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.

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

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

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

Naples Food Guide

Let’s take a day trip to Naples.

After Florence we made our way down the boot to Rome. While there, we took a day trip to Pompeii stopping on our way back in Naples just so we could eat some real Napoli pizza.

After some research, we decided on heading towards Starita. We had left Pompeii earlier than we’d planned because it started bucketing with rain, so we arrived at Starita {after navigating possibly the sketchiest part of Naples} around 5pm. It was clear that they weren’t open for dinner yet but a kind neighbor that was passing told us they opened at 6. That seemed like a reasonable time to wait. Besides, we had a awning over us and I had a good book. I could have waited forever. Which is exactly how long it felt like we ended up waiting. Turns out Mr. Kind Neighbor was mistaken. They don’t open until 7. Could we have gone elsewhere? Sure, but we would have been flying blind and we weren’t in a big hurry. I can tell you this though, it was worth every minute we waited to eat some of that pizza. Y’all, it. was. so. good.

Naples Food Guide | kiwi+peach    Naples Food Guide | kiwi+peach    Naples Food Guide | kiwi+peach

So what did we have? I got the classic margherita which uses all DOP {Protected Destination of Origin} marinara, buffalo mozzarella and basil on top the traditional Napoli pizza crust which in and of itself is unique. The Kiwi’s pie had pecorino, pumpkin flower, walnut cream, and zucchini on it. While mine might have been a classic, his was genius and so very tasty. As were finishing our pies, I was starting to feel as if I couldn’t look at food again for days, so naturally we ordered dessert. A dessert pie with fresh ricotta, almond slivers, and warm honey drizzled over top. There are no words. It was just… amazing.

And with that amazing meal, our short time in Naples came to a close as we rushed back to the main train station to catch the train back to Rome, the final stop on our Tour of Italy and food-wise, our most successful town to explore.

{I hesitate to call this a food guide since we only went to one place. Obviously this is not comprehensive, so if you have some favorite eatin’ spots in Naples, please share in the comments!}