Category Archives: Travels

The Kasbah Chronicles: May 2018, Vietnam (Part 1), Morocco, and more

The Kasbah Chronicles
(now in its 10th year!)
My Most Excellent Vietnam Adventure: Part 1

Has it really been 3 months since I last published The Kasbah Chronicles? You will soon understand why.

Contents:
On a “roll” in Vietnam
Dining à la Hitchcock
Feasting à la Marocaine in Oceanside (CA)
Presentations and book signings
My “mentee” graduates!
Links of interest
Morocco and beyond
BOOK CLUB BINGO IN SAN DIEGO!
Get a special discount and come meet 22 nationally known authors.

Shopping in Hanoi

 Musings:
Yes, I have been on a roll. . .A Vietnamese egg roll that is..
This will explain my tardiness: I spent 3 weeks in Vietnam in April. Thus, March was spent preparing for the trip, in April I ATE MY WAY THROUGH VIETNAM from North to South, and May finds me roaming the aisles of local Asian markets to locate the ingredients with which to prepare my newly acquired recipes!

My travels will take up at least two editions of The Kasbah Chronicles. .. so please stay tuned for Part 2.

At a zillion dongs (actually 22,000 to the dollar)

how could we go wrong? Vietnam is fascinating, welcoming, and affordable. As I did when went I travelled to Chile two years ago, I planned my own tour using Asiatica.com,a Hanoi-based tour operator found on the Internet. China Southern Airlines(discovered while perusing Trip Advisor) flew Amy and me (a most compatible roommate), in cocooned comfort (business class), from LAX to Hanoi and return. As I mentioned above, my requests to our dedicated agent, Phoebe, of Asiatica, was to forego war memorials, tunnels, and war museums. All we wanted were cooking classes, markets, and local eateries… Boy, did she deliver! If you want suggestions for our itinerary, shoot me an email.(oops, I almost forgot to mention we also spent 2 days in Angkor Watt.…)

My photos tell part of the story:
Hanoi:Hectic, fun, historic, and better yet, food, food, food… Great cooking class with a local instructor in her home, a farm house outside Hanoi. Mandy (www.cookinginhanoi.wordpress.com) taught us all about crab soup and la lotleaves. Can’t wait to find some here!

 

la lot leaves eggrolls:


and an exquisite salad of fresh banana blossom

Hanoi has a mosque!

We soldiered on under a warmish rain through the insanely busy narrow streets of Old Hanoi, past dozens of pocket-sized shops. Shades of a Moroccan souk came to mind. The merchandise was quite different however. When saturation set in signaling an empty stomach, we dashed into a stall to sit in child-sized plastic chairs (they are everywhere and adults usually occupy them…) While a trio of Hanoi teens fingered their cell phones, out came a young woman bearing a hotpot, the local version of French pot-au-feu. We were wrapped in a cloud of star anise, cinnamon, lemon grass, and cilantro, and dipped into the pot with chopsticks to retrieve butter-tender pork shoulder, vegetables and bits of fresh pineapple. And, to cap it off, an addictive blend of salt, lime juice, and chili (I think).

Ha Long Bay: Phoebe asked if we wanted to cruise on Halong Bay. Why not? She booked us onto into a Jr suite with Signature Halong Bay Cruise. Our young cruise manager, Mr. Cuong, fretted over us like a mother hen:

Our bathroom came complete with a JACCUZI! For close to 24 hours (I wish it had been 48) we cruised among the dozens of tree-capped islands of Halong Bay,

and dined on dishes worthy of an A list restaurant.

Sara, the on-board hostess, doubled as our cooking teacher to demonstrate nems, REAL Vietnamese eggrolls. Les vrais!

Hue:
The next day, a short flight out of Hanoi landed us in Hue, site of Vietnam’s historic Imperial City. Upon landing, our driver took us straight to Eco Garden,so we could experience life on a farm.
Have you ever tried to grind rice? It ain’t easy! We tilled the earth for sweet potatoes and enjoyed the fruits of our labor during an al fresco cooking class held under a riverfront cabana. Cycling among the lush banana and pumelo groves surrounding the Eco Garden really increased our appetite.

We were pointed to Hanh restaurant near our hotel. Our lunch encompassed such an array of local specialties, that Amy and I coined a new logo for them, When in Hue, head for Hanh’s, a strictly local hang out, where we joined the cook in the open kitchen to watch her prepare eggrolls, dumplings,  pho… and my very favorite rice pancakes: you get the idea.

