I have had the opportunity to taste and enjoy locally made chocolate in multiple countries around the world. I’ve taken chocolate making classes, learned about cocoa and brought home chocolate as gifts. But despite all that, there is one chocolate that remains my favorite – hands down the best chocolate in the world. And it’s right here in the Pacific Northwest. Let me tell you about Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Boehm’s Candies.
The lovely town of Issaquah in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains was my home back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Back then Issaquah was still a tiny little town, where people knew each other and shopped at locally owned stores. Today Issaquah has grown massively, but still keeps a thriving old town area and several successful unique and historic businesses. One of those is Boehm’s Candies.
Austrian born Julius Boehm escaped Hitler’s tyranny and fled to Switzerland in 1940 and on to the United States in 1941. In 1942 he opened his first candy kitchen in Ravenna with the help of two friends and inspiration from his pastry-making grandmother. In 1956 he moved the operation to Issaquah which reminded him of the Alps and built the authentic Swiss Chalet that still is home to Boehm’s Candies today. Julius was a generous, engaged and much loved member of the community until his death in 1981. Thankfully longtime protege Bernard Garbusjuk took over the helm of the operation. With his long family history of Austrian Chocolate making Bernard kept the traditions and Boehm’s flourished. Today Bernard’s children are continuing the quality chocolate making business.
Today most candy making operations are done with machines and it is rare to find fine chocolates that are hand dipped. In Boehm’s candy kitchen you will find the last two hand dippers at Boehm’s – Judy and Amy have been hand dipping chocolates for a combined 53 years. It is one of the things that make Boehm’s so special. Most people might not recognized how unique this is when they pop a delicious Boehm’s truffle into their mouth. But it is truly a dying art…and one to be savored.
Machines Work Too
Some Boehm’s candies, however, are made by small batch machines. One rolling machine is more than 100 years old and is used nearly every day to roll out the confections. I asked what happens if they need a part for this 100 year old apparatus and I was told it never breaks down. Well they don’t make ’em like they used to!
And they really don’t make ’em like they used to when it comes to today’s mass produced chocolate. Boehm’s is not that…rather it is a hands on, high caliber, steadfast operation, that is dedicated to traditional recipes, quality ingredients, old world charm and community. Much of Boehm’s staff have been with the company for multiple decades…unheard of in this day and age.
You can also visit the beautiful Poulsbo location for the same great product, made fresh in Issaquah and delivered to Poulsbo once a week.
And of course you can order online…but I recommend a personal visit and tour…because you can’t get a sample, breath that delicious aroma, or stroll the beautiful grounds at the Chalet by ordering online. It’s definitely a treat to visit in person one of my all time favorite Hidden Gems of the Pacific Northwest – Boehm’s Candies.
This is one of our favorite blog posts from 2020. Enjoy it again or for the very first time.
Lucky am I that I have tasted coffee all over the world, in fact, in 110 countries. Wow that is a lot of countries and a lot of coffee. I’ve been able to narrow down my favorite coffee around the world. I do love coffee and although there has been many countries where the coffee was downright lousy or non-existent, luckily there have been many countries where it was delicious and abundant.
We are currently hunkered down on the island of Cyprus, where coffee rules. Cypriot coffee is much like the coffee of Turkey or Greece, and is usually made in a Cezva, a metal cooker with a long handle and a pouring lip. The coffee in Cyprus is arabica coffee and is ground so fine it is almost like a powder. Traditionally cooked in sand over an open fire, many traditional houses will still make the coffee in a machine that uses sand very hot, then place the Cezva into the sand and bring the coffee to boil twice.
I had never seen coffee made in this manner and it was something fun and new to see.
Cyprus is another of a long list of countries who know how to make good coffee, even though they don’t grow their own beans. Many countries with the best coffee don’t grow beans. It’s all in the way it’s prepared.
So I thought today I would share with you all my favorite coffee around the world, in addition to Cyprus. Some of the worlds best and most delicious. Whatever you call it; java, joe, mud, cuppa, brew, cafe, octane, rocket fuel or juice – here is my favorite coffee around the world.
