Morocco Culinary Tour: Cooking with Alia

A 13 day trip to Morocco 
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Morocco combines the delicate and the fanciful, the traditional and the modern as expressed in the dishes that encompass an array of cultures. On this customized tour, you will taste the Berber influence in the couscous and delight in the Mediterranean style dishes near the local fish market. Sample European style wines created in the heart of a low-lying valley, and take pleasure in the simple luxuries of a tasty bite. The wonders of Morocco are found in its historic cities, treasured cultures, and the bold flavors of every dish you try.  

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General Information

Photos
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

Fes, Marrakech, Casablanca, Sahara Desert, Essaouira, Aït ben Haddou, Ouarzazate, Atlas Mountains

Departure Dates 

Dates are flexible and customizable for private departures.

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1: Casablanca – Arrive in the Cosmopolitan City and Tour the Art Deco District 

Welcome to Casablanca, a city that effortlessly blends cosmopolitan culture with its rich heritage dating beyond the wealth of sultanates. Palm trees add a succulent aroma to the seaside air as trees line wide boulevards, a reminder of former French colonial powers. Decadent seafood restaurants line La Corniche, the trendy coastal district, where many locals dress to be seen and dine on the decadent flavors of popular cafes. Your private transfer awaits you at the airport and brings you to your centrally located accommodation. Notice the Art Deco facades of particular neighborhoods, known as Mauresque, blending the traditional Moroccan design with the artistic sensibilities of the 1930s. The most notable building is the Cinema Rialto on the corner of Rue Mohammed el Quorri.

The bright façade catches your eye immediately as the elegant corner building sweeps along the street. The interior is cavernous with a single screen, harkening back to the heyday of cinema.  In the evening, venture to a favorite cafe for people from all around the world, eager to taste the nostalgia for the classics, such as the eternal favorite with Humphrey Bogart, Casablanca. The classy uniform of the staff heightens the traditional Moroccan ambiance as the piano sets an elegant mood. The tart aroma of goat cheese mixes with the sweetness of figs for a first meal to remember.  

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, dinner

Day 2: Essaouira – Tour Argan Tree Plantations and the Seaside Village Medina

In the morning, hear the subtle chants of the Call to Prayer. The aromas of breakfast entice you, the sweet honey drifting with the wafts of freshly brewed mint tea. Semolina pancakes await you accompanied by a mixture of melted butter and honey, creating a creamy, sweet combination. After your meal, your private transfer escorts you away from Casablanca, and you make your way inland, sweeping through the calcareous semi-desert around the Sous Valley. The air shifts from a coastal aroma to an arid breeze as you arrive at a local Argan tree plantation.

An Argan tree can grow up to 33 feet tall and live for as long as 200 years. Flowers blossom along the trees in yellow and green petals. The fruit has a sweet aroma but pulpy interior, so you watch as people strip the pulp from the fruit and extract the nuts to reach the oil-rich seeds. People around Morocco enjoy drizzling the oil on couscous or pasta, and even for dipping bread. The slightly nutty taste and aroma add an extra layer to the flavor of the food. The trees rise along the arid hills and plain as you watch the workers crack, then peel and open the fruit, take out the seed, and extract the oil. After the extraction, sample the luscious flavor over a simple amlou, a delicious Moroccan dip with argan oil, honey, and toasted almond paste.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, lunch

Day 3: Essaouira – Full Day Tour of the Village Architecture and Landscape

Fishermen rise before the sun and set out on their iconic blue fishing boats from the marina. The dark blue color stands out against the light azure of the ocean as the wind swept beaches spread across the coastline. Venture out in a local boat for the daily catch; the seaside air is cool, and the mist washes against your cheeks. The boat wades in the water, and you can see the whitewashed walls of Essaouira in the distance.

