Featured post

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.”

After December 8’s Lilac Fires: safe, with tomatoes

December 9, 2017

I couldn’t wait until the next Kasbah Chronicles to show off my December bounty.

We are experiencing a lull during the Lilac Fire, 5 miles away,  in North San Diego County. A faint smell of smoke lingered in the air this morning, but look at what I found among my tomatoes bushes. The sweetest tomatoes of the season, dry-farmed (I stopped the water 2 weeks ago in anticipation of their demise.) But no! These gorgeous ruby globes chose to outdo themselves . .

 

The Kasbah Chronicles November 2017: New York, Catalina, and much more

The Kasbah Chronicles: November 2017

Kitty travels Afar and Afield

Lady Liberty upon my first visit to New York in 1961:

Merci, Statue of Liberty


New York today

The new World Trade Center slices through the clouds like a silver blade

CONTENTS:
Musings on New York and elsewhere9/11 Memorial
Discovering Harlem
Grazing New York: Harlem Shambles, Eataly, Murray’s Cheese, FishsEddy, Grand Central Market and more
Rodin and Gertrude Stein
Walking through Brooklyn Heights
Overheard in Flushing, NY
Dia de los Muertos in Escondido, CA
A hop to Avalon on Catalina Island
Recipe: Pumpkin Garbanzo Bean Soup
Mail order gifts
Moroccan pastries made in the USA!
How to help Sonoma winemakers recovering from the fires (après les incendies de la Californie du Nord)
Classes and presentations
News of Morocco and beyond

Art Buchwald’s famous column on Kilometre Deboutish (aka Miles Standish) explique pourquoi nous celebrons Thanksgiving, le Jour de Merci Donnant (voir ci-dessoous.)

Musings:
Afar and Afield in New York City and
Avalon, CA.
Return to New York

As always, it seems I just wrote my last edition of the Kasbah Chronicles, but two months have already gone by. So Happy Thanksgiving! It is Thanksgiving eve and 85 degreesI love a little chill in the air, and even snow on the ground at Thanksgiving. But not in these parts.

This afternoon I remain bemused and befuddled at the administration’s decision to remove restrictions on the importation of African elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia, and allow more big game hunting there. Can anyone explain to me how a country in ruins like Zimbabwe can honestly manage its conservation program? Fortunately, I just heard the edict was rescinded (maybe??)

I am not here to dwell on politics but rather on my bucket list. The first destination is New York. One of my goals was to say “thank you” to the Statue of Liberty. This I did, from the deck of the Circle Line. Without her welcome and acceptance, I wouldn’t be writing to you today. My mother, brother and I were immigrants, and this is the original trunk we arrived with, on board a Yugoslav freighter loaded with cork, and in the WORST storm I have ever encountered.

By the time we entered the bay, Lady Liberty  was bathed in sunshine, just like this!

The statue viewed from the Circle Line in 2017

 

My other mission was to visit the 9/11 Memorial.


What a stunning building

The enormity of the destruction of the site, the number of lives lost, the evil cunning and planning of the perpetrators along with the heroism of first responders took on a larger-than life dimension as I stood in the footprint of the building. Hundreds of visitors from around the globe milled about in a hushed atmosphere that added to the poignancy. A wall of remembrance displayed images of the victims, and these, coupled with individual bios. So many personal tragedies on display.

The new building

New York for me also holds bucketsful of happier memories. I lived in The Big Apple for a few months in 1965, to work at the NY World’s Fair. At that time, there was nothing more exciting for a wide-eyed 18 year old than to occupy the cashier’s cage and collect entrance fees to the fake Tower of London that sheltered fake Royal Jewels. .  . in Queens, NY!! That’s when I fell in love with NY.

The city has evolved, and the BIGGEST SURPRISE was its cleanliness. My last visit, which probably took place 20 years ago, showed a New York in decline with dirty streets, crumbling buildings, and graffiti everywhere, including the subway. No more graffiti in the subway. Incroyable!

I had the good fortune of staying with my friend Vivian, a seventh-generation New Yorker, who lives in Harlem, an up and coming section of town. We walked across Barnard College (and cooled our heels a Max Caffe, a college hangout), ambled through CCNY, saw Hamilton’s home (yes, that Hamilton), which occupies a prominent hill in Hamilton Heights.

Trendy restaurants like Maison Harlem and Ponty Bistro with its French-speaking Senegalese waiters, and superstar chef Marcus Samuelsson‘s Streetbird Rôtisserie (www.streetbirdnyc.com) have all turned into gastronomic destinations. Vivian, a superb cook, shops at the famed Harlem Shambles butcher on Frederick Douglas Boulevard where we purchased merguez and a rosy breasted organic chickens as plump as a poulet de Bresse. What a thrill for me to stand under the marquee of the fabled Apollo Theatre! wwwapollotheatre.com. Harlem is a cool place!

