Marrakech Food Guide

Happy Monday my friends! I’ve kind of missed y’all.

After our whirlwind of a week exploring Marrakech and the edge of the Sahara, the Kiwi and I are back in Europe and back to business as usual, except that, you know, we’re in Paris. We’re installed in our cute little apartment in Montmartre, the Kiwi is all set up to work, and I am all set to go explore…

But it’s a cold and rainy Monday and most places are closed. So I think I’ll stay right here on the couch with my hot cup of tea and fill y’all in on our African adventures.

Kiwi and Peach {wanderlust: sahara desert}

Kiwi and Peach {wanderlust: sahara desert}

Kiwi and Peach {wanderlust: sahara desert}

Kiwi and Peach {wanderlust: sahara desert}

Marrakech Food Guide from Kiwi and Peach

If you stick with the traditional foods and traditional preparation methods, I think it is impossible to have a bad meal in Morocco. A bold statement I know, but the thing is that the traditional foods are so incredibly basic that they are really hard to mess up.

Unfortunately we didn’t have that much time actually in Marrakech to explore all the eats because we were out in the Sahara being fed by our Berber guides, who were wonderful cooks, and having an adventure.

The places we were able to check out though were just outstanding.

Seriously, some of the best I’ve ever had.

The first night after we came back from the dessert we headed to Dar Belkabir. Tucked just off the main square and ridiculously inexpensive, this traditional eatery offers up a few different tajines {I went with the beef and prune} and the Couscous Royal, a Moroccan specialty that is definitely not for vegetarians {it has chicken and sausage}. Needless to say, my carnivore was a very happy man.

The next day we headed to Diaffa for lunch. Diaffa is bit more upscale, but still reasonably priced by European standards {16-20€ for a main}. It’s  housed in one of the oldest buildings in the Medina and, besides the Madrassa, is easily the most beautiful building we saw. The food wasn’t half bad either {understatement of the week}. The Kiwi’s cockerel with candied lemons was fresh and moist. Not really knowing what it was, I ordered a quintessential Marrakech dish, the Tangia Marrakchia. All I knew was that it wasn’t a tajine, so I was a bit surprised {and a bit intimidated} when our waitress walks out with the biggest tajine I’ve ever seen. How on Earth was I supposed to eat all of that myself?! The intimidation/surprise must have shown because she gave us a knowing smile and then made a production of removing the lid to show just a plate with four lime wedges. We all had a chuckle, and then she went back for the food–a clay pot that had been cooking over a fire for hours and contained the most tender beef I’ve ever eaten. Ever. Really we can’t recommend it enough.

other Marrakech advice

If you’re interested in doing a camel trek out in the Sahara, this is the company we used. Had we had time to do a three day one we might have used Omar {the camel guys it seems}, but this two day one was the perfect length of time for us. The drive is long {7 hours each way} but beautiful and the time on the camel is blessedly short {because camels are actually really uncomfortable to ride}, but the campfire, the drums, the singing, and the stars made it such an unforgettable and amazing experience.

We stayed in a Riad {little palace} near the city wall pretty far north of the main square. It was a bit of a walk to get back each night, but we were really in an authentic neighborhood. No tourists there. That said Les Lauriers Blancs was absolutely beautiful and the owner was just the sweetest. She even got up early to make us breakfast on the day we were leaving since we had to leave before they usually started serving breakfast.

Go shopping. We got nearly all of our Christmas shopping done on this trip. {Surprise family!} If you’re up for haggling the souks are the place, but we headed to the Ensemble Artisanal where a bunch of co-ops have set up workshops. The prices there are set {but extremely reasonable} and you can watch them at their work. One bunch of smart ladies even got you to do their work for them.

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Sage, Lamb, and Ricotta Ravioli with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

The Kiwi and I are currently somewhere in the Sahara desert riding camels. {Clearly, I scheduled this to post.} If you want to keep up with our adventures be sure you’re following us on Instagram and Twitter.

Remember last week when I talked about making my own pasta? I mentioned that it all started because I was dreaming about ravioli. This, my friends, was the ravioli I was dreaming of.

It all started simple enough, flavors started building, and soon here was this idea. And it wouldn’t leave my mind, obsessive. I had to make it. So I did…

It’s earthy, it’s flavorful, and most importantly incredibly satisfying.