Our four hour drive from Hue toHoi Antook us along the Mandarin Road, and past Danang’s bayfront. This industrial city caters mainly to foreign sun-worshippers who stay in the resorts out of town.

Hoi An and its centuries of Chinese occupation beckoned an hour south. The town’s architecture still reflects this influence.

he pedestrian friendly city center is jammed with stores and restaurants, including the most unusual Reaching Out Tea House, run by a deaf staff. It was heavenly sitting overlooking a tiny patio without any auditory distractions. (Yes, they have WI FI.)

Hoin An holds other attractions, including eating a superb banh misandwich at Mme Phuong(like Anthony Bourdain). I am happy to say, however, North San Diego County now has a plethora of Vietnamese restaurants to choose from, many of which make mouth-watering banh mis.

Ah, that cooking class at Mme. Vy’s: UNFORGETTABLE (https://tastevietnam.asia/vietnamese-cooking-classes). 5 hours of culinary bliss, instructed by a professional chef, and her numerous assistants. This extraordinary establishment holds much more than a state of the art culinary center. Street level holds a huge dining area surrounded by tasting stations… so many samplings, so little time (read more about them on my website www.kittymorse.com)from a guided boat ride and market excursion, to a variety of samplings too numerous to name: snails, banh mi, freshly made noodles, breads and pastries. My head still swims. We were told that Mme Vy is in the process of exporting her concept to Melbourne! Dear Australians, DO NOT MISS IT!
. . . . suite au prochain numéro.
Read the next edition of The Kasbah Chronicles for more on my Vietnamese experience.

My instructor at Mme Vy’s:

 

I already mentioned that we have a well-stocked Vietnamese market in the North County, in Escondido (CA). San Diego cooks will head to the enormous Zion supermarket on Convoy Street, but we live further north. La Sorpresa Barata(asianmarketescondido.com) has morphed into The Asian Marketbetween Fig and Date streets(. . .and that’s the story of immigrants…) Next door is an excellent little Vietnamese take out restaurant.

How cool is this request?!

When I was growing up in Casablanca we couldn’t wait for Hitchcock’s films to be screened in English at cinema Rialto. One of my favorites was The Man Who Knew Too much.

“New comment on my post “Kitty’s Bio”
Author: merri mullaney

“Hi, I have just purchased a tagine, can’t wait to start cooking. There is one recipe I have searched for, sounds crazy, but in the movie “the man who knew too much” there is one scene that takes place in a restaurant in Casablanca (K: it was Marrakech, I think). The chicken and olives and other ingredients looked absolutely delicious and beautiful. Is there a recipe for this dish, and also the bread served with it?”

-I think the restaurant Merri is referring to was Dar Es Salam in Marrakech where my annual tours used to dine in the mid 1980s, (http://www.daressalam.com) average food and very, very touristy) but the scene where James Stewart struggles to fit his long legs under the low table is priceless. I haven’t seen the film in years, but if they featured a Moroccan dish, it had to be Chicken with Preserved Lemons! Does anyone know??”

Presentations and book signings:
I will be happy to plan a presentation on Moroccan cuisine or edible flowers, for your book club or garden club. Just send me an email.

May: Private book club/dinner in Oceanside, CA.
I was flattered to be asked to speak to this Oceanside book club, one that has been meeting for 20 years. This time, rather than gather at someone’s house, the group planned a Moroccan dinner based on the recipes in Mint Tea and Minarets and Cooking at the Kasbah, at one of North County’s BEST patisseries, Petite Madeline(sic), (www.petitemadelinebakery.com) just about as far north as you can drive on the Coast Highway in San Diego County. I knew I was in good hands when Chef Marc Mialo said he obtained his culinary training in Australia, where, I hasten to add, they SELL MOROCCAN PRESERVED lemons in every deli! Australians love Morocco’s cuisine, something I found out when I visited over 15 years ago.
La Petite Madelinereopened for us past their 3PM closing to welcome the book club. Once dinner began, we were treated to mouth-watering renditions of a trio of cooked and fresh salads,

 Chakchouka

kefta(ground beef) kabobs seasoned just right, baraniyaeggplant and tomato tagine, with dates stuffed with almond paste, orange slices in orange blossom water ( all found in Mint Tea and Minaretsand Cooking at the Kasbah) AND ice cream bestila for dessert filled with the chef’s own lemon mousse (WOW!) I demonstrated how to make traditional Moroccan mint tea. At this writing, I am lobbying for this gifted and imaginative young chef, and for the restaurant’s owner, Christine, to add a couple of these dishes to their regular menu. . . Chef Marc would probably duplicate the menu if Morocco’s cuisine (and Mint Tea and Minarets!!!) figure on your reading list.(www.petitemadelinebakery.com) and I’ll be happy to come and chat!

