By Elaine, Washington DC ambassador
Morocco is a vibrant, colorful country. Each of its cities is painted a different color. From blue to white to red, the streets, homes, stores, and sidewalks all look as if a bucket of paint was dumped onto them. The shops are full of bustling crowds, fresh foods, and the aromatic spices tease your nostrils. You hear shopkeepers constantly haggling with their neighbors and the thousands of Western tourists in the marketplace. I remember trying to buy a bowl. I kept pushing the shopkeeper to lower his price, enjoying the game and knowing that the bowl was mass-produced. After a little while, he told me to just take it, saying that I am a good haggler. I don’t think most give up that easily.
The food was to die for. From sweet and savory couscous to flavorful mint tea, and saffron in just about every dish, my meals were never dull. I was reminded of my past excursion last week thanks to Jessica, the Dining Traveler, who planned an evening at Bistro du Soleil, a Moroccan restaurant right on King Street in Alexandria.
Sitting on couches with giant pillows set around decorative wooden tables, we were able to watch the restaurant’s atmosphere from intimate booths cut into the walls. These cubicles lined the restaurant, creating a lounge-y feel with the dim lighting and lively colors.
We sipped on the Marrakesh Orange, a citrusy, refreshing cocktail that Chef Samir Labriny makes by hand for each customer. "If you Google Marrakesh orange, you will find pictures of orange trees. Not my drink, my own spin on a Moroccan cocktail," Chef Labriny told us. He is proud of his heritage. From enthusiastically describing how to care for phyllo dough and to correctly season a Tangine, Chef Labriny hopes to introduce Morocco’s treasures to everyone.
His passion is evident in each bite of the generous helpings of Mediterranean goodness. The meal included a mezze (assortment) of Hummus trio, Baba Ghanouj, Grape Leaves, and assorted cheeses from the Sun Countries.
Next on the menu was phyllo dough stuffed with saffron chicken, caramelized onion, eggs and almonds, topped with sugar and cinnamon.
Afterwards was lemon chicken served with fresh olives (lemon sauce was to die for)
Finally, we were treated to a Tagine of slow roasted lamb with honey and almonds.
Of course, for dessert we each had a piece of baklava which was served with fresh mint tea, as tea is customary in Morocco. The couscous was also served, but we had to save it for delicious leftovers. Where else can you find Moroccan food in the U.S.?
About the Author
This post originally appeared on Elaine’s website and blog. Read the post here, titled Moroccan Cuisine in Alexandria. Elaine is also a cultural ambassador contributor for MezzeCulture in the Washington DC area, and whose own studies, and experiences growing up and living abroad have given her a unique perspective on discovering and interacting with different cultures.