I visited France in 2007 and despite the Starbucks phenom in the USA, France was the place I had my first and most memorable cup of real good espresso. And I didn’t have just one. I drank so many cups of espresso during my ten day visit to Paris and northern France. I learned how much I love a deep, dark rich cup and I have loved it ever since.
Most people think of espresso as Italian, and certainly they are credited with the invention of the espresso machine. I loved this amazing coffee here as well, and was a bit confused by the social etiquette surrounding your morning coffee. Most baristas were kind and assisted this silly American.
My 2008 trip to Ethiopia remains one of the highlights of my travel life, and learning the complicated process the Ethiopia Coffee ceremony encompasses is one of the most interesting things I have ever seen. Ethiopians strongly claim their country as the birthplace of coffee, and they take the ceremony of coffee very seriously. You can’t be in a hurry for your morning cuppa here…but it is very much worth the wait.
The beautiful island country of Zanzibar (actually a self-governing island of Tanzania) has many coffee plantations as well as beautiful and interesting spice plantations. On a tour of one of these plantations we learned a lot about the coffee culture of Zanzibar and enjoyed drinking the rich dark brew at Zanzibar Coffee next to our hotel.
There are so many things I love about Morocco, including the food, and the coffee is high up on that list of favorite things. We drank it in all parts of the country and it was rich and delicious no matter where we were. Moroccans could be found drinking it morning and night, but for me I had to stick to the morning, or I would have been awake all night long.
Another country that really knows how to do coffee is Greece. Like other European countries coffee often comes with a “biscuit” for dipping, and a cup of beautiful dark coffee in the afternoon was my favorite mid-day treat.
This photo does not do justice to the coffee we had in Qatar. We transited through Qatar and spent only one night, and enjoyed on the morning of our departure what I can say is hands down the best breakfast I have ever eaten…including a pot of delicious brewed dark coffee.
We spent a month in Vietnam and really grew to love the coffee there. Often served with sweet milk, but you could order it without, the local coffee was almost always served in a clear glass cup without a handle.
When we returned home after our month in Guatemala we brought with us six pounds of coffee…now one of my favorite coffee around the world. The production of coffee is big in many Central American countries, but of all the countries we visited we liked Guatemalan coffee the best.
So there you have it, my favorite coffee around the world. I can’t wait to continue my coffee culture research when we can start traveling again and continue our ’round the world travel. Coffee makes me happy!
A repost today from 2021. Next week we will have an all new post about amazing Mexico City. Watch for it!
A little more than two years ago we were in an Airbnb on the island of Langkawi, Malaysia. It’s unusual for us to watch television, but this Airbnb had a great variety of international programs, and I watched a series about Mexico City street food. Oh my god. I couldn’t stop thinking about how I needed to go experience Mexico City street food. And that is how I came to be eating my way through Mexico City.
I Apologize Mexico
First, an apology to Mexico. As we have traveled all over the world these past five years on the Grand Adventure, we never added Mexico to our itinerary. As Americans, Mexico seems so easy to get to…and I had visited a couple times. So we kept skipping it. I’m sorry Mexico…I was wrong. The touristy places I had visited (Mazatlan, Cabo, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco and Zihuatinejo) did not show me the real Mexico. Until Mexico City.
The PanDamit gave us the opportunity to reconsider Mexico given the easy access from the USA. So I began a correspondence with a Mexico City food tour company called Eat Like a Local Mexico. Eat Like a Local Mexico offers multiple food tours, but does not usually work with clients looking for a multi-day eating tour. But owner Rocio was amazing and over a period of several months we corresponded and created four days of eating my way through Mexico City during our six day visit to Mexico City.
Red Tree House Bed & Breakfast
We landed at Benito Juarez International Airport on a Monday night in November. We took a cab to the Mexico City neighborhood of Roma Sur and the bed and breakfast that had been one of a few recommendations from Eat Like a Local. The Red Tree House Bed and Breakfast turned out to be one of the best inns I have ever stayed in. Again, my apologies Mexico…it was so much better than I was expecting. The service, staff, accommodations, location and breakfast were all five star.
