Casablanca Seafood Restaurant, Morocco

Port du Peche (Fisherman’s Port) Restaurant in Casablanca

Casablanca Seafood RestaurantCasablanca seafood. Conjures up all kinds of wonderful images in one’s head, doesn’t it.  Port du Peche  is one of the must see places in Casablanca, after all this is the biggest port in North Africa and you would expect some great seafood here.

First of all, let me state that this wasn’t the end all be all or port fish places. It wasn’t the cheapest option in Casablanca – but it was good. Above average and probably a scad below very good.

To get Casablanca seafood, you have to wait for it to open. No early bird dining. It opens at 7 pm and there isn’t a whole lot to do if you get there earlier. The port in Casa is grimy and not all that exciting. You can walk down the pier to where the fishermen are selling direct to locals and there is a great view of the Hassan II Mosque over the fishing boats.

Taxi drivers will try to direct you to go to Ostria, a more expensive option across the parking lot but what I saw was no locals in Ostria, higher prices, and not as much authentically tacky ambiance. I’m guessing the food wasn’t as good but higher priced.

Once you are inside, the menu is decently priced – all in French. About 100 dirhams per dish with a house salad going for 50 dirhams and sodas or juice for about 12-15 dirhams each. We had the fried calamari which was fresh and delicious (97 dh) and a very nice Valencian paella for 180 dh (for two or more people) plus a couple of sodas and the complimentary bread. We had to wait 45 minutes for the paella and during that time the place filled up with locals. They do serve wine there and the other dishes we saw being served looked and smelled nice. The decor is that of a tacky 1970′s fish place with model ships and diving helmets and the waiters were pleasant and gave great service by Moroccan standards which translates to decent service by western standards. We were surprised no option exists to buy fish at the port and have them grilled outside such as you find in Agadir, Tetuan, Tangier, etc – but this was still worthwhile – though nowhere near the value nor the enjoyment of a real fisherman’s port.

All told it was 350 dirhams which included a 10% gratuity added on plus an additional 10% to make up the difference and show our gratitude for a nice time and delicious food. Definitely worth a stop.

I’ll add more photos next week, for now just enjoy these old French women having a nice time.
Casablanca Seafood Restaurant, Morocco

New York Foodie, Arizona Foodie

Arizona Foodie ! Sarah Goes to Phoenix and Tucson

Story and Photos by Sarah Spigelman

Hmmm….an Arizona Foodie.  We all know that New York is the greatest city on earth – anyone who is born or lives here will tell you that and defend our pizza and subway system to the death.

However…there are times when a little break from the hustle and bustle is necessary. When you want to spend less than $20 on a cocktail and long to see stars for just one night. When you want to look at foliage that isn’t in central park and eat Mexican food that is more than watered down guacamole made by a well-meaning Korean mama in her corner deli.

hotels in Arizona

That’s the time to head to Arizona.

This Southwestern state has everything New Yorkers love – luxury, fantastic food, and endless shopping – with everything New Yorkers need – wide open spaces, plenty of sunshine, and incredible bang for the buck.

Foodie Arizona. Where to stay and what to do.

The two big destinations are Phoenix and Tucson. Phoenix offers metropolitan shopping, sprawling golf resorts, and close proximity to Sedona.

Tucson offers small town charm, authentic Mexican food, and world class spas.

Choose one of these towns and you will have a multitude of places to stay and activities to enjoy.

Phoenix

In Phoenix, you can’t do better than the Fairmont Princess Resort Scottsdale  (editors note: while close to Phoenix, the Fairmont Princess Resort Scottsdale is actually in Scottsdale). This high end resort is Southwestern luxury at its finest. Gorgeous terra cotta buildings surrounding pristine grounds with multiple swimming pools, outdoor love-seats for relaxing with a good book, and fire pits perfect for evening cocktails. The rooms are breezy and elegant, large enough to house at least three people in the smallest option.

The Willow Stream Spa is hundreds of square feet of massage rooms, pedicure stations, relaxation pools, saunas, and steam rooms. Be sure to check out the rooftop pool, adult only and reserved exclusively for spa guests. There is a golf course and clubhouse, a kids program, and a plethora of dining options.

New York Foodie, Arizona FoodieMichael Mina’s Bourbon Steak offers a modern take on a steakhouse, and don’t miss La Hacienda by Richard Sandoval. The guacamole with carnitas is everything your Jewish mother warned you against – porky, cheesy, and spicy. Needless to say, it is exceptional, as is the service at this resort.

The whole point of coming here is that you do so to relax. Once you park your car, there is no reason to leave the resort – there are small shops to explore, a hip happy hour at Bourbon Steak that attracts many of Scottsdale’s beautiful people, and endless places to soak up the sun.

If you do decide to leave, check out the nearby Kierland Commons for shopping and dining, or take a 3 hour drive to Sedona to see the region’s famous red rocks and check out the mysterious vortexes.

