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Grilled Stuffed Calamari

I found this recipe for grilled stuffed calamari in a Greek cookbook several years ago and have used it extensively. The recipe in the Greek style was significantly different from this one in that the calamari were only stuffed with feta cheese. The feta was marinated in the same way as I’ve shown here, but the other ingredients I have included for the stuffing were left out.

That just goes to show how flexible this recipe is. You can stuff these delicious seafood tubes with whatever your heart desires!

Experiment with ingredients that you like. This is my favorite version so far. I haven’t included the quantity of the ingredients, because that’s not the way that I cook, and it depends on the size of the calamari. These were huge, but honestly, I prefer ones that are medium to hold enough stuffing, yet still be tender.

Ingredients

Calamari cleaned and skin and removed, tentacles cut off but left in one piece
Olive oil
Oregano
Crushed red pepper
Garlic
Feta cheese
Chopped fresh parsley

Combine the oil, garlic and spices and make a marinade. Cut the feta into cubes and put it and the squid into the marinade and let sit in refrigerator for several hours.

Additional ingredients

Spinach (frozen, thawed or fresh sautéed-all water removed)
Sundried tomatoes, chopped
Capers, chopped

After the calamari and feta have marinated for a while, Remove the calamari and combine some of the marinade liquid with the spinach sundried tomatoes, capers and feta to make the stuffing. You want it to be moist, but not too oily. I strained mine to include all of the garlic bits and the parsley in the stuffing. Salt and pepper to taste. The feta will provide some salt so be careful.

Put the stuffing into the calamari and close the open end with a toothpick.


I used a grill pan over the stove, but you can put them on a gas or charcoal grill. They don’t need to cook very long, but it also depends on the size of the calamari. I cooked my really large ones for 5 minutes on each side. The heat should be medium and the main thing you want to accomplish is to heat the stuffing while grilling the calamari. Put the tentacles on a skewer and grill them half the time of the stuffed calamari.

Serve all with fresh lemon wedges to squeeze over it. Enjoy! I served mine with a simple salad of avocado, tomatoes, and onion. Let me know if you come up with another variety of stuffing that, I should try.

El Tangerino-Spanish Restaurant in Tangier

El Tangerino is a Spanish restaurant located right on the main drag near the new Port at 186 Avenue Mohamed VI, Tanger 90000. They are opened everyday continuously from 12 noon until 2 a.m., but on Sunday, they close at midnight.

If you are a late diner (after 9 p.m. as most Spanish are) you should make a reservation. The restaurant has a lovely main dining room decorated like the inside of a boat. It is warm and inviting.

The menu is full of Spanish tapas, which could be a meal themselves and tons of fresh fish. They also cook Paella for a minimum of two people. They also have a list of meats including steaks and lamb.

This restaurant serves alcohol and has a nice wine list of Moroccan wines, beer and some mixed drinks. They have a wonderful grappa that we always enjoy at the end of every meal.

We have eaten here many times and always bring our visitors to El Tangerino. The prices are higher than usual for Moroccan restaurants. With an appetizer, two entrees, one dessert to share, a bottle of wine, and two glasses of grappa we spend less than $80, so it really is still a great value.

Tonight’s menu is a tomato and onion salad with tuna, red tuna steak grilled with a sesame seed crust and grilled calamari. Both entrees were served with some mixed sauteed vegetables and a shmear of mashed potatoes. The baguette bread is sliced thin and served with a black olive tapenade and creamy butter. We had a molten lava cake which we ate before I even thought about taking a picture. A bottle of Sarahi Reserve was the perfect accompaniment and afterward, grappa!

The service here is excellent and it’s nice to take a walk along the sea before or after your meal. The smell of the salty sea air fits perfectly with the ambience of the restaurant.


There are dining rooms upstairs, which are more modern, and often there is live music there. We prefer the more intimate setting downstairs, but the view upstairs is nice also.

There is a bar/lounge attached to the side of the restaurant, so you might want to go a little early for a cocktail. You can find the menu by clicking here, and their website here. Don’t miss it when you come to Tangier!

Gazpacho-A Cold Summer Soup

Gazpacho is the perfect summer food. The weather is fantastic in Tangier at this time of year. A real spring! Sunny and warm, but not too warm. High temps have been around 75 during the day and low’s in the low 60’s. That hasn’t stopped the summer vegetables from coming in and I’m looking for things to make with them. Nothing beats this Spanish hot weather cold soup.

It’s delicious as a starter or as a light lunch with some cheese and bread. I tweak this basic recipe to include different numbers of the listed vegetables depending on what’s available and taste. I also like to spice it up a bit with Tabasco or cayenne pepper and add some sour cream to the garnish. Instead of the basil, I also like to mix it up sometime with cilantro.

Try this gazpacho recipe and then mix it up. Let me know what changes you make to make it even more wonderful

1 Cucumber-not peeled
2 Red bell peppers
4 plum tomatoes
1 small red onion
3 cloves of garlic
23 ounces of Tomato Juice
¼ cup fresh Lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
½ tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
Fresh basil

Roughly chop all of the vegetables and the put individually into a food processor and pulse to desired consistency. Combine in a large bowl. Add the juices, oil, and spice. Mix well and chill for 24 hours before serving. You can make it as chunky or as smooth as you like. Chiffonade the basil and garnish the top with it.

