Journey from Ici to Morocco

Written by Anita


September 25, 2010

Now through October 3, you can experience the complex foods and flavors of Morocco without having to leave the city. To mark the upcoming opening of two new Sofitel luxury hotels in Morocco, Ici Urban Bistro is celebrating Moroccan Week—serving up a menu (available prix fixe or a la carte) of authentic Moroccan fare in addition to its regular menu of contemporary French cuisine. Executive chef Olivier Perret is joined by guest chefs Miriam and Fathia from Sofitel’s Moroccan properties (flown in especially for the occasion) who have designed this gastronomic journey.

Start your escape with one of Le Bar’s Moroccan-inspired cocktails. The Almond Sour pairs nutty Disoronno amaretto with orange juice, and tops it with ground almond and cinnamon. The Red Kech mixes fresh strawberry puree with vodka, lime juice, and rose water. Reasonably priced Moroccan wines also are available by the glass.

The meal starts with an amuse bouche of Briouates, delicate flaky triangles filled with minced beef and spices, and Sbiate, a slim roll of rice spiked with cinnamon. The salad course offers fresh baked breads and a shared assortment of Moroccan delicacies, including Taktouka (red and green sweet peppers with tomatoes) and Zaalouk (a spicy eggplant “caviar” salad).  Our favorites were the Chermoula (tender fava beans marinated in the classic Moroccan marinade chermoula—a mixture of cilantro, garlic, paprika, lemon confit, olive oil, cumin, coriander, and vinegar), and the Maasala (a smooth tomato blend with honey, orange blossom, sesame, and mint.)

The entrée offers a choice of a lamb or vegetarian couscous or traditional chicken tajine. We savored the melt-in-your-mouth lamb, cooked for six hours and served in a hearty stew of seven vegetables (cabbage, carrots, potatoes, turnips, zucchini, sweet potatoes, and caramelized onions) over a bed of flavorful couscous. The dish is finished with a delicate grape sauce and topped with almonds and plump raisins—C’est magnifique!

If you still have room for dessert, the menu offers a refreshing dish of sliced oranges sprinkled with cinnamon followed by Moroccan mint tea and decadent traditional pastries.

Want to take your escape a step further? Then book a nightly or weekend stay at Sofitel’s LaFayette Square location. Current packages include the Magnifique Breakfast (accommodations plus daily breakfast), and An Air of Romance (daily in-room breakfast, a bottle of champagne, and romantic gift).

Won’t settle for less than the real thing? Then plan your trip now to one of Sofitel’s five current properties in Morocco—or book ahead to check out the two new ones in Essaouira and Casablanca slated for 2011. Here’s looking at you, kid.

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