Return to shore as the fishermen take their catch to market. Seagulls swirl overhead and caw. The fish market feels like a secret, situated around wet cobblestoned streets. The Portuguese harbor rises out of the water as the open-air market greets you with the scent of fresh fish and the vibrant calls emanating from the fish auction. People display their fresh catches of calamari and shrimp, barracuda and red snapper. The stalls are painted royal blue as fishmongers walk through the market with rubber shoes and overalls.

The 17th-century white walls around Essaouira reflect the sun in the distance. Venture back into town for a tour of the city and find the laid-back ambiance welcoming after the jovial rush of the morning fishing crowd. The scent of conger eel tangine with sweet raisins drifts through the cobbled walkways as the whitewashed walls of homes and the old wall create narrow passageways around the city. Music lifts through open windows and adds a touch of local passion to your endless flavorful discoveries.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, lunch

Day 4: Marrakech – Lunch at Local Vineyard and a Horse Carriage Tour of the City

The fishermen are awake and again venturing out onto the water near dawn. The wind rustles the landscape, and the seagulls have begun circling. The lull of the waves against the sea wall is soothing and familiar. Harcha, a pan-fried semolina flatbread, graces the table at breakfast. The bread is crispy and accompanied by warm jam and a selection of cheese. After your meal, leave behind the seaside city and make your way towards Marrakech, the famous Red City. On your way, stop at a celebrated vineyard to discover the pleasures of the often-overlooked Moroccan wine. The vineyard reaches across 35 acres and was started in the 1990s. A camel walks along the rows of vines and turns the soil.

The restaurant offers a remarkable view over the countryside as the scent of ripening grapes, and the greenery reminds you of southern France. After you tour the facilities, enjoy a tasting that takes you on a journey from the vineyard’s white to red, including the florally aromatic and caramelized fruity rosé. Continue onwards to Marrakech where Djemaa el Fna Square comes alive in the evening. Food vendors burst through the open streets carrying homemade grills, and the large center of the old city simmers with aromas.  The succulent grilled meat and the scent of herbaceous tea spilling over the rooftops from the cafes, where people watch the active life below as you observe it from your horse-drawn carriage.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast, dinner

Day 5: Marrakech – Visit the Berber Villages of the Atlas Mountains

Wake up to the gentle sound of a trickling fountain echoing in the courtyard. The luscious scent of Khobz b’Chehma is too tempting to ignore. The stuffed pan-fried bread has a filling of onions, parsley, and beef; the tender interior offers a sultry accompaniment to the flakey bread. After breakfast, your guide meets you at the hotel and escorts you into the High Atlas Mountains for a day visiting Berber villages. The Atlas Mountains rise to a height of 13,665 feet; the rugged peaks descend into high, fertile plains and pristine lakes. The scent of cedar forests swirls around the landscape and Barbary macaque linger in the trees.

Stag graze on the underbrush and bald ibis nest in the semi-arid areas near flowing streams.The town of Ifrane resembles a French Alpine village with Berber roots. The university town is also has a vacation home for the king of Morocco. In the winter snow blankets the town. Storks nest on the flat roofs. In the nearby forest you can find a series of small waterfalls creating a delta across the landscape. Sit on the banks of the river feeding the falls and dine on a slow-cooked tangine, prepared with local ingredients, providing heaps of traditional Berber flavors. The food simmers in the clay pot until the essence of each ingredient marinades into every savory bite. 

What’s Included: breakfast, lunch, tour, accommodation

Day 6: Marrakech – Explore the Peaceful Gardens and an Afternoon Cooking Class

The Red City is known for the walls that surround the medina. The sandstone shines red in the sunlight and has protected the cityscape for centuries in the strength of Bab Agnaou. The city gate was erected in the 12th-century and maintains its original luster; the layered border encircles the arched doorway, and narrow walls line the alleys of the medina. In the afternoon, your private guide and chef meet you at your hotel to take you on a culinary adventure tour of the city.