Saturday, June 10: 9-5PM.
Book Club Bingo
San Diego’s spectacular central library
300 Park Blvd.,
Special Events Room, 9th Floor
San Diego 92101
MENTION THE KASBAH CHRONICLES OR KITTY MORSE FOR A SPECIAL DISCOUNT.
Call Adventures by the Book at 619-300-2532 and mention
KITTY’s name and you will obtain  a $25 discount
Book Club Bingo, a day-long LITERARY EVENT takes place at San Diego’s spectacular central library. All proceeds from book sales go to the library. 22 authors from around the country, all of whom are excited to connect with book clubs, will participate in seminars, panels, and book signing opportunities.
http://adventuresbythebook.com/autherevent/book-club-bingo-adventure
and
https://novelnetwork.com/home-author-connect

Saturday, July 7th: 11-1PM
A Taste of Morocco. Free and open to the public
Poway Branch Library
13137 Poway Rd, Poway, CA 92064
(858) 513-2900
contact: karen.baluyot@sdcounty.ca.gov

A GRADUATION:

My mentee, Laura, graduated from Cal State University San Marcos, where, last Fall, I had the honor of being selected as a mentor. Last week, Laura gave the commencement address to 600 grads in the college of Humanities, Art and Behavioral and Social Sciences! I had attended the opening of this latest Cal State campus in 1992 with 2000 students. . . It now counts 45,000 alumni. Go Laura! If you live in San Diego County and you want to know more about this fabulous mentoring program, shoot me an email.

Links of interest about Morocco and beyond:
VIDEO:

http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20180215-the-north-african-breakfast-that-ended-a-war?
To makebaghrir, semolina flour pancakes, one of my favorite Moroccan breakfast foods, see Mint Tea and Minarets page 246. Serve with honey or apricot jam!

Moroccan oudmusic in San Diego:
I hired this duo for a party, and I can recommend them Alexi Rabay . (619) 250-4531.alexicanhelpyou@gmail.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIMAEflWPq8

Who “invented” couscous?”: A diplomatic quandary
https://lepetitjournal.com/maghreb-une-labellisation-du-couscous-moins-anodine-quil-ny-parait-223227
“Slimane Hachi, directeur du Centre algérien de recherches préhistoriques, anthropologiques et historiques (CNRPAH) et promoteur du projet, a précisé à la radio algérienne que l’initiative devrait réunir Algérie, Maroc, Tunisie, Libye, Mauritanie et même Mali,.. . »

Tangia:See Mint Tea and MInarets, page 124
http://www.bbc.com/travel/gallery/20170811-the-moroccan-dish-heated-by-a-hammam
Yes, it’s true, many families (including me, when I am in Azemmour) cook tangiain the glowing coals of the baker’s oven which is usually adjacent to the hammam. Tangiais great for entertaining, as it can be made the day before (I use a slow cooker.) Sorry, I haven’t practiced with the Instant Pot yet! View my recipe in Mint Tea and Minaretspage 124.

Your Next Serving of Truffles Should Be From Oregon
https://www.ozy.com/good-sht/your-next-serving-of-truffles-should-be-from-oregon/85111
Of course: We have it all, right here, in the US. The Beaver State is serving up fancy fungi that might be just as good as the imported varieties.

“Food for thought” à la française:
https://france-amerique.com/fr/is-francophonie-part-of-france-colonial-heritage/?ct=t(FA_Hebdo_du_5_octobre_2017)

Concerned about California’s Water history?
Rita Schmidt Sudman’sis an expert on the subject.
and a long time observer of the California water scene. She led the Water Education Foundation for over 30 years. Her insight into the historic and current water conflicts provides context for the past and solutions and answers for the future. Hers is an anthology in art, history and story. https://watermoreorless.com
 
Les alligators en Louisianne:
https://france-amerique.com/fr/the-last-cajun/?ct=t(FA_Hebdo_du_5_octobre_2017
« Voilà un gros », lance-t-il en français. « Lui, il a plus que trois mètres. » Dans la direction qu’il désigne, sur un tronc d’arbre à demi-submergé, sommeille un alligator. Tous les jours, de février à octobre, il emmène jusqu’à 66 personnes en excursion sur le lac . . .

