Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Al Fassia (Marrakech)
We arrived in Marrakech last night and were welcomed by the sweltering heat even though it was nearly 11 pm. After spending the day doing a walking tour around the Medina (old city), we needed some good food. The owners of the riad (traditional Moroccan-style hotels) that we were staying at highly recommended El Fassia (they claim that's where many of the stars go to eat when they are in town). The restaurant is also a women's cooperative so everyone working there is female. We started the meal with a pastilla (or bastilla) stuffed with quail, which had a light flaky crust similar to phyllo (or filo) dough. It is salty on the inside but sweet on the outside so the flavors made an interesting contrast. We got several main dishes including a tagine and skewers, but the best dish was definitely the lamb shoulders with almonds (one portion is for 2 people). The lamb was very tender and flavorful, with a mix of many different spices. We ended the meal with a variety of Moroccan pastries but they were a bit too sweet for my taste. Alas, there was no star-sighting though and we didn't see any cute guys. I do have to note that we were very impressed with the service. After we asked them whether there was a non-smoking section in the restaurant (which we knew was very unlikely), they asked the tables closest to us not to smoke, which was quite thoughtful. Now I only wished restaurants in Paris would do that!