My frousin (friend & cousin) Christie and I were in Europe at the same time this spring. Christie was gallivanting in Greece and I was frolicking in France and Switzerland. In order to recap our trips properly with each other, we got together over the cuisine of yet another country - Morocco. This meal made Morocco the tenth country in my Global Bites without the Flights series, which I promise to make more regular from now on.
Morocco is known for its unique cuisine, a mixture of influences from surrounding areas - the Mediterranean, North Africa, the Middle East, and Spain, its closest European neighbor, just 9 miles across the Strait of Gibraltar. When asking around for Moroccan restaurant suggestions, one place kept coming up: Cafe Mogador. This restaurant has two locations - one in the East Village & one in Williamsburg. Christie and I met up in the East Village on a pleasant summer evening. The place was packed and we were hoping to eat outside but we settled for a cozy table in the back because we were HUNGRY.
To start, we shared the Mixed Platter to share with tabouli, babaganoush, hummus, and salad. Although we keep changing our minds about which was babganoush and which was hummus, we wiped the plate completely clean with our khubz and the extra khubz that we requested.
Christie ordered the Chicken Tagine, a popular stew made in a traditional North African pot with a large cone lid. Christie's dish was great, but I won the ordering contest at this meal with my pick of the Bastilla: "layers of crispy filo pastry stuffed with chicken, eggs, and almonds, and seasoned with an exotic blend of herbs and spices." I had no idea if I'd enjoy it, but it seemed like something I'd never had before so I wanted to give it a shot, and knew it is one of Morocco's most popular dishes. It's also referred to as Pastilla, Bestilla, & Basteeya, if looking for it on a different menu.
When it arrived, I was immediately excited by the looks of it and then when I started to eat, forget about it. This dish was definitely something completely different to me, which is the ultimate goal of Global Bites. The "exotic blend of herbs and spices" tasted like cinnamon to me, which I'd never expect to have with chicken but worked so well with the flaky pastry. The egg inside was similar to the egg in fried rice and the almonds were sliced into very small pieces, perfect for me because I don't like whole almonds unless they're covered in ranch seasoning. This dish is not one to be missed and might be my favorite discovery of all the Global Bites I've done so far.
Thanks, Cafe Mogador for 'Roccan my taste buds. I'll be back for sure.