Need a graduation gift? I ship books!

As always,
Bismillah
and
Bon Appétit..

Tune in next time for Vietnam edition, #2…

The Kasbah Chronicles Feb 2018 edition: It’s the process

The Kasbah Chronicles
February 2018 edition

 Happy Valentine’s DayCONTENTS:
Musings:
Note to self: It’s the process. . . .stoopid….

Last call for Niki de St Phalle
at the Escondido Center for the Arts.

I am off to Vietnam in April:
any insights or special addresses to share?

It’s happening!  Edible Flowers: a Kitchen Companion is now an eBook.
Download through Amazon.com

Kitty’s presentations and bookings:
LIFE, Mira Costa College
Poway Library
Does your club or group need a speaker this summer? Call me!

Bravo to my creative colleagues: Nan, Susan and Naz

Travel: News of Morocco and beyond

A world of local food from Peru to Mexico and Vietnam
Pisco Restaurant Review

A reader’s insights on the InstantPot pressure cooker.

Musings:

As I muse…. and sifted through eFiles, I realized with a start that The Kasbah Chronicles is now entering its tenth year. Pas croyable. Ten years of sharing news of San Diego County, Morocco, and beyond. Whatever made me think, à l’origine, that anyone would read it? And read it some of you do, judging from your encouraging feedback. For me, a great part of sharing this information comes down to . . . It’s the process….stoopid...: Why am I compelled to jot words on “paper,” electronic or otherwise. I can’t explain! Neck ache, backache and all, typing standing up… I love sharing my musings with all of you. So merci and thank you for reading.

Last call for Niki de St Phalle exhibit!!
I have been going on and on about the Niki de St Phalle exhibit at the California Center for the Arts in Escondido, a milestone for the center. The show celebrates the 15th year of Queen Califia’s Magical Circle (www.queencalifia.org) the only public park of its kind in the US. The show ends on March 4th, so hurry and call up to make a reservation for a docent-led tour. The exhibit is paired with A Mosaic Invitational, featuring masterful mosaic works by local artists. Speaking of mosaics, did you know: San Diego Historic Tile and Ceramics Self Guided Tour map showcases mosaics from Balboa Park and Downtown with sites from the House of Hospitality to Little Italy.
It was my pleasure to introduce Niki and her nanas to high school students from La Jolla Country Day last week… best of all EN FRANCAIS!!
View the video here:
 https://www.facebook.com/theCCAE/videos/10155444625709370/
Instagram :  https://www.instagram.com/theccae/
To book a tour contact Arts Education Program Supervisor, Kirsten Barrientes at 760-839-4176 or kbarrientes@artcenter.org

Eva Struble, a professor in the school of Art and Design at San Diego State, was invited to show her work in conjunction with the exhibit. Cover Crops reflects her interest in San Diego County farms. Eva’s talk, free and open to the public, was co-sponsored by Edible San Diego magazine http://ediblesandiego.ediblecommunities.com. The show reflects two of my own passions: one for art (food of course) and the other for California farms. Coastal Roots, Solidarity, and Terra Madre farms were her inspiration.

Visit Edible San Diego magazine’s excellent website for up to date information on San Diego’s food scene: http://ediblesandiego.ediblecommunities.com/drink/guide-wineries-san-diego-county

Please share with your friends:
Exciting news on the book front: Edible Flowers: A Kitchen Companion is now an eBook, easily downloaded on Amazon. If the book isn’t up yet, please try again. I am dealing with a national distributor in Chicago. https://www.amazon.com/Edible-Flowers-Companion-Kitty-Morse-ebook

Classes and presentations;
Do you know about L.I.F.E, LEARNING IS FOR EVERYONE, a program of lifelong learning at Mira Costa College? If not, here is their site http://www.miracosta.edu/community/LIFE. I will be the featured speaker on edible flowers, on Friday, Match 16th. Free and open to the public

I will be at the Poway Library in July…I am available for speaking engagements throughout the summer from May 2018 on (after my trip to Vietnam.)

