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A realm of truly unfamiliar and fascinating places still exist, where the local people treat you like a traveler, not a tourist, and where things might not always go as expected, but are likely to be exquisitely memorable. This is Morocco! Be ready to be subsumed in a world of exquisite luxury and dramatic rusticity, of heartwarming hospitality and charming curiosity, of combinations of tastes and ingredients that play on your senses more like music than food.
You will stay at Jnane Tamsna guesthouse in Marrakech. The guesthouse is a paradigm of Moroccan luxury and class in the Palmeraie, and home to Meryanne Loum Martin, designer, and Gary Martin, an ethnobotanist. Jnane Tamsna offers a total of 24 ensuite bedrooms spread over three properties: Jnane House, Jnane Moussafir, and Jnane Villa. There are two large and two small meeting rooms as well as numerous sitting rooms, dining areas and outdoor spaces. The grounds feature five pools and a clay surface tennis court.
In the Atlas Mountains, you will stay at traditional Berber Kasbah. While in Essaouira, a charming candlelight residence by the beach awaits you.
Your journey begins in the mystical city of Marrakech, home to one of the world’s great marketplaces - the famed Djemaa el Fna. You will study hands-on with Bahija Lafredi, a wonderful chef, she will share her authentic recipes and techniques. The tagine is a central focus, as is couscous in a couscoussier, pastilla, and an in-depth look at spices. You will stroll through the gardens and learn about plant medicine and ancient agricultural systems with Gary Martin. Afternoons are for soaking in the hammam and wandering in the medina with the expert guides.
You will visit a nearby aromatic garden and essential oil distillery to study the properties of local plant oils, and also how to make Berber bread, the mainstay of Morocco’s migratory peoples. You will travel high into the spectacular Atlas Mountains for a two-day excursion, staying at one of the top five mountain retreats in the world. Here you’ll learn lamb, fig and walnut tagine - quintessential Moroccan home cooking. You witness the full range of Morocco’s geography as you travel down to Essaouira on the coastal Sahara, where you sample local dishes influenced by Spanish conquerors. Your study of the Berber, Middle Eastern, Moorish, and French threads that weave together the fantastic tapestry of Moroccan life culminates back in Marrakech.
Welcome aperitif and dinner in the enchanting private guesthouse gardens.
After breakfast, tour ethnobotanist Gary Martin’s organic vegetable garden. Meet a local ethnobotanist and herbalist, who will give you the information on the local use of medicinal and culinary herbs. Their first hands-on cooking class with chef Bahija will include dishes such as chicken and pear tagine and caviar d’aubergine. You will then enjoy these dishes for lunch served in the garden.
After lunch, relax in the lush quietness of our guesthouse. You can enjoy clay court tennis and time by the pool. Optional tour of the monuments, including the Palais Bahia and the Dar Si Said Museum for Moroccan Crafts.
Dinner under the stars.
After breakfast, a lesson on couscous made in the traditional couscoussier. Lunch in the garden. Afterward, you will forage through the spice market. Learn to identify true saffron. Participate in identifying the various ingredients of ras-el-hangout, the traditional mixture of herbs and spices used in many Moroccan dishes, especially tagine.
In the evening, dinner in the Medina.
After breakfast, a fusion cooking class will be given on Spanish-Moorish cooking. Almond soup, almond cake, and tortilla. Lunch in the garden. Afternoon options include more Medina shopping, hammam, massage. The rest of the evening will be a free time for you to do your own excursion.
After breakfast, drive across the Haouz plain to the market town of Tnine Ourika to discover a picturesque organic garden of aromatic herbs. Here you’ll learn about essential oils used in aromatherapy, cuisine, and massage. Before picnic lunch under a tented shade, there will be a demonstration on baking bread in traditional Tachelhit (Berber) clay ovens.
In the late afternoon, you will travel up into the hills with the group. Upon arrival at our mountain retreat, we’ll enjoy mint tea on the terrace, perched majestically at the apex of the Ourika Valley, guarding the gateway to the snow-capped Atlas Mountains. With 360 degree panoramic views, we’ll hear the call to prayer resounding from the mosques in the lush river valley below. From its unique position, it offers a birds-eye view of the Atlas and their traditional Berber villages.
After breakfast you’ll hike along mountain slopes to visit irrigation systems, home gardens, and terraces of the Tachelhit Berber mountain agriculture. Lunch on the terrace. Afternoon free for rest, relaxation, hammam, and optional additional hiking. In the evening, cooking demonstration, followed by dinner at the Kasbah.
After breakfast you’ll travel about three to the Atlantic coast to visit the Portuguese port of old Mogador, now known as Essaouira. You’ll enjoy a lunch of grilled fish at the port. Visit woodcarvers who produce artifacts of fragrant thuya wood, peruse the carpets and kilims to perfect one’s appreciation and eye for Berber design. Visit the music stores for the best selection of Gnawa and Andalous tunes.
You can also enjoy sitting in one of Essaouira’s French-style cafés for journal writing and people watching. Afterward, off to seaside pension for a night’s stay in a village setting. No electricity - just candlelight, stars and the sound of the waves. Stroll along one of the west coast’s most treasured beaches have a camel ride or a long walk. Dinner will be prepared by chef Khadija.
A drive back to Marrakech, with a stop to observe the Berber women who have collected and cracked argan nuts for oil in the traditional way. Arrive back at the guesthouse, have time to relax, have a swim, then dine ‘back home’ after your turf and surf adventure.
After breakfast, a cooking class with Bahija on pastilla and kefta will be held. You will have lunch in the garden. Afternoon is yours to spend. Private guides are available for personal excursions. The evening presents the tour gala dinner complete with Andalous musicians. Au revoir!
Departure after breakfast.
Peggy's interest in the delicate relationship of food and its origins began early. For her, a connection to real food is a connection to life. She found kinship with the slow food movement in 1993, recognizing in it values that echoed her own. For the past 17 years, Peggy has traversed the Mediterranean and north Africa, furthering her own exploration of culture and cuisine. On these journeys, she saw an opportunity to design and direct her own brand of culinary tours in which enjoyment of the present place and moment plays a pivotal role.
This holiday will take place in Marrakech, The Atlas Mountains, and Essaouira, Morocco.
Daily meals are included in the price. You will be able to sample authentic Morrocan style cuisines as well as Spanish-Moorish delights.
On your free time, you can go for a personal guided excursion to explore the local surroundings of Marrakech.
Please book your flight to arrive at Marrakesh Menara Airport (RAK). Transfer from and to the airport is included. Peggy Markel's Culinary Adventures will pick you up from the airport.
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