Posts Tagged ‘Marrakesh’

The Way to a Man’s Heart…

It’s no secret that I love food — whether it’s eating out or entertaining at home.

When it comes to entertaining, I think cheesecakes are my specialty!

Why cheesecakes specifically and not just cakes? Because just the thought of decorating a cake with frosting is a nightmare for me — I wouldn’t even attempt it for guests!

Here are some of my favorite cheesecakes I’ve made over the years!

Anthony's Cheesecakes

Once it’s safe again to eat out and socialize, I can’t wait to embark on a new beginning in a familiar state. 

Today, I’m sharing some of my favorite dining experiences (so far) and I’ll conclude with the most magical meal ever!!!

Since I’m now living in central Illinois, I’ll start off with a beautiful and tasty appetizer I had in May 2012 at Destihl in Champaign, Illinois, as I was passing through on my way to Indianapolis, Indiana.

At the time, I wrote, “Not only was it very tasty and refreshing… I was so mesmerized by the presentation.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was “Watermelon & Feta” (cubed watermelon, house olives, feta, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic glaze, and micro greens) and “Shrimp Ceviche” (shrimp, cilantro, lime, red onion, jalapeño, and avocado mousse).

The meal was so delightful that I dedicated a whole blog entry to it!

https://anthonypeoples.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/destihl-my-beating-heart/

But, back to the beginning! 

Growing up poor in western Kentucky, we really didn’t get to eat out much. Our Aunt Norma would occasionally treat us to burgers, chili pies, and cold mug root beer at K & N Drive-In in Mayfield.

On the rare occasions our father did take us out, there was a roadside joint just outside Mayfield called Jack’s Drive-In. Basically, it was a carry out place with some picnic tables.

While it had the best cheeseburgers, my favorite sandwich was the fried veal patty!  Who knows what it really was!!!  And, I wouldn’t eat either of them now since I don’t eat beef anymore! 

My first server job was at the Happy House Restaurant in Mayfield in the 1980s.  One of the specialties was the “House Tea”, which was very sweet tea with special touches — a combination of fruit juices!  Delicious!

They also had the best desserts (Kentucky Derby Pie was my favorite), prime rib at night on the weekends, and the Copenhagen.

It’s an open-face turkey sandwich with a spinach mayo dressing!

But, my favorite restaurant in western Kentucky is Patti’s 1880s in Grand Rivers, located in the Land Between The Lakes area.

It’s the only reason I go back to Kentucky!

They’re well-known for the amazing thick pork chops and appetizers like the beer-battered cheese sticks and the blooming onion!

Their homemade desserts are incredible — the meringue on the pies is whipped a mile high and the Sawdust Pie is just out of this world! 

Luckily, they’ve shared that recipe and I make it on special occasions!

My favorite meal ever, from a fresh, flavorful experience, was at בני-הדייג, which translates to Benny The Fisherman, right on the Mediterranean Sea, in Tel Aviv, Israel.

What you see here is the equivalent of their “starters” — fifteen of them, including the bread basket!

This was brought out as our “salad” before the entrees — and this was just for two people!

I shared my favorite restaurant (Patti’s 1880s) and my favorite meal (בני-הדייג — Benny the Fisherman).

Since I love lists, I’ll highlight a couple of other dining experiences and restaurants.

My favorite entree was in Atlanta, Georgia, in 2016, at Tavernpointe in Midtown.

It was a Sonoran Salmon (avocado soup, goat cheese-black bean cake, crema, and pico).

And, my favorite brunch or buffet is Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas!

Can you say, “Bottomless Mimosas”?

That was my brunch on my last visit in December 2019.

It was a 4.5-hour meal. I outlasted the lunch server and the evening server kept the mimosas flowing!

And, yes, I savored every bite of all four courses! I don’t waste food. 🙂

In addition to the great restaurants and meals I’ve highlighted, there was also a dinner cruise on the Seine River in Paris, France, that ended with a visit to the top of the Eiffel Tower, and a stage-side seat at the historic Moulin Rouge sipping champagne as I turned 50!

As I wrap this up, I now want to share details of the most magical dining experience in my life (so far)!!!

It was on my first solo international trip to Morocco for my birthday in 2018. Marrakesh was my favorite city I visited in this northwestern African country.

My own “Crazy” (rich?) “Asians” (Pom, Sheila, Po Po, and Izzy) made the evening and my time in Morocco so memorable and fun.  

I met these wonderful ladies at the beginning of the trip and I shared a lot of time with them — an incredible group of friends!

Our evening started off with with a horse-drawn carriage ride through the streets of Marrakesh at sunset and a jaunt through the crowded souk (an Arab marketplace or bazaar) in the Medina (the old quarter of town) on the way to dinner.

Once we were dropped off from the carriage ride, we made our way through a series of alleys that looked like a deserted, bombed out part of town!

