Tag Archives: Cakes

A taste of Morocco in Adelaide

The beauty about cuisine is that it tells a story. It is a moment of communion: it is about exploring new flavours, awakening your senses, it is also about sharing and enjoying the moment.

One of my favourites flavourful destinations is moroccans cuisine and its couscous, tajine and all its delightful little pastries that are so popular and beloved in my home country. You see between France and Morocco, it is a long story as we share a past together and as a result of colonisation, French influence can still be found in the Moroccan fondness for cafés culture, patisserie but also in the language as French remains one of the top languages spoken fluently in Morocco. So today I want to take you on a journey by giving you a taste of Moroccan’s cuisine.

Nested on the west side of Adelaide CBD in the cute Sturt street, you will find the Tea House/Restaurant/Shop Sahara Moroccan Casbah. Every Fridays, just like in Moroccan homes, couscous will be cooked and served following the ancient traditions. This generous and very distinctive dish requires a long time preparation, love and efforts as typically the week’s leftovers vegetables are used to prepare the stew and remember the secret lies in the broth! So traditionally couscous (semolina) would be steamed for hours in a special pot while at the same time a rich broth of vegetables, spices and meat will be prepared separately. But the beauty about this dish, using fairly simple ingredients such as tomatoes, onions, carrots, chickpeas and beef, lies in its amazing and beautiful flavours!

Enjoying a delicious homemade couscous and a mint tea!

Stepping into the restaurant Sahara Moroccan Casbah to enjoy a traditional couscous will literally transport you in another part of the world where ancient traditions are still very much part of everyday life. One bite and you will start a flavourful journey in Marrakech following the frenetic rhythms of the market and the souks, bargaining your way for a colourful carpet, a typical pair of leather slippers or maybe one of those mesmerizing silver lanterns, tassels, tiles hanging joyfully all over the place. A second bite and you will be walking in the colourful alleyways of the village of Essaouira and its streets filled of barrels of spices, fresh baked products and beautiful aromas. Next thing you know you will be wandering on the top of the High Atlas Mountains visiting its typical Berber villages but the journey would not be complete without enjoying a traditional mint tea with some delicious homemade Moroccan pastries in the Sahara desert.

No wonder I absolutely adore the Moroccan cafés culture, sitting at the terrasse enjoying the sun

But this degustation trip would not be the same without Ali Arhbal, the owner of Sahara Moroccan Casbah, the perfect ambassador of his beautiful country: generous, warm, hospitable, friendly and always happy to have a chat in multiple languages. We actually often have a chat in French when I visit and I can’t get enough of his fresh homemade Moroccan pastries… I have always had a sweet tooth… so for me Moroccan cakes, full of honey, almond, figs, dates and orange blossom are just paradise! Besides, visiting Ali’s shop is like venturing into a souk (market) or a tea house, filled with littles gems that you can’t find nowhere else such as those beautiful glazed earthenware tajine pots or those beautiful iconic lanterns . And the best part for the Adelaideans is that you don’t have to pack your suitcase to have a taste of Morocco, its story and its people, all you need is to head to Sahara Moroccan Casbah on the South/West side of the CBD and you will be greeted by Ali with a traditional mint tea when the act of pouring is part of the culture and nearly as important as the actual drinking while conversing!

Thank you, shukran, merci Ali 🙂

 

————————————————————————————-

Sahara Moroccan Casbah,

187 Sturt St, Adelaide SA 5000

Tel. 0450 490 781

Facebook link

  • Tea House/Shop (all week)
  • Restaurant/Couscous (Fridays only – lunch time)
  • Private events/Group reservations (on request)
  • Cooking classes (on request)
  • Shop: Tajine, pots, lanterns, tiles, furnitures, decorations from Morocco

This is a frogs’ world…

Who would have guessed that South Australia’s most iconic cake is actually a “frog cake”? When you think about Australia, you think about a koala, a kangaroo, a platypus… but a frog?!

But it is true and it is a popular cake which was created in 1922 by the famous Balfours Bakery and they became the mascot of this institution. It is said that the creator found his inspiration after traveling to France!!! I am not showing off… I am just telling what I know 😉 Afterall, aren’t French people called “the frogs” or in Aussie language “the froggies”? My theory is that Mr Balfour felt in love with France and one of our iconic cute  pastry called “petit cochon” (little pig) and he thought that it would be so nice to have a cute animal shape cake in his shop that would remind him of France and French people, and tada the frog cake was born! Hey… a French girl can dream?! Anyway good on him…because like I said it was a  huge success. In 2001, the frog cake was listed as a state heritage icon of South Australia… so you’d better respect the frog!

Frog_cakesSo basically a frog cake is is a very sweet dessert with the shape of a frog’s head with its mouth opened.  The texture is pretty smooth: it is a  sponge base with cream and covered with thick layer of fondant icing. Originally you could only find those in green colour (most popular choice) but with the success they also created a pink and a brown frog! I think they look adorable and they must be lovely for tea time, they add colour to the table and give a kind of Alice in wonderland style!

IMG_0911A lovely exhibition took place recently in Adelaide to celebrate this iconic South Australian dessert! One hundred artists and institutions (School, hospital staffs etc) were given a ceramic Frog cake (3 times the size of a normal cake).  They were asked to imagine their own frog cake for this special event raising funds for mental health. What a lovely and inspiring idea I must say… 

IMG_0906

When I heard about this exhibition, my curiosity was challenged and I had to go. First because I have seen those unusual cakes a couple of months ago but never imagined it was part of SA culture. Secondly I loved the idea that they turned this classic cake that seems to be quite ordinary as birthdays treat into something creative, original and extraordinary! 

IMG_0904

My friend Nasim (from Iran) was happy to join me in this adventure! We are the same we like to discover more about our new culture! Futhermore, she loves art so it was really interesting to visit this gallery together and share our opinions.

IMG_0938

The ceramic frogs were nicely decorated, it was very creative since each artist gave its own vision. We saw great pieces and we actually spent a lot of time gazing at each one and trying to understand the point of view of the artist.

IMG_0928

We particularly both enjoyed Emma Hack’s work (she is a famous for her body painting and owns an art gallery in North Adelaide), her ceramic frog was the expression of beautiful mother nature.

IMG_0898
Emma Hack’s flowery frog

I also liked Sophia Nuske’s frog and the Women’s and Children’s hospital’s decorated frog. There were many beautiful smily frogs and  I wish I could get one for my home!

IMG_0918

I have really enjoyed this exhibition and I thought it was a beautiful way to honor and celebrate this South Australian heritage. Nearly all the cute frogs were sold to help a good cause!

IMG_0937

It seems that South Australians still have a sweet spot in their heart for this unusual but classic little froggie cake ❤

IMG_0913
Adelaide Convention Center painted on a singing frog

Sadly the exhibition in Light Square Gallery is already over but if you have missed your chance, you can always cheer you up by biting into this typical South Australian cake… and what a better place than the iconic Balfours Bakery!  For those who are not into frogs they also offer an amazing range of pies that must be delicious! As for me, it should not be an issue, since French people have the reputation to eat frogs legs and to LOVE it… so this sweet version should be a… piece of cake for me haha!

Balfours Bakery – baking since 1853

91 Exeter Tce

Dudley Park, SA 5008

Tel. 08 8368 5305

http://www.balfours.com.au