Our introduction to dining in Casablanca couldn’t have been more spectacular. Here is a peek at the restaurant, Dar Da Da:
It was our first tagine. The vegetables are artfully piled around the sides on a pile of couscous. Center stage and on top is the meat, in this case, chicken. The chicken is fall-off-the-bone tender and is accompanied by a sweet unctuous sauce, a perfect compliment to the chicken.
The waiter intrigued us when he placed a variety of miniature tagines on the table. Caramelized pumpkin, a brightly flavored pepper spread, marinated Lima beans, and a spinach mash were my favorites. These are typically vegetables eaten with the ubiquitous bread. I was so hungry (the attendants on KLM airlines were very perky, but won’t even give you a drink of water without paying for it) that when the bread was served I ripped it open and inhaled the sublime aroma!
The next morning we were on the lookout for doughnuts on the street. We’d noticed them the night before–they are literally fried bread dough. Who could resist? So when I spotted them I interrupted Amine, our tour guide, and said “we want doughnuts!” Of course he obliged. But I thought, “wish I could roll this in a bowl of sugar.”
We walked with Amine until 3:00 in the afternoon before he left us (but not until he got Whitney’s contact information 😜). Before leaving he introduced us to a small cafe that serves tagines for 35 dirham–about $4! It’s such healthy, satisfying food. He also served us a small salad of rice, cubed beets, and cubed potatoes. Seemed very standard but when the owner drizzled it with mayo, we were surprised at the transformation. It was like our familiar and well-loved potato salad!
Before the day ended, our favorite carpet salesman found us while wandering the market! We’d spent the previous evening amiably haggling over a bedspread. He was so thrilled to see us that he comfortably situated us among the carpets, and brought us SUGARED DOUGHNUTS! They were also drizzled with peach syrup or jam. Yummy. My dream had come true!
Could we possibly have room for another meal, you ask? The answer is yes. We had, after all, walked in excess of 8 miles. So we had a chance to try kefta. Most cultures have some kind of a meatball, and this is Morocco’s rendition. The kefta are blanketed in rich tomato sauce, perfect with bread or couscous. I love any meatball–it’s like comfort food for me.
Another day; another round of meals. First: I haven’t mentioned the strong French influence that still exists in Morocco. Even though they formally ruled for only forty-some years, French is still taught in the schools and Morocco is economically dependent in many ways. Thus, we were delighted to find a French enclave of patisseries, and decided to have dessert first. Can you blame us?
Later in the day we found ourselves in an idyllic French restaurant, resting our weary feet. We sampled “briouat; a sweet or savory puff pastry. It is part of the Moroccan cuisine. Briouats are filled with meat mixed with cheese, lemon and pepper. They are wrapped in warqa in a triangular or cylinder shape. ” We tried the savory chicken, seafood, and beef ones. Whitney warned me that the dipping sauce was spicy–it was deliciously true. It was my introduction to harissa, a Tunisian hot pepper paste frequently used in Morocco.
Are you full yet? Even though we’re new to Morocco, we already love the food we’ve encountered. Can’t wait for more meals.