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CHARMOULA marinade served at White House Dinner!

You’ll find a recipe for this classic Moroccan marinade in each of my books!

Obama Welcomes African Leaders for Unusual Dinner

WASHINGTON — Aug 5, 2014, 10:49 PM ET

White House dinner

“The menu featured a largely American-style dinner with hints of Africa sprinkled throughout each of the four courses.

Guests dined on chilled spiced tomato soup and socca crisps, which are made of chick peas; chopped farm-stand vegetable salad using produce from the first lady’s garden; and grilled dry-aged Wagyu beef served with chermoula, a marinade used in North African cooking, sweet potatoes and coconut milk.

Dessert was cappuccino fudge cake dressed with papaya scented with vanilla from Madagascar. American wines were also on the menu.”

The Kasbah Chronicles/ September 2015


Well, I did it! Conquered seasickness and visited Alaska with my mother. You may recall I asked for ideas for shore excursions in my last newsletter. Thank you to those who acted upon that request. Our 7-day Holland America cruise was an unexpected pleasure. We discovered a most comfortable ship (“small” by modern standards, with “only” 2000 passengers and crew on board), a cozy cabin, the most solicitous crew, very good food, and interesting fellow passengers. My mother said my seasickness would evaporate with age. She was right! I was especially impressed with the culinary program held in a state-of-the art amphitheater as well as the way the staff handled everyone, from the wheelchair-bound, to families with toddlers. A very democratic cruise experience.

We gaped in awe at Mendenhall Glacier and the majestic setting of Glacier Bay. The day we visited, a female ranger from Glacier National Park climbed up a rope ladder to spend the day with us, along with her sidekick, a native Huna Tlingit from a Glacier Bay tribe (AlaskaNativeVoices.com). Excursions out of Juneau, Sitka (with its unusual Russian Orthodox Church with walls lined floor to ceiling with gold icons), and Ketchickan ranged from the mundane to exciting trips aboard kayaks or walks in the wilderness. We could have purchased excursions upon arrival, rather than aboard ship, where the choice was more limited. For us, the highlight came in Victoria B.C, where my mother was joined by her three grandchildren during a memorable evening ashore at Cafe Brio in Victoria. (see my  review below.)

A Word to the wise: SEATAC airport was the worst experience of the trip. Its zoo like atmosphere is bad as Kennedy Airport’s. Avoid it if you can!


Past the intimate, flower-filled patio, you enter a lively venue filled with happy and chatty patrons. The plate of salumi (which we French speakers call assiette de charcuterie) was outstanding and imaginative (ras el hanout crusted prosciutto???) and those BC garden-grown tomatoes, sweet as sunshine, which actually was shining that day. The locally sourced lamb was exquisitely cooked, and when I complimented the owner, he gave me the provenance of his meat. The platter of Canadian cheeses looked tempting, as were the chocolate desserts. But for me, home grown tomatoes took precedence! This is a gem of a place. Café Brio, Victoria BC


A recipe for summer: Tahini with a Moroccan Twist

Especially goodmade with the FRESH tahini from The Spice Way spice store, in Encinitas, CA. Tahini ground on the premises!


Kitty’s Tahini with Grilled Eggplant and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

with a Moroccan twist

Makes about 1 cup

1/3 cup tahini

1/4 to 1/3 cup lemon juice (or to taste)

1/4 cup cold water (or to taste)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 slices grilled eggplant

3 halves sun-dried tomatoes

2 teaspoons ground cumin


In a small bowl, combine tahini with lemon juice. Stir until well blended. Add water and garlic. Stir briskly until smooth. Add remaining lemon juice if needed, and a little extra water if sauce is too thick.

     Transfer to a food processor and blend with the grilled eggplant and the tomatoes until fairly smooth. Add cumin. Serve at room temperature with pita chips.

copyright Kitty Morse 2015

Morocco Travel Links August 2015

I am always available for a phone consultation anytime. Simply contact me, and we can set up an interview after you go through Paypal to pay the fee.

I recently came across these links that provide the very latest and HIPPEST information on what’s happening in Morocco:

Here they are:

Travelling to Morocco?

The very latest news from Morocco now comes to you via HuffPostMaghreb.com: Find them on Facebook

You know you are a Casablancaise when:

Vivre à Casablanca: Tu sais que tu es Casablancais quand…


Links of Interest:


When will Moroccan fast food reach Southern California?

Le concept marocain de fast-food Fine “Lalla” va ouvrir un deuxième restaurant en France:


Videos of Morocco:

I watch the videos on Morocco this company produces and found them very interesting.