Rif Kebdani Restaurant, Tangier Medina

Rif Kebdani Restaurant is the first restaurant I ate in the first time I visited Tangier. It has a special place in my heart and in my stomach. It’s the kind of place that you can go back to over and over, bring friends and enjoy lunch or dinner with great food, great service, and low prices.

They serve a strictly traditional Moroccan menu and no alcohol. It is very small with a dining room downstairs as well. There are only about ten tables in the main dining room. You get that family owned experience along with the good food and service.


The servings are generous and it’s easy to over order because this menu, as well as most Moroccan menu’s, don’t explain what all comes with the main entrée. If you are with a group of people, I suggest ordering a couple of appetizers or salads to share and then a main dish each.

On their menu, you will find Pastilla, Grilled Fish, Couscous, Beef with Prunes Tagine, Chicken with Preserved Lemons and Olives, and more. We’ve eaten almost everything on the menu and have never been disappointed. The fish is always fresh and varies depending on what came off the boats that day.

Seafood Soup
Seafood Soup
Pastille
Pastille
Moroccan salad
Moroccan salad

Grilled fish
Grilled fish

Rif Kebdani is in the medina at Rue Dar Baroud. It is near the Hotel Continental. It’s open every day of the week for both lunch and dinner from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m.

This restaurant is very popular and highly rated. It is usually not too busy at lunchtime, but around 9 p.m., it can get full. Ramadan begins May 16, but the restaurant will be open during the normal posted hours.

Yali Restaurant, Asilah, Morocco

Fresh fish is abundant in Asilah.  It has become a place that we visit relatively frequently.  We always take visitors there and often we go just to spend a few hours away from the hustle and bustle of the city.  Asilah is quiet and calm, pretty and relaxing.

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When we visit there, we enjoy eating at Yali, which is full of fresh fish.   Yali is located on the East side of the medina, just outside the wall.  The entire street is lined with outdoor cafes that all look the same, so it might be hard to choose one.  Our taxi driver steered us to Yali.  He told us they had the best food and the lowest prices.

They have all types of Moroccan dishes there, but we usually choose the fish.  We sit outdoors just about any time of year, although they do have a small dining room above the actual kitchen.

Moroccan Salad
Moroccan Salad
Harira Soup
Harira Soup
Grilled Calamari
Grilled Calamari
Grilled Mixed Fish
Grilled Mixed Fish

Yali is a simple place, but perfect for lunch.  These photos are representative of just one meal we had there and it cost about $12.  It’s a veritable feast for just a little money.  Try Yali when you visit Asilah.  When you visit us, we will definitely take you there.

Turkish Food


Trying new foods is always one of my favorite parts of traveling! I have never been a picky eater, although my decision not to eat four legged animals 20 years ago does present some restrictions. In Turkey, they eat all types of grilled meats and fish and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Lamb seems to be one of their favorite meats.

They serve small plates and dishes called “mezzes” which allow you to sample many different types of foods. Most of the mezzes are spreads made of eggplant, beans, or cheese and yogurt. The grilled meats are prepared on shish kebabs or served in pieces. Turkey is actually where the “Kebab” was invented.

On the street and in the markets, you can find lots of fresh fruit stands. This time of year, the pomegranate was everywhere!

We enjoyed the buffet style of eating a few times where you could actually see the food and just point to what you wanted.

We drank lots of black tea, Turkish coffee, and an after dinner drink, much like ouzo called raki.
The fish was so fresh, they rolled it out on carts for you to pick your choice and then they cooked it up the way you wanted.

There were lots of hot casseroles, and one night we had a dinner cooked in a terracotta vase. It was quite the show at the table when he opened it up to serve it.

Sweets and desserts are every where. They have lots of dried fruit, ice cream, baklava, and pudding like concoctions that are delicious.

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul,Turkey is the largest European city with 20 million inhabitants. The city is located on both the European and the Asian continents with the Bosphorus running in the center.

This is the second time I have visited Istanbul. The first was five years ago with a friend. My husband and I chose this fabulous city to celebrate our wedding anniversary and my birthday. He has never been there.

The seaports are busy with boats coming and going and the shoreline and skylines along the water are dramatic and beautiful. There are mosques and minarets everywhere you look and because of that, when the call to prayer happens, it resonates loudly and hauntingly throughout the city and is quite beautiful and exotic.

Bosphorous
Bosphorous

We were there for 6 days, but I feel like I could take 6 weeks, or maybe 6 months to learn about this city. During that time, we stayed pretty close to the historic center Sultanahmet.

We had a fantastically located hotel which was recommended by a friend, and was cheap, clean and had a nice breakfast included. It was called the Side Hotel and Pension. We stayed in the pension side. It is about a 3-minute walk to the square located between the Blue Mosque and Haghia Sophia and Topkapi Palace.