Sage, Lamb, and Ricotta Ravioli with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto from Kiwi+Peach

The Pasta
whole wheat pasta dough {I substituted 2 tbsp of the water for fresh pumpkin puree.}

The Stuffing
1/4 of a medium onion
4 ounces {125 grams} ground lamb
1 Tbsp sage
pinch of salt and pepper
1/3 cup walnuts, shelled
1/2 cup ricotta cheese

The Pesto
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
1/3 cup walnuts, shelled
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp lemon juice
pinch of sugar, salt, and pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

Before you get started on the stuffing and the pesto, roll out your pasta dough and go ahead and punch out your ravioli bases and tops. This will make your life a lot easier later. You can just set them to the side for later.

Start heating a pan on medium heat. Go ahead and dice up your onion {the smaller the pieces the better} and when the pan is hot toss them in there. Let them cook for about 5 minutes or until they’re soft and translucent. Add the lamb, using a spoon to break it up into small bits, and then sprinkle it with sage, salt and pepper. Cook for about 7-8 more minutes or until the lamb looks completely cooked. When it’s finished, transfer the mixture to a small mixing bowl.

While the onions and lamb are cooking, shell the walnuts. All in all I used about 12 walnuts. Break out the food processor and grind half of the shelled nuts {1/3 cup} into a meal and add them to the small mixing bowl. Add the ricotta cheese to the mixing bowl as well and then give the whole thing a good stir.

Boil your jug and start heating a large pot on medium high heat. Add the water to the pot and salt the water well.

Grab your ravioli dough and spoon a generous tablespoon of the stuffing onto each of the bases. Cover each base with a top and press the sides together with either your fingers or a fork. Once the water has returned to a boil, drop your raviolis in and let them cook for a quick minute. You’l know they’re finished when they start to float to the top. Drain the water and set the finished ravioli to the side because we need to make the pesto.

Combine all of the ingredients for the pesto in the food processor and grind it until you like the consistency {about 45 seconds on high for me}.

You’re finished. Plate it up and enjoy!

{JAM} Jack Johnson: I Got You

Happy Monday my friends! How was your weekend? We spent ours enjoying the last of Oktoberfest, spending time with great friends, and…

packing.

Have I mentioned we are going to Africa today? Probably not since plans weren’t finalized until, um, last week {oops}, but the Kiwi and I are heading off on another grand adventure.  Today we’re making our way to Marrakech, and tomorrow we will be riding camels and camping in the Sahara. Life ain’t bad.

We’ll be in Morocco for a week and then flying to Paris where we’ve rented an apartment and will be hanging out for a while exploring the Puces, seeing the sights we’ve missed on previous trips, catching a concert, and of course, eating as much bread, cheese, and French food we can get our hands on.

Let the adventure begin!

Sweet Potato Quinoa Chili

My soup repertoire is pretty limited. I’m not a fan of brothy soups and a while back, I sort of threw the baby out with the bath water. I just stopped making soup. Chili? Absolutely. But soup? Hardly ever.

Last year for our transition into an soup season, starting small I thought I’d try a new chili recipe I’d had my eye on for a while. Chili is a fall staple for us and I know we aren’t the only ones. In my completely biased opinion, I always thought my Mama’s chili was the best in the world. However, it’s magic comes in the form of a packet of seasoning that, apart from things like chili powder and cumin, also contains ingredients I can’t begin to pronounce and certainly don’t have in my kitchen.

Successfully making chili from scratch has been one of my proudest moments of this journey to eliminate processed foods.

And the fact that this delicious, healthy stew takes me back to curling up under a flannel blanket and watching football with my Daddy just like my Mama’s chili does makes it a winner. It’s a keeper y’all.

What about you? Is there a food that some of your favorite fall memories center around?

Quinoa Sweet Potato Chili from Kiwi and Peach

Sweet Potato Quinoa Chili

inspired by Milk Free Mom’s Vegan Chili
{I don’t make many changes because the recipe is a great one as is. Besides reducing the recipe to serve 2, I substituted chicken broth for the veggie broth because that’s what we usually have, and I used a batch of black beans I had soaked and cooked instead of using canned beans. The Kiwi prefers it served it with a dollop of sour cream and a grilled cheese sandwich. Definitely not dairy free or vegan at that point.}

olive oil
1/2 onion
2 cloves of garlic
3 oz can of tomato paste
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
pinch of salt and pepper
2 cups of broth {veggie, chicken, whatever you have}
1 1/2 cups black beans {canned or soaked and cooked}
1/2 of a sweet potato
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed

Start heating a large pot on medium heat.

