‘Cabin crew, please take your seats for landing’. The familiar words from the softly spoken pilot woke me up on my early flight to Marrakech. I lifted my blindfold off my eyes and looked out of the window. All I could see was a vast expanse of desert and sandy coloured towns dotted below the flight path. When we came into land, I couldn’t help but think that hadn’t I known otherwise from seeing pictures and footage of this vibrant city, I would have thought the only colours I would be seeing for the next six days would be cream and salmon pink, for all of the buildings in sight were painted in either colour.
I came to Marrakech with Jack primarily for the fact that we are going to explore the city and use it for the Moroccan entry for Eat the Olympics. There is no better way of getting to understand a countries cuisine than by actually exploring for yourselves.
Our first stop was the Four Seasons. We felt we were stung with the taxi fare – a guide book from 2007 and the pretty lady at the tourist information center informed us that we should be paying no more than 150 diram for a taxi to the hotel. But when you tell a taxi driver that you’re staying at the Four Seasons, you can see the dollar signs rolling in their eyes. After a quick haggle from 200 down to 180, we were off. And we were peeved when no more than ten minutes later we were rolling up the driveway of the grand Four Seasons Marrakech.
We were greeted by a bell boy and taken inside to the waiting area where we were met by the lovely PR manager for the resort. After a quick verbal tour (the resort is too huge for a walking tour!), we were shown to our (deluxe suite) and left to our own devices. We were to stay at the resort for two days before traveling into the centre to experience two riads.
The suite was impressive and luxurious with a living room area equipped with dining table and chairs, a comfortable sofa that also doubled as a bed and a huge flat screen TV. We opened the double doors, which led us into the master bedroom and saw a huge king sized bed, another flat screen TV and an impressive marble master bathroom, armed with a drench shower, a huge sunken bath, toilet, bee day and his and hers sinks. Both rooms had vast double doors, which led directly onto a long balcony overlooking the resort.
We didn’t stay in the room for long because we wanted to get down to the pool area. Upon arrival we were greeted by the pool butler who showed us to two empty beds and told us that he was happy to help should we need any assistance. The towel lined sunbeds overlooked the longest and most tranquil pool that I had ever seen. The water so still, calm and inviting. This was what we had been waiting for – a day of sitting by the pool doing nothing but listening to birds tweet and soaking up the sun. After a couple of hours, we treated ourselves to a spot of lunch on the terrace of Azzera, which overlooks the pool. A mozzarella, tomato and aubergine salad can set you back £17 but considering we also received a basket of freshly baked breads and were able to enjoy the views, we could hardly say it wasn’t worth it.
Later in the day we made use of the tennis courts, which costs around £13 per hour (includes racket, ball and trainer hire). It was my first time playing on clay and although my t-shirt was positively wet through by the end (playing in 30 degree heat is quite strenuous!) I thoroughly enjoyed it.
The first evening we dined at Solano, the resorts Moroccan restaurant. Both of us have eaten Moroccan many times. Living in London, we are lucky to have a wide range of Moroccan restaurants (some good, some VERY bad!) But we were glad to see that some of the dishes were new to us.
To start we ordered Pigeon pastilla with spicy salad to share for a starter, followed by Lamb tagine with peas and artichokes and Monkfish and prawns with tomato chermoula, vegetables and black olives for main. We were treated to green and black olives with cheese and baby plum tomatoes on sticks with a basket of bread to start. The cheese and tomatoes on sticks were a novel idea – not sure totally authentic Moroccan but I’m a sucker for cheese and tomatoes so I enjoyed it!
The starter gave us a bit of a shock when it arrived. A round filled pastry was covered in icing sugar and cinnamon. I glanced at Jacks face to see his reaction – I was worried he would dismiss it as he’s not one for mixing sweet and savoury and isn’t especially keen on cinnamon. The waiter explained that pigeon and almond was mixed together and wrapped in pastry before being fried. I didn’t know what to expect but was extremely surprised when I took my first mouthful – gamey pigeon mixed with almond matched incredibly well with the sweet topping. I might even go as far to say that it is the best new dish that I have tried in a LONG time. Even Jack liked it and that says something!
The main course was not quite as impressive. I perhaps played it safe with the lamb tagine, which was very tasty but I guess I knew what to expect. The lamb and artichoke was tender, the peas crispy.
The monkfish dish was delicious. Tender medalions of monkfish and juicy tiger prawns sat in a delicious tomato fish marinade and was accompanied by crispy seasonal veg. The portion sizes were perfect – enough to fill us without making us feel uncomfortable. Sadly though, we did not leave enough room for dessert. The poached peach tagine with star anise, pistachio sabayon, almond ice creak & Fekkas almost tempted me but after such a long day, we felt it better to retreat to our suit for an early night.
We spent two nights and three full days at the Four Seasons resort before heading into the Medina for three more nights. By the end of the trip, temperatures had soared to 44 degrees and we decided to ask if it would be possible to spend our last day lazing by the pool before jetting back to London. Luckily we were allowed and I couldn’t have been more grateful for the swimming pool and beautiful surroundings. A mere three and a half hours flight and ten minute taxi journey on the other side and you can be basking in the African sunshine at Four Seasons Marrakech. I couldn’t recommend it enough.
We also dined at Blue D’Orange and talked to head chef Francesco Montano and Pastry Chef Sylvain Nicolas. Review and interview to come soon!
Four Seasons Executive Suite costs between 550 – 740 Euros per evening.
Food For Think was a guest at Four Seasons Marrakech and Solano restaurant and flew with British Airways, which flies to Marrakech eight times a week. Lead-in return summer fares start from £224.56 including taxes, fees and charges.
To book or for more information visit http://www.ba.com/Marrakech or call 0844 4930787.