About Morocco and beyond:
An encouraging economic update for Morocco:
http://www.ozy.com/fast-forward/the-new-emerging-african-power-morocco/83279

The fastest train in Africa zips through the Moroccan countryside.
http://fr.le360.ma/economie/video-le-maroc-bat-le-record-de-vitesse-sur-rail-en-afrique-154175

Should couscous be classified as a World Heritage item? Mais oui, bien sûr.
https://lepetitjournal.com/casablanca/actualites/couscous-bientot-au-patrimoine-mondial-de-lunesco-222918

GOOD news for travelers. US State Dept says  Morocco is among the safest, alongside Canada, Norway etc, . . . https://lepetitjournal.com/casablanca/actualites/voyage-le-maroc-parmi-les-pays-surs-des-americains-222934

Pour les voyageurs américains, le gouvernement de Washington a classé les pays du monde en quatre catégories : ‘‘Pays considérés comme sûrs’’, ‘‘Pays où la prudence est recommandée’’, ‘‘Etes-vous sûrs de vouloir visiter ce pays’’ et ‘‘Vous allez dans ce pays à vos risques et périls’’. Et le Maroc figure dans le 1ère catégorie en compagnie de pays comme le Canada, Islande, Norvège, Suède, Finlande, Irlande, Monaco, Suisse, Liechtenstein… Quant aux voisins algériens, tunisiens et égyptiens, ils figurent dans la catégorie ‘‘Pays où la prudence est recommandée’’.

Why I LOVE love Spain! It’s almost HOME!! And their manchego? The cheese in Spain stays mainly in the . . . .
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/15/spain-mexico-trade-deal-manchego-cheese-dispute?

Meawhile, camels (really dromedaries) take part in a Saudi beauty contest:
https://www.pri.org/stories/2018-01-26/what-camel-beauty-contest-can-tell-us-about-future-saudi-arabia?

and in Hollywood, les français et les Oscars: La French touch aux Oscars, NINE French-inspired nominations. . .
https://france-amerique.com/fr/the-french-touch-at-the-oscars/?ct=t(FA_Hebdo_du_5_octobre_2017)
and
Bessie Coleman: les ailes noires en France
https://france-amerique.com/fr/bessie-coleman-black-wings-over-france/

Ca alors, what next for the French language??
https://lepetitjournal.com/leila-slimani-mme-francophonie-de-macron-veut-deringardiser-le-francais-220888
Leïla Slimani, “Mme Francophonie” de Macron, veut “déringardiser le français” (wants to update the French language), and make it one of the top three languages in the world. .
‘Le français “pourrait” en effet devenir la deuxième langue internationale, derrière l’anglais. Elle est la quatrième aujourd’hui, devancée par l’espagnol et l’arabe. Mais cela ne pourra être que “si les efforts en faveur de l’éducation des pays francophones sont suffisants”,

Ever wonder about air kissing? Pourquoi se fait-on la bise ?
https://lepetitjournal.com/shanghai/communaute/bise-pourquoi-france
La bise est une coutume typiquement française ( a French custom). . . .

Anthony Bourdain’s reading list is eclectic!

Check out my creative colleagues:
Sally Bernstein and her newsletter:
http://www.sallybernstein.com/food/chefs-corner/mailorder_books.htm

Nan Sterman, host of A Growing Passion (http://agrowingpassion.com) on KPBS holds classes around the county to help you jump start your spring plantings. Join Nan for a hands-on workshop where you will plant your entire summer vegetable garden in just two hours. Nan provides the supplies – you take home the plants seeded and ready to sprout info@PlantSoup.com

Susan McBeth, the brainchild behind Adventures by the Book, whose mission is to link authors and readers, launches a nationwide adventure: NovelNetwork… https://novelnetwork.com/author-membership/
Book clubs, register to find an author/speaker. Authors, register to let book clubs know you are available as a speaker.

After founding a company that paired consumers with farmers around the county, Naz Athina Kallel, is launching a “Craigs List” for food lovers. Save Good Food http://savegoodfood.com is San Diego’s Food & Beverages Classifieds for Farms, Chefs, Brewers, Winemakers and Artisan Food Makers. Chefs, farmers, fishermen, ranchers, restaurant owners, artisan food & beverage makers, brewers, wine makers, event planners, purveyors will find a powerful social platform for buying, selling, collaborating and investing in local food. First 3 months free and then only $10 per month for unlimited ads for sellers. Buyers always free.

