Eat local: Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic, is located just below Prague Castle and has an outstanding view of the city and the Vltava River and Old Town, beyond, from

Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic, is located just below Prague Castle and has an outstanding view of the city and the Vltava River and Old Town, beyond, from the terrace where we dined al fresco

 

From our hotel in Old Town, Prague, Czech Republic, our friends and we walked across the Charles Bridge to the neighborhood below Prague Castle (which is referred to as the Hradčany district) where we enjoyed an excellent dinner at Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně on the terrace (4th floor) of the Golden Well Hotel.  From the terrace the view certainly lived up to the billing of Prague as the “city of a hundred spires.”  The hotel, which dates back to 1528, is situated just below the Royal Gardens of Prague Castle.  The restaurant was extensively renovated in 2008 and has been rated for several years as the best restaurant in the Czech Republic (by Tripadvisor.com) and is highly rated by the Michelin Guide.  The chef, Pavel Sapík, comes from a family from Southern Moravia, where his family had worked as inn-keepers and butchers since the 17th century.

 

From the terrace, the view certainly lived up to the billing of Prague as the “city of a hundred spires”, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

From the terrace, the view certainly lived up to the billing of Prague as the “city of a hundred spires”, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

 

A first course of white asparagus soup, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

A first course of white asparagus soup, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

 

A first course of shrimp in an Oriental broth, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

A first course of shrimp in an Asian broth, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

 

A first course of scallops with asparagus, strawberries, and caviar, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

A first course of scallops with asparagus, strawberries, and caviar, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

 

A first course of foie gras two ways with fruit sorbet and macaroons, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

A first course of foie gras two ways with fruit sorbet and macaroons, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

 

An entrée of lamb loin with fava beans, snow peas, pea puree, white mushrooms and demi-glace, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

An entrée of lamb loin with fava beans, snow peas, pea puree, white mushrooms and demi-glace, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

 

An entrée of duck breast with gnocchi and vegetables, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

An entrée of duck breast with gnocchi and vegetables, Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic

 

After dinner, the view of the city from Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic, included the full moon – a fitting conclusion to a wonderful evening

After dinner, the view of the city from Restaurant Terasa U Zlaté studně, Prague, Czech Republic, included the full moon – a fitting conclusion to a wonderful evening

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Drink local, Eat local: The Wachau and Jamek Estate Winery, Vienna, Austria

We sailed on a river boat along the Danube River in the Wachau wine-growing region, Austria; this small town along the river has a beautiful church built under towering medieval ruins

We sailed on a river boat along the Danube River in the Wachau wine-growing region, Austria; this small town along the river has a beautiful church built under towering medieval ruins

 

From Vienna we spent one day exploring the region along the Danube River to the west. We drove to Dürstein in the Wachau wine-growing region — only 12 miles (19.3 km) long — and took a river cruise on one of the scheduled public boats to the west to Spitz, which marks the end of the Wachau.  We had arranged for a driver to pick us up there and take us back to the east to explore a little and then arrive at the Jamek estate in Joching for a wine tasting and luncheon on their beautiful terrace, overlooking the Jamek vineyards.  It is one of the leading estates in the Wachau region that now has 232 wineries in Austria’s smallest wine region.  Wines have been produced in the area since the Romans, and the monasteries at the beginning of the 10th century constructed many of the terraces used to plant the vineyards, making the Wachau an historic cultural landscape.

 

Each small town along the Danube had a church that dominated the skyline, Wachau wine-growing region, Austria

Each small town along the Danube had a church that dominated the skyline, Wachau wine-growing region, Austria

 

We ended our river cruise in the town of Spitz, Wachau wine-growing region, Austria

We ended our river cruise in the town of Spitz, Wachau wine-growing region, Austria

 