Eat Like A Local Mexico 101
On our first full day we met Rocio and guide Astrid from Eat Like a Local Mexico at a lovely little coffee shop a block from our hotel. Our tour, which was supposed to be a group tour, ended up being a private tour because the other group had canceled at the last minute. So off we went with Astrid, a tiny, energetic local who intricately knows the traditional Mexico City food scene.
We spent the next six hours with Astrid showing us local street food as well as visiting two of the most famous markets, the Merced Mercado and the Jamaica Mercado. Such a colorful wonderland. We ate so much I can’t even tell you! But see the video below for more.
That night we made our way without a guide to the Frida Kahlo Museum. I highly recommend this when in Mexico City. The museum is in her home, the same home she was born and died in. I learned so much about her remarkable life. Don’t miss it.
Eat Like a Local Night Street Food
Next day, we took a “free” historic walking tour starting in the historic center of Mexico City. We always try to take a free walking tour wherever we are. Such a great way to learn local history, learn about culture and politics and all from a local. Our tour was with Estacion Mexico.
After a quick rest back at the hotel we met up with Astrid again at another coffee shop within walking distance of our hotel to start a Night Food Tour as I continued eating my way through Mexico City. We were joined by another American couple from our home state of Washington. Small world. Using Uber, the metrobus (clean and efficient and cheap) and walking, we crossed the city with Astrid to visit the hidden joints only the locals know about. It was incredible. We ate street tacos, mole,and flautas, drank pulque, and much much more.
Eat Like a Hipster Local
Day three we slept in a bit then Rocio picked us up at our hotel for a private tour she designed just for us. The food this day was unforgettable as we focused on more of the nouveau foods coming out of Mexico City. We had chocolate, cheese and craft beer. We tasted mezcal and had the freshest and most delicious hipster tacos. I am in love.
Casa Jacaranda Cooking School
Our final day of our foodie tour was spent with Casa Jacaranda Cooking School. Starting at 10am and going all the way to 6pm we explored the Medellin Mercado, then at the Casa Jacaranda kitchen we cooked mole, fresh tamales, corn tortillas, salsa and more. This was such a marvelous experience all around – I would not hesitate to do this cooking school again.
Tasty Tuesday YouTube Video
Check out our Tasty Tuesday YouTube video here about eating my way through Mexico City.
We Will Be Back
There are several other excellent things to do in Mexico City, other than eating, so next time we will stay longer. And there will definitely be a next time. I fell in love with this clean and beautiful city, so much more than I expected. Eating my way through Mexico City opened my eyes to a culture and cuisine I had been missing.
If you are even an occasional follower of this blog or my social sites you know I love food! And even more than eating, I love to learn about local foods while I am traveling. Some of our all-time most rewarding experiences in our travels have been engaging with locals, learning to cook regional food. During our recent visit to San Juan del Sur we thoroughly enjoyed a Nicaragua Cooking Class. Let’s talk about it.
What is Nicaraguan Cuisine
Although it has some similarities to Mexican cuisine, we found the delicious foods of Nicaragua more similar to Guatemala. One of my all time favorite cooking classes was in Antiqua Guatemala. In that class we used a lot of the same ingredients that we see here in Nicaragua; beans, rice, corn, onions, chicken, plantains, yucca and pico de gallo. And Nicaraguan coffee is also much like Guatemalan coffee…one of my favorites.
San Juan del Sur
We spent a month in San Juan del Sur, a Pacific Coast beach town about an hour’s drive from Granada. On arrival I did some research and found a local tour operator called Pacific Adventuras that offered several tours in the San Juan del Sur area, including a Nicaragua cooking class. So of course we signed up right away!
Rancho Tere, Escamequito
We were picked up in San Juan del Sur by Chef July, who owns Rancho Tere Restaurant with her family in the small town of Escamequita about 20 minutes from San Juan del Sur. July speaks very little English, so we also had Cesar with us as an interpreter. He is actually studying at the university in Managua every Sunday to improve his English. We had a wonderful time practicing English and Spanish through the day.