My new favorite snack:
Roasted Brussels Sprouts


One restaurant  Happy Hour featured these addictive sprouts, all for the unbelievably “low price” of $7.99. $7.99? I decided to make them myself:
Buy Brussels Sprouts
Trim outer leaves
Cut sprouts in half
Parboil in boiling water 1 to 2 mns
Drain
Pour into a large baking dish
Sprinkle with olive oil and garlic
Roast for 25 minutes, turning once.
Snack. (Better than chocolate truffles, and lo-cal)

San Diego’s multicultural North County:
No need to drive down to San Diego’s Asian shopping district on Convoy Street. Just head to 840 East Valley Parkway to find Cho Viet Nam (aka: The Asian Market and formerly La Sorpresa Barata, don’t you love it) a large market stocking Asian specialties. The adjoining take out, So’n Tra, offers excellent banh mi sandwiches, authentic and flavorful eggrolls much like the “nem” I grew up on in Casablanca (there is a thriving French speaking Vietnamese community in Morocco.)

And for good measure, a new Peruvian restaurant opened in the North County, off Palomar Airport Road, close to Legoland CA. Pisco took over the space Sammy’s Pizza occupied, and has the same owner. I have never met Sammy Ladecky but that man has a palate that never misses. The first time I tasted his roast chicken, I knew the flavorings were Middle Eastern. This time, he heads south: Pisco is named for the national drink of Peru (and Chile, depending upon who you talk to), and Peruvian flavors fill the menu. From excellent Chicken Empanadas, and leche de Tigre… an excellent ceviche, though, in my view, lacking in the bolder flavors of “our” Mexican ceviches. I sampled a Peruvian ceviche in Chile (where Peruvian cuisine is considered “haute”) and noticed the same thing. I loved Pisco’s papas a la huancaina, and the classic drink of Pisco Sour with crème de banane and strawberry puree tastes like dessert. A riot of a treat for anyone having a birthday is a MOUNTAIN of cotton candy. Definitely a place to try. However, I will not abandon the old Sammy’s and its terrific thin-crusted pizzas. www.piscorotisserie.com

Aren’t we cosmopolitan?!
Egypt comes to Quail Botanic Gardens: UNTIL MARCH 31, 2018 at the San Diego Botanic Garden, 230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas, CA 92024
For the second year, the tapestries from the Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Centre in Egypt will be on display. The Egyptian artists vividly celebrate the flowers of the desert, villages, and Nile River in their work . . . Fifteen wool tapestries and twenty cotton weavings will be on display in the Ecke Building at the San Diego Botanic Garden in Encinitas. Admission/Cost: $14

Reprinted with permission:
Joy, a longtime Kasbah Chronicle reader allowed me to reprint this letter. She is an advocate of the new Instant pot, an implement which I have not even SEEN yet! Some of you may find her input of interest. This is a SERIOUS cook who makes her OWN MOROCCAN OUARKA dough!

Date: Mon, January 01, 2018 9:55 am
To: info@mintteaandminarets.com
Happy New Year, Kitty! Thanks for another wonderful year of Moroccan email goodies.
 I am now the owner of 2 electric pressure cookers, a Power Pressure Cooker 10 quart for the last year or so, and an Instant Pot 8 quart (for this Christmas). A most wonderful 7+ vegetable Berber Tagine recipe I saw on YouTube comes out perfect in about 5 minutes or less. For the chicken variation I brown the chicken first so it is at least half cooked because raw chicken pieces cook in 10 minutes and I don’t want the veggies to be over done, so if I brown them first it is all finished in 5 minutes or less. Yum!!!
You have mentioned in the past that modern Moroccan cooks often resort to their pressure cookers. Perhaps this year on Kasbah Chronicles you could share some recipes using that technique as it is done in Morocco. Of course the Moroccan cookers are probably stovetop versions, but the new electric cookers are amazing doing things that stovetop cookers can’t do because stovetops take more water to run them and the pressures are higher than an electric cooker. For the electric cookers, think “baked” ziti put in dry out of the box and yummy cheesy goodness after an 8 minute cycle (also lasagna with normal noodles dry out of the box), perfect hard boiled eggs on a 6 minute cycle, soups in 10-15 minutes, dry beans without soaking in 15-40 minutes, steamed flans in 15-20 min etc etc. 5 minutes was a little too long for my pre-browned chicken tagine, 4 minutes would have been better.
If you don’t have one of these yet, it will revolutionize your life in the kitchen. I would suggest the Instant Pot or the Power Pressure Cooker (“PPXL”), both run at the same psi pressure ranges 10.2-11.6 and around 7.2. but the PPXL also has a 3.2 psi slow cooker cycle. The Instant Pots default to the higher pressure settings for their presets, and the PPXL defaults to the lower pressure settings for their presets which I like better, but either can be done with either. All the presets are just different times for the default psi’s. High pressure on the PPXL is the “Canning cycle”, the Instant Pot allows to choose high or low pressure with a pressure toggle button, but the result is the same.  Many other electric cookers default to 5psi and 10 psi which is not as versatile and takes lots longer. If you already have one, share with us some Moroccan pressure cooker faves!
J.

