Monday, March 26, 2012

Lunch at the beach...

At first glance there are no signs that a meal at one of Oualida's finest restaurants awaits you.

Instead of valet,  boats are parked haphazardly around the beach.  The very boats that have been working all morning to catch the days specials.

Instead of professionally placed decor and piped in Muzak, the view is the vast Atlantic and the background music is waves crashing onto the beach.

Bright plastic tapis in place of starched white linen.

That's right, no printed menus with listed prices here... instead you are welcomed to check the nets yourself and negotiate a fair price.

On the beach of Oualidia, the fishermen eagerly await to show you the days catches, bargain a price with you, grill and serve you with a smile.

We couldn't pass a chance to have a lunch on the beach al a marocaine. Crabs, langostine and sole were washed, grilled and served with nothing more than lemons. Wine and Beer not included in the meal, but available to purchase around the corner or BYOB.  If listed on Tripadvisor we would give them 5 stars.  

Many thanks to Tanja, Eben, Barnaby and Inigo for showing us a wonderful time in Oualidia.  Looking forward to many more trips back! 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Oualidia Plage (spring break part 1)...

L' Hippocampe in Oualidia had been recommended as a great beach getaway many times. It seemed to be the perfect place to start our Spring Break.  So... we made reservations, packed the car and followed our friends to the coast.

It was an easy two and a half hour drive from our home in Marrakech.

 Buildings of white wash with blue trim are a welcome clue that you are close to the coast.

 The hotel is cheap and cheerful with an amazing location,

 delicious fresh seafood,

 colorful gardens and a welcoming staff.

The pièce de résistance of L' Hippocampe is the access to what seemed to be our own private island just across the lagoon by way of a five minute boat ride.

L' Hippocampe boat returning to the island to pick us up

We spent three days there and only saw two other people the entire time. We chased seagulls, ran in the waves, flew the kite, built tunnels to China and gathered special treasures.

I would love to return for my birthday weekend next month. Maybe someone else will like the idea and make the reservation...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The beach feeds my soul...

Is it the salty breeze, the crashing waves, gritty sand in my toes, running in waves with the boys, fresh seafood or sun on the top of my head? I don't know, just know that it makes everything ok and centers me.

Oualidia Beach, Morocco
We are in the middle of our spring break vacation on the beaches of Morocco and will share more with you when we return home. Hope you are enjoying the start of spring as much as we are! xx

Oualidia Oysters

Hotel l'Hippocampe, Oualidia, Morocco

El Jadida Beach, Morocco

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The yogurt aisle...

Morocco has the largest yogurt aisles I have ever seen.  Here, in my regular grocery store, there must be close to 100 different varieties of yogurt products and flavors.

At first glance it looks like a pretty comprehensive collection of yogurt products. There is pomegranate raibi, yogurts mixed with cereal, wonderful flavors such as fig or pistachio and standards such as strawberry and vanilla. There is however, in my humble opinion, one very important item missing... Greek Yogurt.

When we first arrived, time was spent searching this aisle very closely thinking I might be missing it and then wondering why it wasn't available.  Oh how I missed it, the rich and silky texture, the copious amounts of protein... What to do? Well, make it myself of course!

Since moving to Marrakech, I have spent quite a bit of time figuring out how to adapt recipes and create items that we like and want, but that are not readily available. For example, I now make my own sriracha, vanilla extract, candied ginger and even foam dish washing liquid.

For each project, the process is the same. Internet searches provide a plethora of recipes that I read, compare and combine.  I then gather ingredients and materials and start experimenting. Sometimes it goes horribly wrong and sometimes it is amazing. Whatever the turnout, I always have fun and am left with a feeling of accomplishment when the desired product is achieved.

To make Greek Yogurt, the following process has worked well for me. Perhaps you would like to try as well?

1 Liter of milk
2 Tablespoons of prepared yogurt containing live active bacteria
Candy Thermometer
Double Boiler
Pour milk (reserve 2 tablespoons and set aside) into double boiler and heat to 180 degrees. 

