Tag Archives: influence

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 🙂

 

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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

Good morning Vietnam!

At the moment, it seems that I have a thing for vietnamese food and I can’t get enough of it. When you think of it, it is not that surprising, Vietnamese and French cuisine have history.

It all started in the 17th century with the arrival of Catholic missionaries in Vietnam. But it did not stop there, then France colonized Vietnam and Cambodia forming the Indochinese Union in 1887 which was the start of the French influence in Vietnam for the next 70 years to come! So naturally when you stay that long in a country, you leave pieces of yourself in several ways: be it architecture, culture, words, names and of course cuisine. I find it fascinating to discover (and taste) the French influence on Vietnamese cuisine (the tasty baguette sandwich called Bahn Mi is one of them). For sure it is different comparing to what I am used to in my home country, and sometimes it is hard to make the link between the two countries but there is something magic about all these flavorful dishes and I can’t help being attracted to them (maybe it is in my DNA).

For those who know me well, I often go to Central Market in China Town. Most of the times to buy herbs or lemon because the quality and the price is much better than what you would get in the supermarkets and also the atmosphere is really nice and friendly.

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In the mood for vietnamese food 🙂

Last time, I went there, I remember it was a beautiful day and as I was feeling a bit hungry I thought I should pass by Little NNQ and see if it was not too crowded. This is a vietnamese restaurant and it is quite popular so it can be tricky to get a good seat sometimes. This place has been recommended to me by John’s vietnamese friend, his name is Phong and lives in Adelaide (and John is American from California who happens to know a lot of people everywhere because he has traveled and worked in so many countries). Luckily the odds were with me and there was a lovely table by the window and the friendly waiter told me I could sit here. As it was a beautiful day, the large windows were opened so it was like I was sitting at the terrasse outside watching people passing by, cars honking and for a minute imagining I was in another country, in a galaxy, far, far away…haha. As things were going well for me, I decided to continue playing my luck and I asked the waiter to choose his fav dish for me. Besides, as I felt adventurous, I opted for the Vietnamese coffee. Normally I’m not the kind of coffee drinker type (I am more into chai or matcha latte) but I’m always happy to try new things and this was the opportunity to get the true vietnamese experience… besides one coffee can’t hurt, can it ?!

My dish was a combination noodle salads. It was very colourful, tasty, crunchy and pretty healthy I believe. So I really enjoyed it and I really recommend it! But I must confess, my favourite part was definitely the Vietnamese coffee as I’ve never had this kind of experience before. By the way, I apologise I have not a lot of pictures to demonstrate the technique but I think I was so overwehlmed by this experience that I completely forgot to document it, my bad !

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Time to relax and catch up as the coffee is slowly dripping into the condensed milk!

First the coffee was served in a slow drip filter tool. So basically, the coffee was slowly dripping into the condensed milk in the glass just below it (one drop at a time, so it is a long process). The waiter explained to me that in Vietnam locals would use this time to chat and catch up with their friends while waiting for the coffee to fully drip through. Once it is finished, all you have to do is to transfer the content in a glass full of ice cubes, and enjoy your ice coffee with a straw.  So basically drip coffee is the way Vietnamese people create and enjoy conversation with their friends or relatives. I ❤ the concept, I must say and I can’t wait to renew this experience with my friends next time!

Just so you know the Vietnamese coffee has a strong taste (always Robusta, twice as strong caffeine wise, so be prepared to jump like a kangaroo after that ). Once again, it is one of the many heritage from the colonists period. The French introduced coffee to Vietnam in the 1800s, they also brought with them condensed milk as they could not get fresh milk in Vietnam and they also brought phins which is a slow drip filter that sits on top of a cup. Since that time, it has become a tradition in Vietnam to enjoy coffee this way. It is more than just coffee, it is an invitation to relax and chat.  I think that the combination of the bitter coffee beans allied with the sweetness of the condensed milk and the cool refreshing kick of the ice cubes just work perfectly! I think I have officially became a Vietnamese coffee lover ❤

So next time you are in the mood for Vietnamese food, why not go and try Little NNQ with some friends and indulge yourself with a Vietnamese coffee while chatting remaking the world. Vietnamese coffee will boost your body while relaxing your mind, call it magic or mystique, the choice is yours 😉

Little NNQ

125 Gouger Street

Adelaide SA 5000

http://www.nnq.com.au/littlennq/