My first day in Tangier, I arrived at the little gem riad in the heart of the Kasbah on the highest peak of the medina of Tangier, La Tangerina. Mustapha dropped me off for a brief break before I went out with my guide to explore the souks.
The charming Spanish owner, Farida, offered me the loveliest suite, up three flights of very narrow steps, the view and my private terrace left no doubt in my mind the trek was worth the panoramic views across the Straits of Gibraltar.
Someone quickly appeared with a snack of warm lentil soup, a fluffy cheese omelet with greens and a fruit salad of tangerines and pomegranate seeds; and of course, the heavenly warm bread that is served everywhere in Morocco and salty black olives, the quintessential lunch in Morocco!
This was one of the best Lentil Soups I’ve ever tasted. Farida used Red Lentils, I have French Green lentils, so this is my interpretation – I think her magic is the sweet paprika, cumin and a little ginger.
Oh, I also add a fat slice of Applewood Smoked Uncured Ham, chopped into fine pieces, Muslims don’t eat pork, but I like the smokiness it adds to the soup.
Total Time: 1 Hour
1 Thick slice of Applewood Ham, chopped
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 large yellow onion, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 14.5-oz can dice tomatoes I used 4 fresh tomatoes
6 cups chicken broth Vegetable broth or water (she used water)
1 cup French lentils (lentilles du Puy), or red lentils
1 teaspoon salt I brought home salt from Spain
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Sweet Paprika – I don’t measure – so to taste.
I also brought Paprika home from Madrid
Heat Olive oil and add onions, celery, carrots, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes (with their juices), broth, lentils, ham and spices.
Bring to a boil. Cover partially, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the lentils are tender, 45 to 50 minutes.
Use an immersion blender to purée the soup until the broth is slightly thickened, or to desired consistency.
If you don’t have an immersion blender, transfer about 2 cups of the soup to a blender and purée until smooth, then return the blended soup to the pot. She used a blender, but I found my immersion blender was fine.
Frida mentioned she adds fresh pumpkin in Autumn.
I’ve prepared this yummy hearty soup twice since my return from Morocco.
Simple ingredients, but )شكراً( !oh so delicious! Shukran Farida!
Look for me here, my Nomadic cravings for Morocco will soon be realized. Always on the move, just as a desert camel roams, I will be exploring the finest hotels and experiences to share with our clients. Searching for wide open spaces, places to breathe and roam freely – Morocco is the destination!
Looking forward to my epic adventure across Morocco, beginning on the Atlantic Coast of Tangier and leisurely making my way across Central Morocco to the Atlas Mountains and Marrakech. The spine of Morocco, separating the Atlantic from the Sahara, the Atlas Mountains soar up to the snowy summit of Mount Toubkal, and comprise the High, Middle and Anti-Atlas.
This Journey can be designed for culture and art aficionados, photography bugs, and hikers – to include day treks in untouched wilderness, this is more than souks and the Sahara. Mountain biking has become more and more popular in small groups, take on the cols and gorges in the High Atlas Mountains. Pedal through the cedar forests of Ifrane National Park. Water sports can be enjoyed on the El Abid River and falls provide the perfect location for canyoning and walking the gorges. Morocco offers something for every desire. The Four Seasons Casablanca will catch me on arrival before I mosey out the next day. Begin with a fine hotel in a city and move toward the vast deserts with endless horizons.
In the heart of the Kasbah on the highest point of the Medina of Tangier with panoramic views across the Straits of Gibraltar you will find the little gem property La Tangerina. La Tangerina has a real feeling of inner sanctum yet you are just yards from the souk and a short walk from the port and seafront.
Typical to my travel, I stay at multiple hotels, seeing glossy photos online is not quite the same as bed hopping, visiting spas, ordering meals – it truly is an experience which a website nor a brochure provide. And there is a hotel for every taste, our unique fingerprints are indicative of our individual must haves in a hotel.
The distinctive soundscape of the five times daily call to prayer, adhan, will echo throughout the cities and villages. Tangier, a white-walled city perched between Morocco and Europe, was long a haven for the literary and artistic avant-garde—and black sheep—of Europe and America. Poets, artists, and lovers have wandered the streets, enhanced the villas, and designed the hidden gardens for eons. Rohuna, Umberto Pasti’s horticultural paradise will be my first morning expedition in Tangier; capturing stunning vistas and verdant fields, Rohuna, was twenty years in the making mingling spectacular views and cultivated gardens and outdoor rooms within the vast garden. The Spirit of Eden, A Garden in Northern Morocco by Umberto Pasti was published in October by Rizzoli.
Wake up to Tangier, then on to Chefchaouen, the ancient blue city known for the striking, blue-washed buildings of its old town. The Blue Pearl of Morocco. Leather and weaving workshops line its steep cobbled lanes. In the shady main square of Place Outa el Hammam the red-walled Kasbah, a 15th-century fortress and dungeon.
Stopping in the ancient city of Fes, absorbing the rich culture along the way. The overland Journey continues onward to Riad Fes, a Relais & Chateaux property, luxury within the riad, a proper five-star hotel composed of five noble houses interconnected by marble staircases and dimly lit candlelit corridors. The property is situated amid a private walled in garden off the maze of narrow streets, 13th Century buildings and busy markets. Fez, founded in the 9th Century, is Morocco’s best preserved old royal city. Donkeys and mules are commonly used for transportation in the old city’s maze of narrow streets.
