Nomad Chic Armchair Series #2: Morocco


Welcome to Nomad Chic’s Armchair Travel Series.

We’ll be bringing you inspiring ideas, dreamy designs, and tantalizing tastes from our favorite corners of the globe- until we can roam again.

 

Pour yourself some mint tea and pull up your favorite pouf: our second stop is Morocco.

(Photo from Acanela Expeditions)

If you've been in one of our shops, you know our love for Morocco runs deep. It's evidenced in our ornate silver trays, our buttery poufs, our gorgeously woven leather tassels; the nuances and intricacies of Moroccan design embody some of our favorite things in the world.

While the country maintains an image of mystery to those eyeing it from afar, what we love most about Morocco is the warmth of its people and culture. We'll share a few of our favorite things, some within reach- and we do so in dedication to one of our favorite wanderlusters, Brandi Brown (your Moroccan explorations are waiting for you!).

 

Style

 

Morocco is known for its amazing fabrics and textiles, but one needn't only settle for a carpet. We've been fortunate to work with local artisans on our own collection of kaftans, all embodying the beautiful detailing and stitching customary of Moroccan goods.

(Photo by @mapandcompassphoto)

(Photo by @jackhamiltonphotography; kaftan available in our shop)

 

Of course, anyone fortunate enough to experience Morocco firsthand needs to spend at least a day perusing (and haggling in) the souks in Marrakech. You'll find slippers in dazzling colors, handmade leather bags, and embroidered tunics, all unlike anything in the rest of the world.

(Photo from Conversant Traveler)

 

Design

 

One of our favorite things about Moroccan design is how easily you can incorporate elements of it into your own space.

Our aforementioned favorite customer, Brandi Brown, shows us how our own Moroccan pom-pom pillow adds a whimsical, refreshing touch to her living room.

(Photo by Brandi Brown)

 

Lesser known than trendy poufs and rugs, Moroccan ceramics provide unusual, interesting ways to elevate your tabletop and servings displays.

(Photo from Nomad Chic)

 

Hotels

 

We can't pay homage to Morocco without calling out our favorite hotels, some of which are the most stunning we've ever seen (and the world will open eventually, right? We have to make sure you're prepared!).

 

El Fenn, Marrakech, https://el-fenn.com

Owned by Richard Branson's sister, El Fenn is a true Marrakech gem. In addition to dreamy interiors and courtyards you could disappear into, the hotel serves incredible breakfast, lunch, and dinner- cocktails on the roof are never a bad idea, either. As bookings can prove hard to come by, it's worth inquiring well in advance.

(Photo from @elfennmarrakech)

 

Kasbah Bab Ourika, Atlas Mountains, http://kasbahbabourika.com/

While the crowds, colors, and smells of Marrakech and Fez are exhilarating, the Atlas Mountains provide an entirely different Moroccan experience. Kasbah Bab Ourika is a true oasis, with suites surrounded by stunning red rocks and dripping with fragrant flowers and plants; an escape here is an escape to serenity and the chance to witness the country's slower side.

(Photo from @kasbahbabourika)

 

Scarabeo Camp, Afagay Desert, http://www.scarabeocamp.com/

For those seeking the thrill of adventure (but who want to do so in style), Scarabeo Camp is the perfect place to spend a few nights. Despite being conveniently located to Marrakech, the luxurious tents, starry skies, and friendly camels will make you feel worlds away from the modern realm.

(Photo from @scarabeocamp)

 

 Art

 

We've loved the photographs of Déborah Benzaquen for years. Born in Morocco of French ancestry, she attributes her passion and photographic style to Morocco's "light and magic." We love her series on twins, Les Inséparables, as well as her series, Berberliner.

(Photos by Deborah Bénzaquen)

 

And on the subject of photography, our favorite museum in Morocco is Marrakech's Maison de la Photographie. The venue itself is just as gorgeous as the prints on its walls.

(Photo from Morocco Travel Blog)

 

Taste

 

It's our rule of thumb to try every possible bite of local cuisine when visiting, oh, anywhere- but when it comes to Morocco, take it a step further and learn how to make the food yourself.

Souk Cuisine delivers a down and dirty authentic experience, beginning with a visit to the market for all your ingredients. Prefer something a bit more catered? La Maison Arabe provides a slightly more upscale vibe, including having all your ingredients prepped and waiting for you upon arrival. 

And we get it: it might be some time before any of us can go to Marrakech to master couscous and chicken Bastilla, which is why we're serving you a shortcut and sharing this recipe for lamb tagine (good thing you just ordered those new Moroccan ceramics, no?).

 

Lamb Tagine with Chickpeas and Apricots

YIELD Makes 6 to 8 servings

INGREDIENTS

    • 3/4 cup dried chickpeas
    • 5 garlic cloves (2 whole, 3 chopped)
    • 1 large cinnamon stick, broken in half
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 3 pounds 1" cubes lamb shoulder
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 1 large onion, diced
    • 5 teaspoons Ras-el-Hanout spice blend
    • 1 tablespoon chopped peeled ginger
    • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes with juices
    • 2 1/2 cups (or more) low-salt chicken stock
    • 1/2 cup halved dried apricots
    • Steamed couscous
    • Chopped fresh cilantro

    PREPARATION

      1. Place chickpeas in a medium saucepan. Add water to cover by 2". Let soak overnight.
      2. Drain chickpeas; return to same saucepan. Add 2 whole garlic cloves and cinnamon stick. Add water to cover by 2". Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until chickpeas are tender, about 45 minutes. Drain; set aside.
      3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Season lamb with salt and pepper. Working in batches, brown lamb on all sides, about 4 minutes per batch. Transfer lamb to a medium bowl. Add onion to pot; reduce heat to medium, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until soft and beginning to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Add chopped garlic, Ras-el-Hanout , and ginger. Stir for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and lamb with any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil. Add 2 1/2 cups stock. Return to a boil, reduce heat to low, partially cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until lamb is tender, about 1 hour 30 minutes.
      4. Stir in chickpeas; simmer until heated through, about 10 minutes. Stir in apricots; simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
      5. Spoon couscous onto a large, shallow platter, forming a large well in center. Spoon tagine into center. Sprinkle cilantro over.

     

    Tip: For more great Moroccan recipes, we love Sonoma's very own, Paula Wolfert's, The Food of Morocco.

     

    Morocco is a true gem and one of the places we hold most dear- we didn't even begin to scratch the surface. If you're ever planning a trip and want more tips, we'd love nothing more than to help guide you!

     

    We hope you all stay happy and healthy, and we’ll see you with our next issue of remote wanderlust soon!

    xx Nomad Chic