 

Now onto more serious things:
I did manage to dash into several museums: The Rodin exhibit at the MET was as crowded as Grand Central. I wanted to see the Moroccan courtyard built by Moroccan artisans. It was a bit of a letdown for our own centuries old riad courtyard at Dar Zitoun is three times the size. The Museum of the City of NY was an eye-opener, with a tour led by a passionate docent who delighted in divulging some of the city’s darkest secrets. One day, we stumbled upon an Ai Wei Wei installation, a mesh “Arch” with two cutout figures, occupying the center of the marble arch at Washington Square Park. My favorite remains a discreet bronze statue of Gertrude Stein, holding forth in Bryant Park, behind the NY Central Library. Gertrude and I became well acquainted (on paper) during my graduate studies.

Food was never far from my thoughts, bien sûr. From Mario Batali’s lively EATALY (www.eataly.com) to the Chelsea Market, that soft scallion bun at the Chinese bakery next to the subway station on Flushing’s Main Street, and a gargantuan croque-monsieur at the Chinese-run Tous les Jours bakery, also in Flushing, NY delivered.

I am not a fan of Mario Batali’s but his idea is a great one: Across the street from the Flat Iron Building, he has assembled all foods Italian under one roof. Each stall features a specialty, from prosciutto and artisanal hams, to wheels of parmesan, fresh seafood, hand made pasta, and pastries.  Ordering at EATALY, where the posted mantra is “LIFE is too short not to EAT WELL” is in itself a New York experience. Take a seat in the eating area, until a waiter appears.
Waiter: “Talk to me.”
Me: “Excuse me?”

Waiter (brusk but pleasant, sort of): “Talk to me.”
Me: “OK” (as I finally grasped his New York speak.)
His final words when we paid the bill:
“Just another day in paradise!”

We nibbled at a generous platter of sliced prosciutto, pâté, freshly baked bread and fig preserves, and the price was very fair. Contrast that with the nearby Chelsea Market, which I found on the tacky side with its dozens of touristy boutiques lining tunnels that were once a Pillsbury Cookie Factory. My native New Yorker friend led me along Ladies’ Mile (search the origins) to Fishs Eddy (www.fishseddy.com) a very early precursor of Sur la Table, with kitchen gadgets galore (pricey!!), Murray’s Cheese (www.murrays.cheese.com), the heavenly, decades-old cheese emporium on Bleeker Street in the Village. The counter at 8PM was as crowded as on a Saturday morning. Onto nearby Joe’s Pizzeria, another New York institution and, which, according to Vivian, makes the best pizza in New York, and for good measure, the Grand Central Market and its cascades of luxurious edibles inside the station. Phew.

Vivian works in Flushing, so off to Flushing I went, on a graffiti-free subway! Eavesdropping there was a challenge since hardly Chinese and Korean prevail. As I was waiting in the doorway of Modell’s Sporting Goods (Gotta Go to Mo’s), a Flushing institution, an elderly Caucasian couple walked past me:

OVERHEARD in Flushing:
Old man: “Why should we pray for him? NO need to pray for him! He doesn’t care about anybody anyway!” Sporting a pensive look, the old lady continued shuffling her way through a tide of Asian faces…

 

We capped my visit with a hop to Brooklyn, where I had never been. We explored Brooklyn Heights, a yuppie haven of tree-lined streets and nannies pushing strollers past historic Pilgrim Church. Jacques Torres, the chocolate king, maintains a storefront here, near the very first Hagen Daaz ice cream store. A highlight was a walk along riverfront The Promenade and wilderness preserve towards the famed Carrousel. All this and the location for Moonlight, the classic movie featuring Cher, where I gazed upon the very same view of Manhattan she did.

 

 

RECIPE:
This will warm the cockles of your heart
Kitty’s Pumpkin and Tomato Soup with Garbanzo Beans
Serves 4

1 medium onion, finely diced
2 pounds butternut OR Mediterranean squash, peeled and cut into chunks
4 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
5 medium tomatoes, peeled and quartered
2 tablespoons tomato paste
15 sprigs cilantro, tied with string
1 cup drained garbanzo beans
1 teaspoon cumin
2 to 3 cups chicken broth
Milk to thin soup, optional
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
A touch of cayenne, for serving (optional)

In a large saucepan or soup pot, combine the broth, squash, celery, tomatoes, and cilantro. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and cook until vegetables are tender, 20 to to  25 minutes. Let cool. Discard the cilantro. In a blender or food processor, blend the vegetables and the garbanzos

In increments, adding the reserved broth a little at a time to obtain a smooth, thick puree. Return the soup to the pan. Bring to a simmer. Add more broth or milk for a thinner soup, and heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

 Meanwhile back in San Diego County:

 Calissons (Broadway brand!) for my maman

I flew home in time for the Dia de los Muertos, The Day of the Dead celebrations, which is turning into an ubiquitous multi-cultural ritual in our border city. I joined in at the Escondido Center for the Arts where, alongside dozens of other families, I created an “altar” to honor my mother, which, according to custom, contained one of her favorite foods: calisson cookies from Aix-en-Provence. Keep an eye out for tbeir upcoming Nikki de Saint Phalle exhibit (San Diego’s collection of her sculptures is much more impressive than what I saw at the Pompidou in Paris years ago.) I am now a docent at the California Center for the Arts and am thrilled that the center is holding an exhibit of Niki de Saint Phalle’s artwork from January 13 to March 4, 2018. Don’t miss this! Did you know she was a “local?” You are in for a treat! http://artcenter.org/museum/

