Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Moroccan lunch at Kasbah


Kasbah at the Fort

Today I had a very nice lunch at Kasbah, the new North African restaurant at the Fort Strip in Bonifacio Global City.

If you've been reading this blog, you'll know that I recently had a pre-holiday dinner here for 40 people, including about 15 ambassadors and their spouses, and some very prominent newspaper columnists.

It was an excellent dinner and everyone enjoyed the food -- except me, that is, as I was too busy playing hostess for the party, to get to eat or enjoy anything.



So as I was leaving Kasbah last Saturday night, Madonna English, who owns the Kasbah both in Boracay and at the Fort, suggested I come over today for lunch, just to enjoy the food and relax instead of having to worry about hosting a party.

Portrait of Madonna.
I really like taking unposed photos of people,
that capture a moment in their lives.


NICE BREAK IN THE DAY



I was the last to arrive, and the restaurant was very full of ladies who lunch when I got there. It's a very nice place for lunch, you see, as it's cool and relaxed, and yet the decor is cozy and interesting. All the Moroccan decor is authentic as well.

It made me decide to put Morocco on my travel plans for 2013. The last time I was there was ten years ago, and so another visit is long overdue. I'd like to go to Fez and to Marrakech, and to do a camp in the desert if possible.

The last time I was in Morocco, I spent too little time in Marrakech. I'd like to stay in a lovely riad in the heart of the souk area this time.



We were a merry party of three, and I really enjoyed both the food and the conversation, especially as Madonna has lived in so many places around the world, including England, Auckland and Tokyo.

She's also spent a lot of time all over Morocco and knows it like the back of her hand -- and thus, the idea for a North African/ Mediterranean restaurant in Manila.



AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT MENU

The food was wonderful, and today we tried different things compared to what we'd ordered last Saturday night. On Saturday, I just loved the mezze sampler plate, the kebabs, and the lamb tagine served with couscous.

Filo pastry stuffed with cheese or meat,
and eaten with a yoghurt sauce


Eggplant salad


Spicy prawns
Today, for lunch, we began with an eggplant salad, spicy prawns and filo pastry stuffed with cheese and ground meat, plus a plate of hummus for me, as I simply love hummus.

The hummus at Kasbah
We also had a very light lentil soup. In Morocco, this lentil soup is usually heavier; and meat is added into it, as it's often served as nourishment after the sun sets during Ramadan.

Moroccan lentil soup


PASTILLA, THE KASBAH WAY

Then, for a main course, we had a chicken pastilla, which is Kasbah's own interpretation of the favorite Moroccan pastilla dish, made usually with pigeon. I actually like Kasbah's chicken pastilla much better than what I had in Morocco, as I found the pastilla with pigeon too gamey in taste.

Also, the actual pastilla you can get in Morocco has a very strong taste of both sweet and spicy, plus lots of cinammon. For me, the mixture of gamey pigeon, strong cinammon, sugar for sweetness, and all kinds of spices is very interesting, but it isn't my cup of tea.

Kasbah's version of pastilla

Kasbah's version is milder, and the fact that they use chicken sits better with me.

TWO DESSERTS + TEA

Of course we had to have dessert and tea. I chose the spicy chocolate tart because it sounded so interesting, and also the baklava, because I like tasting every restaurant's version of baklava whenever I can. I first had baklava on a summer trip to the Greek islands as a child, and since then I've been hooked on it -- or at least, hooked on the very good versions of it.

Kasbah's version of baklava
Kasbah's baklava is made using an assortment of nuts, and it's very solid vis-a-vis other baklava. The pastry on top and at the bottom is very light and it's laced with honey; but inside is a very solid filling compared to more commercial baklava available elsewhere. It's also not as sweet as other baklava, and this is a very good thing, as far as I'm concerned.

CHOCOLATE AND SPICE

Kasbah's chocolate spice tart
Meanwhile, their spicy chocolate tart is also very solid and with an unmistakable deep chocolate flavor, but with a hint of spice. Frankly, I don't usually like spice used in this way with dessert, but the aftertaste that accompanied this mixture of chocolate and spice was really very pleasant. Even now, I can still taste

To end, we just had to have a pot of Moroccan mint tea, but without sugar.




CONVERSATION AS ANOTHER MAIN COURSE



We also had a good dose of interesting conversation about how life's ups and downs, its sorrows and happiness, actually make someone a better writer. It's precisely these ups and downs that enable one to acquire a depth in thoughts and feelings that is unattainable otherwise.

There's no depth without sorrow, and there's no point to life without happiness. So, unfortunately, every person needs a healthy dose of sorrow and happiness.

I added: "You also improve your sense of empathy for other people with trials and tribulations. And that's always a good thing."

Madonna looked at us and said: "Wow, this is pretty deep for a lunch conversation."

And C, who was with me, said: "This is usually how it is, in Travelife."

It's true. We often have these kinds of conversations when we're all together at Travelife Magazine, and that's just how it is in a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.





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