Lunch Overlooking the Atlas Mountains
It's hard to believe I was sitting on a terrace at Sir Richard Branson's Kasbah Tamadot resort just a week ago. With luggage unpacked, piles of laundry to sort through and my return to work looming, the vacation hangover has completely set in. Rather than dwell on the inevitable, I'll transport myself back in time and share the details of my amazing meal at Kasbah Tamadot.
Chef Benoit Pepin crafted a lovely three-course vegetarian tasting menu paired with various Moroccan wines specifically for the guests of Eat Pray Move. Born in Normandie, France, Benoit Pepin spent a majority of his time learning his culinary technique in France before moving to the U.S. Virgin Islands to become the head chef at Little Dix Bay Resort. Chef Pepin is now creating culinary feasts for the guests of Kasbah Tamadot located in Morocco's Atlas Mountains.
To begin our lovely tasting menu, Chef Pepin presented us with a Grilled and Roasted Market Vegetable salad served with Soft Boiled Eggs, Parmesan shavings, Lentils and a Herb Vinaigrette. This salad was almost too gorgeous to eat, but after a mule trek through the eucalyptus forest, I was more than ready. I always find it interesting to see how other countries prepare simple dishes such as a salad. While I enjoy lentils, it would never cross my mind to make it the base of a salad. Pairing the egg with bits of the roasted vegetables made for the perfect bite.
As I awaited our main course, I couldn't help but pause and realize how grateful I was for this experience. I was sitting in the Atlas Mountains exploring a new country, not to mention a new continent and soaking in as much of the Moroccan culture as possible. It's certainly not a typical Wednesday for me :)
Before I knew it, our main course was served: Carrot Gnocchi. I had taken a sneak peak at our menu before lunch and I was very excited for this dish. Often times you will find gnocchi served with variations of herbs and spices, but this was the first for me having carrots incorporated. It was simply divine. Having eaten light meals most of the week, I found that this dish was quite rich and heavy. The mushrooms paired perfectly with the sweetness carrot gnocchi while the asparagus provided that bit of contrasting flavor necessary to balance out the dish. I wasn't about to waste one bite of this.... Ridiculous!
Even though I devoured the gnocchi, I couldn't pass up dessert. After all, who says no to dessert on vacation?? :) Everywhere you look in Marrakesh, carts and tables filled with fresh oranges. From the produce markets at the souks to the mules carrying them by the cart full, they are everywhere. I was hoping that Chef Pepin would incorporate this citrus note in the tasting menu. Concluding this marvelous tasting was Orange and Ginger Creme Brulee served with an Orange compote. This dish was out of this world! This rich and creaminess of the creme brulee was offset by the bright citrus notes of the orange compote. The group was raving about the flavors and I can assure you, no creme brulee was left behind!
I completely devoured everything that was placed in front of me (good thing there was a yoga in my future). Preemptively battling the effects of my onset food coma, I ended the meal with a little Nos Nos. Nos Nos is a coffee drink, typically ordered by women in Morocco, that is half milk half espresso. I sipped on this little glass of goodness and curled up by the fire. At this point, I waved the white flag and surrendered to the food coma.
Chef Benoit Pepin did a remarkable job weaving the flavors of Morocco throughout our vegetarian tasting menu. While all of the courses were terrific, the standout of the day was the Carrot Gnocchi. I am still dreaming about this dish! Many thanks for Kasbah Tamadot for hosting us and to Eat Pray Move for coordinating this lovely feast!
Until next time!