A quick trip to Avalon on Catalina, allowed me to catch the Chihuly exhibit at the newly opened Catalina Island Museum. The show is over in early December, but the museum is worth the detour. As we did last time we were in Catalina 2 years ago, we lunched two days in a row at Blue Water Grill. The waterfront restaurant still offers the best value for the money on the island, and the location couldn’t be more idyllic on a sunny day: watching the waves lap at the shore through the slats in the deck as you savor an assertive Caesar salad or a bowl of addictive poke. I had no idea this was a California chain until I complimented the chef on using chermoula, the classic Moroccan marinade. I haven’t tasted their paella yet, but judging from the other dishes, it is sure to be a winner. A new Blue Water Grill is now open in Carlsbad (where Fish House Vera Cruz used to be.)

Kitty in the media: Edible Flowers
Modern Salt is one of the most literate food blogs:
http://www.modernsalt.co.uk/stories/eating-flowers-eating-beauty

Classes and presentations:
Great organization if you are a food buff.

January 20, 2018: Free and Open to the public
Tagines and Couscous: a history
10AM; San Diego Central Library
https://www.culinaryhistoriansofsandiego.com/public-meetings.html

March 2018:
LIFE, Mira Costa College
Edible Flowers
Presentation and book signing

July 2018:
Poway Library, Poway CA
A taste of Morocco
and

Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories

MAIL ORDER GIFTS:

 

While in New York I met up with Mehdi Menouar, an enterprising young Moroccan businessman and founder of MESKA SWEETS, that produces REAL Moroccan pastries in New Jersey, and distributes them by mail order (www.meskasweets). I can vouch for the classy packaging and authenticity of flavors. Mehdi and his wife employ a team of bakers turn out mignardises from gazelle horns, chebakia (honey coils), feqqas (biscotti), and almond cookies according to traditional family recipes. Great gift, corporate or personal. The company contributes 5% of its proceeds to educate underprivileged Moroccans (in Morocco).

Help a Sonoma winery destroyed by fire
Ancient Oak Wine Cellars (ancientoakcellars.com)
was entirely destroyed in the Santa Rosa Fire. “On Redwood Road, there is nothing there, just flat blackened earth”, told me the mother of winemaker Melissa Moholt-Siebert. “Their website is the best place to order wine by the case or bottle,” she adds. Should you wish to contact her directly, go to: melissa@ancientoakcellars.com.
Similarly:
www.montemaggiore.com
http://www.montemaggiore.com/product/Holiday-Special-2017 makes and distributes fine wines in Northern California. Read their enlightening blog about the fires: http://www.montemaggiore.com/blog/Effects-of-the-fires-on-2017-wines

For aspiring authors:
Annie Lamott is a wonderful author who writes for and about writers. This is worth a look:
Anne Lamott: 12 truths I learned from life and writing | TED Talk | TED.com. https://www.ted.com/talks/anne_lamott_12_truths_i_learned_from_life_and_writing

News of Morocco and beyond:
The new Yves Saint Laurent Museum in Marrakech:
http://telquel.ma/2017/10/30/nous-avons-visite-le-musee-yves-saint-laurent-avec-sofia-benbrahim_1565571
and m:
http://www.azuremagazine.com/article/ysl-museum-marrakech/

Casablanca, the movie, memorialized: https://www.wsj.com/articles/commemorating-a-battle-and-bogie-

The French are coming (encore une fois)! The French are coming! https://france-amerique.com/fr/once-again-the-french-are-colonizing-quebec/
And:
And on the subject of memorials:
https://france-amerique.com/remembering-the-americans-who-gave-their-lives-for-france/?ct=t(FA_Hebdo_du_5_octobre_2017)

Thanksgiving: Le Jour de Merci Donnant:
reprinted from the New York Times
The dinde is dandy, so let’s give thanks
By Art Buchwald
Published: Thursday, November 27, 2003

One of the most important holidays is Thanksgiving Day, le Jour de Merci Donnant. . . . “Le Jour de Merci Donnant was started by a group of pilgrims (Pèlerins) who fled from l’Angleterre before the McCarran Act to found a colony in the New World (le Nouveau Monde) where they could shoot Indians (les Peaux-Rouges) and eat turkey (dinde) to their hearts’ content. They landed at a place called Plymouth (subsequently a voiture Americaine) in a wooden sailing ship named the Mayflower, or Fleur de Mai, in 1620. But while the Pèlerins were killing the dindes, the Peaux-Rouges were killing the Pèlerins, and there were several hard winters ahead for both of them. . . .”

All that is left is for me to wish you a
HAPPY THANKSGIVING
Bismillah
and
Bon appétit

The Kasbah Chronicles

The Kasbah Chronicles
Another sad good bye
this time to our sweet Olive McMorse.

View this email in your browser

This has been a summer of good-byes. Thank you to those who honored my mother’s memory last month.

Olive left us on the first day of Fall. She was a rescue dog and the best scottie we ever owned (we have had four.)

