Archive for the 'Moroccan' Category

Tar & Roses Suppers: Wood-Fired Goat – Los Angeles (Santa Monica)

Tar & Roses - Santa Monica

The gift of goat is one that keeps on giving—just ask The Astronomer. In celebration of his 29th birthday this past June, I planned a wood-fired goat supper at Chef Andrew Kirschner‘s Tar & Roses in Santa Monica.

I’d previously dined here when the restaurant first opened and had a splendid time grazing over small plates. I was excited to be back, with three scientists in tow, to partake in this festive family-style dinner.

Goat Dinner at Tar & Roses - Santa Monica

Since we were celebrating something pretty special, our table shared a bottle of the Cascina Ca’ Rossa ($56), an Italian red made of Nebbiolo grapes. We thought it appropriate since the restaurant is named after the tasting notes characteristic of wines made from these grapes.

Goat Dinner at Tar & Roses - Santa Monica

Supper, which was priced at $44 per person, began with a very delicious charred gem lettuce salad with crispy pancetta, dried dates, and pungent blue cheese. There were smiles all around with this starter.

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Walt Disney World’s EPCOT: A Family Friendly Taste of Morocco, Japan, and Norway

EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort

After growing up on a steady diet of Disney movies, Disney soundtracks, and Disneyland, I was excited like you wouldn’t believe to visit the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. The complex is the size of a small island nation. In addition to dozens of enormous resorts that hold thousands of guests each, it boasts six amusement parks: Magic Kingdom (a Floridian replica of the Anaheim original), Hollywood Studios (Disney’s take on Universal Studios), Animal Kingdom (lions, tigers, and bears), two water parks (Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach), and EPCOT (Experimental Prototype Community Of Tomorrow).

I hope to visit each park someday, but since The Astronomer and I only had one day to pay our respects to the Disney gods, we chose to explore EPCOT. By the way, the park’s “golf ball” centerpiece is called Spaceship Earth and houses a ride that narrates a shortened history of the world.

EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort

EPCOT is divided into two sections: Future World and World Showcase. We started our day in Future World, which focuses on “technological advancements, innovation, and wonder.” The Astronomer felt right at home there.

EPCOT at Walt Disney World Resort

Since nothing works up an appetite quite like using your imagination, we soon headed to World Showcase to grab a bite. Set around a man-made lagoon, World Showcase is comprised of a collection of pavilions representing the cultures and cuisines of Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, United States, Japan, Morocco, France, United Kingdom, and Canada.

Each country has a formal, sit-down restaurant that requires advance reservations either by phone or in person at guest services. As soon as we arrived at the park, The Astronomer and I booked a table at the Norwegian restaurant because The Astronomer’s mother recalled enjoying a buffet with an abundance of smoked fishes the last time she dined there.

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Warda – Ho Chi Minh City

May 24, 2008
Cuisine: Middle Eastern, Moroccan

71/7 Mac Thi Buoi Street
District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

Phone: 8233822
Website: none

Pita chips, warm flat bread, sesame crackers

Cold Mezza Platter – clockwise from top left – tabouleh, hummus, mutabal (slow roasted baby eggplant with tahini, olive oil and spices), baba ghanouj (110,000 VND)

Lamb and Prunes Tajine – braised marinated lamb cubes with prunes braised in a clay pot and laced with infused chili oil (158,000 VND)

Goose Pastilla – phyllo pastry filled with roast goose, almonds, raisins and oranges (135,000 VND)

Hot Chocolate and Fig Pudding with Cardamom (55,000 VND)

Even though my birthday was months ago, I’m still cashing in on my presents from The Astronomer. Knowing my penchant for good eats, my gift was a series of five fancy dinners. Warda was stop number three on our special dinners tour.

Warda has one of the coolest dining rooms in the city. The walls of the dimly lit space are painted with sweet wide blue stripes. And in true Moroccan fashion, there are tons of pillows for lounging upon while eating or smoking the hookah. There was no hookah for us tonight, but we did indulge in some fine food, including the most amazing chocolate dessert. But before we get to that, let’s start with appetizers.

We shared the cold mezza platter that included a variety of dips and a lovely selection of dipping utensils. The baba ghanouj with mint, caramelized onions and homemade yogurt was our favorite. The smoky flavor of the roasted eggplant was so very delicious that it managed to convert The Astronomer, a known eggplant hater. My favorite dipping device were the thin slices of warm flat bread even though they were kind of flimsy. The portions at Warda are monstrous by Vietnam standards. We could have left completely sated after the first course. I guess we’ll just have to invite some friends to join us next time!

For our mains, we shared the lamb and prunes tajine and the roast goose pastilla. The Astronomer ate the majority of the lamb tajine because I was pretty full and preferred to work on the pastilla with the little space I had left. The tajine, which was served with a side of fluffy couscous, was more The Astronomer’s cup of tea than mine. The overall flavor was decent, but the lack of presentation was a turn-off. A little parsley atop the lamb would have gone a long way.

The pastilla wasn’t doused in as much powdered sugar and cinnamon as we would have liked, but was still quite delicious. The roast goose’s distinctive taste brought us back to Hong Kong, and the almonds and raisins were fabulous touches. The pastilla was served with a fruity sauce (my guess is quince) that tied the nutty, meaty and fruity elements of the dish together.

In my world, there’s always room for dessert. Since The Astronomer was bursting at the seams, I chose the “Hot Chocolate and Fig Pudding.” With a name like that, I wasn’t sure what to expect. What arrived was a molten chocolate cake of sorts. The oozing warm chocolate innards were figged-out to the max. I love figs, and figs with chocolate is even better! This could be Saigon’s best chocolate dessert – full report to come.

Pyramids – Washington D.C.

October 9, 2006
Cuisine: Moroccan

600 Florida Ave NW *CLOSED*
Washington, D.C. 20001

Phone: 202-232-6776
Website: none

Entree I: B’stilla – Sweet, seasoned pie in the best Moroccan tradition. Baked layers of thin pastry sheets (ouarqa). Stuffed with minced chicken, almonds and saffron. Sprinkled with cinnamon and powdered sugar.

Entree II: Lamb Shawarma Sandwich – seasoned and roasted in lemon and garlic, served with fries.

James is the luckiest boy I know because his neighbors are Ethiopians and Moroccans. I am very jealous of the abundance of ethnic cuisine around James’ ‘hood (Shaw-Howard U Metro). Although the Ethiopians dominate, I saw some Thai and Soul food as well. Mmm boy.

Pyramid is located just a few short minutes from James’ pad and serves mainly Middle Eastern fare. However, the menu does offer “American Favorites” such as burgers and fries! I ordered a chicken B’stilla (a seafood B’stilla was also on the menu), while James went for a Lamb Shawarma Sandwich.

The B’stilla was INCREDIBLE. Crispy pastry shell, complex interior, and just enough cinnamon and sugar to make our taste buds go bananas. In fact, the B’stilla was so good that I ordered one “to go” for the Astronomer. The B’stilla was truly divine and my mouth still waters at the thought of it. I can’t wait to have another. The B’stilla was served with a potato salad that was very flavorful and not mayo-based. The salad consisted of potatoes, carrots, iceberg lettuce, and onions in a vinaigrette. It offered a nice contrast to the B’stilla’s sweetness.

James’ Lamb Shawarma Sandwich was very delicious as well. There was plenty of lamb wrapped inside a pita, which was thin like a tortilla. The entire sandwich was doused in a strong tahini sauce that complimented all the flavors very well. I didn’t try the French fries, but James seemed to like ‘em.

James, me

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