When we signed up for the Nicaruagua cooking class we requested to learn about vigoron, one of Nicaragua’s most loved dishes. It consists of a cabbage salad, boiled yucca, and chicharron, all wrapped in a banana leaf. This dish is often eaten without utensils, and it is frequently served to visiting family and guests, as it is generally easily and quickly prepared. Wikipedia. So Chef July was eager to share this popular dish with us, and she also chose to share with us how to make tostone.
Tostone is a dish we had eaten several times since arriving in Nicaragua and we loved it. The word tostone refers to the twice fried plantains that serve as a vessel for toppings such as cheese, meat and pico de gallo.
Nicaraguan food is made from simple, local, fresh and easily accessible ingredients. Honestly isn’t that the way all good food should be made? Chef July introduced us to yucca. We actually have eaten yucca before, but never worked with it in a recipe. It is a staple food in many Central American countries as it is cheap and easily accessible. It has a consistency very much like potato.
For the vigoron we placed the boiled yucca in a bowl (often served on a banana leaf) then topped it with a cabbage salad very finely grated and mixed with lemon juice. Next topped with delicious homemade pico de gallo made from fresh tomato, green pepper, and a new ingredient to me, called culantro. Culantro is similar to cilantro, but a much bigger leaf. It’s always fun to learn about something new. The last ingredient for vigoron is the chicharron, a popular snack food, which we call in the United States pork rinds.
The entire dish took about 20 minutes to make and it was very filling and delicious. And also pretty.
Another very common ingredient in Central American and Caribbean cuisine is plantain. Did you know there are more than 1000 varieties of bananas? The plantain is a firmer and less sweet variety used mostly for cooking. If you read our blog post about Granada, we ate a delicious hamburger in Granada that used a plantain tostone bun. So yummy.
To make the twice cooked tostone you first cook the plantain chunks in deep oil for about three minutes. Next using a towel so you won’t burn yourself you smash the chunks into disks with your hands, then fry them again in the oil. This is the tostone. We then fried the delicious local queso (that has a high melting point) and placed each piece on top of the tostone disks, topped with pico de gallo. So, so delicious. You can also top a tostone with meat, beans, avocado…lots of yummy things.
This dish was easy and delicious. Don’t try this with regular bananas though, you need the firmer plantains. It is possible to find plantains in the USA, sometimes at supermarkets but also at Latino markets.
Fat and Happy
We really enjoyed our cooking class at Rancho Tere. In fact we are planning to go again and learn some more delicious local foods. Because spending time with locals, learning their foods and customs, is the best part of our Grand Adventure and My Fab Fifties Life. We loved our Nicaragua Cooking Class. Muy Bien.
Maui Best Restaurants – updated with new information for 2022.
I’ve been to Maui more times than I can count and it is one of my favorite places in the world. But like everything else affected by the PanDamit, Maui has lost some restaurants (including one of my faves) while others struggle to keep their doors open. And yet still, this island is home to some amazing dining from take-out to romantic and every cuisine you can want. I have not eaten at EVERY Maui restaurant, but I feel qualified to recommend quite a few. So here they are – Maui Best Restaurants 2022 by My Fab Fifties Life.
In No Particular Order
The Sea House – Napili – Beautiful view ocean side at the iconic Napili Kai Resort. Fresh fish and always delicious. One of my top restaurants on the island. Reservations a must.
A ‘a Roots – Napili – Vegan tiny restaurant in Napili Plaza, farm to table, locally sourced and so delicious.
The Gazebo – Napili – a bit over hyped, but still delicious breakfast with huge servings. Be prepared to wait in line at this tiny spot.
Star Noodle – Lahaina – One of my top favorite restaurant in Maui. Always perfect, outdoor ocean side dining. Creative menu and excellent service. Reservations recommended.
Mala Ocean Tavern – Lahaina – Great seafood, clever cocktails, ocean side dining. Reservations recommended.
The Fish Market – Kaanapali – purchase fresh fish and poke here to take home or order up fresh prepared fish tacos, mahi mahi and so much more. Delicious and worth the wait. Take out.
Monkey Pod Kitchen – Kaanapali and Wailea – by the owners of Merriman’s (see below) a more casual restaurant for salads, burgers, fish and a great Mai Tai.