CONTENTS
Musings
The last of my Paris discoveries
Restaurants of Nantucket and MONTANA
Literary tours of Paris
Tagine of Shrimp in Chermoula
NEW  Yves St Laurent Museum in Marrakech
News of Morocco and beyond
Les Galeries Lafayette
Yves St Laurent Villa

OVERHEARD


 KITTY IS headed FOR NEW YORK in October. Any suggestions for food and favorite markets, please share!

Need a gift?
Send me an email, and I’ll sign and send one of my books. Free shipping in the US for one book before November 15th. Mint Tea and Minarets, A Biblical Feast, and Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion.

Time to downsize: I am selling a Victorian style living room, a queen size brass bed and much more. I can send you pictures if you are interested.


MUSINGS:

 
LET ME FIRST TAKE YOU BACK TO PARIS:
I promised to share more of my Paris adventures (3 editions of the Kasbah Chronicles on the subject is enough!) I told you about the historic Les Passages de Paris a couple of months ago. And about my reunions with childhood friends from Morocco, in Caen, Nice, and Toulouse. Yet I had more rediscoveries in store upon my return to Paris. No Louvre! No Musée d’Orsay!! Unfortunately no time to go to Giverny. With a bus ride through the streets of Paris as a fun substitute, I was on the road to the road to the Galeries Lafayette, France’s version of Sack’s Fifth (and a branch at the Morocco Mall in Casablanca.) The Galeries is a bit like Macy’s in New York: rendez-vous for the world . . .  with a section called “les must-have” AND across the street from the art deco main store, one solely dedicated to kitchen and home. https://www.galerieslafayette.com/c/maison-cuisine+et+arts+de+la+table-arts+de+la+table I lost my mind among the THREE floors offering sushi bar, Vietnamese bistro, a Moroccan-style spice market, pâtisserie, chocolatier, boulangerie, fromages, and table ware to die for:

A spice market to emulate one in Fez:
 

 

Flor de Jamaica! HIbiscus tea.
The very same we find in Mexican supermarkets.
(See my recipe in Edible Flowers)
Rose petals

Salts of various colors

 
Oh non! A Michelin starred chef wants to give up his stars!
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/21/world/europe/sebastien-bras-michelin-star.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Feurope&_r=0
 And these refugee chefs are cooking to build a new life (bien sûr!)
https://www.buzzfeed.com/kassycho/uber-den-tellerrand?
 
Where do you go to have tea and pastries in Paris on a Sunday afternoon? At La Grande Mosquée de Paris (tucked away in a corner of the Latin Quarter (http://parisianavores.paris/un-gouter-au-cafe-d-la-mosquee-de-paris/,) a short distance from the  of natural history museum. Inside the (extremely) crowded atrium, a fountain gurgles, as do conversations rising from dozens of multi-lingual patrons seated around the café tables. Order a glass of steaming mint tea, a Moroccan gazelle horn, shop at the “souk”, or  people watch a crowd as colorful as the mosque’s zillige mosaics.


If you have time, follow Lisa Pasold on one of her literary tours, www.Improbablewalks.com in French or English. This writer, journalist, literary storyteller, and comedian grew up in Montreal but has made Paris her home for years. This engagingly tall and exuberant “amazonne” bills herself as a literary storyteller, and takes you on literary tours of Paris. Tell her I said BONJOUR!! E-mail: improbablewalks@gmail.com

More Paris stores:
Monoprix: This sort of JC Penney’s style store is full of wonderful surprises and great prices. Check out the paper goods, the umbrellas, and the food displays.
Darty: I made their iPhone experts  my friends when I went back 3 times to cry on their shoulder to help me comprehend my cell phone. I almost threw mine in the Seine. . . but Darty saved me.
LE CREUSET IS GOING CHINOIS!!!  Sales people have to speak Chinese and French in many department stores.

France is the top travel destination in the world! I can vouch for that after witnessing the anthills of visitors at the Louvre and Notre Dame. https://france-amerique.com/fr/deserving-tourists/?ct=t%28FA_Hebdo_du_10_août_2017%29

This is the result: Encore une fois l’Amerique a la rescousse! Notre Dame is crumbling. America to the rescue please.
https://france-amerique.com/fr/notre-dame-des-americains/?ct=t(FA_Hebdo_du_7_septembre_2017)
 
Restaurant recommendation: Le Reminet (www.lereminet.fr) sits a few steps from the incontournableShakespeare and Co. bookstore across the river from Notre Dame on the Left bank. This isn’t a bookstore, it is a windmill! One can hardly catch glimpse of the shelves over the heads of visitors from the four corners of the universe. Oh, for such incessant foot traffic at indie bookstore in the US.

FIN of my PARIS experiences!

favorite sign 1

and 2
  In  Paris you live on love and fresh water

And in Morocco you live on
Shrimp tagine with chermoula sauce
Sorry, no photo, I ate it!

You can probably relate: You peruse the meat aisle, nothing appeals to you, or, like me, you are bored with the usual cuts. So I look to seafood. I purchase fresh, unshelled shrimp ( or firm fish), make a court-bouillon of water or broth, bay leaf, white wine, or fines herbes. Bring this to a boil. Cook the shrimp (shells on) for 3 minutes. Drain them (reserving the broth), shell them, and RETURN the shells to the broth for about 20 mns. (I make this a day or two ahead). You can of course, freeze a court bouillon. Great broth for paella.