Walk through the active marketplace known as the souq; spices rise out of sacks and color the shop. The aroma of spice and cardamom overpower the heat of cayenne as your guide shows you which spices you will be using and which flavors they add. Once in the kitchen, learn more than just technique as you follow the chef in her demonstrations as you listen to the stories of the dishes you are creating, the genesis of your meal.

Mix your dough, and then knead it.  Take the flat, round pieces you have created and throw them on the heated walls of a clay oven, where you watch the bread cook and rise in a matter of minutes. The powerful and mesmerizing flavors of each dish speak volumes about Moroccan heritage. When the traditional chicken tangine with olives is done, you can sit with your chef and indulge in the scrumptious secrets of your newly acquired cuisine.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, dinner

Day 7: Sahara – Make Your Way to the Dunes of Erg Lihoudi

Begin your morning in Marrakech with the sweet and tangy flavor of yogurt drizzled with honey and nuts to add a delicate crunch to the meal. After breakfast, leave the Red City behind and make your way through Tizi n’Tichka Pass, winding through the mountains at a highpoint of 7,414 feet above sea level. Rissani is a town situated on the crossroads between north and south, a former caravan center for commercial trade of people wandering across the desert land of North Africa. The town maintains its connection to its past through the marketplace, where the commercial heritage of the city holds strong.

On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays the sleepy city erupts with energy. Donkeys pull carts filled with goods. The scent of spices floats down the alleyways once more. Dates and olives line stalls and nearby hand woven rugs lean against sturdy walls.  Continue onwards to your luxury camp situated at the base of rising sand dunes. At dusk, the stars spread across the desert sky and provide a unique view of the universe.  Sit around a roaring fire with the aroma of saffron mint tea steaming from your cup.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast, lunch

Day 8: Ouarzazate – Visit the Exceptional Desert City and Kasbah Aït Ben Haddou

The desert sunrise provides colors you cannot imagine as they wash over the rolling sand dunes. In the Sahara, desert dunes can rise to 525 feet above sea level. In the morning desert cold hold your tea and let it warm your fingers; the aroma of saffron is delicate and adds a touch of sweetness to the mint tea. After breakfast, your private transfer escorts you through the desert landscape; the sweeping sand gives way to towering red rocks. Oases spring up near the foothills and offer a reprieve from the vast sunlight. Wind through the exceptional landscape and arrive at Aït ben Haddou, a desert castle dating back to the 17th-century. The red clay and brick blend into the landscape and from the distance resembles a hill.

Walls surround the city, supported by corner towers. The town is a unique example of southern Moroccan architecture as the aroma of rich, dry soil surrounds you. The narrow, shaded walkways guide you through the historic cityscape. Some families continue to reside in the structures that comprise the Kasbah. Continue to Ouarzazate and find a familiar city, notable for its depiction of movies such as Lawrence of Arabia and the most recent Mission Impossible movie. The historic structures will bring you into a unique landscape encircling an unparalleled city.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, tour, breakfast, dinner

Day 9: Casablanca – Fly Early from Ouarzazate to Make Your Flight in Casablanca

The morning sun stretches over the craggy desert landscape; the golden hue turns a sharp red around Ouarzazate. Breakfast is served early and offers another touch of local delicacy amidst traditional dishes of which you have enjoyed every bite. Fried eggs simmer in a pan with strips of preserved beef marinated with cumin and coriander. After breakfast, your private transfer escorts you to the airport for your flight to Casablanca. Upon your return to Casablanca, you will have plenty of time to make your flight home, holding fondly to the balance of incredible flavors you experienced while in Morocco.

If you extend your trip, your guide meets you at the airport for a visit to the Hassan II Mosque before making your way to the imperial city of Fes. The city holds a medieval charm, seemingly frozen in an enchanting time capsule. Bab Boujeloud, the Blue Gate that opens up the Fes to the rest of the city, remains stunning it its size and décor. The blue mosaic shapes the triple keyhole arches, the central arch being the largest. The minarets of a mosque and madrasa rise in the distance and can be seen through the open gates. Once inside the city walls, you can follow the sensual aromas of slow-cooked, juicy chicken with sweet prunes, a citywide delicacy. 

