That time work gave me a free trip to Morocco
Finally another Accra Jams post. *sigh* We promise we are going to find more things in Accra for you all to read about. Maybe we'll even go ahead and surprise you with having our own jam. Maybe. But not today. Today I’m here to fill you in about all the food I ate in Morocco, and of course the other stuff I did too.
My week in Morocco started off in the business capital, Casablanca. I had a 6 hour layover, so my boss and I cabbed it into town and ate at La Sqala, apparently the number one place to eat if you ever find yourself in Casablanca. Trip advisor described it as, and I paraphrase, Where you will find the upperclass brunching on Saturday morning.
For a location described to be so uppity, I was shocked at how reasonably priced the menu was. But the setting and ambiance lived up to the upscale, fancy nature that I had been led to believe it was.
The menu at La Sqala was quite extensive, so you know your babe wasn't too pleased. I spent at least 15 minutes discussing my options with the waiter, shuffling between my classroom French and his basic English, before settling on the goat Tajine option, adventurous Ash was definitely out to play. My boss and I got an assortment of Moroccan samosas too as a starter and he ordered a duck Tajine for his main dish.
Service was quick. The food was drop dead gorgeous and tasted accordingly. Yuhmmmmy! I must at this juncture confess that my entire trip was filled with eating Moroccan samosas and different Tajine dishes, adventurous Ash went back in her cave as quickly as she had come out. I’m sorry guys, that’s just how great of an impression the La Sqala Tajine left on me.
The samosas were life! Every single one of them had its own distinct taste, but was just as good as the next. There was a seafood samosa (or spring roll, kinda looked like a thick spring roll to me, with some white powdered topping), a beef samosa and a vegetarian samosa (spring roll I say). They all tasted yummy, infused with distinct Moroccan spices. As my first taste of Morocco, I can tell you I was feeling very welcome and very excited about all else I was about to eat on this trip.
So it turns out, the Tajine is actually the clay pot in which the vegetables and the meat is slow cooked and served in. The distinct presentation of a Tajine (triangular hat shaped covering, pictures further down) cannot be missed, neither can the taste. The goat meat was so tender and so well seasoned, I was blown away. I utterly enjoyed my meal. Tajines are served with bread and not rice. Basically, don’t be my boss and go around asking for rice, cuz you will get a tiny serving of something weird. Moroccan’s don’t play that rice game, at all.
I tasted the duck Tajine my boss ordered, pictured above. The meat was a little tough and definitely did not melt in your mouth, it was however a full burst of flavoured duck. I preferred the goat Tajine but that could just be personal preference and or my undying never ending love for goat meat.
La Sqala lived up to my every expectation. Thank you trip advisor. Definitely a place everyone should eat at if they are ever in Casablanca, very affordable too.
So with a few more hours to go, our taxi driver offered to be our tour guide and drove past the major tourist locations beginning with the Hassan II Mosque (number one on every list of things to do in Casablanca). The mosque was beautiful from the outside, standing majestically along the coastline, it is evidently a great pride of the Moroccan people.
Next we went past the Corniche, the coastline of the Mediterranean on the African side. This was no Labadi beach or Teshi beach, their coast line is very well developed, every 500 metres is a different club or restaurant, even a drive through McDonalds was shacked up along that coast, felt very European. (No pictures though, moving car and whatnot. *sadface*)
I stared in awe as we continued our drive and came up to the Morocco Mall, Casablanca. It was huge and housed darn near every UK or US store you could think of, they even had European stores. I walked in, saw Starbucks and was ecstatic. Coffee junkie in the house.
This mall is definitely an all day adventure, and sitting along the coastline of the Mediterranean, there are some pretty amazing views to catch from the food court windows. There is also a massive aquarium, nonchalantly chilling in the centre of the mall. Basically if this mall was located in the city of Accra, we all gon be in there on the absolute regular. It wasn’t just a mall, it was genuinely a tourist attraction on its own.
We had the sweetest taxi driver ever, he chauffeured us around town, giving us in-car tours and charged us only about $100 (1000dirhams) for his service, we bargained it down and paid 700dirhams total, which to me was a sweet bargain. I think Moroccan taxis in general were both extremely affordable, convenient and super helpful. Remember to bargain with your drivers, a little French here and there is definitely a plus for getting around Morocco.
And then it was off to Marrakech.
