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Blog 20/04/2020

Virtual Journeys: Mesmerising Morocco

  • Culture

    Culture

  • Discovery

    Discovery

Welcome to our third virtual journey. These are based on some of our favourite itineraries; designed to inspire, guide and delight you in your daydreams for travels to come. We’ll showcase some captivating destinations alongside mouth-watering recipes, cocktails, book, TV, film and music recommendations all designed to bring the trip alive from the comfort of your own home.


It's Week Three and we are off to experience Morocco’s path less trodden. First stop is the enchanting city of Chefchaouen that sits under the red peaks of the Rif Mountains. Picture-perfect, Chefchaouen is known for the beguiling blue-washed buildings of its old town and you’ll spend two days wandering the medina’s winding streets, hiking in the hillside and learning about the local Berber culture. Step back in time with your final three nights in Fez, Morocco’s imperial city. Here you will develop a deeper understanding into the history of this vibrant country, taking in the incredible ancient architecture and exploring the city’s bustling souks. This is a true taste of authentic Morocco.

Check out the full itinerary here 

Eat & Drink

Your first stop is Lina Riad & Spa. Located in the heart of Chefchaouen’s blue city, this charming, boutique retreat offers a peaceful oasis away from the busy medina. After a day of touring the city streets, treat yourself to a traditional hamman in the spa or a dip in the indoor pool. Make sure you take to the roof terrace for breath-taking views of the city and dramatic mountain range that surrounds it. Whilst you are there, why not enjoy a refreshing Moroccan mint tea? Have a go at making it yourself:

Moroccan Mint Tea

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of boiling water
  • 4 tsp of loose mint green tea
  • Handful of fresh mint
  • Sugar (optional)

Method:

  1. Measure out 4 teaspoons of loose mint green tea and put in a teapot with an infuser
  2. Pour in the boiling water and steep for 3 minutes. Remove the infuser from the teapot and strain out the tea
  3. Add a handful of mint and steep for 2 minutes more
  4. Traditionally, sugar is used to sweeten Moroccan mint tea. Add as much as you like in with the mint if you would like to use it
  5. Serve in glass mugs and be sure to pour from a height as the Moroccan’s do to aerate the tea
  6. Garnish with a sprig of mint

Your second stay is at Riad Fes, an intimate Relais & Chateaux hotel in the Fes medina. Here, the old world meets the new through the riad’s sumptuous style which combines traditional Morocco with the opulence of Andalusia, complete with ornate tiles, stucco arcades and marble fountains. The spa is not to be missed and up on the roof, enjoy a sunset cocktail with panoramic vistas over Fes. When dining in the evening be sure to enjoy a classic Moroccan tagine. You can recreate the taste of Morocco here:

Lamb Meatball Tagine

Ingredients:

  • 3 peeled onions
  • 500g lamb mince
  • Zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon, quartered
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Small bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 250ml lamb stock
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 100g pitted black kalamata olive
  • Small bunch coriander, chopped
  • Couscous to serve

Method

  1. Blitz the onions in a food processor
  2. Combine half the onion with the lamb, lemon zest, spices and parsley in a bowl, season with salt and pepper. Mix well with your hands and form mixture into walnut sized balls
  3. In a casserole dish or tagine with lid, heat the oil then add ginger, chilli, saffron and other half of the onions. Cook for 5 minutes until the onion is soft
  4. Add lemon juice, lamb stock, tomato purée and olives and bring to the boil
  5. Add the meatballs one by one, decrease heat and simmer for 20 minutes with the lid on. Turn the meatballs a couple of times
  6. Take off the lid and add the lemon wedges and coriander between the meatballs. Cook for a further 10 minutes, uncovered until the sauce has reduced and become slightly thicker
  7. Serve hot with a side of coucous for an authentic Moroccan feast


Watch

Alexander (2004) - Film

Shot on the streets of Marrakech, ‘Alexander’ is an epic and dazzling biopic about the Macedonian king, general and ruthless conqueror Alexander the Great, starring Angelina Jolie and Colin Farrell. The story tells of Alexander’s legendary rise to power as he pushes limits that no Macedonian king had before him, conquering the majority of the known world of his time by the age of 32, until his great empire’s eventual downfall.