“The Wachua is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and region of natural beauty, and lies in the Danube valley between the towns of Melk and Krems.  The wine grape varieties Grüner Veltliner and Riesling prevail on 1,344 hectares, partly on very steep-inclined terraces.  The best vineyard sites produce some of the best white wine in the world with decades of aging potential…  The Wachau is one of Austria’s most exciting and fascinating wine regions.  Over millions of years, the Danube has gorged its winding waterway through the consolidated gneiss and amphibolite.  The crystalline rock soils on steep terraces produce outstanding Rieslings.  During the Ice Age vegetation cover was poor and, prevailing winds carried drifting sand that settled in the lee of the east-facing crystalline hillsides, resulting in layers of loess.  This is where great, opulent and expressive Grüner Veltliner is cultivated.  The extremely diverse geological terrain, coupled with the construction of terraces in the best aspects, and the cultivation of vines on these steep inclines by the Bavarian monasteries during the Middle Ages, has resulted in a spectacular and unique Wachau landscape.” – www.austrianwine.com

 

Before setting off for the Jamek Estate Winery, we climbed a gentle walk up to the church in Spitz, Wachau wine-growing region, Austria

Before setting off for the Jamek Estate Winery, we climbed a gentle walk up to the church in Spitz, Wachau wine-growing region, Austria

 

The estate house at the Jamek Estate Winery, Joching, Austria, dating back over 100 years

The estate house at the Jamek Estate Winery, Joching, Austria, dating back over 100 years

 

“Embedded in the romantic landscape of the Wachau region [in Joching] and right next to the Danube [River], the classic Jamek estate is surrounded by vineyards and a few apricot trees.  A beautiful place, just perfect for enjoying. A competent team of committed people fulfills every culinary desire.  This is how the Jamek estate became an institution which enjoys great popularity in Austria and abroad – and for many years now…  Built under the name “Hotel Wachau” in 1912, this estate represents the epitome of successful hospitality.  Four generations, whose greatest desire has always been to please visitors to the Wachau region by offering the highest possible quality…  Delicious wines and fine food have a long tradition in the Jamek estate.  The family is committed to producing legendary wines such as the Riesling from the famous single vineyard Klaus.  Traditional practices are combined with modern methods in the winery.  Modern technology is a prerequisite for careful vinification, but the traditional ageing in wooden barrels makes the wines attractive…  Our main grape variety is Riesling, which is seconded by Grüner Veltliner.  We also cultivate some Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc), Chardonnay, and Gelber Muskateller, and naturally some red varieties as well: Zweigelt and Spätburgunder (Pinor Noir).  The three quality categories of the Wachau region: 1) Steinfeder: Light and fragrant – maximum of 11% alcohol, 2) Federspiel: Medium bodies Kabinett wines — maximum of 12.5% alcohol, and 3) Smaragd: The most full-bodied wines – at least 12.5% alcohol.” – Jamek estate brochure

 

Vineyards of Jamek Estate Winery, Joching, Austria

Vineyards of Jamek Estate Winery, Joching, Austria

 

New growth on the vineyards in spring at the Jamek Estate Winery, Joching, Austria

New growth on the vineyards in spring at the Jamek Estate Winery, Joching, Austria

 

The Jamek Estate Winery labels feature the estate house, Joching, Austria

The Jamek Estate Winery labels feature the estate house, Joching, Austria

 

Wine tasting of Jamek Estate Winery Grüner Veltliner and Riesling wines, Joching, Austria

Wine tasting of Jamek Estate Winery Grüner Veltliner and Riesling wines, Joching, Austria

 

A standout dish at our luncheon at the Jamek Estate Winery, Joching, Austria, was scallops with fresh spring green asparagus with a side of potatoes

A standout dish at our luncheon at the Jamek Estate Winery, Joching, Austria, was scallops with fresh spring green asparagus with a side of potatoes

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat local: Café Kör, Budapest, Hungary

One of the buildings adjacent to our luncheon destination, Café Kör, in the Pest side of Budapest, Hungary, near St. Stephen_s Basillica

One of the buildings adjacent to our luncheon destination, Café Kör, in the Pest side of Budapest, Hungary, near St. Stephen’s Basillica

 

Our local guide in Budapest, Hungary, suggested for lunch the first day that we and our friends try one of his favorite cafés in the city, Café Kör.  Gabriel joined us for lunch and helped us navigate the menu and the daily specials (see photograph of the wall menu).  While our friends went the more Continental route (fresh salmon and frilled chicken on a skewer), we chose some of the local specialties (grilled goose liver with potatoes and veal stew “Brasso” style with potatoes).  This was an excellent introduction to the local dining scene and typical Hungarian dishes.  When we left we noted the certificate on the wall testifying that the readers of Budapest Week Publishing chose Café Kör as the best café in the Best of Budapest Survey 2000.