Marrakech was more work than play, but I made the best out of my few trips out of the hotel. We stayed at the Pullman Marrakech Palmeraei Resort and Spa. This hotel was gorgeous in the day and even more so amazing at night. I absolutely loved the rooms, which were like individual chalets, not your typical hotel room. The pool, the lake, the food, the service, everything, I loved how perfectly laid out the entire location was. Oh and my date with the spa, I did that.
Who was gonna stay at the Pullman Marrakech Palmeraei Resort and Spa and not try out the spa? Definitely can't be me. Our rooms were an affordable €98 per night, there were cheaper options in the area, but if you're on a flexible budget and are looking for a nice getaway, all inclusive resort, a little way away from the busy Marrakech life, this is definitely the spot for you.
My first trip out of the hotel was obviously food related. I tried out the Palais Soleiman, one of the best restaurants in Marrakech. This was not only a beautiful space but had a lot of history attached to it. They had multiple dinning halls and the food was to die for. Again, I ordered the assortment of samosas to start and a beef Tajine and what a blast of absolute yumminess. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.
This is definitely a restaurant I will recommend for anyone for any occasion, but do note that it is a more pricey option for a meal out in Marrakech.
Sometimes work turned into play, and on one specific night, we went out into the dessert, surrounded by the most ethereal setup and display of Moroccan culture we were served with the most gigantic plates of food. The traditional couscous was served with the most tender, most moist beef I have ever consumed. I'm sure you all are wondering how many calories I carried back to Accra, the answer is a lot.
Then I visited the Medina, the cultural hub of every Moroccan city. The Medina is basically a market, reminded me a lot of our own Makola or the Arts Centre. The 1001 stores selling the same goods, the compartmentalisation of different stores into different areas, the small walkways, women chasing after you and trying to get you to buy their goods, it all felt so familiar. Yet so beautiful. It truly was an amazing cultural experience to be thrown into the heart of a people like that; you watched them work, eat, socialise, it was an opportunity to observe people in their natural habitat and I personally found it fascinating.
The Medina is a chance to be full on launched into Moroccan culture, their food, clothing, artefacts, traditions, spices. Everything.
If you're ever in Morocco, take the time to pass by a shop where spices are sold. I learnt so much from a 30 minute full on lesson about spices and herbs and all the benefits that they have. Morocco is known for its Argan seeds, which is used to produce Argan oil (s/o to all my natural sisters) that can be used for both hair, skin and for cooking. The Argan seed is unique to Morocco and the people take great pride in its uses and benefits.
And then at night the square in the forefront of the Medina transforms into a bustling food market, with different vendors, all generally selling the same thing; food, drinks, snacks, henna tattoos, and then the main Medina is open too.
All the different vendors seemed to be in some sort of competition over who could rack up the most customers. The stall attendants tried everything they could to get you to sit at one of their tables, they pulled everything from pop culture references right down to a diarrhoea warranty. Yes, they went there. I got called Nikki Minaj by multiple shop attendants. I thought it was absolutely hilarious that they would assume that we would bond over some Nikki Minaj reference and that would make me want to eat at their shop. We finally went with the stall number 17, and the food was... uh... FOODGASM.
I had the most filling meal ever, yes people, they served a table of four individuals all this darn food.
It actually starts off quite small, with couscous, bread and a few veggie dishes, and then the food keeps coming and coming and never stops coming. And it all just tasted amazing. I cannot complain about one thing I ate in Morocco. I absolutely loved all of the food. All of it. Even the small things I didn't like here and there. I sucked it up, because everything else being so good overshadowed the bad mouthfuls here and there.
The Medina at night is a sight for all to see. There are performers with crowds of people surrounding them, people stand around completely fixated on the performer, waiting to see him perform a trick, play some music, tell a story and even whisper to snakes. It was like nothing I had ever experienced before, the ambiance, the people, it was nice to experience a new culture in this way.
There were tens of ladies sitting ready to whip up the most gorgeous henna tattoo you have ever had. They had mine done in 3minutes, and it was definitely worth the $10 I paid for it.
Morocco provides an amazing opportunity to dive head first into a new culture, a new people and make new discoveries about the world at large and about yourself. I discovered Tajines and best believe I am never going back. I have found bae. I would definitely recommend a trip to Morroco for any one looking for a quick getaway, flight time is honestly 4hours, hotels are cheap and you are headed straight for amazing food but most importantly hospitable people that are eager to share their culture, their country and what they love.