Tag Archives: food

What’s new in Essaouira in 2016

Essaouira beach and port

work has begun on Essaouira beach and port

Keen followers of maroc-o-phile.com will know that I haven’t been living in Essaouira full-time for a while now. I have been fortunate to be there twice this year already and things are a-changing, albeit at a slow, sleepy Swiri pace… Here’s a round up of what’s new in Essaouira for 2016. Continue reading

Vegan Restaurants in Essaouira

While it is easier for those who eat meat or fish to find interesting and nourishing food in Essaouira, it is not impossible to find vegan food in the city, although you will meet people who don’t quite understand the concept. Morocco is a country abundant in fresh vegetables and no stranger to pulses. With a little preparation and forward planning, you will survive and might even have a couple of truly excellent meals!

I compiled this list of vegan restaurants in Essaouira and other vegan options for finding vegan food.

Read my post for Travel Exploration about meat-free travel in Morocco for ideas.

If you’d like to cook vegan Moroccan food at home, check out my recipe for chickpea tajine.

The Best of Essaouira: Cookery classes

couscous, the Moroccan national dish - made gluten free with cornmealThe cuisine of Morocco is becoming increasingly well-known abroad and a popular holiday activity is a cookery class where students can learn about the intricate blends of spices, the diverse influences on Moroccan cuisine and attempt to create their own culinary masterpieces. Over the past year, I have tried two cookery classes in Essaouira – one a well-established brand, the other a homely newcomer. I enjoyed both immensely, even though I could already make some key Moroccan dishes. If you want to do a cookery class in Essaouira, I recommend one of these two options. Continue reading

New in Essaouira for Summer 2015

essential EssaouiraI have been spending some time over winter in the UK, but this weekend, I head back to Essaouira for a few weeks. I hope to hand over a tidy sum of donations which I have collected through my crowdfunding campaign for Association Bayti, as well as check out some favourite old haunts and some exciting new openings in the city.

In anticipation of an influx of British visitors with the start of new direct flights from London to Essaouira on 1 May, I thought I would round up what’s hot in Essaouira for summer 2015! Continue reading

I’m vegetarian. Can I travel in Morocco?

An internet search of “vegetarian travel Morocco” invariably brings up plenty of posts and advice about how difficult it is to travel as a vegetarian or vegan in Morocco. While I’ll admit that it is easier for those who eat meat (or at least fish), and you probably won’t meet a meat-free Moroccan. However, Morocco is a country abundant in fresh vegetables and with a little preparation, you will certainly not only not starve, but you might even have a couple of truly excellent meals!

Read my post for Travel Exploration about meat-free travel in Morocco for ideas.

If you’d like to cook vegetarian Moroccan food at home, check out my recipe for chickpea tajine.

Finally, if you are travelling to Essaouira and want the low-down on the top three vegetarian restaurants, check out my e-guide, The Best of Essaouira.

Vegans might find this list which I compiled on listly useful.

Vegetarian Chickpea Tajine Recipe

Vegetarian Moroccan chickpea tajine with auberginesI’m spending a little time in the UK right now (sans tajine) and we were hankering for a taste of ‘home’ so I rustled up a vegetarian chickpea tajine. My recipe is based on one by Hilaire Walden from the book North African Cooking, but as I am almost pathologically unable to prepare a recipe exactly as it is written, it has a my own twist. Of course, I am not particularly good at sticking to precise measurements either, so give this a go and experiment to your own preferential level of spice! Continue reading

Best of Essaouira: restaurants

Umia restaurant Essaouira Regular readers of maroc-o-phile.com will know that I am a big foodie! So, when my friend Amanda over at MarocMama.com wanted an update on Essaouira restaurants, who else would she ask?!

My post over on her website is an extract from my forthcoming e-book, The Best of Essaouira, where I recommend the top three best properties, locations, services and experiences in a range of categories. It contains over 70 tips for eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, shopping, sunsets, photos and authentic interaction with the locals. It will be available at maroc-o-phile.com later this month, in particular aimed at prospective and booked passengers on the new direct flights from London.

Want more tips on the Best of Essaouira? Download your copy of the e-guide here.

Marrakech International Film Festival: best cafes for between movies

Marrakech International Film Festival 2014The Marrakech International Film Festival is now  in its 14th year. In 2014, it will run from 5-13 December. Although not as high-profile as some of the European film festivals such as Cannes or the Berlinale, Marrakech offers a great opportunity to catch new international and art house films as well as retrospectives and back catalogues. This year, expect to see L’Orchestre des Aveugles, a Moroccan feature, in the competition. Also showing are the drama about Stephen Hawking, The Theory of Everything and A Most Violent Year, J.C. Chandor’s film about crime and corruption in New York City. The open air screen on Place Jmaa el Fna will show the latest Shah Rukh Khan Bollywood epic, Happy New Year and there will also be homages to Japanese cinema, Moroccan producers, Jeremy Irons and Viggo Mortensen. The jury is presided this year by French actress, Isabelle Huppert. Entry to the films is free with a public pass available in advance via the festival website. Read my preview of the 2014 festival here.

So, there is no shortage of big screen entertainment. But what about between films? Where are the best places for chilling out, posting your snaps of stars on social media, reading reviews and grabbing a coffee on the go? Fortunately, the Palais de Congrès is right in the middle of a hub of café culture in Marrakech’s Hivernage district.

Continue reading

I have food allergies.Where can I eat in Essaouira?

Food allergies and intolerances can be a challenge to manage on holiday, but it is possible.

Wheat is seen as a big issue,as the Moroccan staple is bread or couscous (made with wheat semolina) but if those two items are avoided, tajines and couscous toppings can be eaten hassle-free. For information on gluten-free eating in Morocco, read my post here.

For those allergic to nuts,these are normally only used in sweet dishes and cakes, so you’ll need to avoid all the delicious Moroccan pastries. Sorry!

The best thing to do when managing allergies is to frequent restaurants where the chef is present and you can communicate with them in a language you both understand. This means avoiding the tourist-trap tajine restaurants where waiters can be are less well-informed about the menu and cooks are often local women who do not have any contact with customers.

I suggest you try the following restaurants:

La Découverte – owner Frederique is always present, has designed the menu herself and is very aware of allergy and intolerance issues.She strives to work to a slow food, sustainable development philosophy.
– La Triskala – offers a short menu of simple veggie and fish dishes,and it should be easy to figure out the ingredients.
Umia – a popular and more upmarket restaurant, chef Bibi designs the changing menu herself and is always on hand to advise
– Vague Bleue – owner Brahim makes a very simple Italian-based menu which is cheap and delicious and he is usually on hand to recommend a suitable dish

Of the above, if you turned up and they didn’t have something suitable, I am sure that all (except potentially La Triskala) could offer to make something specific for the following day on request.

Some of the crepe restaurants in the medina offer non-wheat options. 

As for a bakery, that’s a harder ask for the wheat-intolerant and gluten-free. I know Patachou in the new town make rye bread (seigle in French) and they might be open to a special order. I don’t suppose they could guarantee that it would be made in a nut and wheat-free environment though….