 

We were the only English-speaking tourists at Café Kör for lunch – virtually all the other diners were locals (couples, business groups and families), Budapest, Hungary

We were the only English-speaking tourists at Café Kör for lunch – virtually all the other diners were locals (couples, business groups and families), Budapest, Hungary

 

Our guide, Gabriel, suggested salad and a local charcuterie plate as a starter while we pondered the menus, Café Kör, Budapest, Hungary

Our guide, Gabriel, suggested salad and a local charcuterie plate as a starter while we pondered the menus, Café Kör, Budapest, Hungary

 

The daily specials menu at Café Kör, Budapest, Hungary, was handwritten and posted on the wall

The daily specials menu at Café Kör, Budapest, Hungary, was handwritten and posted on the wall

 

One of the daily specials -- grilled goose liver with potatoes, Café Kör, Budapest, Hungary

One of the daily specials — grilled goose liver with potatoes, Café Kör, Budapest, Hungary

 

Fresh grilled salmon, Café Kör, Budapest, Hungary

Fresh grilled salmon, Café Kör, Budapest, Hungary

 

Grilled, skewered chicken with a fresh salad, Café Kör, Budapest, Hungary

Grilled, skewered chicken with a fresh salad, Café Kör, Budapest, Hungary

 

Another of the daily specials -- veal stew “Brasso” style with potatoes, Café Kör, Budapest, Hungary

Another of the daily specials — veal stew “Brasso” style with potatoes, Café Kör, Budapest, Hungary

 

Gabriel, our guide, enjoyed a delicious grilled steak, Café Kör, Budapest, Hungary

Gabriel, our guide, enjoyed a delicious grilled steak, Café Kör, Budapest, Hungary

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Drink Local, Eat Local: Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla wine region (near Cartagena), Spain

The entrance to the Juan Gil winery, which is the original site of the expanded Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

The entrance to the Juan Gil winery, which is the original site of the expanded Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

 

From Cartagena we ventured out to the Jumilla wine region to visit one of the flagship Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates) wineries – Juan Gil, the original winery of the now expanded family holdings across Spain.  We had an extensive tour of the winery, a tasting of some of their well made wines, and an outstanding multi-course luncheon nicely accompanied by some of their top-end wines (including a Tempranillo from another Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares estate winery in El Pego, Spain).

 

Vineyards of the Juan Gil winery, Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

Vineyards of the Juan Gil winery, Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

 

The main fermentation room at the Juan Gil winery, Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

The main fermentation room at the Juan Gil winery, Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

 

The barrel ageing room in the cellar of the Juan Gil winery, Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

The barrel ageing room in the cellar of the Juan Gil winery, Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

 

From the main Juan Gil winery buildings we drove over to a newer complex where they produce their top end red wine, Juan Gil Etiqueta Azul (Juan Gil Blue Label), made mostly from the ind

From the main Juan Gil winery buildings we drove over to a newer complex where they produce their top end red wine, Juan Gil Etiqueta Azul (Juan Gil Blue Label), made mostly from the indigenous Monastreli grapes with some Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah blended in to make a complex wine that is aged 18 months in a selection of French and American oak barrels, Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

 

“It’s impressive to see the progression of such a large wine group, considering its humble origins and the area where they started.  Aside from Jumilla, where they own Juan Gil and Bodegas El Nido, the Gil Family Estates is also present in Montsant (Can Blau), Priorat (Bluegrey), Calatayud (Ateca), Campo de Borja (Morca), Almansa (Atalaya), Castilla y León (Tridente and Shaya, the latter under the Rueda appellation) and Rías Baixas (Lagar de Condesa).  They have recently expanded to Rioja where they have built a winery called Rosario Vera after buying vineyards in Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa.

“The group comprises over 1,400 hectares of own vineyards with production exceeding 8 million bottles.  Up to 75% of the wines are exported to over 40 countries.  The fourth generation’s nine siblings all have a stake in the company headed by Miguel and Ángel Gil.

