Ah, there really is nothing like a long, warm shower after your travels. The day had been long, and we had journeyed on everything from train, petit taxi and ocean liner inter-country ferry. Down in the lobby of Riad Fes Yamanda we are offered some mint tea and little cookies on arrival, this I could really get used to. Then we were asked if we would like to eat in the Riad tonight - it sounded perfect, not having to venture far on our first night. We came down just after 7pm, and were ushered into a little room, with a table set just for the 2 of us.
We start the meal as you do in Morocco, with a selection of little salads. There were a few little crisp pastries that were filled with a spiced vegetable mix, a Zucchini Zalouk which is cooked with onions, tomato & spice, carrots with orange & orange blossom water and a smokey eggplant. All delicious!
A basket of Moroccan bread is placed on the table which acts as a perfect eating implement to just scoop the salads up. The bread is still warm, has a nice touch of salt and light as air with a very generous coating of yellow corn meal which gives a great crunch.
We share 2 mains, the first a classic Chicken Tagine with olives and preserved lemon. As the lid is lifted, a subtle aroma fills the air - spice, the smell of roasted chicken but most prominent the salt and citrus smell of the preserved lemon.
The pastilla is a flaky pastry that is said to have originated around Fes, so it was no surprise we also chose that. This was a great introduction ... although traditionally made with pigeon, this version is made with chicken, almonds, egg & spice all filled in a light flaky pastry. A dusting of icing sugar and cinnamon give this a perfect savory and sweet combination.
Dessert is a plate of sliced apples in a rich orange reduction that seems to have a smidgen of saffron. Toasted almonds add a nice bit of crunch.
Ah, the mint tea. This stuff is amazing. Gunpowder tea with so much fresh mint it's almost busting the side of the teapot, and a few cubes of sugar. It's poured from great height to aerate and mix the tea. Some little cookies on the side as well.
What a lovely first dinner in Morocco. We are heading to bed early as we are meeting with a guide at 8:30am to venture into the craziness that is the Fes Medina.