06/20/13
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Henna Square

Ivan, Lil Dave and I had breakfast at 10 am at the buffet on June 20, 2013.

Gazebo at Hotel RIU Tikida Garden

We used the internet for awhile at the pool.  Ivan and I had sangria in the lounge area of the lobby.

We all headed to the buffet for lunch.  Ivan and I had paella, fish and pizza.  Lil Dave put bananas on a few slices of pizza to create a nice banana pizza.  Ivan and I enjoyed a glass of nice sangria with our lunch.

Ivan and I organized our suitcases and packed everything up.

We all took the free shuttle to the New Town.  Ivan and I checked out Zara, but we didn’t find the jacket Ivan liked in Ibiza.  We thought there would have been more shops, but we didn’t really feel like walking around to find them.

Ivan thought we should head to the medina (old town) to go for a spa day.. plus, I wanted to get henna done before leaving the country tomorrow.  We got a taxi to the medina.

Lil Dave decided to chance it and go visit Reggie.  Ivan and I tried to go to a modern hammam spa, but it was all booked up for the day.  So much for another spa day.

Ivan and I walked to Jemaa el-Fna square.  We went to one lady asking about henna prices to get a feel of what they charge and what we could bargain for.  She said there were different prices for colors like orange, brown and black.  Orange henna only lasts a day – not sure why anybody would want it only for a day.

The lady was asking for 200 dirhams for one hand in black.  Her daughter was going to show me something.. I thought she was going to draw something with a pencil, but she started putting the henna on me.  I said I don’t want it now.  I didn’t even pick anything.  She wiped it off, but it made a stain on my skin.  I was pissed and knew I wouldn’t be getting henna done from them.  Ivan asked for 120 dirham and they both said no.  So, we left.  Of course, this is when the lady started saying Ok, it’s fine.  It was too late by then, plus her daughter made me mad by putting henna on me when I didn’t agree to a style I liked.  The mom started chasing us.  She put her hand on my shoulder and said she’ll do it for 120 dirham.  We were both saying No, we don’t want to.  We still thought it was too expensive anyway especially since it only takes a few minutes to do.

Ivan and I went to an orange juice stall to get a glass of oj to share.  A guy came over saying that he’ll do a good henna job and he won’t stain me like the lady did.  I kept saying I don’t want to talk about it.  I was still mad at that stupid lady putting on the henna before I said yes.  He kept banging on about how good his designs are.  I didn’t really care.  Finally, he went away.  But, of course he came back again to try to convince me to do it.  I just wanted to drink my orange juice in peace.

Ivan and I went in search of another lady doing henna for a more reasonable price.  We sat down and the two ladies seemed nicer.  They had lots of books with henna designs for hands and a some pictures with henna on feet.  I wanted one hand and one foot done.  I found a great design that was the same for the foot and hand.  Ivan asked her how much.  She said 80 dirhams for each one.  Ivan said No, 50 dirhams each.  She said 70 dirhams each.  Ivan said that’s fine.

Getting henna done on my foot

She started putting the henna on my foot and leg and then my hands.  It only took a few minutes to do.  She told me that I couldn’t wear my shoe for an hour since the henna needed to dry.  The design looked nice, but the lady seemed rushed when she was doing it.

Henna design done in Jemaa el-Fna

My foot was getting burnt on the hot ground since we were trying to get to a café.  Ivan and I went to one and chilled out on their terrace for an hour.  We talked about our travels and business ideas.  We noticed that the night market stalls were being assembled in the Jemaa el-Fna square already.

Jemaa el-Fna square in the afternoon

An hour passed.. so we walked to a souvenir shop to grab last minute souvenirs and postcards.

Lil Dave was waiting for us at the post office.  He said thanks and good-bye to Reggie the monkey.  He had lots of fun with him during his stay in Marrakesh.  We grabbed a taxi back to Hotel RIU Tikida Garden.

Lil Dave decided to head to the dinner buffet, so we could have a nice evening alone – plus the kitchen weren’t too keen on making him a banana tajine.

Ivan and I went to the restaurant for our 8:30 pm reservation.  The restaurant was shaped in a circle.  It was really pretty inside and a man was playing Moroccan music on his guitar.

Ivan and I grabbed some Moroccan salads and chicken pastilla for appetizers at the buffet.  The chicken pastilla was delicious.

Our waiter took our order which was two fish tajines.  He poured us red wine.

Fish tajine at RIU Tikida Garden

Our main courses came out shortly.  The fish tajine tasted good, but not as good as the one we had at Azar.  Ivan thinks to save time the chef cooked the vegetables in a pan, fried up the fish and then stuck it in a tajine.  Voila, quick and easy tajine!

Ivan and I went back to the room and we watched more of The Sketch Show before getting some rest.