But, at the end of the maze was the incredible and gorgeous Lotus Privilege Restaurant!

Once we stepped inside, per custom, we washed our hands with warm water from a elegant silver tea pot.  We were then handed a tasty drink and took in the spectacular scenery.

I’m not being vain here.  I just couldn’t choose which beautiful backdrop to share!

Our three-course meal started with a tasting menu of incredibly colorful and tasty Moroccan salads.

This was followed by entrees of either cockerel (chicken), veal, or fish Tagine (my pick), and three choices for dessert. 

I chose the pastilla with light cream and crushed almonds with fresh mint!

And, we were treated to live, energetic African music and an elegant, gorgeous belly dancer!

What a memorable evening!

And, while there are still many places I still want to visit (Greece, Cambodia, and Vietnam), I’d love to go back to Morocco!

As we head into the summer and life returns to the “new normal”, I can’t wait to find delicious food and fun experiences in central Illinois!

Anthony

Morocco & a Hidden Marrakesh Treasure

Most of the people that read my blog find it on Facebook.  With that being said, you probably already know that I spent my birthday in Morocco, in northern Africa, and you’ve seen some of the pictures from the trip.

Today, I want to share a few thoughts, some things I learned about the country and details of one magical evening.

In Morocco, we arrived at the airport in Casablanca.  From there, we were driven to Rabat for a night, spent two nights in Fez, and two more in Marrakesh before heading back to Casablanca for a night.

Marrakesh was my favorite city.

Blue 1

Casablanca was my least favorite.  In all fairness, it could have been the short time there (about 12 hours), the congested traffic, and/or the neighborhood surrounding the hotel.

However, the exterior of the Hassan II Mosque, the largest in Morocco, and the stained glass of the Notre Dame de Lourdes Cathedral in Casablanca were stunning!  (I’ll be sharing many more pictures on my Facebook page in the coming days!)

mosque

stained.jpg

THINGS I LEARNED ABOUT MOROCCO

The country makes most of its money from two things that come from the sky:  the rain (agriculture) and planes (tourists).

Olives are everywhere and the trees are handed down in the family and some of the trees can produce for thousands of years!

olives.jpg

There are three pickings of olives.

The first is in late November with green olives.  Those are the highest quality and many are used for olive oil.  The second picking is later in December when the olives are turning red.  And, the last harvest, in January, is of black olives — the lowest quality of olives!

Every Moroccan home has a cat (mice control) and a turtle!  The turtle is to ward off evil spirits or black magic!

Although the country is 99% Muslim, only about 45% are practicing.

Many in Morocco, especially in rural areas, live in poverty, but it’s slowly improving.  Meanwhile, there are some well off and very rich people in the country.  But, it’s a culture where most don’t flaunt it.

The exteriors of many dwellings look very basic or run down, but the homes inside are lavish and filled with riches.

A MAGICAL EVENING

That leads me to the dinner I mentioned earlier.

Here I am with my “Crazy Asians” (Pom, Sheila, Po Po, and Izzy).  I met these fun ladies at the beginning of the trip and I shared a lot of time with them — an incredible group of friends!

Carriage.JPG

The evening started with a horse-drawn carriage ride through the streets of Marrakesh at sunset and a jaunt through the crowded souk (an Arab marketplace or bazaar) in the Medina (the old quarter of town) on the way to dinner.

Marrakesh Night.jpg

Once we were dropped off from the carriage ride, we made our way through a series of alleys that looked like a deserted, bombed out part of town!

But, at the end of the maze was the incredible and gorgeous Lotus Privilege Restaurant!

Lotus

Once we stepped inside, per custom, we washed our hands with warm water from a elegant silver tea pot.  We were then handed a tasty drink and took in the spectacular scenery.

I’m not being vain here.  I just couldn’t choose which beautiful backdrop to share!

Pool

ap cactus

And, this is Elizabeth and Stephen, a delightful Texas couple.  Stephen celebrated his birthday a day before me!

I felt like royalty at this lavish dinner with this gorgeous group!

Group

Our three course tasting menu started with incredibly colorful and tasty Moroccan salads.

This was followed by entrees of either cockerel (chicken), veal, or fish Tagine (my pick), and three choices for dessert.  I chose the pastilla with light cream and crushed almonds with fresh mint!

dessert

And, we were treated to live, energetic African music and an elegant, gorgeous belly dancer!

What a memorable evening!

CELEBRITY SIGHTING

By the way, Keanu Reeves was standing right in front of me as we boarded the flight from Paris, France, to Casablanca.

He was heading to Morocco to film scenes for “John Wick 3: Parabellum”, which is scheduled for a May 2019 release which also stars Halle Berry.

My posse got a picture with him! 🙂

Keanu.jpg

If you’ve ever considered going to Morocco, do so.  And, if you’ve never thought about it, I’d recommend it.

Anthony