Riad Fes combines a subtle mix of Andalusian sumptuousness and Moroccan art de vivre, the Riad Fès reflects its prestigious past and the refined civilization to which it belongs. This majestic palace is an authentic example of Hispanic-Moorish architecture. It offers panoramic views of the magical spectacle of the sun rising over the Fès Medina, and the Atlas Mountains. Hammams and massages, fountains, smoking-rooms, sophisticated cuisine, and a trendy lounge bar.
Riad Fes is renowned for luxury, dining, and refined service. Guests enjoy the splendor of the ancient noble Fes families, in a one thousand-and one-nights Andalusian-style atmosphere.
I’m looking forward to a sunset aperitif on the roof top with the ethereal muezzin call to prayer in the background. The panoramic view of the Fez medina and the Atlas Mountains on the horizon.
After three days exploring Fez, I will continue my Journey, my private driver, Mustapha, is with me for the duration of this overland expedition! With a stop at Sahara Desert Luxury Camp, under the jet-black star-studded skies, nights are spent around a bonfire, entertainment provided by local nomads swaying to traditional music. At night, glamping in a luxury tent with a magnificent blend of a traditional Moroccan style and contemporary decor.
Two nights at Dar Ahlam. On the fringes of the Moroccan desert, shaded by the palms, lies Dar Ahlam. Located in Skoura, a charming remote traditional Berber village in the South on Morocco – Province of Ouarzazate, away from the touristic paths. Terracotta colored stone meets sapphire skies as this traditional Kasbah cuts an imposing shape across the landscape. Unwind in a haven of manicured lawns and fragrant almond blossom. Or step out into the wilderness of the desert for a night under the stars, where you will soak up the elegant beauty. Activities are created by the visionary founder Thierry Teyssie, Dar Ahlam, which more than lives up to its Arabic translation as the ‘House of Dreams’. Bringing a sense of showmanship learned during his days as a French actor to his Moroccan Kasbah, all the world’s a stage for Thierry when it comes to creating unique experiences for his guests. Can’t wait to see what his dreams produce for my stay!
The décor changes with the seasons, sumptuous fabrics and colors bringing the environment to life. Days at Dar Ahlam are long and luxurious. Without the distractions of television and technology, you can really unwind. Instead, indulge in a massage under the olive trees or head off for refreshments by the river. Spend a balmy evening atop the Kasbah, aperitif in hand, before feasting on a freshly prepared supper under the vast sky. Meals are served in surprise locations; activities are designed around your tastes and delightful diversions are typically offered daily to each guest.
Exotic and exhilarating, Berber culture has its oldest roots in the Atlas Mountains. Follow my path to the award-winning Kasbah Tamadot. Sir Richard Branson’s stunning retreat nestled in Morocco’s beautiful Atlas Mountains.
Divided into the three sections, the High Atlas in central Morocco, south of Marrakech, are home to Mt. Toubkal and the eponymous national park, the highest peak in North Africa. These drop down to the lower peaks of the Anti-Atlas further south, where you can hike to peaks such as Jebel Aklim with spectacular views across to the highest in the north. The Middle Atlas in the far northwest are the backdrop for Fez and Meknes, more set up for day trips than full on mountain immersion.
One common denominator, all the mountain ranges have in common: The Berber people. Berbers are a welcoming people with strong traditions, it’s more than dates and rosewater. Traditional subsistence farming is the norm in the Atlas Mountains, with small farms producing nuts and fruits, local sheep and goat herders can be seen along the roads.
And eventually reaching Marrakech to explore luxury hotels and charming riads in the medina. On the way, a brief escape to the coast, to Essaouira, and another lovely Relais & Chateaux property, L’Heure Bleue.
Situated on the Atlantic coast 2.5hrs from Marrakech is the laid-back fishing village of Essouira, famous for its Gnaoua music and artistic scene. Many local and foreign artists have settled here continuing the vibe that attracted visitors such as Jimmy Hendrix and Cat Stevens (Yousuf Islam) in the 1960’s.
Once an old Portuguese fishing village, Essouira is a perfect place for those who wish to wander the souks for wooden carvings that it is famous for, to stop and enjoy fresh seafood and local wine while watching the fishermen come in with their daily catch. For a more active alternative the kite and board surfing is excellent here and there is horse riding, camel riding and golf available.
Along the path, I will visit a rare Moroccan winery, as you know, a Muslim country does not indulge in spirits. The Val d’Argan winery, which is nestled in a valley between the sea and inland plain, the Val d’Argan area benefits from the mixed climate of ocean breeze and Saharan heat, producing wines with unexpected flavors. The 30ha property includes olive and Argan trees, from which the domain has taken its name. These trees grow only in Morocco and yield an olive-like fruit. The estate also produces Argan oil.
The Heure Bleue Palais is not an ordinary hotel, it is a house steeped in history but also men and women serving their guests. Like a pearl in an exceptional setting, the Heure Bleue Palais welcomes you in Essaouira. At the heart of the bay of the ancient Mogador, this palace has for word of order the well-being of its guests. The Blue Hour Palace lives in the heart of Essaouira and its Medina World Heritage Site by Unesco. Heure Bleue Palais has an extraordinary location: at the gates of the historic old city known as the Medina, the hotel is also just minutes away from the beach and surrounds of the city.
For many years the main square, streets and lanes of the Medina come alive with Essaouira’s calendar of musical festivals, including the Gnaoua & World Music festival, the Alizés musicale and the Andalusies Atlantiques festival.
It’s time to dream again, borders are open, boosters are available, the world is anxious to welcome travelers and we are excited to begin curating Journeys again for our dear clients! Several epic Journeys are in planning stages, time to escape!
“To get away from one’s working environment is, in a sense, to get away from one’s self; and this is often the chief advantage of travel and change.” ~Charles Horton Cool