Babel – Film

Babel follows four groups of people on three continents whose lives are intertwined through a series of misunderstandings. An accident connects a wealthy couple from the States holidaying in Morocco, their Mexican nanny who takes their kids across the Mexican border without parental permission, two Moroccan goatherders, and a Japanese widower and his deaf-mute teenage daughter, against a backdrop of tragedy and trauma. A powerful look at how interlinked humanity really is.

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation – Film

An action spy film set in various locations throughout Marrakech, and the fifth in the Mission: Impossible film series starring Tom Cruise. Cruise’s character Ethan is being hunted by the CIA after the IMF intelligence agency – of which Ethan was a key member - has shut down. It’s a race against time for him to prove the Sydincate, a rogue and mysterious terrorist organisation, exists and eradicate them before the their next attack. 

Read

The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles

In his psychological narrative, Paul Bowles examines alienation and existential fear as an American couple and their friend travel to North Africa after the Second World War, looking to escape their modern lives back home. Heading to the desert but uncertain of where exactly the trip will take them, they are faced with the danger that comes with the romantic idea of nomadic travel. Their ignorance of the unfamiliar surroundings and lack of understanding for an alien culture leads to a battle for survival.

Hideous Kinky by Esther Freud

An autobiographic novel by Esther Freud (daughter of painter Lucian and great-granddaughter of psychoanalytic Sigmund) which describes her unconventional upbringing in Morocco during the 1960s, where her mother uprooted she and her sister to when Esther was five years old, disenchanted by her lacklustre life in England. 

The Blue Hour by Douglas Kennedy

A thriller that tells the story of Robin, a scrupulous accountant, who reluctantly agrees to travel to Morocco with her husband Paul, an artist and university professor who is twenty years her senior. Her lack of enthusiasm dissipates as she is immersed in the colourful world of Morocco where old and new combine in magnificent strangeness. That is, until Paul disappears without a trace and Robin finds herself at the centre of the police enquiry. She is forced to embark on a perilous journey for truth, discovering all is not always as it seems.


Listen

Brian Jones Presents the Pipes of Pan at Joujouka

A live album recorded in Morocco by Rolling Stones’ Brian Jones of The Master Musicians of Joujouka performing in the village of Joujouka during the annual Rites of Pan Festival. This traditional Moroccan music creates hypnotic sound through the use of percussion, pipes and vocal chanting and the mesmerising tones of this record are considered an early predecessor of trance.

Trance, Hassan Hakmoun & ZAHAR

New York-based Moroccan musician Hassan Hakmoun, a master of Gnawa style, fuses traditional music from his Berber roots with psychedelic New York rock and funk on his album Trance.

Taziri, Titi Robin & Mehdi Nassouli

French lute player Titi and Gnawa bassist, drummer and singer Medhi team up to record this beautiful and original album which blends a range of cultures as they combine Moroccan traditions with Mediterranean sounds. 

Learn

Yves Saint Laurent: A Moroccan Passion by Pierre Berg 

A handwritten book by Pierre Berg in memory of his cherished life and business partner, the late Yves Saint Laurent. The memoir is a glimpse into the personal life of YSL, showing photos with his (often famous) friends portraying the chic and fashionable lifestyle he led in his beloved home from home Morocco, alongside illustrations by Lawrence Mynott. YSL considered Morocco his creative retreat, a place that inspired him in the design of some of his greatest collections. During his life, the couple bought and restored the gorgeous Jardin Majorelle in Marrakech, next door to which is now the Musee Yves Saint Laurent, a museum entirely devoted to YSL and his creations. 

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