Pint & Cork – Wailea – not your usual Maui vibe, this gastropub is a great place if you want a burger and a beer. Great service and reasonable prices.
Moose McGillicuddy’s – Kihei. Sports Bar upstairs with great burgers, fish and chips, salads and more. Also downstairs (same kitchen) is Fred’s Mexican open for breakfast too.
Some Casual Options
Paia Fish Market – Paia, Kihei, Lahaina – choose your fish and how you want it prepared. Always fresh but expect a wait.
Sugar Beach Bake Shop – Kihei – come for the malasadas. Hands down the best on the island. Other yummy stuff too.
Cafe O’Lei – Kihei and other locations – a wide variety of family and budget friendly fish, burgers salads and more.
Kihei Cafe – One of Kihei’s most popular breakfast locations, expect a wait but not too long, they get people in and out. Try the banana pancakes, loco moco or eggs bene.
Sale Pepe – Lahaina – A great Italian option right in Lahaina. No view but the food is excellent and the service is great. Try the lasagna.
Coconut’s Fish Cafe – Kihei – Fish tacos, salads and more at a reasonable family friendly price. Choose your fish and your preparation preference. Always fresh.
Down the Hatch – Lahaina – Order at the counter and they will bring your food to your table. Large seating area so usually not a long wait. Nice bar options too.
Papa ‘aina – Lahaina – Top Chef Lee Anne Wong works wonders and Papa’aina often creates special dinner events too. In the historic Pioneer Inn across from the Banyan Tree in Lahaina.
Alchemy – Lahaina – I loved the sandwiches we had at this hidden gem above Lahaina Old Town. In more of an industrial area…you gotta search it out. Believe me it’s worth it.
Something For Everyone
Three’s Bar and Grill – Kihei – Casual and clever menu with both indoor and outdoor seating and a great Happy Hour menu. Try the brussel sprouts. I’m not kidding, they are amazing.
Maui Brewing – Kihei and Kahana- Pizza, fish tacos, burgers and a delicious kale salad…and of course beer.
Monsoon Indian – Kihei – my hairdresser told me about this hidden gem, located in side Menehune Shores in North Kihei. I had never heard of it. It was awesome. Very delicious and authentic Indian food with a fabulous view, perfect for sunset.
Roasted Chiles Mexican – Kihei – Only Mexican restaurant I can recommend on Maui…delicious and authentic, locally owned and family run. If you need a taco fix while in Kihei this is the place.
Honu Seafood and Pizza – Lahaina – another excellent pizza option but also lots of fish choices and fabulous view. The Mushroom Pizza was excellent and so was the Banana Coconut Cream Pie.
Miso Phat – Kihei and Kaanapali – Delicious sushi and a great variety. Easy to order on line, pick up and enjoy at the beach.
Kula Lodge – Kula – recently purchased by long time Maui restaurateur Simon Vojdani and owners of the 5 Palms Restaurant formerly in Kihei. The 5 Palms is now be part of the beautiful property at the Kula Lodge. We enjoyed the Happy Hour…but dinner is also recommended… you can’t beat the view here!
Ohana Seafood Bar and Grill – Kihei – We went for the sushi but the day we went the Sushi Chef must have been off…bummer. But the menu has many other options from burgers to poke, tacos to calamari. The calamari was delicious..
Manioli Pizza – Wailea – This place has a small menu but a lovely view. Several pizza options and just a couple pasta options but all very good. I really liked my chicken piccata. Budget friendly and family friendly too.
Some the BEST on the Island
Morimoto – Wailea – the most beautifully presented sushi I have ever had. And the ambiance is amazing at the stunning Andaz Resort in Wailea. For a special occasion or any day, just go. Great to watch the sunset too. We always come back for this one.
Ka’ana Kitchen – Wailea – We had an outstanding meal with a view at Ka’ana. Whatever you do don’t miss the watermelon salad. Everything else is good too. Also located at the Andaz.
Mama’s Fish House – Paia – Maui’s finest restaurant in food, ambiance and service. Incomparable. Reservations hard to get but give it a try.