Adding your ingredients to the pot goes pretty quickly, so I find its best to have everything prepped beforehand. Dice the onions, peel the potatoes and cut them into 1 inch-ish cubes, and go ahead and rinse the quinoa.

Once the pot is hot add just enough olive oil to cook the onions and toss in the onions. Cook for about 5 minutes or until they are soft and translucent then add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes.

Add the tomato paste, herbs, and spices and mix well. Let it cook for a couple of minutes and then add the broth. Give it all a stir and deglaze the bottom of the pan, then add the beans and sweet potatoes. Cook all of this for about 5 minutes.

Stir in the quinoa and let the whole thing stew away for 20 minutes.

We enjoy ours with a dollop of sour cream or plain yogurt and maybe a grilled cheese if the Kiwi is good.

DIY Whole Wheat Pasta

Pasta is never something I thought I would make from scratch. The stuff from the groc was a-okay by me.

That was until I started hankering to make my own ravioli. It all started when I saw a recipe for a beet ravioli and from there it escalated into full blown ravioli mania.

I must make all the raviolis.

My first couple attempts at the homemade pasta weren’t exactly successfully. I couldn’t get the pasta rolled thin enough and it was far too gluteny {totally a word} and unpleasantly chewy.

So I stopped and simplified.

No egg. Just flour, water, and olive oil. Very little mess, and completely versatile.

So in other words, perfection.

The How-To Series {DIY Pasta Dough} | kiwi+peach

Here’s what you’ll need:

1/3 cup hot water {or 3 Tbsp hot water + 3 Tbsp warmed veggie puree}
2 tsp olive oil
1 cup whole wheat flour, sifted

Step One
Whisk together the water and olive oil. If you want to make a specific kind of pasta {beet, pumpkin, etc.} you can substitute up to half of the water for the veggie puree, but be sure to warm the puree before you add it to the mixing bowl.

Either way, whisk it all together.

Step Two
Very slowly {a couple tablespoons at a time} whisk in the flour. This will prevent clumps and will keep it smooth and silky the whole time. When it starts getting too thick to whisk, just put sprinkle the flour on top of the dough and knead it in.

When the dough is no longer super sticky and all the flour is incorporated, cover the bowl and let it sit for at least an hour.

Now you can use it right away or you can wrap it up in some plastic wrap and pop it in the fridge to use later in the week. I tend to do the latter.

Step Three
So, it’s pasta time! Grab your dough from the fridge. I take about half the dough at a time {because my workspace isn’t very big} and roll it out really thin on a well floured surface.

For ravioli, cut out your pieces, load them up, and pinch the sides together. {I use a 2 inch biscuit cutter for the base and the 2.5 inch one for the tops.}

The How-To Series {DIY Pasta Dough} | kiwi+peach

So your pasta is made. Your pasta is stuffed. Let’s cook it.

Boil your jug and heat a large pot on medium high heat. Add the water to the pot and salt your water {very important step}. Once the water is a boiling, drop the pasta in. It should only take a minute or two. For stuffed pasta like ravioli, you’ll know it’s done when they start floating. Then drain the water, serve it up with your favorite sauce, and enjoy your fresh, homemade pasta!

Be sure to check in next week when I share my recipe that made me bite the bullet and start making my own pasta. It’s the ravioli I thought about on a daily basis for a month. It’s the ravioli that dreams are made of.

{Okay, now I’ve built it up way too much. It’s a’ight.}

Rome Food Guide

When we’re headed to a new city, the first thing I do after booking the hotel is start researching places to eat. We’ve traveled {are are going to be traveling} to places with amazing food cultures. I want to eat all the things. Everything. I don’t want to waste an opportunity on a bad meal at the some touristy joint. And I would say that about 90% of the time the research pays off and we eat well. What’s my secret? Expats. Or more specifically, expats who know their food.

When I started researching Rome, Katie Parla’s name kept coming up a lot. After graduating from Yale, she moved to Italy and has racked up a number of degrees all focused on Italian food. She has a blog, she co-founded The Rome Digest {another great resource}, and most importantly for us, she has an app.

Besides being full of great recommendations, this app’s map works offline–something I think would make most travelers jump for joy–and leads you to nearby restaurants that will knock your socks off. Seriously these places are so good!