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

The Kasbah Chronicles April/May 2017 edition (Part 1)

Ah! Ces Parisiens! Love and French water keeps you going!

The Kasbah Chronicles

April/May 2017 Edition

Part 1 of 2, or perhaps 3!

A FRENCH ESCAPADE

Part 1: Paris and Normandy

CONTENTS:

Musings:

Rediscovering Paris and Normandy

La Gare Montparnasse: An urban playground!

Les Passages Couverts de Paris

Le Salon du Livre 2017

AU SECOURS! HELP! A cell phone quandary

Travel information

A Note from Kyrgystan

Presentations

News of Morocco and beyond

POKE in Paris?

Update: Le Riad au Bord de l’Oued

(Mint Tea and Minarets: a banquet of Moroccan memories)

********************

Dateline: Paris and Normandy

The Kasbah Chronicles were on hiatus for a month, when, this being a banner year for me, I took myself to France for three weeks. It was time to reconnect with aging family members, and with grade school chums from Casablanca, and meet up with girlfriends, one of whom I hadn’t seen in at least 40 years. As “best” school pals would, we simply picked up where we had left off.

Since my cousin lives ATOP the Gare Montparnasse (the rooftop is a public park!) I had plenty of opportunities to step inside the gare. This is what I observed:

Quelle idée géniale! Two cyclists powering their cell phone while on an exercise bike. I burst out laughing and the two cyclists thought I was the nutty one. And then, there was a public piano:

I joined the line forming in front of Chez Paul sandwicherie inside the main hall. This I did, once, twice, three and four times over the course of a week. I had just stumbled onto one of Chez Paul’s internationally known sandwich shops. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul. I was instantly hooked with a CRUNCHY baguette sandwich filled with a generous helping of jambon de Paris. And his fresh Tarte à l’Abricot. Chez Paul operates franchises in Casablanca, Qatar, Koweit, and Portugal among others. Best of all, you will find Chez Paul inside the terminals at Charles de Gaulle airport, a most appealing alternative to the overly priced and tasteless pseudo Chinese, Italian, or Japanese fast-food.

The other craze from Paris to Vienna to Toulouse is sushi! Every hole in the wall restaurant features sushi on the menu (A sushi and a dim sum bar at the staid Galeries Lafayette? Oui madame.) And POKE. POKE?! Hawaii’s national dish! In that regard, I ask the same question I do about argan oil: Argan argan everywhere, but where does it come from (a tree traditionally is endemic to Morocco’s southern regions.) How can the world’s oceans produce ENDLESS amounts of FRESH RAW FISH??? Je ne sais pas. Make sure you know its source. http://www.ozy.com/good-sht/how-paris-put-its-spin-on-this-hawaiian-dish/

Non merci: When in France, feed me cassoulet, a butter-logged croque-monsieur, frites, fresh baguette, a squishy baba oozing with Martinique rum (such as the one at the Brasserie Montparnasse, where the waiter brought us a liter of rum, and told us to finish it off by pouring the contents on two babas.) Our waiter was a transplanted Camerounais! Who said Parisians were unfriendly?

