Le Jardin Restaurant


Le Jardin, medina of MarrakeshIf like us, you love the rooftop at Café des Épices but sometimes find it too crowded, head over to its sister restaurant, Le Jardin. It’s just a short stroll away.

Set in the flowery courtyard of a restored riad, Le Jardin is a curious space where you’ll see projected art-house movies on the walls at night and a fashionable crowd eating and drinking in the shaded garden during the day. Trees, water and shade abound so this is just the space for when you want to put your feet up. There’s even a small library under the courtyard arches.

Try the milkshakes during the day (milk with avocado, milk with carrot, almond milk then in the evening switch to traditional Moroccan dishes like tajine d’agneau, mixed grill with taktouka or Beldi chicken with saffron, honey and semolina Seffa.

There’s often a party atmosphere at Le Jardin which as well as being a place of culture, it also doubles as a special events venue.  A special, must-visit place.


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I Limoni Restaurant in Marrakesh

I limoni restaurant in Marrakech

Sometimes you just want somewhere that reminds you of your favourite Italian go-to restaurant back home. To drink lemonade, eat pasta and gently download all the experiences, sights and sounds of the Medina in the shade. I Limoni is that place.

An Italian restaurant that doubles up as a coffee shop in the heart of the medina, it has a cool, shaded patio and terrace. Lemon trees scent the air and there are plenty of corners for relaxing in after a hearty Italian meal. Not any old Italian meal either, many consider the food of I Limoni to be some of the best Italian fare in all of North Africa.

For a special treat opt for the spaghetti au poivron et tomate then heave yourself up to the rooftop terrace to soak up the scenic houses on the horizon.

‘Hidden gem’ may be a much-overused descriptor, but it can be applied to I Limoni. Seek it out.

There’s no website for I Limoni but keep up with all the news here at their FaceBook page: https://www.facebook.com/ilimonimarrakech

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Moroccan Women with a Future

Naima Benazzouz, Marrakech, Moroccan chef

This week’s blog post looks further afield, to Paris, where celebrity chef Alain Ducasse made headlines recently.

Ducasse, who has a collection of upmarket restaurants in Paris, London, New York, Doha, Hong Kong and Monaco, is one of the most famous chefs in the world.

Recently the multi-starred Michelin chef employed Naima Benazzouz, originally from Marrakech, and trained her to cook to an extremely high standard.

Benazzouz was chosen to be part of Ducasse’s Women with a Future project which annually enrols 15 women – immigrants or ethnic minorities born in France – into a year-long specialised cooking course.

It operates in union with public authorities and provides a basic income. The aim is to lift women out of poverty by training and to remove obstacles faced by the women, whether financial or childcare obligations.

After 12 years of struggle, raising three children in a Parisian suburb, Benazzouz’s life changed dramatically with the help of this big-hearted gesture from the celebrity chef Ducasse.

Nowadays, Benazzouz leaves her home in Sarcelles, in the south of the capital, and travels daily to the Matignon, in the chic seventh arrondissement of Paris. From there, she cooks for dignitaries and sometimes at private venues such as the official residence of the French Prime Minister.

Ducasse describes his noble project as a way of helping women suffering ‘social and professional exclusion.’ Positive stories like this one need to be celebrated. We are sure that Benazzouz’s family at home in Marrakech must be extremely proud and that her cooking will be much in demand whenever she visits her home city.

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The Museum of the Art of Living

art of living museum, in Marrakesh

The museum of the Art of Living is a must-visit in the Medina. Located close to Bab Taghazout, this picturesque museum was once the home of the 19th century Marrakchi poet, Ben Omar.

Lovingly restored in 2006 by Abderrazzak Benchaabane – who spent four-years renovating the property – the museum reopened its doors in 2010.

Today, tourists pour into the museum, which is spacious and cool and is spread over a generous 500m2, across six rooms. This is a great place to learn about Moroccan culture in the comfort of air-con. Inside there are displays of textiles, rugs, paintings all giving a broad overview of the traditional Berber lifestyle. One room is a dedicated reading room – which provides ample respite from the heat and crowds.

The other key place to relax is the Arab-Andalusian style garden and terrace on the rooftop, which offers outstanding views.

Eagle-eyed visitors may notice some similarities with the design of the Majorelle Gardens which was also restored by Abderrazzak Benchaabane, at the request of Yves Saint Laurent.  Overall, this is a chic, well-conceived place to spend an afternoon. Recommended.

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Hanout in Marrakech

hanout store in Marrakesh

As we know Marrakech is a veritable hot-bed of fashion and barely a week passes without another boutique opening. Equally, our shopping list is never-ending with yet more ‘must-buy’ items added all the time.

One of our long-time favourites, which we would like to share with you, is Hanout. According to their promotional material, Hanout “reflects the magic of the Orient in designer chic comfort” and we quite agree. ‘Hanout’ means store in Moroccan Arabic.

Founded by Meriem Rawlings the brand encapsulates the beauty of Moroccan traditional clothing such as Kaftans and Takchitta but with a modern accent.

Rawlings studied at London’s St Martins School of Fashion and is now based in Marrakech, working with dozens of talented artisans who work on embroidery, bead work and colour overlay.

We especially like the kilim boots, sequinned waistcoats and floaty dresses. We are not alone either. Famously, the singer-songwriter Natasha Atlas has also worn the clothes for an album photo-shoot and the Hanout label has been sold in London department store, Selfridges.

Hanout can be found at Sidi Abdelaziz (location hint: head to the popular Souk Cherifa and look for the store under the Terrasse des Epices). Take a taxi to Dar el Pacha and with the palace on your right, keep walking straight ahead. You’ll see some wicker lampshades and a sign Terrasse des Epices that will be on your right. The boutiques are on the first floor. Just be prepared to give your credit card a bruising!




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Meetings in Marrakech

meetings in marrakech, art in marrakesh


As we gear up for the fantastic Marrakech Biennale (February 26-March 31) the luxury hotel La Mamounia is holding a special exhibition as part of the celebrations.

Called Meetings in Marrakech the show will run from the 20th of February until the 3rd of March and it will highlight paintings by Hassan el Glaoui and Winston Churchill.

Churchill famously said that Marrakech was ‘one of the loveliest spots in the world’ a statement which, of course, we heartily agree with. The hotel today has the (very) English Churchill Suite, created in the leader’s honour, which is complete with the prime minister’s favourite hat.

Fast-forward to 2014 and this art exhibition promises to highlight both Churchill’s own work and the work of Hassan el Glaoui, who, encouraged by Churchill, became the first Moroccan artist to gain international fame.

The show will display eight paintings by Churchill and 17 by El Glaoui, many of which have never been shown before within Morocco. It will also be the first time the works by both painters have been exhibited together.

The ideal way to see the show – which is taking place in the Le Grand Salon of La Mamounia – is to end with a signature Churchill cocktail in the Churchill bar.

www.mamounia.com and www.marrakechbiennale.org

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