Fleetwoods On Front Street – Lahaina – One of Old Lahaina’s best restaurants, if you want the roof top be sure to make a reservation well in advance, especially for sunset. A bit pricey, so if you want to save a little make a reservation for their awesome happy with great half price drinks and half price on selected appetizers and entrees.
Hali’imaile General Store – Upcountry -One of the islands best restaurants located in a historic building in upcountry, the menu is fresh but not pretentious…just delicious and local.
Merriman’s – Kapalua One of the best meals I have had in years, the impeccable Merrimans is where we celebrated our wedding anniversary. Amazing Prix Fixe menu for $120 per person was worth every penny. Fantastic and special place when in Maui.
Sam Sato – Wailuku – few tourists come here, but locals know about this amazing noodle shop in Wailuku. I love the Dry Noodles and the Chow Fun. Great kimchee too.
The Pour House – Kapalua – no view but the ambiance is lovely and the food is divine. If you want a break from fish and Hawaiian food make a reservation at this phenomenal Italian bistro. Be sure to try the handmade fresh burrata.
Pita Paradise Wailea – A hidden gem in Wailea. This name though…it sounds like a fast food place. It is not. A lovely menu of Mediterranean dishes with daily specials. I loved my local Mong Chong grilled fish with fresh vegetables in an aioli sauce. My husband had delectable lamb gnocchi. Definitely come here. Make a reservation during peak season.
Saigon Cafe Wailuku – This hidden gem has been going strong since 1995…highly unusual in this day and age. But that says something about the food. We hadn’t been here in years, but made our way back up this last visit and I am so glad we did. Authentic and delicious SE Asia cuisine.
Take Out and Food Trucks Are Big Biz
There are many food trucks on the island, but I haven’t visited them all. But if you are interested in take out options check the YouTube video we did in 2020 Tasty Tuesday Maui Take Out Food.
Feel free to share in the comments any other Maui restaurants you love. And I’ll take your recommendations and visit those restaurants when I return to Maui in the future. I still have several I need to visit so let me know your favorites!! Mahalo! Mele Kalikimaka!
Well, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been in Paris, either for a long stay or a quick pass through. But Paris is always a good idea, and this time we had less than 48 hours. So, we booked a food tour and a few dinner reservations and I began Eating My Way Through Paris.
Delicious or delicieuse, no matter how you say it , the French Cuisine is all that and more. It can have a reputation of being expensive and a bit fussy, but in our travels we have found the opposite. In fact, everyday French cuisine is relatively simple. Food in Paris is also international and the French embrace many cuisines and flavors.
Coffee and Steak Tartare
My favorite two things in Paris are the coffee, my favorite in all the world, and steak tartare. I can get both excellent coffee and steak tartare back home in the USA, but there is just something about enjoying these special favorites in a cafe in Paris. On our first night in Paris we had steak tartare with a bit of a different twist; it included sun dried tomatoes, at Les Fines Gueules just a block or two from the Louvre.
Since figs were in season we enjoyed a delicious and light desert of fresh and stewed figs in a yogurt like cream. Wow.
Walking Food Tour
Our second day, we decided to forego the museums and Eiffel Tower and instead make our way to Montmarte for a walking food tour with Devour Tours. This tour was kind of expensive, $100 each, but we were interested in learning more about Montmarte and the hidden places locals go for a bite to eat. So this day was all about Eating Our Way Through Paris.
It was a chilly morning but we met our guide and three other couples (2 American and 1 Canadian) and began our tour with coffee and one of the best croissants I’ve ever had. We learned about the laborious process of creating the layers and layers and LAYERS in a perfect croissant and savored every bite. Off to a great start.
The French have delicious chocolate, despite the fact they grow no cacao in their country. They have, however, perfect the art and we enjoyed a tasting at one of the cities finest chocolatier Arnaud Larher. Here we also sampled macarons, another Parisian specialty. This is macarons not macaroons (coconut) and these luscious little bites are amazing. Also expensive.
