What is Moroccan food? Aside from all our friends that have visited Morocco and said they’d be thrilled never to see another tagine again, Tim and I didn’t have a clue. Luckily, we didn’t need to either. Amanda and Youssef Mouttaki run Marrakech Food Tours and we were more than happy to learn all about authentic Moroccan cuisine on a night filled with incredible food, hidden gems in the Medina and a whole lot of laughs.
Amanda and Youssef are friends we met through travel blogging and they invited us to be guinea pigs on a brand new food tour they were thinking of adding to their offerings. They already offer day and evening food tours that wind you through Marrakech’s medina tasting traditional foods from the best vendors. But this new tour, a gourmet food tour of Marrakech, is truly something special.
We met Amanda at the Post Office without much other detail than knowing we’d better come hungry. Youssef appeared moments later in one of the cute tuk tuks we’d eyed up. Much to our delight our gourmet food tour would include being transported through the Medina in a tuk tuk. We all piled in and laughed about exactly how many people you could fit in a tuk tuk as we sped (well, I’m not sure the tuk tuk could actually speed loaded down with all of us) to our first stop.
We’d be visiting a series of riads for traditional Moroccan dishes in a sort of progressive dinner throughout the night. Amanda and Youssef had spent months sampling dishes at countless riads throughout the Medina to find the most delicious ones. Even more special, not just anyone can dine at the riads we’d be visiting. Most offered a dining option only if you were a guest of the riad. That is, of course, unless you’re a VIP on a Marrakech Food Tours gourmet tour.
With the winding and narrow streets of the Medina, the tuk tuk couldn’t deliver us right to the doorstep of some of our stops. But that was perfectly fine with us. Amanda and Youssef expertly wove their way through the maze to our first riad, Riad Kaiss.
Riad Kaiss is an absolutely gorgeous setting and a rose petal sprinkled table on one of the riad’s terraces awaited our group. The sun was still high enough in the sky, bathing the rooftops in a rose glow.
Here we were served our appetizer course. A plate of four traditional jams and salads was served with bread. All of them were delicious and even Tim, who isn’t a fan of tomatoes, finished every last bite of all four. My favorite of the bunch was a tomato jam with honey and sesame seeds.
To. Die. For.
After a relaxed appetizer at Riad Kaiss, we piled back in to the tuk tuk for a riad a little further afield. And oh my, was it ever worth it.
Amanda talked about a traditional Moroccan dish that was a favorite of the Sultan of Fez. It’s a dish the Sulta asked a famous Spanish chef to concoct for special guests and today it’s known as the national dish of Fez. Bastilla is like a savory layered pie with pigeon meat filling layered with werqa dough (sort of a cousin to phyllo dough). I’ve never really been a fan of a chicken pot pie, so I must admit I wasn’t the least bit excited about the upcoming dish.
This just goes to show that you should always try things because the seafood bastilla that we had on the rooftop of Riad Zamzam was one of the best things I ate in Morocco. And that’s saying something seeing that our Moroccan meals included everything from Michelin starred dining at the Royal Mansour to traditional Berber tagines.
Still a layered pie with the werqa dough like pigeon bastilla, this one had seafood and fish along with Chinese vermicelli noodles. Amanda told me that Riad Zamzam’s seafood bastilla is the only seafood version she’s ever liked. Well, Amanda has made me a fan now too and I need to go back to Marrakech just to eat this again.
After seconds and maybe even thirds, we had to be weighing down the tuk tuk even more as we made our way to our final riad for the main course.
It’s a good thing we climbed the stairs up to the rooftops of each the riads. We needed to work off a little of all we’d already eaten to make room for more.
The dishes we ate on our Marrakech Food Tours gourmet tour aren’t ones you’ll find on restaurant menus. These are the dishes cooked in the Moroccan home for feasts and our last dish, rfissa, is served during several traditional celebrations. Rfissa is a chicken with lentils and day old bread.
With the sun having set, we dined on our rfissa by the flicker of candlelight under the stars at Riad Quara.
I must say that the evening was truly enjoyable and the gorgeous settings of some of the most beautiful riads in Marrakech made this a memorable experience on our trip to Morocco.
Know Before You Go