While milk is heating, mix the reserved milk with 2 tablespoons of prepared yogurt in a separate bowl.  Once milk reaches 180 degrees, remove from heat and cool to 105 degrees. While milk is cooling turn oven on to warm and turn oven light on.  When milk reaches 105 mix in reserved milk and yogurt mixture and transfer to ceramic or glass bowl.  Cover bowl with kitchen towel.  Turn oven off, but keep oven light on.  Place covered bowl in oven and keep it there for about 8 hours or overnight.

Yogurt should be pretty set. You might have a greenish liquid sitting on top. This is whey and perfectly fine.  Just drain it off.

Place yogurt in refrigerator for about 3 hours to thicken. 

Line strainer with 4 pieces of cheesecloth and place on top of a bowl.  Put yogurt into cheesecloth lined strainer and place back in refrigerator to further drain and thicken, an hour or so should do it. Voila! You have made Greek yogurt.

For an extra treat, I like to top mine with honey. The above honey is Xunaan Cab, Miel de abeja Melipona.  It was a gift from my friend Eben and is really something special. It comes from a small batch producer in Merida, Mexico. Next time you are over, ask for a taste, I might let you try it.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

We met in Houston... together we played tennis, learned to salsa and oh yeah, worked. They left for Paris and three years later we left for Marrakech. Since then, the guys have had dinner in Moscow, lunch in Paris and a meeting in Lisbon. We girls met for dinner one night in Paris.  Last night, all four together, we had drinks at our home in Marrakech and dinner in the Medina.

Maria and Francisco requested adventure for the night so we decided on dinner in the Medina.  A cab took us from our home to the Medina.  A man with a lantern met us at the cab and escorted us through a winding brick street.  We passed by a man sewing leather to make sandals and bags, another man hand painting delicate floral designs on a large door, smoky grills topped with meat and children playing soccer.  When we arrived to a large lit wood plank door we were welcomed in...

We sat beneath the open roof amid candle light. Dinner was a selection of Moroccan salads (lentils, spiced pureed carrots, cauliflower with cumin, eggplant caviar, broiled green peppers with tomatoes), briouates filled kefta and goat cheese, tasty tajines (mine was lamb and quince, yum!), red wine and how else would we finish a Moroccan meal? Mint tea of course!

At midnight we toasted Happy Birthday to Maria and to their 12th Wedding Anniversary.  How wonderful to be able to celebrate with them both here in Marrakech!

When and where will we will see you next?  Hope it is somewhere fabulous soon! xx

Saturday, March 10, 2012

2 Bottles and 6 Magazines...

Does champagne and English magazines make up for the days he is gone?  Of course not, but this man sure does know how to make a girl happy. Yes, I miss him when he is gone, but the treats from the trips are nice.  The above bounty was brought back yesterday from this weeks trip to London. Last week he brought me mascara, magazines and amaretto.  Are you finding a theme?  English magazines are not available here and alcohol is expensive.  The list for his upcoming trip to the US has been started...

Fifty Six...

56 light sockets, 56 light bulbs and 56 light fixtures.  When we moved into Villa 16 we had 56 wires hanging from the ceilings and walls with no socket, no light bulb and no fixture attached. 

As if moving to Marrakech did not already present enough challenges, I now needed to figure out where to find the fixtures, negotiate prices in my new currency of MAD (Moroccan Dirhams - One US Dollar is roughly eight Moroccan Dirhams) and arrange for delivery and installation in French.

A small panic set in... where to begin? As the Electrician started installing sockets and light bulbs, I  began wandering the souks in search of fixtures.  It was overwhelming! Everywhere I looked was another beautiful lantern, chandelier or wall sconce.  Bronze, colored glass, wood, hammered metal and even leather.  My panic turned to obsession. Entire days would be lost to looking at lights. Slowly the light bulbs in the house turned to proper fixtures and well, I am happy to say that I am almost done. Yes, that is roughly 56 weeks to get 56 fixtures. Only 4 left to go!!! Two of which are being made and should be delivered any day.  Here is a look at a few...


Do you have a favorite?

Friday, March 9, 2012


So it begins... one year after our arrival, finally some thoughts and notes of our new life in the far away land of Morocco. We will do our best to update you often and share our life with you. Please read, share and comment along the way.