Regardless of what you decide to do, this is a one-stop-fits-all kind of trip. Ideal for families or bachelorette weekends, the Fairmont Princess Resort is Phoenix in a nutshell – luxury, cosmopolitan, and full service.

Tucson

If you are more of a do it yourself kind of traveler, Tucson may be more your scene. Stay at the historic Arizona Inn. It was frequented by movie stars filming westerns at old ‘Tucson Studios in the 1930s.

hotels in ArizonaThe entire hotel is quaint and utterly luxurious – riots of bougainvillea wind up the individual rooms, each decorated personally and filled with old books. There is an outdoor table tennis area, a lap pool, and on summer nights, an ice cream social complimentary for guests at the hotel.

If you stay more than once, your preferences for room and newspaper are always remembered and you will be greeted by name. It’s hard not to feel like you have traveled through time at this luxurious yet totally laid back oasis.

When you’re ready to sup, head to the nearby Beyond Bread. This place makes some of the best sandwiches on the West Coast. All the bread is made fresh daily. Varieties range from jalapeno cheddar to focaccia. If you’re like me, it will be hard not to eat a loaf for lunch. Try to save room for the sandwiches. Made from freshly roasted turkey, rare roast beef, and local Arizona produce – these rock.

If you want a high end dinner, head to Janos, James Beard Award winner Janos Wilder’s acclaimed French-Sonoran restaurant.

The shopping in Tucson is best done downtown in the artists district. You can buy everything from hand painted dios de los muertos dolls to exquisite pottery. Also check out Canyon Ranch Spa for a day or even overnight – it is, after all, one of the world’s premiere spa destinations. If you feel the need to escape, take it easy – you are only an hour from Mexico. Just bring your passport, because you will definitely want to return to your comfy bed at the Arizona Inn and without it, you can’t.

Whether you go for full on resort luxury in Phoenix or low key relaxation in Tucson, your wallet won’t be too much lighter, but your mood certainly will be.

NYC is the greatest city on earth, but Phoenix and Tucson are a welcome break in the cold, expensive winter months.

Disclaimer: I stayed at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess Resort on a media rate. The opinions are my own and unbiased.

Moroccan Snowbunnies

What am I doing here? Sledding with Moroccan Snow Bunnies


Ifrane, Morocco
19 DEC 2012

I work too much.  You wouldn’t believe how much time I put into Vagobond with social media, site research, article writing, editing, finding and working with writers, handling guest posts, and searching for advertising revenue.  I’m not looking for sympathy, I’m just saying I work too much.  Add in writing, rewriting, editing, and formatting my books and – the answer is that I work too much.

snow in Morocco

So, this week, I decided to take a break. I hired a car and driver to take us on a Middle Atlas Wonderbreak – my wife, daughter, and sister in law piled in the back seat and I took the seat next to the driver. No grand-taxi crowding this time. Just the right number of people to fit comfortably in a nice car for a day up to the mountains.

Lake in the Middle Atlas

We left Sefrou heading towards Midelt and Boulemaine but then turned west towards the alpine towns of Ifrane and Azrou. We passed through the famed Atlas cedar forests where the Barbary Apes reside and stopped to play alongside a lovely mountain lake.

Moroccan Snowbunnies

The real purpose of the day though was some playing in the snow. Yes, there is snow in Morocco. We didn’t go to the ski area but instead went to the big snow hill where we rented a homemade sled for 20 dirhams and began some serious downhill sledding action.

Me and the  snow bunnies.

Snow Sledding in Morocco

We had some great wipeouts that mostly consisted of me getting rolled in the snow, some fun snowball fights, and our little girl got to play in the snow for the first time. She loved it.

From there we went and had a nice tajine lunch in Azrou, walked around the markets, and enjoyed the laid back atmosphere in this incredible little mountain town.

Looking down on Azrou, Morocco

From Azrou, we went to Ifrane town, where the King of Morocco has one of his many palaces. Ifrane looks more like somewhere in the Alps than a Moroccan town, but the cafes are still definitely Moroccan – no doubt about that.

It was an incredibly lovely winter day. I’m glad I don’t work too much all the time because days like this make it all worthwhile.

Ski Bunnies in Morocco

If you want to  ski in Morocco, there are two places Michliffen which is right about where we were. There are ski lifts there that sometimes work, but you can always hire a  donkey to take you up and then rent some old skis.

There is also Jebel Toubkal and Oukaimeden near Marrakech. Oukaimeden has lifts which I hear are more reliable than at Michliffen and some say there is  slightly better snow there. In addition there are some ski lodges there, but I can only imagine what a Moroccan Ski Lodge actually ends up being like.  My recommendation is to go to Ifrane with low hopes and high spirits. You can’t go wrong.

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