“The group’s strategy is based on offering best value wines and the creation of economies of scale to be more competitive…  Their wine portfolio usually includes an entry-level wine followed by a top value wine in the mid-range category and a premium wine.” — www.spanishwinelover.com

 

The fermentation tanks and ageing barrels for the Juan Gil Etiqueta Azul (Juan Gil Blue Label) wine, Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

The fermentation tanks and ageing barrels for the Juan Gil Etiqueta Azul (Juan Gil Blue Label) wine, Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

 

The winery_s dining room for visiting guests where we enjoyed a multi-course luncheon, Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

The winery’s dining room for visiting guests where we enjoyed a multi-course luncheon, Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

 

Juan Gil Silver Label wine – the grapes used to produce this wine came from old vineyards with chalky and stony soils, poor in nutrients, that are ideal for the growing of the Monastre

Juan Gil Silver Label wine – the grapes used to produce this wine came from old vineyards with chalky and stony soils, poor in nutrients, that are ideal for the growing of the Monastrell variety, with a low yield; the wine was aged in French oak barrels; Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

 

Our last savory course at the luncheon was this delicious paella cooked in a rather large pan for our small group, Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

Our last savory course at the luncheon was this delicious paella cooked in a rather large pan for our small group, Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

 

Rejón is the Gil Family Estates_ best vineyard of Tempranillo located in the town of El Pego, Spain, with 130 year-old vines that are planted on a top layer of gravel over very sandy

Rejón is the Gil Family Estates’ best vineyard of Tempranillo located in the town of El Pego, Spain, with 130 year-old vines that are planted on a top layer of gravel over very sandy soils; the limited production wine retains the typicity and of the indigenous grapes coming from the unique terroir; the wine is fermented in small vats and aged in French oak barrels for 20 months before bottling — Juan Gil Bodegas Familiares (Gil Family Estates), Jumilla, Spain

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat local: uvedoble taberna, Málaga, Spain

The outdoor seating area at the entrance of the modern tapas restaurant, uvedoble taberna, Málaga, Spain

The outdoor seating area at the entrance of the modern tapas restaurant, uvedoble taberna, Málaga, Spain

 

We liked the description that we had read: “modern tapas”.  Located near the Cathedral in the old town district of Málaga, Spain, uvedoble taberna is one of what Spanish food critics are calling a new generation of “Gastrobars” or “Gastrotapas”.  Unfortunately the outdoor seating was full when we arrived at the fashionable hour of 2:00 p.m. for a luncheon of tapas, so we were seated at a high table with stools in the front of the bar area and enjoyed the minimalist and modern décor with a view of the plaza outside the front windows.  Chef Willie has been turning out top notch contemporary interpretations of traditional Spanish tapas at the restaurant for nine years.  We thoroughly enjoyed our delicious luncheon prepared with very fresh, local ingredients and highly recommend the restaurant.

 

Tapa Foie Micuit (foie gras), uvedoble taberna, Málaga, Spain

Tapa Foie Micuit (foie gras), uvedoble taberna, Málaga, Spain

 

Tartar de Salmon (salmon tartar), uvedoble taberna, Málaga, Spain

Tartar de Salmon (salmon tartar), uvedoble taberna, Málaga, Spain

 

Ensalada Templada (warm salad with vieira (scallop) and gambas (shrimp), uvedoble taberna, Málaga, Spain

Ensalada Templada (warm salad with vieira (scallop) and gambas (shrimp), uvedoble taberna, Málaga, Spain

 

Tortilla Trufada (truffled potato Spanish tortilla), uvedoble taberna, Málaga, Spain

Tortilla Trufada (truffled potato Spanish tortilla), uvedoble taberna, Málaga, Spain

 

Fideos Negros (squid ink noodle fideuà with cuttlefish (like baby squid), uvedoble taberna, Málaga, Spain [note- fideuà is essentially a Catalan version of paella made with pasta o

Fideos Negros (squid ink noodle fideuà with cuttlefish (like baby squid), uvedoble taberna, Málaga, Spain [note: fideuà is essentially a Catalan version of paella made with pasta or noodles instead of rice]

