Newsletter Marrakech 2013 – Rocking the Kasbah

Marrakech tour – May 31st - June 7th 2014

Here’s the word on Marrakech: it’s lush, affluent, ultra chic, has outrageously exotic restaurants and nightclubs, designer kaftans and sharp suits, funky jewellery and textiles, tagines, crab sushi, sexy North African cool and drop dead stylish accommodation. It’s one of the leading style capitals of the world. Forget hashish, back-packs, dodgy carpets and 3000 ways to do couscous – although they still exist in quaint time warp pockets – Marrakech has become a highly sophisticated and cosmopolitan Eurafrican lifestyle destination. And not just for holiday makers but for large numbers of ex-patriots also. Packed with contemporary designers, music and art, Marrakech is unique. And whilst it is inescapable that you are in a madly exotic foreign country, a land of ritual and tradition, it also has the feel and facilities of a Barcelona, a Milan or a Prague. So even if time passes by on slippered feet – often with no connection to anything we might find meaningful - it is this extraordinary blend of ancient and modern that makes Marrakech such an hypnotic draw: an overwhelmingly sensual medieval Arabian Nights – redolent with the perfume of rosebuds, spices, oranges, frankincense and pomegranates – custom-designed for the 21st century sophisticate. 

On our week long dinner party in Marrakech we spend half the week in the medina or old city and half in the countryside. Moroccans are big party people, hugely welcoming and love eating. So in a galaxy of bland globalization, traditional Moroccan dishes are a shining star of beauty and hope. 

Florence at Dar Tasmayoun, a traditional courtyard country house outside Marrakech, took a leap of faith with us - having had no experience whatsoever with tours - and has embraced the particular type of fun which comes with New Zealanders and Australians - warm relaxed friendship, wide-eyed enthusiasm for every tiny thing, and an appreciation of a well made gin and tonic. Her humble cook, Radiga, is a brilliant and lovely woman who teaches us how to make, amongst other things, classics like couscous, pastilla and Moroccan flat bread. Dar Tasmayoun is natural and rustic, but very comfortable with interiors that are a constant hymn to the beauty and charm of Moroccan culture. Here, we wander through wild country souks, picnic in the splendid foothills of the Atlas mountains and enjoy Florence’s organic garden and property.

Adriano Pirani, a dapper, charming Italian designer who owns Hotel du Trésor where we stay in the medina, quickly revealed himself to be a fabulous partner-in-crime. No one organizes a party, decorates a salon, steals a scene, washes your hands with rose perfumed water or finds more handsome gracious staff in Marrakech better than Adriano. At Trésor we learn to make tagines, delicious moroccan salads and deserts, how to get around all the gastronomic corners of the souk and party with the locals.

And that is not half of it .... shopping for jewelry and kaftans, visiting our family in the mountains at Ouirgane, crawling the French Quarter including Yves St Laurent’s gardens, cooking at the fabulous Riad El Mazouar, enjoying the famous main square Jeema el Fna,  and getting steamed up in the hammam.

I and my adorable co-conspirators in Marrakech are all revved up and waiting for you. You may wish to read my book 'Culinary Adventures in Marrakech'.