Read on to see some of our favorites {and a couple places we stumbled upon that weren’t on the app}.

rome food guide{photo by the Kiwi}

L’Asino D’Oro
Following the app, our first stop was L’Asino D’Oro. It was relatively close to our apartment near the Colosseum, so when we set out to explore the area, we ended up near this gem. After a mysterious but oh so tasty amuse bouche, The Kiwi dived into his wild boar with chocolate sauce while I had lamb meatballs with peppers in a licorice sauce. For dessert we tried the Bavarian and  indulged in a pudding with sage and saffron. Everything was creative. Everything was delicious. We didn’t have reservations and lucked out with the last table outside. Loads of people started getting turned away. My advice? Make a reservation because this place is too good to leave it to luck.

Rome Food Guide from Kiwi+Peach     Rome Food Guide from Kiwi+Peach

Pizzarium
The next day we headed over to the Vatican to see St. Peters and to do the Vatican museum. Before we headed into the museum we were getting a bit peckish, so following the app, we nipped down the stairs across from the museum entrance and just down the road was the best pizza I have every had. This tiny little shop has at least 10 different pizzas on offer. You tell them which ones you want to try and they’ll cut off squares. In the end we tried these; {from top to bottom, right to left} roasted peppers and tomato sauce; tomato pesto and arugula; potato, Roma cheese, green beans and marinated onions;  and ricotta and pickled zucchini. They also have a number of craft beers to wash that pizza down with. Best. Lunch. Ever.

Rome Food Guide from Kiwi+Peach {Pizzarium}

Colline Emiliane
After a long day of sightseeing that culminated at the Trevi fountain we fired up the app to find some dinner. We were directed to Colline Emiliane and, after a 2 hour wait {make reservations y’all!}, we finally got to feast. We started with melon and prosciutto, an amazing combination. For our mains we decided to carbo load. I went with their famous pumpkin ravioli while the Kiwi dove into the spaghetti carbonara. For dessert I had spied a lemon meringue pie on our way in so my choice was easy. The Kiwi chose the cheese plate and man were both delish.

Rome Food Guide from Kiwi+Peach     Rome Food Guide from Kiwi+PeachRome Food Guide from Kiwi+Peach     Rome Food Guide from Kiwi+Peach

Armando al Pantheon
The next night we knew were were going to end up near the Pantheon so we went ahead and made reservations at Armando al Pantheon. I did not want to be waiting two hours for dinner again and the app says that reservations here are pretty essential. The Kiwi absolutely loved his duck with prunes and my guinea fowl with mushrooms and black beer sauce was pretty good too.

Rome Food Guide from Kiwi+Peach     Rome Food Guide from Kiwi+Peach

Panella
While walking around our neighborhood one day we came upon the coolest bakery/restaurant/food shop I’ve ever been to. We stumbled across it during the pre-dinner cocktail hour so they had all kinds of creative looking foods and baked goods laid out buffet style and I was dying to give it a try. Unfortunately we couldn’t get a table, so we decided to come back the next day for lunch. While it is kind of chaotic in there, the food was completely worth it. Between the zucchini blossom pizza, roasted tomato stuffed with risotto and rosemary potatoes, and the whole meal cake with blueberries we had that day, and the big loaf of seedy bread we got for lunches the next couple days I can safely say this place was a winner, even if it wasn’t on the app.

Donkey Punch
On our final day in Rome we found ourselves in the middle of the Trastevere and a downpour was imminent. We were starving and knew we needed to take shelter pretty quickly. As the first drops started to fall we ducked in to the first place we saw, Donkey Punch. This place could not have been any more perfect. After we ordered, the Metallica {pepper salami, cream porcini, mushrooms, and provolone} for the Kiwi and the Rolling Stones {truffle cheese, raw prosciutto, and arugula} for me, we settled in with our craft beers {an Italian IPA and a saison} and waited out the rainstorm while chatting about beer with the owner. This guy knew his stuff!

Rome Food Guide from Kiwi+Peach {Donkey Punch in the Trastevere}     Rome Food Guide from Kiwi+Peach {Donkey Punch in the Trastevere}

{other Rome tips}

Most places don’t open for dinner until 7pm and if you don’t have reservations you might be waiting for a while. Plan accordingly.

Have I mentioned you should get this app?

Linked with Travel Tuesday