In November last year I was fortunate to travel to Morocco on a culinary adventure. This was my first visit to Morocco and I must say I loved it! The country was so interesting from a cultural and culinary perspective, and every city boasts its own ancient landmarks and traditional dishes.

I was so taken with Morocco that I have put together my own culinary tour of Morocco, scheduled for October 2016, with the help of Carol from By Prior Arrangement. This tour will take in the amazing cities of Rabat, Fez, Marrakesh and Essaouira, along with a side trip into the desert. There will be cooking classes, visits to restaurants and markets, and of course visits to many of the incredible cultural sights that Morocco is famous for. Our group will be intimate with a maximum of 12 guests, which allows us to stay in traditional accommodations, many of which we will have for our exclusive use, and makes for a more spontaneous and flexible itinerary. We plan to start the tour in early October 2016, around the 7th, for 14 nights and 15 days. Come along and share the magic of Morocco with me. For more information, please send me an email .

I will share my experiences and photos of Morocco over two posts, this being the first will focus on Rabat and Fez. I hope you enjoy reading about my travels.

We land in Casablanca, Morocco and drive an hour to the capital city of Rabat. Here we enjoy a couple of days to relax, explore and generally take it easy until the jet lag eased. If you can, hit the ground running, and immerse yourself in the local area. I came across Carol Prior and her bespoke tour company By Prior Arrangement via Instagram (as you do these days!) and was so impressed with her company that I asked her to plan a day tour of Rabat for me. Carol organised a fantastic day of sight seeing with an experienced local guide and driver. In an unfamiliar country I highly recommend hiring a local guide as they can help you find your bearings and show you the best the city has to offer.

Our first stop was the ancient ruins of Chellah, first settled by the Phoenicians, then occupied by the Romans and is located on the edge of the river bank. Here Roman ruins sit beside Islamic ruins in a peaceful setting of fruit trees.
Below is a photo of the beautiful minaret in the Islamic section and you can see the storks nest sitting on top. These birds have made the Chellah their home and their gurgling sounds add to the atmosphere of this amazing site.

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Islamic Minaret Chellah
A pristine Minaret in the ancient ruins of Chellah

We then headed to the Kashah les Oudaias which occupies the oldest part of the city and sits high on the cliff top providing ultimate protection for the city in times gone by. Today this is predominately a residential area and is reminiscent of Greece with it’s white and blue buildings. We weaved our way through the cobblestone alleyways, admiring the beautiful doors and knockers that adorn the homes in this area.

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Kasbah Alleyway
The Kasbah is painted in iconic blue and white.

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Kasbah door
Each door is so decorative in the Kasbah

One of my favourite finds was the communal bakery, which bakes traditional Moroccan bread for the people who live in this section of the city. The baker explained that he can bake up to 4000 loaves each day, some prepared by him and some prepared in the homes of the locals and delivered to the communal wood-fired oven for baking. The smell, as you can imagine, was heavenly.

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Moroccan Bakery
This communal bakery will bake about 4000 of these traditional breads per day.

After a couple of days rest we joined the food tour and made our way to Fez. This is a very popular tourist destination with many wonderful sights to take in. On our first morning we were treated to an amazing Moroccan breakfast which included many, many dishes both sweet and savoury. This was a special spread put together by the hotel’s head chef and our tour co-ordinator Geoff Jansz. We feasted on Harira soup, spiced sausages, eggs cooked in a tagine with the local cured beef known as Khili, Moroccan breads, house-made yoghurt, cheese and sweets. It was a wonderful sight and a privilege to be able to sample so many different foods from the one table.

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Here filled breads are being made which are then cooked on the hot plate ... yum!
Here filled breads are being made which are then cooked on the hot plate … yum!

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Moroccan Breads
A selection of Moroccan breads

After a fortifying breakfast we headed into the ancient medina of Fez, a maze of narrow alleyways and shops. The city is a contradiction in times – donkeys with carts are used to transport goods within the medina but you’ll see their handlers talking on mobile phones. The rooftops are littered with satellite dishes that sit alongside the age-old minarets that call the faithful to prayer five times per day. It truly is a feast for the senses – it’s overwhelming, exciting and breath taking all at once. In the market you will find fresh produce, meat, spices, shoes, leather goods, carpets, fabric, clothes, books … it’s all there but you may need a guide to help you find it.

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Panoramic Fez
Many thousands of people work & live in the Medina, now listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.

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Fez alley
The alleyways are narrow in the ancient Medina. Beware those with claustrophobia!

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Fes Rooftops
The green tiles signify Islam

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Olives & harissa
The bright colours and smells assault the senses.

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Camel in the Market
A camel’s head hanging in the market signifies fresh camel is available to purchase

As we were on a culinary tour our days included cooking classes too. Our first class was held in the kitchen of a traditional hotel, known as a riad, where we prepared a classic lamb tagine (using a pressure cooker! – it’s quicker), along with a selection of salads. Lamb, chicken, eggplant, tomato, onion, cumin, coriander, saffron, ginger and fresh herbs feature strongly in Moroccan cooking. It was fun to roll up the sleeves and help with the chopping and cooking in a kitchen on the other side of the world! Although language was a small barrier, the universal language of cooking, along with a few laughs meant we were able to prepare a shared lunch together. This was a wonderful morning that will stay in my memory for a long time.

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Cooking at Riad Myra
The universal language of cooking is shared to create a wonderful lunch!

The afternoon was spent visiting the ‘new’ parts of Fez including the royal palace and the Jewish quarter, and walking through the streets which come alive in the afternoon and early evening with people shopping and eating.

I will share the second instalment of my Moroccan adventures, which includes the beautiful ‘pink’ city of Marrakesh, in a couple of weeks, so stay tuned …

So, if this story, so far, has inspired you to travel to Morocco I would love to share the journey with you. As I mentioned earlier I was so taken with Morocco that I have put together my own culinary tour, with the help of Carol from By Prior Arrangement. This tour will take in the amazing cities of Rabat, Fez, Marrakesh and Essaouira, along with a side trip into the desert. There will be cooking classes, visits to restaurants and markets, and of course visits to many of the incredible cultural sights that Morocco is famous for. Our group will be intimate with a maximum of 12 guests, which allows us to stay in traditional accommodations, many of which we will have for our exclusive use, and makes for a more spontaneous and flexible itinerary. We plan to start the tour in early October 2016, around the 7th, for 14 nights and 15 days. Come along and share the magic of Morocco with me. For more information, please send me an email .

Happy travels x[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]