06/19/13
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Moroccan Cooking Class

On June 19, 2013, Ivan, Lil Dave and I woke up early at 8:30 am.  We had the free breakfast on the terrace and then packed everything up.

We stored our luggage with the riad.  We had a lovely stay at Riad Andalla.

Lil Dave headed out to meet up with Reggie the monkey.  Ivan and I walked to the post office at 9:30 am.  We were waiting for a pickup for a cooking class.  It came at 9:45 am and the van had two British people inside already.

The van stopped two other times to pick up two other couples and then were driven to Faim d’Epices.  If I knew that we’d be in the car for awhile, I would have taken a nap.

We were greeted by Michel at Faim d’Epices.  He’s part owner of the cooking class.

Faim d'Epices cooking stations

The décor was quite nice and we each had our own cooking station which is always great in cooking classes.  Ivan and I both think that cooking demonstrations aren’t very good since  we like the hands-on approach.

A Moroccan lady named Nezha showed us how to make the bread from scratch.  The counter was high so I had to tiptoe a bit (since I’m really short) to see her demonstration since the table she was doing it on was slightly lower.  I was hoping we’d remember everything she taught us, since we’d be making our own bread after the Spice Workshop.

Michel did the Spice Workshop.  He’s really funny and likeable.  The group had to put on blacked out sunglasses and try to guess the spices by smell alone.  Some were pretty obvious like ginger, but some were hard like mixes of two different things which was actually a trick question.

Michel doing the Spice Workshop

He told us how to tell if saffron was real or not.  Ivan and I thought the Spice Workshop was a little too long.

Lots of Spices to guess with a blind smell

The workshop was interesting, but it could have been cut down some.

It was time to make our own bread.

Making Moroccan bread

Good thing, Nezha was there to help us out.  She’s very nice and a great teacher.  Our breads were left under a tea towel to rise for awhile.

It was time to learn how to make a fish tajine.  Nezha showed us how to make a sauce and then chop up vegetables and how to place the ingredients into the tajine (earthenware pot).

Ivan's ready to eat.. but our fish tajine must cook first!

Everybody in the group put their ingredients into the tajine and now our tajines were ready to start cooking.  It takes about 45 minutes to cook.

Nezha showed us how to cook the bread by frying it in a pan.

Nezha cooking up vegetables

She also showed us how to make three Moroccan salads (appetizers).

Three Moroccan salads

Next, we got to fry our own bread at our cooking stations.  Michel helped us out – letting us know if it was cooked enough or not.

Cooking the side of the bread

Nezha showed us how to make crepes.  The Moroccan crepes are much thicker than French crepes and square.  We got to practice folding the crepes.  Nezha cooked two up and the group got try to them.  The crepes were yummy.

We had some free time since our tajines were still cooking.  Outside, there’s a huge backyard with lots of vegetables and flowers.  The cooking class grows all their vegetables right in their garden.

Ivan's fish tajine

It was now time to eat the food we cooked.  We sat outside in the backyard.  Everybody brought out their fish tajine and bread to the table.

Ivan with all our food

Our fish tajine was good, but slightly overcooked.  The best salad was the one with the roasted red and green peppers.

Each couple in the group got a recipe book in a long test tube to take home as a souvenir.

The Faim d’Epices cooking class was wonderful.  Ivan thought it was a great mixture of demonstration and hands-on cooking.  We highly recommend taking this cooking class to learn how to make Moroccan food and eat your tasty creations.

Ivan and I were dropped off in Jemaa el-Fna square.  Ivan went to get the luggage while I picked out some postcards and souvenirs.

We got a taxi to RIU Tikida Garden.   It’s a lovely all-inclusive hotel with lots of trees throughout the grounds.  The internet didn’t really work in our room, so we headed to the pool to use it.  I worked on the blog.

The dining room was all booked up for the night, so we went to the buffet for dinner.  Ivan and I had fish, Moroccan salads and harissa soup.  Lil Dave had a few bananas and took some back for his secret banana storage… which I still haven’t found.

After dinner, we went to see the entertainment.  It was lots of Moroccan dancing and music.

There was flashing lights on the dance floor right before one of the acts and a 2 year old girl started dancing around.  Her parents didn’t grab her when the belly dancer came out like most normal parents would.  Good thing the belly dancer was good natured… because she just smiled and laughed that the little girl was dancing near her.

Belly dancer & little girl on the dance floor

Ivan and I are sure she toned down her performance.  She did shake her boobs a bit.. but didn’t seem to shake her hips a lot like most belly dancers we’ve seen in Morocco.

The last Moroccan song went on too long.. it was the same beat over and over and over again which was doing our heads in.

Ivan and I headed back to the room after the show and watched some of tv series The Sketch Show before going to sleep.

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