Tapa Vieira (scallop tapa), uvedoble taberna, Málaga, Spain

Tapa Vieira (scallop tapa), uvedoble taberna, Málaga, Spain

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Marrakech, Morocco

The most beautiful approach to Koutoubia Mosque is via the Koutoubia Gardens and the fountain, Marrakech, Morocco; construction of the mosque began between 1147 and 1154 and was complete

The most beautiful approach to Koutoubia Mosque is via the Koutoubia Gardens and the fountain, Marrakech, Morocco; construction of the mosque began between 1147 and 1154 and was completed in 1157

 

Marrakesh, a former imperial city in western Morocco, is a major economic center and home to mosques, palaces and gardens.  The medina is a densely packed, walled medieval city dating to the Berber Empire, with mazelike alleys where thriving souks (marketplaces) sell traditional textiles, pottery and jewelry.  Today Marrakech is the fourth largest city in Morocco (after Casablanca, Fez and Tangier) with a population approaching one million.  “Red baked-mud medina palaces beneath the snow-capped High Atlas and a powder-pink ring of ramparts around 19 kilometres of seething souqs, Marrakech is Morocco’s most memorable experience.  Founded almost 1000 years ago on the edge of the Sahara, this southern market town grew to become one of the great cities of the Maghreb and a Unesco Heritage site to boot.  But Marrakech isn’t some petrified piece of history that tourists come to gawk at, it’s bursting at the seems with an intense density of life and a modern entrepreneurialism that puts Manhattanites to shame.  This isn’t a place where you can gracefully glide through.  Instead you’ll find yourself telling jokes with snake charmers, dining outdoors in the Djemaa el-Fna, hankering after the latest henna tattoos and getting a hands-on scrub down in the local hammam.  Pause for unexpected beauty and banter often with multi-lingual locals, because what are the chances you’ll come this way again? “ – www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/africa/morocco/marrakech/

“Like many Moroccan cities, Marrakesh comprises an old fortified city packed with vendors and their stalls (the medina, a UNESCO World Heritage Site), bordered by modern neighbourhoods, the most prominent of which is Gueliz.  Today it is one of the busiest cities in Africa and serves as a major economic centre and tourist destination.  Tourism is strongly advocated by the reigning Moroccan monarch, Mohammed VI, with the goal of doubling the number of tourists visiting Morocco to 20 million by 2020.  Despite the economic recession, real estate and hotel development in Marrakesh has grown dramatically in the 21st century.  Marrakesh is particularly popular with the French, and numerous French celebrities own property in the city.  Marrakesh has the largest traditional market (souk) in Morocco, with some 18 souks selling wares ranging from traditional Berber carpets to modern consumer electronics.  Crafts employ a significant percentage of the population, who primarily sell their products to tourists.” —Wikipedia

On our first afternoon in Marrakech our terrific guide, Nor, took us to several of the “must see” highlight spots, along with a long walk through the Mella (old Jewish quarter) and to the last remaining synagogue in Marrakech, Slat el-Azama Synagogue [see our previous blog, “Hayel Mella”].  The most visible “landmark” in Marrakech, and the most important mosque, is the Koutoubia Mosque (or Kutubiyya Mosque), the largest mosque in the city.  The mosque is also known by several other names, such as Jami’ al-Kutubiyah, Kotoubia Mosque, Kutubiya Mosque, Kutubiyyin Mosque, and Mosque of the Booksellers.  The sandstone minaret tower is 77 meters (253 feet) in height, including the spire, itself 8 meters (26 feet) tall.  Construction of the mosque began between 1147 and 1154 and was completed in 1157.  The minaret is very unusual in that the top of a minaret’s tower traditionally has three globes of copper.  “Supposedly, the minaret of Koutoubia Mosque was to be built with three gold globes.  Ones topping the tower today are composed of copper.  The wife of sultan Yacoub el-Mansour broke her fast during Ramadan.  To pay her penance, she had her gold jewelry melted and made into a fourth sphere.  Completed during the reign of her husband, this unique minaret was quite a feat of engineering for its time.” – http://www.journeybeyondtravel.com

 

