Correct me if I’m wrong but I just think there is not enough bowing and scraping in our lives and that one can never go past a tall dark handsome man in a Pierre Cardin suit. There are some things in life that just don’t matter – like mint tea where they’ve forgotten to put the mint in, gin and tonic where they forget to put the gin in, people being rude to you – you just flick it and move on like a velvet tractor. Last night Sarah-Jane, Tanah, our adorable driver and I ate at Yacout. Yacout is the most famous and beautiful restaurant in Marrakech, set in a palace in the medina with a secret entrance bringing you into a world of opulence, calm and beauty. It’s very traditional and I believe they have been serving the same excessive menu since the day they opened.
There’s a routine – you get taken up to the terrace by the man in the Pierre Cardin suit for cocktails, sunset watching and a breath-taking view over the rooftops of the medina, accompanied by Gnaoua musicians with swirling tassled hats and everything. This is mesmeric music so we got mesmerised into creating our own cocktails – I don’t think the terrace will ever be the same. Subsequently you slide back down the stairs to dine outside, waited on by gentlemen in white jellabas and white slippered feet. From then on in, it’s luxury all the way.
The meal starts with a selection of traditional cooked Moroccan salads – think calve’s liver, tomato jam, carrots with rosewater, zalouk (aubergine salad), briouats (savoury pastries), courgettes with cumin …. At this point you are already full. This is the signal for the white gentlemen to bring you the next course of whole chicken with preserved lemons. By now your appetite has revived so they glide up with a meshoui (slow roasted whole lamb shoulder) and the finest most perfumed couscous and vegetables. Then they pick you up off the floor and bring in the piece-de resistance, sweet pastilla, a dessert composed of layers of fried warka (Moroccan pastry), roasted almond powder and pastry cream.
You call the ambulance to take you home but first you have mint tea and tiny Moroccan pastries, designed to throw you into a diabetic coma. Promising each other never to eat again till we died, we got up early the next morning and drove for three hours to Essaouira on the coast to eat sardines, octopus and prawns grilled by the beach.