Prepare the chermoula :

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika
5 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon sugar (optional)
15 fresh parsley sprigs, minced
10 fresh cilantro sprigs, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine ingredients and cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
If ripe tomatoes are not available, use a good brand of canned, diced tomatoes (S and W is my favorite.) Make the chermoula, and reheat the shrimp in the sauce for 3 or 4 minutes. Serve over rice or couscous. . .  or simply with bread. VOILA. Dinner is ready.
 
News of Morocco and beyond:
If you read the last Kasbah Chronicles, you may have noted that Mohammed VI, the King of Morocco, is a fan of museums, and has opened a slew of them around the country. The latest, and probably flashiest, is Pierre Bergé’s gift to the people of Marrakech, the fabled villa of his former partner, Yves St Laurent.
 http://madame.lefigaro.fr/evasion/voyage-dans-les-annees-marrakech-dans-les-pas-pierre-berge-et-yves-saint-laurent-120917-134027
 Christophe Martin, the designer of the St Laurent updated villa and gardens, happens to be our neighbor at Dar Zitoun, in Azemmour.
I have not visited the St Laurent villa itself (always off limits), but I have frequented the gardens since childhood. My father knew Jacques Majorelle (the original owner and a noted orientalist painter), and every Xmas, he used to rent Majorelle’s gardens, a tangle of exotic plants, water features and secrets hideaways. My brother and I would host the American children whose parents were stationed on the nearby American airbase at Ben Guerir (where I got to see my first B-52 bomber.) The base has long been turned over to the Moroccan military, but, in my time, we couldn’t wait to gain access to the chicken in a basket and corn flakes!
The Jardins Majorelle bring to mind a smaller version of the Huntington in San Marino (CA) but don’t expect to see any original Majorelle paintings there . . . those are kept under lock and key I am sure, in various collections and palaces, in Morocco and France. And another Moroccan museum of note:

The Moroccan Jewish Museum was established in Casablanca in 1997. It is the only museum devoted to Judaism in the Arab world.
 
From museums to movies:  Too hip and chichi for words . . . Morocco’s Ouallywood, Ouarzazate, the desert oasis where my husband and I spent our honeymoon, now awash in movie studios, golf courses, and kasbahs built on demand: http://www.aramcoworld.com/en-US/Articles/September-2017/Morocco-s-Cinema-City

Though I complain about the tyranny of social media, it is always fun to reconnect electronically. Linked In recently nformed me that Stella Fong, a longtime friend who lives in Billings (MT) writes a beautiful blog and hosts a radio show. If you head to BIG SKY country, listen to her on http://ypradio.org/programs/flavors-under-big-sky. And if you land on the opposite coast, in Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and region, catch up on local events with my friend, MaryLynn’s, website, http://www.capecodrestaurants.com/

OVERHEARD on the streets of New York (where else?) A friend of mine, very youthful still, is walking down the street: A man coming from the opposite direction looks at her and exclaims: “WOW! You still have a nice face!!” That’s NY for you.

I AM HEADED TO THE BIG APPLE 
to proclaim my gratitude to the

T


This has been a summer of good-byes. Thank you to those who honored my mother’s memory last month.

Olive left us on the first day of Fall. She was a rescue dog and the best scottie we ever owned (we have had four.)

CONTENTS
Musings
The last of my Paris discoveries
Restaurants of Nantucket and MONTANA
Literary tours of Paris
Tagine of Shrimp in Chermoula
NEW  Yves St Laurent Museum in Marrakech
News of Morocco and beyond
Les Galeries Lafayette
Yves St Laurent Villa

OVERHEARD


 KITTY IS headed FOR NEW YORK in October. Any suggestions for food and favorite markets, please share!

Need a gift?
Send me an email, and I’ll sign and send one of my books. Free shipping in the US for one book before November 15th. Mint Tea and Minarets, A Biblical Feast, and Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion.

Time to downsize: I am selling a Victorian style living room, a queen size brass bed and much more. I can send you pictures if you are interested.


MUSINGS:

 
LET ME FIRST TAKE YOU BACK TO PARIS:
I promised to share more of my Paris adventures (3 editions of the Kasbah Chronicles on the subject is enough!) I told you about the historic Les Passages de Paris a couple of months ago. And about my reunions with childhood friends from Morocco, in Caen, Nice, and Toulouse. Yet I had more rediscoveries in store upon my return to Paris. No Louvre! No Musée d’Orsay!! Unfortunately no time to go to Giverny. With a bus ride through the streets of Paris as a fun substitute, I was on the road to the road to the Galeries Lafayette, France’s version of Sack’s Fifth (and a branch at the Morocco Mall in Casablanca.) The Galeries is a bit like Macy’s in New York: rendez-vous for the world . . .  with a section called “les must-have” AND across the street from the art deco main store, one solely dedicated to kitchen and home. https://www.galerieslafayette.com/c/maison-cuisine+et+arts+de+la+table-arts+de+la+table I lost my mind among the THREE floors offering sushi bar, Vietnamese bistro, a Moroccan-style spice market, pâtisserie, chocolatier, boulangerie, fromages, and table ware to die for:

A spice market to emulate one in Fez:
 

 

Flor de Jamaica! HIbiscus tea.
The very same we find in Mexican supermarkets.
(See my recipe in Edible Flowers)
Rose petals

Salts of various colors

 
Oh non! A Michelin starred chef wants to give up his stars!
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/21/world/europe/sebastien-bras-michelin-star.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Feurope&_r=0
 And these refugee chefs are cooking to build a new life (bien sûr!)
https://www.buzzfeed.com/kassycho/uber-den-tellerrand?
 