Locals are embracing shops that are popping up all around the neighborhoods offering locally grown, organic, and sustainable products. Our guide took us to a lovely shop brimming with beautiful produce from the region, as well as coffees, pickled and canned items, fresh pastas and more. We tasted incredible cheese here (the French really know cheese) and I ate way too much. The chevre was out of this world. Also included in our tasting was jamon and grapes. This was my favorite stop on the tour.
Brittany and Normandy (where we had just been days before) are the home of the French crepe and apple cider. Our next stop took us to a small outdoor cafe run by a woman from Brittany. Crepe Octopus is where we had an amazing freshly made apple cider with a warm and delicious caramel and butter crepe. Please and merci.
Of course you can’t visit France and not drink wine, but our wine tasting had a little twist. We visited an organic wine shop and tasted several local wines including a vegan wine. Vegan wine means no animals were used in any part of the process including even a horse pulling a cart. Not sure I found the wines to my taste, but it was still interesting and commendable to see this effort and passion this shop has for their niche product.
We ended our food tour at a lovely little cafe for an amazing quiche dish that was chock full of vegetables and ham and cheese. I really loved this dish. I make quiche often at home, and I will need to try to recreate this. Served with a small salad and a delicious mustardy vinegarette. Delicious.
We really enjoyed this tour and walking around and learning a bit more about the beauty and history of the Montmarte neighborhood.
Yes, even after all that, we still had dinner. After our tour we headed back to our hotel to organize and repack for our flight the next morning. Then we wandered out to meet our Parisian friends Pierre and Zineb. They chose a local Italian bistro for us to enjoy dinner with them. Oh my gosh. Il Bacaro was incredible. Remember what I said earlier about a wide array for international cuisines? You can find Italian, Sicilian, Moroccan, Ethiopian, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Brazilian….everything! And of course McDonalds is also in Paris.
At Il Bacaro we shared an amazing appetizer plate with my favorite, a bacalao mousse, also octopus,and an eggplant ratatouille.
For our main course, Arne and I shared gnocchi in a tomato and red pepper sauce. The little dumplings were made with perfection – light and airy.
I was way too full after Eating My Way Through Paris I couldn’t eat dessert. We said farewell to our friends and headed back to our hotel and prepared for our morning flight.
It was our second visit to the amazing country of Morocco, and I looked forward to sharing this trip with our two adult sons. There is so much to love about Morocco, and I suspect this won’t be my last time there. Marrakesh is my favorite city in Morocco, and we hit the ground running on arrival, with an Authentic Moroccan Food Tour Marrakesh.
Arriving Late in Marrakesh
Our flight out of Dulles/Washington DC left more than five hours late due to bad weather. So of course we landed in Casablanca more than five hours late. We were very grateful to find our hired driver waiting for us, despite the delay. Jet lagged and exhausted we immediately started the two hour drive to Marrakesh.
It was our plan to have two full days in Marrakesh, but our travel delays took away most of the first day. We were extremely grateful that our Authentic Moroccan Food Tour we had booked with One Life Trips through Viator allowed us to move the tour to our second night. Otherwise we would have missed the tour and been out nearly $200 ($48 per person).
So instead of the food tour on our first night, we walked to the amazing and famous Marrakesh market square called Jemaa el Fna and wandered around the vast and various food stalls there. Be prepared to have everyone trying to get you to eat at their stall…it’s part of the fun. We ended up enjoying a colorful meal with kebabs, lots of veg and of course Moroccan tea.
Tip: The food in the market square , though authentic, is more expensive than places outside the market square. It is also all about the tourists. Although it’s very fun and should be experienced, hopefully you can also visit some restaurants outside of the square.
One Life Trips
Through Viator we found One Life Trips and our amazing guide Yahya. Again we were so grateful this company and our guide was willing to move our tour by one day due to our travel issues. On our second day in Marrakesh we walked all over the Medina and by dinner time we were very excited to embark on our Authentic Moroccan Food Tour Marrakesh.