Bon voyage:





Summer updates and a trip to Catalina Island


View from Mr Wrigley’s casino (THE Mr. Wrigley chewing-gum)

NO gambling allowed

“Only 26 miles across the sea” . . . but decades removed from the mainland. Even though we have lived in California since 1973, we had never been to Catalina! Rather than the classic “26 miles” I could imagine Alvin and the Chipmunks belting out “Won’t you take me to Funky town” as a more apt description. I took my husband to celebrate a momentous anniversary, and also to see if I would get seasick during the 90 mn crossing from Dana Point to Avalon. Success! I didn’t toss my cookies (or rather a rather so-so fish taco lunch from a restaurant in the Dana Point Harbor. Skip the downstairs terrace of Harpoon Henry’s!) The weather was glorious, the crossing smooth, and the boat flew across the waves towards Calatina.

Much to our pleasant surprise, we landed smack in the middle of a set for Grounghog Day, a combination of a small Mediterranean seaside village lightly touched with the colorized exoticism of a vintage postcard. The hotel only reinforced the impression of stepping back in time. We could see the Hotel MacRae’s bubblegum pink facade from the ferry landing. Up the staircase we went (no elevator) to the office set in a corner of the terrace. The establishment reminded us of old hotels in France and Spain, where you first climb upstairs to a “lobby”, and then up more stairs to your room. This hotel offers a great location and very comfortable rooms. Next to the entrance is a karaoke bar open half the night, so make sure you ask for a room at the back.

The quality of the food on the island turned out to be a pleasant surprise, as well. The menu and the décor of Blue Water Grill are equally appealing. We dined on the deck with the waves crashing under our feet the two nights we spent in Avalon. We walked along the harbor, past Mr. Wrigley’s (yes, THE chewing gum Wrigley) famed art deco casino (well worth the visit), towards the Descanso Beach Club. a private club open to the pubic. The menu needs some rethinking and the food is overpriced, but you can’t beat the location on a palm-shaded deck with steps leading to a pocket-sized beach. The wait-staff consisted of a group of young foreigners, here on a tourist visa for the summer.

No cars in Avalon! (some waiting 30 years apparently, to obtain a permit.) Private golf carts dart around the narrow streets lined with diminutive beach cottages, most of them vacation rentals. The main beach is nothing to write home about, but you can reach more remote harbors by boat. The drive up to the Airport in the Sky was memorable not only for the excellent guide (via the Catalina Island Company tours), but also for hairpin turns that reminded me of driving through the High Atlas Mountains. I still don’t understand how he navigated the extreme turns in a BUS! Even though I don’t suffer from vertigo, I had to refrain from looking down the cliff in a few cases.

48 hours later, home we went, rolling our suitcases down the main street towards the ferry terminal. We may return! We celebrated July 4th with  a Moroccan menu consisting of zahlouk eggplant salad, brochettes (kabobs) of chicken, lamb and beef liver (try it!) marinated in charmoula spices. Aren’t we citizens of the world?!

4th of Jul kabobs 2

Petites salades

The Kasbah Chronicles May 2015


I had first written in my April  Enewsletter that my presentation at the Cardiff Library would take place on April 21, 2015 ( I sent out a second message with the correct date.)  Two, sharp-eyed readers caught the error.

It is on THURSDAY May 21, at 6PM

Cardiff-by-the-Sea Branch

San Diego County Library

2081 Newcastle Ave.

Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA 92007

760 633 3631



The Kasbah Chronicles

May 15, 2015

Two recent trips had me wondering why I yearn to hop on a plane towards distant continents.


The first was a drive with my mother along Highway 1’s legendary Big Sur, to Carmel, Monterey, and Salinas.


What pleasure to rediscover narrow roads free of traffic, emerald pastures dotted with HAPPY CALIFORNIA COWS, (the TV ad is right) and hundreds of dozing elephant seals who lay claim to the stretch of sand at Piedras Blancas.

Santa Barbara and its jacaranda-lined streets surely rival the Côte d’Azur in topography, natural beauty and architecture. In the hills, behind the awe-inspiring Mission Santa Barbara (http://www.santabarbaramission.org), we strolled through a meadow carpeted with California wild flowers, exotic displays of succulents, and even a small grove of redwoods (not to mention a lovely gift store) at the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens (www.sbbg.org/visit)

Bouchon and Opal’s, two well-known downtown Santa Barbara restaurants, left delectable impressions. As did the weekly farmer’s market, where I learned that coffee grows in the Santa Barbara hills.

