One of the things I love about traveling is getting to try all the authentic local cuisine. When we went on a cruise recently, and it went to Casablanca, we knew we needed to find a good local place to have delicious food. Some of my friends who had been on a trip to Morocco recently had mentioned that Moroccan food can be hit or miss depending on the restaurant, and since we only had one day, we knew we had to find a good place to go.
The restaurant we chose was Restaurant Imilchil. Apparently Imilchil is a small town in the center of Morocco, but for food purposes, I was more concerned about the taste experience. As we sat down in the restaurant (and we weren’t even sure it was open because it seemed empty and closed) we perused the menu, and it was all in French and Arabic (as you’d expect in Morocco). Unfortunately, we didn’t bring enough British Pounds to likely cover the meal, so Tom had to run off to a cash machine to get some local money. Apparently the restaurant owner followed him (either to make sure he found it or he was coming back, we really have no idea). It did give me a bit of time to get some shots of the beautiful dining area as well.
We weren’t too sure what to get, so the owner recommended the salad, a chicken tagine and some couscous to share. It sounded perfect, but I had eaten at Moroccan places in the States, and I had a delicious sweet and savory pie made out of chicken and fruit wrapped in pastry and covered with cinnamon and sugar so I definitely wanted one of those. I managed to explain somehow what I wanted, and he said “Pigeon pastilla”. Apparently pastilla is what I wanted and it’s made out of pigeon (instead of chicken) so I was even more excited by the thought.
The salads that we had were fantastic. I can even describe the flavors on my palate. Definitely Moroccan and delicious. (And unfortunately, I was so hungry I forgot to get a photo.) The pastilla was heavenly. The pigeon was well cooked and had that liver-like taste that I love about it, but mixed with almonds and Moroccan spices. The sugar and cinnamon on top just added to the sweet and savory combination that I’ve learned to love. The tagine was actually my least favorite part. It was nice, but it could have been better. There were bits of liver in it that were nice, but the sauce and overall flavor was a bit lacking. An American traveler also came into the restaurant, and he had the lamb and prune tagine which may have been better. The couscous was a bit wet for my taste, but the vegetables on top were fantastic. Plus under the vegetables was a nice braised piece of lamb that was quite delicious. So overall, the restaurant was well worth our research and planning, and I would recommend it to anyone who happened to find themselves in Casablanca. The owner also suggested some Moroccan wine. We were intrigued and love to try wines from different places, so we had a bottle, and we were pleasantly surprised at how good it was. We may have to try to find it in the UK!
Unfortunately, Casablanca itself wasn’t that nice. It’s a bit dirty, and definitely doesn’t have the romantic feel you’d expect (but most of that is because of the Hollywood movie). We walked around a bit, and came across the market, but most of the stalls were closed. (Possibly just while we were there, but who knows?) We ended up there on a Friday and since that is the day of worship in Islam, it could be the reason why it just wasn’t that exciting around town. I had already found out that the giant and beautiful mosque on the hill was closed to visitors on Friday (unless you got there really early, and that was unlikely for us to do) so there was a lot of stuff we just didn’t get the chance to see. Honestly, I’m not sure I’d go back to Casablanca, but I’m glad I went. I even picked up my own tagine to cook in at home, so I definitely need to have a Moroccan night. Including making that delicious pastilla!