Les Passages de Paris:

My first “retrouvaille” was with my dear friend Roselyne Rahoule, who happens to be our neighbor at Dar Zitoun (and in former times, in Casablanca.) Roselyne had planned a special day that included browsing through Les Passages Couverts de Paris. What a treat. Les Passages consist of a series of nineteenth century commercial “alleys” bisecting buildings, and topped with gorgeous glass domes. Most of them grace the right bank near the Grands Boulevards. Up to 150 passages existed in the late 19th. https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passages_couverts_de_Paris and http://www.lexpress.fr/diaporama/diapo-photo/tendances/voyage/paris-top-10-des-plus-beaux-passages-couverts-parisiens_1239783.html

What a perfect stroll on a rainy Parisian day. The sumptuous Galerie Vivienne which took more than 2 hours to explore, with unique boutiques, and Pakistani, Moroccan, Thai, sushi bars, and yes, even an authentic Parisian bistro. A real bistro lunch of Noix de St Jacques in garlic butter and Magret de Canard at Le Café du Commerce (caféducommerce.com) provided the icing on le gâteau. Among the most enticing boutiques was Emilio Robba’s (emiliorobba.com) magical display of artificial plants and flowers. In nearby Passage des Panoramas, the charming Hemingbird (sic) lured us inside with its delightful paper goods. We got to chat with the owner, who, wouldn’t you know, hailed from Chile! Merci Roselyne for these memorable retrouvailles (her husband, Abderrahmane Rahoule, is one of Morocco’s best-known contemporary artists.)

Paris’ annual LIVRE PARIS, Salon du Livre de Paris, book expo, beckoned a day later. Emmanuel Macron, possibly France’s next president, made a brief appearance. More important, I met with a publisher regarding my French translation for Mint Tea and Minarets, Le Riad au Bord de L’oued. Hope springs eternal. I am determined to see that book published in French! Among many treasures I obtained a brochure listing the Federation du Village du Livre en France, villages and towns all over France that specialize in bookstores of all genres.

My next retrouvailles took me to Normandy to meet up with Pat, who was our neighbor in Casablanca in the late 1950s. With Pat and her husband Jean Dominique I discovered Caen and its environs, where my friends Pat and Jean-Dom took me on an aerial tour of the Normandy beavhes in their home-built ORION plane. An excursion to remember!

Behind the Tour Montparnasse, a stone’s throw from the Gare, lies the atelier/Musée Bourdelle, a new one for me. Antoine Bourdelle was a sculptor who created many a public monument. http://www.bourdelle.paris.fr/ The unusual juxtaposition of Bourdelle’s work and Balenciaga’s signature BLACK evening dresses proved arresting. http://www.bourdelle.paris.fr/fr/exposition/balenciaga-loeuvre-au-noir (until July 2017)

Buses: I used the Flexbus and the Ouibus to get from Paris to Normandy, and return from Caen to Charles de Gaulle airport. JUST NINE euros (about USD12) buys a two-hour, relaxing bus ride from Paris to Caen, or return. Depart from the somewhat off putting La Défense, or Porte Maillot. You can even purchase a ticket online. Check out the bus companies’ websites.

Metro: The Paris metro is overcrowded and lugubrious, yet the most convenient means of transportation. I got lost in the underworld maze of the Gare St Lazare, and I wasn’t the only one! So I latched on to a school of equally aimless lemmings, got on the wrong train, did an aller-retour only to return where I started from, only to locate my exit on the opposite side of the corridor. TAKE THE BUS! A Metro ticket buys you a seat on any bus. What a relief to remain above ground and catch glimpses of the Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysées, the Opera, and the Louvre MOBBED, MOBBED, MOBBED, with tourists. Thank goodness I didn’t feel I had to visit it once again.

CELL PHONE quandary:I have an iPhone, but I am very slow on the uptake. I purchased a Verizon plan for 30 days’ overseas service. I managed to connect to my cousin’s wi-fi in Paris (I travelled with 3 phones one for Morocco, one for Chile, and the iPhone.) “Non, neither the Moroccan nor the Chilean cell phones will work en France,” said the friendly techs at Darty dept store. SO I purchased a fourth phone for local use. “Can you sell me a sim card for the phone?” “Ah! Non, so sorry, for that you have to go to the ORANGE (phone co.) store on the Rue de Rennes.” Half an hour’s walk and 2 miles later, I staggered into the Orange Store, exhausted, ready to cast all my phones in the Seine.

Classes and presentations:

I am home for the summer and Fall. I would be happy to schedule a presentation, either on Moroccan cuisine and culture, or on edible flowers. Short lead times are OK with me! As you know, I have given these to schools, museums, universities, cookbook, garden, and book clubs. Send me an email for information.

Next time: Vienna, Nice, more Paris, and Toulouse

Suite au prochain numero, stay tuned!