The most visible “landmark” in Marrakech is the minaret of Koutoubia Mosque, 77 meters (253 feet) in height, including the spire which is topped by four globes, the highest of pure g

The most visible “landmark” in Marrakech is the minaret of Koutoubia Mosque, 77 meters (253 feet) in height, including the spire which is topped by four globes, the highest of pure gold from wife of sultan Yacoub el-Mansour; Morocco

 

Orange juice sellers are in Jemaa el-Fnaa square all day and evening, whereas the portable restaurants set up for dinner are constructed DAILY in the late afternoon and removed each nigh

Orange juice sellers are in Jemaa el-Fnaa square all day and evening, whereas the portable restaurants set up for dinner are constructed DAILY in the late afternoon and removed each night, Marrakech, Morocco

 

Unique in all of Morocco is Marrakech’s Jemaa el-Fnaa square and market place in the Medina quarter (old city).  It is the main square of the city and is heavily visited by both locals and tourists.  “During the day it is predominantly occupied by orange juice stalls, water sellers with traditional leather water-bags and brass cups, youths with chained Barbary apes and snake charmers despite the protected status of these species under Moroccan law.  As the day progresses, the entertainment on offer changes: the snake charmers depart, and late in the day the square becomes more crowded, with Chleuh dancing-boys (it would be against custom for girls to provide such entertainment), story-tellers (telling their tales in Berber or Arabic, to an audience of locals), magicians, and peddlers of traditional medicines.  As darkness falls, the square fills with dozens of food-stalls as the number of people on the square peaks.  The square is edged along one side by the Marrakesh souk, a traditional North African market catering both for the common daily needs of the locals, and for the tourist trade.  On other sides are hotels and gardens and cafe terraces, and narrow streets lead into the alleys of the medina quarter.” — Wikipedia

“The idea of the UNESCO project ‘Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’ came from people concerned about the Jamaa el Fna.  The place is known for its active concentration of traditional activities by storytellers, musicians and performers, but it was threatened by economic development pressures.  In fighting for the protection of traditions, the residents called for action on an international level, to recognize the need for the protection of such places — termed ‘cultural spaces’ — and other popular and traditional forms of cultural expression.  UNESCO encourages communities to identify, document, protect, promote and revitalize such heritage.  The UNESCO label aims to raise awareness about the importance of oral and intangible heritage as an essential component of cultural diversity.” — Wikipedia

 

On one side of Jemaa el-Fnaa square are hotels and gardens and cafe terraces, and narrow streets that lead into the alleys of the medina quarter, Marrakech, Morocco

On one side of Jemaa el-Fnaa square are hotels and gardens and cafe terraces, and narrow streets that lead into the alleys of the medina quarter, Marrakech, Morocco

 

It was hard to believe, even seeing it in person, that this cart – pulled by one (or a couple of) man – contains an entire “restaurant” that is set up daily in Jemaa el-Fnaa squa

It was hard to believe, even seeing it in person, that this cart – pulled by one (or a couple of) man – contains an entire “restaurant” that is set up daily in Jemaa el-Fnaa square, Marrakech, Morocco

 

Early evening diners at a portable restaurant set up daily in Jemaa el-Fnaa square, Marrakech, Morocco

Early evening diners at a portable restaurant set up daily in Jemaa el-Fnaa square, Marrakech, Morocco

 

Another restaurant, this one specializing in sheep heads (for soup) for dinner, Jemaa el-Fnaa square, Marrakech, Morocco

Another restaurant, this one specializing in sheep heads (for soup) for dinner, Jemaa el-Fnaa square, Marrakech, Morocco

 

A relative of the traditional Moroccan clay cooking “pot”, the tajine, this was the only vendor I saw in Jemaa el-Fnaa square with the smaller tanjia, shaped like an urn, which is co

A relative of the traditional Moroccan clay cooking “pot”, the tajine, this was the only vendor I saw in Jemaa el-Fnaa square with the smaller tanjia, shaped like an urn, which is cooked by placing the entire vessel in hot coals, Marrakech, Morocco

 

Towards sunset Jemaa el-Fnaa square fills up with locals and tourists to eat, drink, tell stories and even play games, such as this version of “go fish” with poles with plastic “do

