Dinner at Jacout,  the best food in Morocco

Pick up a cab on the street. He sees big bucks, since it's a fancy restaurant, and asks 150 Dhs to take us and wait to bring us back. I tell him (twice) to stop the cab. OK, he says, gratuit. I offer 10 Dhs. He says that's the price for Moroccans, and I should pay whatever I think is right. D'accord. I figure that I'll remember the route so we can walk back. He takes us on a long drive thru the medina - mostly a straight narrow street, but then a left turn, some right turns, and . . . Gloria worries that he's taken us into "the darkest part of the forest where all the hobgoblins are", but I'm not worried, since we're following a grand taxi. We get out of the taxi at a tiny plaza, like a demolished & leveled house. I give him all the change I have, 18 Dhs.

We're greeted by a man in red fez, white djellaba, and yellow babooshes, who takes us down a path bordered by partitions hiding some construction work to a fancy building. We see the pool, take a winding staircase encased in fired brick to the rooftop site of the bar (which is moved to the premier etage because it's cold) for the view of the medina. In the dark we see a few minarets, the far-off Koutoubia, many many buildings. Then back to the rez-de-chausse where we're seated next to a smoldering fireplace, with a table of 6 French between us and the 2 musicians. The 6 include a blonde in black who looks like Barbara Hutton. Gloria says they reek of Francs.

Mr. is thin and tall, in a double-breasted gray suit. Our wine comes in a fancy blue-glass jug; a thin red with nasty overtones. After we finish it, we're served the remains of a bottle from the 6. Either their wine is better or my taste buds are dead by then.

The fireplace is new - about 20 years, with very nice zelig work, including many unglazed tiles and a big-scale zelig mural over the mantle. Other zeligs are good too. One section has 3-bladed-propellor shapes like the Alhambra, which we haven't seen here. It's a narrow room with 6 or 8 tables along one side and facing tables at the ends, where there are fireplaces. Glass doors are usually open to the small swimming pool, but tonight they're closed against the cold.

First course - 9 prepared cold dishes. I tell Mr. that it's the best food we've had in 30 days in Morocco, which it is.

The dishes were outstanding because they did not spare the spices. Most Moroccan food is dull because the spices aren't there.

Second - a whole chicken with preserved citron. Not the best I've had. All the meat is tough, the white meat is cardboard.

Third - Lamb tagine with orange peel. Better, especially the celery which actually picked up the orange taste.

Fourth - Couscous of lamb with carrots, potatoes, lamb, sauce (from chicken?), hot sauce. Good. Plain couscous tasted just like farina.

All this was certainly enough for 6 or 8 people. I think Mr. asked which we wanted; we asked him to repeat the selection; he didn't understand and asked us if we'd like all three; we said yes, expecting a little of each, but we got three full servings for two.

Dessert - Crispy sheets with sauce of thickened milk and almonds, a local type of bastilla. 15" diameter sheets of pastry cut into eighths and splintered all over. We almost finished it!

Cookies weren't good. Only 1 of the 4 was worth taking in Gloria's handbag.

A small coffee for me.

When the hand-written bill is presented, it says only

2 @ 500 = 1000

I also left 100 Dhs tip for the very nice waiter. He was assisted by an older, smaller runner, who brought each dish, covered in a tagine-shaped lid, to one of several tiny serving tables.

Asked them to break a 100 Dhs note so I could pay the cab to go back to the Es Saadi hotel. They had to go off premises to get such small bills. Cab was 30 Dhs. He wanted 40, citing a reservation fee or something. I think they have to pay the hotel or restaurant where they wait. Home totally stuffed!

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This page last updated December 15, 2001.

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