Where do you go to have tea and pastries in Paris on a Sunday afternoon? At La Grande Mosquée de Paris (tucked away in a corner of the Latin Quarter (http://parisianavores.paris/un-gouter-au-cafe-d-la-mosquee-de-paris/,) a short distance from the  of natural history museum. Inside the (extremely) crowded atrium, a fountain gurgles, as do conversations rising from dozens of multi-lingual patrons seated around the café tables. Order a glass of steaming mint tea, a Moroccan gazelle horn, shop at the “souk”, or  people watch a crowd as colorful as the mosque’s zillige mosaics.


If you have time, follow Lisa Pasold on one of her literary tours, www.Improbablewalks.com in French or English. This writer, journalist, literary storyteller, and comedian grew up in Montreal but has made Paris her home for years. This engagingly tall and exuberant “amazonne” bills herself as a literary storyteller, and takes you on literary tours of Paris. Tell her I said BONJOUR!! E-mail: improbablewalks@gmail.com

More Paris stores:
Monoprix: This sort of JC Penney’s style store is full of wonderful surprises and great prices. Check out the paper goods, the umbrellas, and the food displays.
Darty: I made their iPhone experts  my friends when I went back 3 times to cry on their shoulder to help me comprehend my cell phone. I almost threw mine in the Seine. . . but Darty saved me.
LE CREUSET IS GOING CHINOIS!!!  Sales people have to speak Chinese and French in many department stores.

France is the top travel destination in the world! I can vouch for that after witnessing the anthills of visitors at the Louvre and Notre Dame. https://france-amerique.com/fr/deserving-tourists/?ct=t%28FA_Hebdo_du_10_août_2017%29

This is the result: Encore une fois l’Amerique a la rescousse! Notre Dame is crumbling. America to the rescue please.
https://france-amerique.com/fr/notre-dame-des-americains/?ct=t(FA_Hebdo_du_7_septembre_2017)
 
Restaurant recommendation: Le Reminet (www.lereminet.fr) sits a few steps from the incontournableShakespeare and Co. bookstore across the river from Notre Dame on the Left bank. This isn’t a bookstore, it is a windmill! One can hardly catch glimpse of the shelves over the heads of visitors from the four corners of the universe. Oh, for such incessant foot traffic at indie bookstore in the US.

FIN of my PARIS experiences!

favorite sign 1

and 2
  In  Paris you live on love and fresh water

And in Morocco you live on
Shrimp tagine with chermoula sauce
Sorry, no photo, I ate it!

You can probably relate: You peruse the meat aisle, nothing appeals to you, or, like me, you are bored with the usual cuts. So I look to seafood. I purchase fresh, unshelled shrimp ( or firm fish), make a court-bouillon of water or broth, bay leaf, white wine, or fines herbes. Bring this to a boil. Cook the shrimp (shells on) for 3 minutes. Drain them (reserving the broth), shell them, and RETURN the shells to the broth for about 20 mns. (I make this a day or two ahead). You can of course, freeze a court bouillon. Great broth for paella.

Prepare the chermoula :

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika
5 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon sugar (optional)
15 fresh parsley sprigs, minced
10 fresh cilantro sprigs, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine ingredients and cook for 10 to 15 minutes.
If ripe tomatoes are not available, use a good brand of canned, diced tomatoes (S and W is my favorite.) Make the chermoula, and reheat the shrimp in the sauce for 3 or 4 minutes. Serve over rice or couscous. . .  or simply with bread. VOILA. Dinner is ready.
 
News of Morocco and beyond:
If you read the last Kasbah Chronicles, you may have noted that Mohammed VI, the King of Morocco, is a fan of museums, and has opened a slew of them around the country. The latest, and probably flashiest, is Pierre Bergé’s gift to the people of Marrakech, the fabled villa of his former partner, Yves St Laurent.
 http://madame.lefigaro.fr/evasion/voyage-dans-les-annees-marrakech-dans-les-pas-pierre-berge-et-yves-saint-laurent-120917-134027
 Christophe Martin, the designer of the St Laurent updated villa and gardens, happens to be our neighbor at Dar Zitoun, in Azemmour.
I have not visited the St Laurent villa itself (always off limits), but I have frequented the gardens since childhood. My father knew Jacques Majorelle (the original owner and a noted orientalist painter), and every Xmas, he used to rent Majorelle’s gardens, a tangle of exotic plants, water features and secrets hideaways. My brother and I would host the American children whose parents were stationed on the nearby American airbase at Ben Guerir (where I got to see my first B-52 bomber.) The base has long been turned over to the Moroccan military, but, in my time, we couldn’t wait to gain access to the chicken in a basket and corn flakes!
The Jardins Majorelle bring to mind a smaller version of the Huntington in San Marino (CA) but don’t expect to see any original Majorelle paintings there . . . those are kept under lock and key I am sure, in various collections and palaces, in Morocco and France. And another Moroccan museum of note:

The Moroccan Jewish Museum was established in Casablanca in 1997. It is the only museum devoted to Judaism in the Arab world.
 
