Riad Elizabeth, Marrakech

Goodbye London! After a cramped flight on a discount airline, we landed in Marrakech, Morocco. Our guide, Mark from Mad About Morocco, arranged for a driver to pick us up and deliver us to our first stop where we would spend the next two nights, the Riad Elizabeth.

Before I go on I should explain a couple of terms that you will see me use quite often in my Moroccan posts.

A medina is a section in North African cities that is sometimes referred to as “old town.” It is the oldest or older part of the city, and was built by the Arabs as a walled town with many narrow streets. The streets are so narrow that some, if not all, streets must be accessed on foot and by donkey. Cars usually cannot access these streets, and in some cases they also can be too narrow for carts, bicycles and motorcycles (not that this stops anyone from roaring their motorcycle down a narrow medina street). Medinas often are like mazes, with many twists and turns, and contain many places of historical interest like palaces, mosques and fountains. They usually have multiple gates, and sectioned off quarters. This is where all the tourists want to go, and where many Moroccans want to move out of, as the newer sections of the city are more modern and middle-class.

Marrakech medina, just outside of Riad Elizabeth

Marrakech medina, just outside of Riad Elizabeth

A riad is a traditional Moroccan home that has a central open-air courtyard and/or garden in the middle. The rooms of the house surround the courtyard, which is traditionally open to the outdoors, although many modern renovations now have retractable roofing to cover the opening. Many renovated riads now serve as hotels and restaurants.

Located in Marrakech’s medina, the Riad Elizabeth is unique in that it is relatively easily accessible by car (although you still have to walk for a minute or so).

Riad Elizabeth

Riad Elizabeth

One of the owners, an ex-pat Brit named John, greeted us and immediately sat us down for some lovely homemade cookies and mint tea. Hospitality is a very important part of Moroccan life; as soon as you enter someone’s home you are offered mint tea and some sort of snack.

cookies

cookies

Mint tea is a traditional drink in Morocco, and it is served in small glasses. It is made by brewing green tea (sometimes jasmine or gunpowder) and adding large amounts of fresh mint. And lots and lots of sugar. Moroccans love adding copious amounts of sugar into their tea.

tea set

tea set

In my small cup I added one sugar cube and it was plenty for me. John told us that Moroccans would probably have added 4 or more cubes of sugar.

my first taste of mint tea

my first taste of mint tea

The entire riad has been renovated, which made for a nice, easy transition into the culture and atmosphere of Morocco.

our room

our room

flower close up

flower close up

Wait, who's that in the mirror?

Wait, who's that in the mirror?

view of the courtyard from above

view of the courtyard from above

This riad can arrange for dinner, or can help you with taxis to restaurants. Every room comes complete with a full breakfast, served on the riad’s rooftop patio. Clockwise, starting at 12 o’clock, are toasted baguettes, Moroccan bread (named khobz and pronounced hobs in Arabic), fluffy Moroccan pancakes (named beghrir in Arabic), and thin Moroccan crepes (named msemen in Arabic). The crepes reminded me of Malaysian roti. The jam was delicious, and the orange juice was freshly squeezed and sweet. Oh and the oranges! I fell in love with Morocco’s oranges. Almost every orange I ate during the trip was sweeter and tastier than any orange I’ve had in North America. And these oranges were winter oranges; in the summer they are even sweeter!

breakfast, day 1

breakfast, day 1

The breakfast we had before we left Marrakech consisted of French toast made from baguettes (top), more khobz bread, and semolina bread (named harsha in Arabic). And more fruit. I gobbled the oranges.

breakfast, day 2

breakfast, day 2

John, his wife Elizabeth, the riad’s manager Kamal, and all their staff went out of their way to make our stay a pleasant one. It was an auspicious (and delicious) start to the Morocco leg of our trip.

Riad Elizabeth
Derb El Baroud, Hart Essoura
Marrakech Medina 40000
Morocco
www.riadelizabeth.com

Unidentified flying fruit

When you’re trying to be good and eat all your fruits and vegetables, you can get bored with eating the same things over and over. Recently, I’ve been trying new fruit.

My absolute favourite new fruit is the donut peach. Also called a saucer peach (as in flying saucers), they look like peaches that have been smushed. Inside, the flesh is white with a tinge of pink. The taste is sweeter and more delicate than a regular peach, and I’m finding that I like them so much better than regular peaches. The flesh is also really delicate, so you have to be careful when handling them or picking them out in the grocery store. They’re more expensive than regular peaches as well, so make sure you budget for them!

donut peach

donut peach

Another fruit that I’ve tried recently is the red pear. The bright skin caught my eye in the grocery store, and I couldn’t resist picking up a couple. The taste was… well it was like a pear, except that the texture was slightly less gritty. Given that these were more expensive than other pears, I probably wouldn’t pick them up again. They sure are bright and pretty though.

red pear

red pear

I have another announcement to make.

Changed my mind; fruitarianism isn’t for me. Have decided to become a cannibal instead. As an added bonus, there are some great recipes out there!

Hope you had a great April Fool’s Day! 😉

I have an announcement to make.

After much thought and consumption of tripe, haggis, and other offal, I have decided to become a fruitarian. Welcome to the new Brûlée Blog – all fruit all the time.

Trying new foods

I’m always open to trying new things. I think it’s a hazard of growing up and eating stuff like chicken feet, shredded cold jellyfish, Jello-like squares of pig’s blood, duck tounges, etc. Not that I ate stuff like that every day, but I’ve never found it unsual to try something and find out later what it really was.

So when I was offered some Grapple at a relative’s house, I was intrigued and happy to try a piece. At first I thought they were apples crossed with grapes, but from their website it seems that they’re actual Fuji apples with grape flavouring added to them. There’s a good pic here: http://www.coolest-gadgets.com/wp-content/uploads/grapple.jpg.

The flesh and skin looks like they come from a regular apple, but you get an immediate scent of grape as soon as you open the packaging. And the taste. Well. I have to say I didn’t enjoy them at all. They reminded me of grape flavoured cough medicine, just without the medicine taste. Grapples definitely reminds you of grapes, but they taste somewhat artifical to me even though their site says the taste comes from grape juice. Frankly, I’d rather just eat a regular apple and drink some grape juice, or eat grapes. Grapples aren’t worth the significantly higher price tag.