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer (dinner and accommodation if extending the trip)

Day 10: Fes – Guided Tour of the Medina and Traditional Cooking Course

Fes is a city that enraptures visitors from all around the world. The celebrated historical tanneries rise out of a square, hidden by leather workshops. Ceramic pots are filled with dyes and washes, where people work the material into colored and lacquered pieces, ready to shape into clothing, belts, wallets, and shoes. Half of the pleasure of the city is navigating the narrow lanes bursting with aromatic food stands and towering minarets. Instantly notice a man driving a donkey pulled cart speaking on his cell phone.

In the afternoon, meet your chef and guide for a different kind of cooking class focused on the exceptional desserts of Moroccan cuisine. They will begin by introducing you to the familiar and intoxicating flavors of the country’s favorite flavors, sometimes even mixing tastes of the Muslim and Jewish communities. A traditional Moroccan feast is not complete without the special sweets that are found freshly baked in the local marketplace, so you follow your chef’s every instruction and find the mint tea to be a friendly accompaniment throughout the process. Your array of desserts is culminated with a date stuffed with sweet almond paste and zested with orange flower water and cinnamon.

What’s Included: accommodation, tour, breakfast, lunch, tour

Day 11: Fes – Witness the Royal Palace and Historical Jewish Quarter

Breakfast is an array of traditional Moroccan dishes including the Baghrir crepes. Made from semolina, the crepe offers a spongy, melt-in-your-mouth texture, often smothered in butter and honey. After breakfast, meet the private guide in the lobby of your hotel to venture out into the imperial city once more. The Jewish culture has been present in Fes for over a millennium and maintains strong ties with the city’s evolving cuisine and culture.

Located in the southwest corner of the mellah, the Jewish cemetery brings a wash of brilliant white tombs reaching along the hillside. The delicately laid structures are rabbinical tombs where a 17th-century rabbi is buried high against the north wall. Although the Jewish community in the city is dwindling, the cemetery remains in use. Hear the local tinkering from the tanneries in the medina as the opulent white of the cemetery reflects the sunlight that is spreading over the city.

What’s Included: accommodation, breakfast, tour

Day 12: Casablanca – Return to Casablanca and Enjoy an Engaging Dinner

Morning in Fes comes quick and easy as you sit near the fountain at breakfast and listen to the gentle trickle fill the air. The water mists around the courtyard and cools the already warm day. Breakfast contains the familiar feast of Moroccan fare, offering bread and olive oil, figs and dates, along with semolina pancakes. Spend time in the bazaar to take in the local marketplace. Listen to the sounds of vendors speaking an assortment of languages, from Arabic to French, Spanish to English.

At your leisure, your private transfer meets you at the hotel and escorts you back to Casablanca. In the evening, dine at an inventive establishment with a splendid garden and refined cuisine. Delight in the creamy and buttery flavors of risotto de Saint-Jacques with leeks. The lavish but comfortable atmosphere is the perfect place for a final dinner in Morocco.

What’s Included: accommodation, transfer, breakfast, dinner

Day 13: Casablanca – Depart for Home

The morning in Casablanca feels different than the morning in Fes. The Call to Prayer emanates from the 690-foot tower of Hassan II Mosque; the sound is rhythmic and poetic. Wake up to the comforting aromas of freshly squeezed orange juice and steaming mint tea. Take your time at breakfast, as you extend your last moments in Morocco for as long as you can. Your private transfer is waiting for you to take you to the airport for your flight. Spend some more time sipping herbaceous tea, drinking your naturally sweet orange juice, and biting into fresh baked bread drizzled with olive oil. You have devoured Morocco and found every bit sensational.

What’s Included: breakfast, transfer 

Price

Price 

Please inquire for a custom quote. The price is customized based on final hotel choices, travel dates, and other custom preferences.