Yahya introduced himself and told us a little bit about Moroccan food and Marrakesh. And then he said he hoped we were hungry, and we told him we definitely were. So off we went. For the next three hours we enjoyed one of the best food tours I have ever been on. And that is saying a lot. Here is what we ate on our Authentic Moroccan Food Tour Marrakesh;
Nuts & Dried Fruits
My previous travels in Africa and the Middle East have turned me into a date lover, and Morocco has some amazing dates. Dried fruits and nuts are a popular snack as well as used in many of the authentic foods of the country. Yahya told us that when he was a child eating a bag of fruits and nuts like the one shown here was something he did often. Delicious, nutritious and local. The market area has many vendors selling dried fruits and nuts prepackaged or by the bag.
Small Pastries and Cookies
Moroccans love their sweets and their is a decidedly French influence in many of the small bite sized sweets. Many small sweets are filled with dried fruits and nuts, and honey is frequently used too. Some of the bite size confections are made from a flaky phyllo-type dough, while others are hand formed dough wrapped around a filling much like a pirogi. Yahya took us to a stall where a man has been making and selling these sweets for fifty years.
Like so many North Africa and Middle East countries, olives are present at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Both as a snack, and also featured heavily in tajines, we enjoyed olives throughout Morocco. Yahya took us to an area in the market with many olive dealers. Their stalls displaying the colorful variety of olives as well as preserved lemons and other Moroccan delights. We sampled spicy, garlic, lemon, dill and many more flavors of olives.
One of the best reasons to go on a tour with a local is because you will have a very authentic experience. This sweet old lady selling homemade Moroccan Macaroons is not someone I would have stopped at on my own. But Yahya knew what an amazing, delicate and delicious cookie she had. It was light and sweet with a hint of cinnamon. Just perfect.
Morocco has several different kinds of pancakes as well as flat breads. Msemmen is one of the most popular. On our Authentic Moroccan Food Tour Marrakesh we visited two different vendors hand making Msemmen right in front of us. The first one was a savory version with some cheese and herbs. Our second stop was a sweet version with butter and honey. The flat pancake is folded over several times and eaten by hand. Amazing. I’m gonna try this one at home.
One of my favorite foods of Morocco, the pastilla is actually from the city of Fes, but it is found many places around the country. We enjoyed it multiple times. It is a round pastry filled traditionally with pigeon but today usually chicken as well as dried fruits and nuts. We had pastilla that were nearly bite size up to 8 inches across. Sometimes it’s a very large pastry, cut pizza-style. I really loved pastilla.
I’m sure this local favorite has a local name, but Yahya called it a Moroccan Hamburger. We knew we were in for a treat at this tiny take away stall when we saw the long line of locals vying for this local fav. The bread was incredible, and the beef was served a bit like a sloppy joe…minced and cooked with a delicious variety of spices and sauce. Wow. I loved it. Snack Bachar is a hidden gem in Marrakesh.
Back in the market square of Jemma el Fna, Yahya took us to one of several vendors selling nothing but snails by the bowl full in a rich broth. I’ve had snails in France of course, and also in Asia, but the Moroccan version was sweet and earthy at the same time. Very good.
Lentils are served in many Moroccan dishes, including in soups or just on their own. I love lentils and make dhal or lentil soup often at home. The tiny bowl of lentils we enjoyed clearly had been slow cooked and made with loving hands. Delicious.
Definitely my favorite thing we had on this incredible food journey was the Marrakesh favorite known as tanjia. This was the first time I had enjoyed this slow cooked beef dish flavored with preserved lemons and olives. The meat literally falling off the bone with a tender yet citrusy flavor. Served with rice and a small salad, I was so full but I couldn’t stop eating. I need to learn to make this one at home.
Despite all the sweets around, yogurt is a favorite after dinner treat. I am a big fan of homemade yogurt. We make yogurt at home nearly every day and the version we had on our Authentic Moroccan Food Tour Marrakesh was outstanding.
Authentic Moroccan Food Tour Marrakesh
Come to Morocco. Come to Marrakesh. And come hungry. The people are friendly and happy to have visitors back in their beautiful, historic and interesting country. The culture is unique and most definitely delicious. I highly recommend One Life Trips and our guide Yahya.
I hope you will embark on your own journey soon. Watch for another Morocco blog next week about our Three Day Tour from Marrakesh to Fez.
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