From museums to movies:  Too hip and chichi for words . . . Morocco’s Ouallywood, Ouarzazate, the desert oasis where my husband and I spent our honeymoon, now awash in movie studios, golf courses, and kasbahs built on demand: http://www.aramcoworld.com/en-US/Articles/September-2017/Morocco-s-Cinema-City

Though I complain about the tyranny of social media, it is always fun to reconnect electronically. Linked In recently nformed me that Stella Fong, a longtime friend who lives in Billings (MT) writes a beautiful blog and hosts a radio show. If you head to BIG SKY country, listen to her on http://ypradio.org/programs/flavors-under-big-sky. And if you land on the opposite coast, in Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and region, catch up on local events with my friend, MaryLynn’s, website, http://www.capecodrestaurants.com/

OVERHEARD on the streets of New York (where else?) A friend of mine, very youthful still, is walking down the street: A man coming from the opposite direction looks at her and exclaims: “WOW! You still have a nice face!!” That’s NY for you.

I AM HEADED TO THE BIG APPLE 
to proclaim my gratitude to the
STATUE OF LIBERTY!

( She tugs at my heartstrings each time I land at Kennedy airport. There she is in all her glory, assuring me that I am back in America.)

As always,
Bismillah and Bon Appetit,
Kitty

New museum openings in Morocco 2017

New museum openings in Morocco: So many it makes my head spin.
http://aujourdhui.ma/uculture
Les musées enrichiront le paysage culturel après la réouverture du Musée de la Kasbah des cultures méditerranéennes de Tanger et le Musée de l’histoire et des civilisations de Rabat. . . . nous allons réouvrir au plus tard début septembre le Musée national de la céramique à Safi puis deux mois après le Musée national du tapis à Dar Si Essaid à Marrakech», says Mehdi Qotbi, président de la Fondation nationale des musées du Royaume (FNM).

Le musée Yves Saint Laurent in Marrakech will open on October 19th, a few days after the one in Paris.

http://telquel.ma/2017/07/14/robe-mondrian-marrakech-inaugurer-musee-yves-saint-laurent_1554098?utm_source=Newsletter_

http://telquel.ma/2017/07/09/route-festivals-du-mois-juillet_1553170
Morocco, land of festivals

LUCKY KIDS!
http://telquel.ma/2017/07/03/douze-etudiants-marocains-nasa-space-camp-2017_
Twelve young Moroccans got to attend the annual NASA Space Camp in Alabama.
Douze lycéens marocains âgés de 15 à 18 ans participent, du 1er au 11 juillet à Huntsville en Alabama, au Space Camp (le Camp de l’Espace),

Patissier extraordinaire,  THE KING of MACARONS, Pierre Hermé, known as le “Picasso de la pâtisserie” ou le “Dior du dessert” opens his new store at La Mamounia . . .  (macarons are those ubiquitous colorful little disks)
http://telquel.ma/2017/08/22/pierre-herme-le-meilleur-patissier-du-monde-prend-les-renes-de-la-patisserie-de-la-mamounia_1558414?

At the movies:
A Moroccan-American makes movies in New Orleans:
http://aujourdhui.ma/culture/cinema/qanir-represente-le-maroc-au-festival-new-orleans-film

 

The Kasbah Chronicles August 2017

Musings:

Everyone wins in Toulouse!
Cruising the Canal du Midi
Invasion of the Ripe Tomatoes
Recipe
Presentations
News of Morocco and beyond
Links of interest
North San Diego County discoveries
Kitty contributes to The Vista Press
A French wedding menu

Kitty is selling: Moroccan items
Three piece 1930s-style, carved oak, vintage living room set

My last Chronicles described my travels to France in April to reconnect with childhood friends from Casablanca. We met up in Paris (1st part), Vienna, and Nice. Next in store is TOULOUSE. ( I have so much more to say about Paris, that Ill devote my next Chronicles to the rest of my Parisian interlude)

 

Dateline TOULOUSE:
Liz was the friend I reconnected with in what the French call “La Ville Rose” so named for its abundance of red brick buildings (in Morocco, we call Marrakech “The Pink City” as well).

Liz and I both attended the lycée in Casablanca, and she hosted the very LAST party I attended before I set off for Tangier with my mother and brother in August 1964 to catch the boat that would bring us to the US.

A few decades later, my friend was waiting for me at the charming Blagnac airport, all smiles, and looking much as I remembered her (and she immediately whisked me off to a bakery to sample fenétra, a special bread. What a friend!

Many of my lycée classmates headed to Toulouse to go to university. Fifty years on, I wished I had gone to visit them at the time. Students make up 1/10th of the population in this town of 900,000 inhabitants.

