pears for dessert were carefully stewed. Zohra recently joined her husband in Spain and her sister, Naema, has taken her place in the kitchen - with just as tasty results.

In winter meals at Berbari are taken inside beside a burning fire, the rest of the year on the outdoor patios. Guest on the nights I stayed included French working in Casablanca, various young foreign diplomats from Rabat, and Moroccans living in France; we ate at a single large table and were served family style, lingering over a winter infusion of fresh absinthe leaves and conversation until late. The owner is a fascinating Frenchman, a successful film set designer, who decamped here a handful of years ago, marrying a local Berber woman whose mother once worked in the kitchen of Marrakesh royalty.

Posted by jeffkoehler in  savor: Morocco  |  Comment now »

August 15th, 2007

savor: Morocco/ Tangier

20, rue Gourna

The most exciting thing in Tangier’s food scene is being able to eat in dars and riads: high quality, home-style traditional Moroccan cooking served family-style in mansion settings. The kitchen at Dar Nour, thanks to an extremely particular owner, Philippe Guiguet Bologne (a Frenchman who has lived here since 1993), is the city’s best. Dinner is served in the dining room among heavy tableware, covetable textiles, and candles, and could be – depending whims of Philippe and his cooks and the seasonal bounty of the market – a salad of courgette ribbons, sweet tomato sofrito, and khli (dried, preserved lamb) followed by a sublime tagine of lamb and quince. Or perhaps beetroot soup with ginger, chicken tagine with fresh green beans and olives, and then oranges with anise and raisins. Linger over mint tea and house-made glaces (almond, lemon, tangerine) while Fauré chamber music (or perhaps Oum Kalthoum) plays and the candles burn low. It’s like being a privileged guest at one of the city’s most desirable addresses.
Staying in Tangier: here, of course, and only here.

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