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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Marrakech- a restaurant worth visiting

Last Friday through Monday Othman and I spent a long weekend in Marrakech! It felt great to get out of Casa, and we ended up doing and seeing all sorts of interesting things. I'll be writing quite a few posts about our different activities, along with plenty of pictures of course, but I wanted to begin with something simple and sweet.

For lunch on Sunday we decided to check out the restaurant at Association Amal. It's a non-profit that functions as a culinary training center for under-served women in Marrakech. I had heard of it previously, and when Othman stumbled upon the extremely positive reviews on TripAdvisor we decided it'd be worth a trip!

It wasn't horribly difficult to find since we had Googlemaps on Othman's phone, but without that it wouldn't have been so easy. It's located in a residential neighborhood off any main roads, which made it a nice little haven from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets. 

According to TripAdvisor it's a great place for traditional Moroccan food, so that's what we were expecting to eat. From what we understood the menu changes every day, so the daily choices are quite limited. Luckily I was able to find both an appetizer and a main course that fit my oh-so-complicated dietary needs, but Othman was a bit disappointed because other than the briwats as a starter there wasn't really anything traditional being offered that day. Beef brochettes were about as close as we got.

Someone deliberating over menu choices

That being said, the food we were served was high quality, well-prepared and nicely presented. I requested no peppers and tomatoes with my veggies due to allergies and I still got them, but we were able to swap with each other easily enough. The chocolate moelleux Othman got for dessert was so delicious that I had to cheat a bit and have some, because it was pretty incredible. (We were too hungry to think about taking pictures of our food, so you'll just have to take me on my word!)

The seating area was all outside and filled up completely as we lunched. We heard Germans, Americans, Brits, some sort of Scandinavians and Moroccans all chatting in the sun. There were lots of kids running around and playing with each other in various languages, and a few cute kittens providing everyone some entertainment.

I loved the simpleness of everything, from the two fresh roses at each table in simple clay vases, to the large and colorful clay plates the food was served on, to the floppy woven straw basket that held the homemade bread. 

The serving sizes were reasonably portioned, and though I was full at the end of our meal hungry hubby wasn't totally satisfied. If you're going to lunch there and have some big-eaters with you, be aware of that. We got all of our food (2 starters, 2 main courses, bread and a dessert) and our fresh squeezed orange juices for about 180dh, which is quite reasonable. We rounded up and gave them a full 200dh with no hesitance, because we enjoyed the experience and because it felt good to eat so well while supporting a non-profit!  

All in all we had a pleasant lunch, and are glad we went. Due to the nature of the center I think if we went another day with a different menu we may have come away more enthusiastic, but even so I'd definitely recommend grabbing a meal there if you happen to be in Marrakech!