Toulouse, aka (as well) la Cité des Violettes, straddles two major waterways: the wide river Garonne, one of France’s longest. When the sun is out, hundreds of étudiants sun themselves on its grassy banks. And the placid, 17th century, man-made Canal du Midi, that stretches between the Garonne and the Mediterranean to the west and the Gironde estuary near Bordeaux. More important for gourmets, is the fact that Toulouse is the navel of the universe for cassoulet, and for foie gras, which I sampled in numerous iterations over three days —— along with Liz’s home-made cassoulet, stuffed with the region’s famed saucisses.

But first things first: We hot-footed it out of the spotless metro the next morning, onto Toulouse’s wide Alléees Jean Jaurès in the centre ville, near Les Américains, a café bistrot ideal for people watching. Liz was on a mission: to reach le marché Cristal on the Blvd de Strasbourg before closing time. For a list, seehttp://www.toulouseinfos.fr/pratique/decouverte-de-toulouse/9264-marches-toulouse.html)

I tried not to trip as I craned my neck to look up at the handsome brick buildings along the tree-lined boulevard. In minutes, we were engulfed in the colorful sounds of the daily marché .Asperges! Tomates! Champignons! Poulet de Ferme! And some Moroccan: Labès, madame! Many vendors hailed from North Africa. Slightly breathless, and loaded down with a cabas (bag) filled with produce, we took a seat at a table outside the Rose de Tunis café, a few blocks away. Nothing like a glass of piping-hot mint tea and a honey pastry to set you back on the right track.

Thus fortified, we boarded the free shuttle that crisscrosses downtown,along the narrow streets,  lined with universities and historic sights: the imposing fifth century basilique Sainte Marie de Toulouse or Notre Dame La Daurade, with its black Madonna; the Gothic style Couvent des Jacobins started in 1230, with its palm-tree shaped pillars. We got off at the Office du Tourisme in the Donjon du Capitole, which borders the football field-size Place du Capitole not far from the 4th century Eglise St Pierre des Cuisines. The cuisine refers to the Latin “coquinis” or food stalls that once occupied the neighborhood. St Pierre des Cuisines is the oldest church in Southwest France — there you have it, even saints think about food.

A few zigs and a zag later, we reached the banks of the Garonne. On this glorious day, students were out en masse, sunning themselves on the lawn, or dangling their feet above the water. Liz had more for me to see. She had me cuddle up to the statue of local songwriter Claude Nougaro, one of my teenage heartthrob.

My friend needed a ripe wheel of Brie, and knew we would find the perfect fromage at SENA FROMAGER, across the street from the Marché des Carmes, the historic covered market. SENA has been in business for 6 generations. Indeed, the young vendor behind the counter was busy upholding tradition, and handing out samples. http://www.senafromager.com/contact.html.

Liz had promised me an unforgettable lunch, and she delivered once again. The airy and wide-open La Cantine de l’Opera lies on the Allées Jean-Jaurès, near Place du Capitole. Chef Stéphane’s seasonal menu changes daily and encompasses all of Toulouse’s gastronomic riches, from foie gras de canard and cassoulet toulousain aux haricots tarbais (bien sur) to Jambon Noir and Tartare de Boeuf. http://lesjardinsdelopera.fr/la-carte-de-la-cantine. You can’t miss the big green frog that decorates the entrance.

PHOTO

We needed to make one more stop before taking the metro home — at the Terre de Pastel (www.terredepastel.com) a charming magasin that sells everything related to the violet, L’Or Bleu de Toulouse (the Blue Gold of Toulouse) the city’s symbol, imported centuries ago from the palace of the Sultan of Constantinople. I purchased tins of candied violets, the same delicate treats that I once received from my French grandmother.

My friend had saved the best (among the best) for last: a day’s cruise on the Canal du Midi. Her friend Bruno’s flat-bottomed péniche is the classic way to explore one of France’s most scenic waterways. I was living a dream, navigating the canal at 3 miles an hour, keeping pace with the cyclists waving from the shore, and gliding under the dappled shade of an arch of centuries old plane trees. Liz had planned lunch along the canal, near the lock at the Ecluse du Castanet (http://www.l-ecluse-de-castanet.fr). I stepped out of my dream into a postcard: a flower-filled chalet, once the home of the lock keeper, now a restaurant on the water. My Salade Océane would have fed four. Did I mention more foie gras? And scallops in garlic butter? I waddled back onto the péniche, and let the lapping of the water induce a gluttony-induced nap.

For the best couscous in Toulouse:
http://www.lexpress.fr/recherche?q=couscous+toulouse

ww.lexpress.fr/styles/saveurs/restaurant/toulouse-a-la-pente-douce-hamid-miss-atteint-des-sommets_1897702.html

One of the peculiarities of this man-made ribbon of water is that the CANAL flows OVER the freeway . . . What a way to escape the busy traffic below.

I am already plotting to return to La Ville Rose.

 

RECIPE OF THE MOMENT
Tomates, tomatoes, pomodori, matisha=BLISS this month

PHOTO

My current favorite:

Soft White Bread (forgive me)
Goat Cheese
Sliced, sun-kissed tomato right off the vine
Lemon pepper