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I'd very much appreciate any recommendations that you might have for Marrakesh. Many thanks.

The place I'll recommend in Marrakesh is in the back of the Jemma El Fna right before you enter the Souk. It's called Argana. It's nothng fancy, but cooks very good traditional Moroccan home cooking type food. The tagines there were the best we had in Morocco (other than my mother-in-laws of course). (My wife was born and raised in Morocco and said that this place was the real deal).

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I know I have not yet reported on my excellent meals in Ethiopia yet (I will! I will! Blame in on the snow!), but I just found out I'll be in Casablanca next week. Knowing these conferences, I'll only have one night out. Anyone have any ideas where I should go??

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Everybody comes to Rick's.

(Ok, for serious now: my sister-in-law and her husband were there a few years ago and had a few good meals; I'll see if she can remember where!)

Oh I know, I know. Because I'm really Ingrid Bergman at heart. (cough, cough)

This weekend, when I WASN'T going, I caught "Casablanca" on AMC for the first time in at least five years. I thought it was just rubbing my nose in me not going on the trip. Who knew it was just prep??

I don't want to mobilize the forces because I really may only be able to have one meal out, but on the off chance I do, I don't want to be caught unprepared! If it matters, I'm staying at the Sheraton.

And for future travelers, the latest NY Times article on Casablanca (April 2006) is here.

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And for future travelers, the latest NY Times article on Casablanca (April 2006) is here.

Actually, that was helpful -- their favorite stop was Al Mounia; local flavor, good service, fun, fair price. (Fairly sure they used this article to direct them, though, so take it for what it's worth.)

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here are some good restaurants in morocco:

Ostria ( in the Port), Quais de Jazz and La Fibule in Casablanca, Palais El Jamii in Fez, Narwama, Plage Rouge and Crystal in Marrakech, and Tajine OU Tanjia in rabat

Jawad

I know I have not yet reported on my excellent meals in Ethiopia yet (I will! I will! Blame in on the snow!), but I just found out I'll be in Casablanca next week. Knowing these conferences, I'll only have one night out. Anyone have any ideas where I should go??

I would absolutely trust Jawad.

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A short week in Casablanca yielded endless days in a conference room and some truly excellent meals. I ended up tagging along on three dinners planned by others, and I wouldn't change a thing.

We were the first guests of the night to arrive at Jnane Sherazade. (Amateurs! No one eats dinner at 7:30 in Morocco!) Lucky for us, though, because it allowed us to shamelessly gawk and stare at the stunning dining room. Every wall, every ceiling was carved or inlaid; every seat was velvet. Stunning. The menu is fixed at 300 dirhams (~$36) for four courses of refined Moroccan/French food; it's also in French, though our server spoke fluent English, which helped with some of the Franco-Arabic words. We chose a shared array of about seven or eight salads to start, which were light and just lovely--and hard to stop eating. I moved on to chicken pastilla, a flat disk of crackling phyllo filled with a gorgeous spiced, minced chicken and dusted with powdered sugar. My main of lamb tagine with quince was swimming in about a half inch of fat, but the meat was beautifully cooked and perfectly complemented by the quince. To end, we shared a massive platter of pastries, which we made a bigger dent in than expected considering how stuffed we were.

Our conference group dinner was at the predictable, crowd-pleasing Rick's Cafe. We had a set menu. My swordfish was good--much better than it needed to be; my caesar was fine. But, you know, for being a tourist joint, the place was absolutely beautiful, surprisingly light on the kitsch, and very comfortable. I'd go back to the bar there any time.

For our last night in town, we hit Le Rouget de l'Isle, which turned out to be the meal of the week (maybe the meal of the year so far). Again the first people to arrive, this actually worked to our favor since we hadn't booked in advance. The restaurant is in an amazing art deco townhouse, with beautiful, intimate dining room seating. The menu, again, is in French, and our server did not speak English. But since most of the dishes are classically French, my obsession with food paid off and I was able to translate much of it. My green salad, generously tossed with duck lardons and a mild blue cheese, was close to perfect, but judging from comments at the table, the carpaccio and the poached egg with mushrooms were the winners from the first course. (I can't confirm that, though; it's just too wierd to ask your bosses for a bite of their food.) I followed it with The. Best. Cassoulet. Ever. Honestly--creamy beans, beautiful sausages, phenomenal pork, and accompanied by a small arugula salad to cut through the richness. As soon as the server took the dish away, I wanted another. But my over-full stomach protested, and everyone else at the table felt the same way, so no more cassoulet, and I also was unable to get anyone to go in on the souffle with me. No dessert. ;) Service was excellent. I recommend Le Rouget very highly.

Note I: after a quick spin through the Quartier Habous market, we decided we'd just meander on over to Jnane Sherazade, which looks quite close on the map. Hey, don't do this. As we were wandering around in circles looking lost, a man with a walkie talkie, who said he was "tourist police" approached us and told us we shouldn't walk alone there. But there were no cabs, so we hesitantly allowed him to lead us (hesitant because I had been "assisted" by the "tourist police" once in India, with decidedly negative results). Luckily, he turned out to be on the up-and-up and incredibly kind, and wouldn't even accept a tip. And we never, ever, never would have found this place on our own. So, thanks, nice dude.

Note II: Moroccan wine is surprisingly not bad. And because of massive import tariffs on spirits coming into Africa, it's a valid, affordable choice for dinner.

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