A short stretch of 101 freeway separates the gardens from Montecito and Casa del Herrero (www.casadelherrero.com), an authentic Andalucian-style estate built in the 1920s. The décor includes tiles (many inscribed in Arabic) hand-made by Tunisian artisans.

While in Montecito, I headed for Tecolote Books, a charming independent bookstore, to drop off copies of Mint Tea and Minarets.

To our surprise, tiles inscribed in Arabic also decorated a wall of the Hearst Castle. Upon arrival, my mother needed stair-free access to this hilltop landmark. A driver in a golf cart took us on a circuitous ride to the back door and the castle’s Gargantuan KITCHEN where we perused the yards of stainless steel counters and sinks. (Did you know you can purchase farm-raised beef from the ranch at the site’s cavernous welcome center?)

A few miles up the coast, the hundreds of dozing elephant seals at Piedras Blancas appeared not to have moved an inch since I had last seen them when I was tracking down commercial mussel and abalone farms to include in The California Farm Cookbook.

The unending curves of Highway 1 were easy to navigate on a beautiful day, giving us time to appreciate the natural beauty of sea, sky, and hills.  The terrace of Nepenthe, one of Big Sur’s iconic restaurants, offered one of the best views of the coast along enormous sandwiches.

Carmel’s gorgeous mission basilica is one of the first landmarks to welcome visitors into this celebrity filled town. Lucky for us, the parking lot was free of the usual tour buses. The gift store (where you will find A Biblical Feast) holds a variety of treasures, not all religious in nature.

What I longed to visit again was the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas. I last visited in 1993 on assignment to explore Steinbeck Country. I visited Cannery Row with Bruce Ariss, an acquaintance of Steinbeck’s. Ariss has passed away, but his memory lives on Cannery Row (see photo above.) At the Center, you can spend hours viewing the lifelike displays, films, posters, artwork, and films related to Steinbeck and his oeuvre. The California Farm Cookbook contains a recipe from the Steinbeck House (steinbeckhouse.com), where volunteers man the restaurant a few days a week.

A few days after my return home, I was on the road with my husband towards a totally different world, the Anza Borrego Desert and Agua Caliente County Park located along the famed Butterfield Stage mail route. Driving from the “flatlands” of the coast into the pine-covered hills of Julian, then gently “sliding” into the desert brought to mind Morocco’s Middle Atlas Mountains. Similar praire like fields and boulder-strewn hills line the road from the Alpine town of Ifrane to Errachidia on the edge of the pre-Sahara. The only thing missing were Barbary apes and caravans of dromedaries. (Ooops: Did I mention Oasis Camel dairy in Ramona, CA?! www.cameldairy.com)

Travel details:

Agua Caliente County Park has 7 cabins for rent. Bring your on bedding and food. Park closes May 21 because of the heat. In season, you can explore the trails and soak in warm spring-fed pools and a large indoor spa. www.sandiegocounty.gov/parks/Camping/agua_caliente.html

Idyllwild: Breathe in the crisp mountain air at this pretty mountain resort and artist retreat east of Los Angeles. Local resident Julie Pendray’s informative blog (specialsnotonthemenu.com) lists local happenings

Appearances and book signings:

Thursday, April 21, 2015

Repeat performance!

Come sip a glass of iced mint tea and sample

Fresh Flavors of the Kasbah: 

Moroccan adventures in food and travel


Cardiff-by-the-Sea Branch

San Diego County Library

2081 Newcastle Ave.

Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA 92007

760 633 3631



Repeat performance #2!

Macy’s School of Cooking

Saturday, May 23, 2015


Phone: 888-424-3663

1555 Camino de la Reina

Mission Valley – San Diego

Moroccan Cooking Cass

Join in the fun as I cook with renowned Chef Bernard Guillas of La Jolla’s Marine Room at Macy’s School of Cooking. Watch us prepare a sampling of Moroccan dishes. Come early. First come first seated (120 seats.) Line starts forming 45 mns ahead of time! A book signing will conclude the class.


Tomato, fava bean, and preserved lemon crostini

from Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories

Tagine of Eggs with Olives and Cumin

from Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories

Orange Slices in Orange Blossom Water with Candied Almonds

How to preserve lemons, Moroccan style

Iced mint tea, Morocco’s national drink

Note: I am still booking programs for summer and beyond.

Do you follow Nan Sterman’s terrific new show, A Growing Passion, on KPBS? Nan was kind enough to invite me on the April 16, 2015 segment:

Preserving the Harvest segment


A French review of Mint Tea and Minarets on Toile d’Epices, a French site dedicated to spices