Ivan and I had breakfast at the riad at 9 am on June 13, 2013. Lil Dave was already out to meet up with Abu for a tour of the medina and a banana tasting.
Ivan and I got a taxi to the Blue Gate.
We saw a Chinese lady there waiting for the food tour. Shortly, Gail showed up later.
Gail was our guide for the Souk Tasting Trails food tour. We went to a café inside the Blue Gate and met a young, posh girl from Oxford who was also part of the group.
We walked around the medina and Gail told us about the food. She thinks it’s important to eat the local food to connect to a place.
We learned that fig and dates are mentioned in the Koran, so Muslims find it sacred. They are stockpiling them right now for the upcoming Ramadan. To break their fast, they eat dates since it has a high level of sugar which travels quickly to the liver. We tried medjool dates which were tasty.
Muslims think that male meat is better than females. You will see testicles attached to meat hanging outside a butcher to prove it’s male meat.
Isn’t that lovely?
Gail gave us something that looked like a little broom. You tear off a piece of the dried flower of the agave and use it as a toothpick.
Ivan stuck it in his mouth and he looked like a country bumpkin.
We saw uncooked stuffed camel spleen which didn’t look very appetizing.
Gail really knew all about Moroccan food and life.
Our next tasting was celebratory candy like sesame and nougat candies. The nougat candies are colorful with a variety of colors like green, white, pink, orange, yellow and brown.
We learned about olives and their antiseptic quality. If a kid gets a cut on their finger, an olive is cut open and put around the finger.
Our group stopped to see the Mint Man who allowed photographs to be taken of him.
He seemed like a nice guy. Muslims can’t be too proud, so they don’t like getting photographed. Some people will ask for money when you’re going to take a picture of them.
We smelled mint and lemons at the mint place.
The group stopped at a honey souk where we got to try 7 different honeys in the back room where the honey was stored in big blue barrels. A few of the honeys we tasted were eucalyptus, acacia, carob & grape, lavender and fig. Some were gritty while others were silky smooth. The flavors varied a lot from smoky to creamy to nutty. I really liked the eucalyptus honey which tasted like caramel.
Gail told us all about the benefits of honey like the fig honey is good for people with asthma. Local honey is good for people suffering with allergies. In the Koran, it says that bees should be free.
Gail also let us try smen which is fermented butter… it tasted like cheese and was so creamy and delectable.
The group visited the public bakery where anybody can bring their own dough to be baked in the big oven.
Any whole bread that isn’t eaten is brought back to this bakery. It will be re-toasted to be given to the poor or to the donkeys. It’s good to know that it’s not going to waste. Gail said that the bakeries know everything since they know if a family is expecting guests or if somebody is looking for a potential love match. This oven is 400-500 years old.
We visited another public place which had an oven that was fueled by wood chips. Gail has used this to make her tagines. She says it can take 6 hours to make one.
At the end, Gail picked out street food for our group. Our group sat down to eat bessara (fava bean soup) and the street food which consisted of fried aubergine, chips (french fries), fish, peppers and crumbed liver.
I highly recommend the Souk Tasting Trails food tour since you try a lot of Moroccan food and learn a little about the Muslim culture.
Ivan and I got a taxi back to the square and we walked back to our riad where we relaxed and I worked on the blog.
Later, Ivan and I went to Restaurant Dar Hatim for dinner. We were picked up by the son who runs the restaurant and driven to the restaurant. His wife and his mom cook the food. The traditional house has beautiful wood artwork on the ceiling. The wife served us – she was all smiles and very friendly.
The free salads (starters) came out – it was definitely the most Moroccan salads we’ve gotten at a restaurant.
Ivan and I had some mint tea. Alcohol isn’t on the menu at Restaurant Dar Hatim, but you can bring your own. We didn’t see any liquor stores in Fez. Our food tour guide Gail said the owners at our riad could probably buy wine for us, but we forgot to ask.
Ivan and I shared a vegetable cous cous and a chicken pastilla which is the wife’s specialty.
The pastilla costs more than a cous cous which is weird since it’s a lot smaller. I think it’s because it’s a hard dish to make since you’re dealing with filo dough. The pastilla was tasty and sweet since it has cinnamon in it. It came with powdered sugar if you wanted to make it even sweeter.
The wife took us upstairs to see a room that’s almost finished. Her brother is the artist who paints the beautiful wood on the ceiling and makes wood tables.
It was a great meal which came with so much food. I highly recommend going to this restaurant to eat some quality food in a lovely traditional home.
Ivan couldn’t sleep for awhile probably since he had too much mint tea at dinner.