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Saturday, February 27, 2021

Taking a Marrakech Staycation

It's that time again. We're on another Destination Date Night and this time we hit up Marrakech, Morocco. This has been on my list for a while, and it's giving me serious vacation longing. It's been almost a whole year since I've gotten on a plane to go anywhere and we've been talking about our first trip after we're both vaccinated. I can't wait, but these destination dates are some of the things really getting me through. So, let's talk about our date.

As you know, the setting is the most important part of my destination dates, so I had two backdrops made, since I couldn't find anything that wasn't a doorway. Much as I love doorways, I wanted to really capture the feel of the actual place. I chose a seaside scape and a market, because when I think of Morocco, I think of the souks and their many stalls and heaped, colorful spices. I adore a spice market, and Eric learned how much when we were at Borough Market in London and I spent a good hour in a particular stall choosing spices to bring home for myself and as gifts. In fact, he walked around and took pictures that I didn't even see until we got home. 

Because everything is so colorful, I tried to also make my table colorful, but not overly busy. I found these gorgeous plates in the clearance section of Cost Plus and snatched them up immediately. I already knew we would be "traveling" to Morocco at some point. I already had these starburst glasses, and I opted to use them instead of some other glasses I had my eye on. When I think on this destination, I also think of bright lanterns and Aladdin for some reason. For those reasons, I picked out this sweet little Moroccan style lantern and "genie lamp". All of this on top of a blue tablecloth to make everything pop.

As you know, we like to jazz up our looks on date night, so as an homage to the wonderful style and fashion, we did some fun headgear. Eric is sporting a little fez and I've got this pretty sweet hair jewelry. I said I was feeling Aladdin vibes, so I went a little bit that way with these looks.

Now, the main attraction: Food. I looked at several places that would deliver though UberEats* that had real, traditional Moroccan food, and not just random Mediterranean or Middle Eastern food, like shawarma. In fact, I found a local Black-owned restaurant that was in my delivery range. We have been trying to support more small, woman-owned, and Black-owned businesses, so this made me really happy.

Now, I know from experience that I don't love cold couscous, so I looked for different dishes. For starters, I ordered Bakola, a salted spinach dip with Moroccan spices and preserved lemons. This was spicy, and served with big pita bread. 

For mains I ordered was Chicken Bastila, and sweet and savory pastry made with phyllo dough. It looks like a doughnut, so I wasn't really sure what we were getting ourselves into, but you know I'm always up for new and interesting foods, so we had to try it. It was pretty awesome...and a lot bigger than anticipated. Three people could have had this as a meal. We also got Moroccan couscous, which is steamed and served with beef and veggies. Traditional, yes, but different than almost all couscous dishes I've ever had. We ended up with chicken, which was fine. The veggies were all large pieces, making it really rustic.  We have a lot of leftovers.

I don't normally order drinks, because I make my own, but I wanted to really immerse myself this week. I added a mint Tangier lemonade for Eric and a rose water for me. These sounded like very refreshing beverages to complement our meal, and they totally were.

Onto dessert. We did baklava as part of our Egypt date, and being part of a large Greek family, most gatherings with Eric's parents or aunts include a large pan of baklava. For that reason alone, I ordered rice pudding, which I know is also pretty normal, but I also thought it would go well with the Turkish coffee I was making. I had it once and I was in love with it. Turkish coffee is strong and flavorful and can be very sweet. Unlike regular coffee, it's definitely for sipping and taking your time to enjoy it. I got the special pot (cezve) and cups that I've been looking for an excuse to buy. I realized at the fact that we also did a different rice pudding during that Egypt date, but it was a great end to a great meal. 

*If you haven't signed up for UberEats yet, use my code eats-shereenr208ue and get $20 off your first order of $25+)

While we ate, we took tours of several souks, because we both love to see weird foods and cool handmade goods. We also took a tour of the top 10 things to do in Marrakech and learned some basic words and phrases, so we're ahead of the game for when we plan our trip there in the future.

If you want to plan your own Moroccan staycation, it's pretty easy to pull one together, even in a short amount of time. There are so many great walking tours online, as well as books and websites to plan a trip. Here's a list to get your started:

You can make your staycation a romantic date or a fun learning escape for the family. No matter how you do it, a trip to Morocco is a great trip even at home. 

Have you been taking any staycations during this pandemic?

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I may be compensated should you choose to make any purchases through them. This allows me to keep this blog running for you. Thanks in advance!

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