Towards sunset Jemaa el-Fnaa square fills up with locals and tourists to eat, drink, tell stories and even play games, such as this version of “go fish” with poles with plastic “donuts” on the end used to “catch” a soft drink bottle which is the prize; Marrakech, Morocco

Three musician snake charmers got this cobra to “dance” for us, Jemaa el-Fnaa square, Marrakech, Morocco

Three musician snake charmers got this cobra to “dance” for us, Jemaa el-Fnaa square, Marrakech, Morocco

 

A close up of the dancing cobras in Jemaa el-Fnaa square, Marrakech, Morocco

A close up of the dancing cobras in Jemaa el-Fnaa square, Marrakech, Morocco

 

Legal Notices: All photographs copyright © 2018 by Richard C. Edwards.  All Rights Reserved Worldwide.  Permission to link to this blog post is granted for educational and non-commercial purposes only.

 

Eat Local: A Typical Berber Breakfast in a Berber village home, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Descending from our hike in Toubkal National Park near Asni in the High Atlas Mountains [see our previous blog post], we walked into a Berber village (foreground) where we were invited i

Descending from our hike in Toubkal National Park near Asni in the High Atlas Mountains [see our previous blog post], we walked into a Berber village (foreground) where we were invited into a family’s home; Morocco

 

From the viewpoint in Toubkal National Park near Asni in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco, we hiked down to one of Asni’s Berber villages.  On the way into town we saw a little girl, about 4 years of age, who was quite shy, but did her mother’s bidding and had us follow her to her home where we were warmly greeted (in the Berber language, translated by our Berber guide from Imlil) by her mother and invited in for a traditional Berber breakfast.  Afterwards we hiked back (about 15 minutes) to our resort, Kasbah Tamadot, and passed a number of women shepherds with flocks of sheep and goats that were heading south to open public lands where the flocks could graze.  A pretty idyllic scene!

 

As we entered the Berber village we were greeted by four young local boys, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

As we entered the Berber village we were greeted by four young local boys, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

 

Our hostess -- the mother of the little girl about 4 years of age, who was quite shy, but did her mother_s bidding and had us follow her from the trail to her Berber village home -- se

Our hostess — the mother of the little girl about 4 years of age, who was quite shy, but did her mother’s bidding and had us follow her from the trail to her Berber village home — served us a traditional Berber breakfast; Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

 

“The Amazigh (Berber) cuisine is a traditional cuisine with a varied history and influence of numerous flavours from distinct regions across North Africa. The traditional cuisine draws influences from Morocco’s Atlas mountains and heavily populated Berber cities and regions, as well as Algeria’s Berber cities and regions.” – Wilkipedia

On the breakfast tray were (pictured clockwise, from the lower left) a bowl of nuts and roasted chickpeas (garbonzo beans), amlou (see below), olive oil, green olives, honey, savory crackers, black olives and (center) homemade cheesey butter.  Separately we were served a bread basket with two large rounds of homemade bread (flour and semolina).  And, of course, there was freshly made mint tea, the national drink.

Amlou, a thick brown paste with a texture similar to organic peanut butter, is a Berber recipe that consists of a mixture of argan oil (grown in Morocco) and almonds and honey.  Amlou has been likened to a sort of Moroccan nutella (made from Hazelnuts in the Piedmonte region of northern Italy).

 

The intrepid explorer and our hostess at her home in the Berber village, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

The intrepid explorer and our hostess at her home in the Berber village, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

 

The kitchen (note how small it is) in our hostess_ home in the Berber village, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

The kitchen (note how small it is) in our hostess’ home in the Berber village, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

 

From the height of the village, we could see women shepherds with flocks of sheep and goats that south to open public lands where the flocks could graze; Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Moro

From the height of the village, we could see women shepherds with flocks of sheep and goats that south to open public lands where the flocks could graze; Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

 

Everyone in the Berber village that we visited were farmers (the men), while many women tended flocks of sheep and goats, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

Everyone in the Berber village that we visited were farmers (the men), while many women tended flocks of sheep and goats, Asni, High Atlas Mountains, Morocco

 

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