Using the Eyewitness Top 10 guidebook, we managed to see/do 7 of the 10 things that they recommended and we thoroughly enjoyed every one of them. We visited the Blue Mosque. It is for restoration, which was a huge disappointment for my husband, but he took it in stride. We were able to enter the courtyard.

Hagia Sophia was a church for 1000 years and then a mosque for 500. In 1935, it became a museum and it is incredible.

The Topkapi Palace was the home of the Ottoman Dynasty. The gardens that surround the buildings of the palace are incredible. Tulips and millions of hyacinths made an incredible perfume.


The Grand Bazaar is huge and contains everything your heart desires. It was so large, that I much preferred some of the smaller markets around. I particularly like the Egyptian Bazaar, which is less touristy, and more locals frequent it.


We visited the Basilica Cistern, which is underground and beautiful. Parts of it are also being restored which was a slight distraction.
One of my favorite things was the Turkish bath or hammam! We chose Cemberlitas which is historic, although a little touristy. For about $45, I had a bath (scrubbing bubble bath) and half hour massage.

There are separate sides for males and females. Inside this ancient structure, it is easy to let yourself get lost in time and your imagination runs wild with the history and beauty of the rituals there. I don’t have any photos of that event though!

We cruised the Bosphorus for a day and stopped on the Asian side for a seafood meal. Using the BIG BUS, hop on/hop off system is a great way to acclimate yourself to the city and see things that you might not otherwise be able to.  There is an audio guide in many languages and it’s well worth the money.

Eating in Istanbul is relatively inexpensive and the food is delicious. There are lots of grilled meats and fish and fresh vegetables. Their “mezzes” or small appetizer plates make it very convenient to try lots of different things.


Istanbul has taken the place as one of my favorite cities in the world. It is exotic, yet modern and filled with history and culture. Stay tuned to learn more about certain important sites!

The Gran Cafe de Paris-Tangier, Morocco

The Gran Café de Paris stands on a busy roundabout looking a little forlorn.  It’s a place that I frequent often and a piece of Tangier’s bohemian history.  You can’t beat the outside tables for people watching.


It is located across from the elegant French Consulate facing the Place de France.  The cafe opened in 1927.  It was one of the first buildings outside the old Medina.  It also has a part in the film, The Bourne Ultimatum.

French Consulate, Tangier
French Consulate, Tangier

French Consulate Tangier
French Consulate Tangier

In the past, Tangier’s famous literati such as Paul Bowles and William Burroughs hung out here.  Secret agents and spies listened to conversations around the room in the colorful past of Tangier’s International period, which started in 1923 and lasted until 1952.  I sit there often and inhale the genius of the past, along with the cigarette smoke.  It is okay to smoke in the café as in most places in Tangier.

The inside of the café has leather and wooden chairs and wood-paneled walls.  There are lots of mirrors, astrological signs, and clocks with times from around the world.  It’s very reminiscent of the “boys clubs” but a bit of wear and tear to make it interesting.  The waiters are dressed in red jackets and are cordial, stately, speak several languages, and always welcoming.


The Gran Café de Paris opens at 6:30 a.m. every morning and closes at 11 p.m.  They have wonderful Moroccan Mint tea, Café au lait, and some simple food items at reasonable prices.  Don’t be surprised at the number of men occupying the tables.  The café culture in Morocco is full of men, but they won’t mind a woman’s presence at all.

The Grand Socco-Place de Avril 9-Tangier

The Grand Socco connects old Tangier with the Ville Nouvelle or new city of Tangier. Formally known as Place de Avril 9, Grand Socco is the Spanish name coming from the Arabic word souk. Taxi drivers will know it by its name in Darija which is Souk Barre.

The formal name of Place de Avril 9, was given to the location because it was the site of King Mohammed V’s speech supporting Moroccan independence in 1947.

The Grand Socco is always busy but comes alive at night when vendors bring used items, as well as fruits, nuts, cigarettes, and spices into the square for selling. The palm filled square hosts a spectacular fountain in its center, which so far I’ve not seen filled with water.

Cinema Rif
Cinema Rif

In the Grand Socco, there are several other prominent sites such as the Cinema Rif, the Sidi Bou Abib Mosque dating from 1917. The courthouse with a banyan tree said to be over 800 years old is located there and the romantic, keyhole gate called Bab Fass into the Medina.


There are park benches for sitting and watching the world go by and you can always get a taxi in this location. There are many outside cafes around the area for sitting and drinking tea or having something to eat.

Just off the Grand Socco, you will find St. Andrews Anglican Church, the Medina, The Roman Tombs, Café Hafa, and up the hill, Café Paris and the new city center. The Mendoubia Gardens is within walking distance and is a nice place for a picnic.

Just up the street that runs to the left of the mosque as you are facing it is a farmer’s market on Thursday and Sunday. Farmers line the street with vegetables and fruits and the women wear the colorful straw hats and long skirts of the countryside.

Hamadi-Restaurant in Tangier’s Medina

We are having a lot of fun trying the different restaurants around Tangier. I don’t write about them until I’ve visited a couple of times and have a good handle on their food and service. Hamadi, located just outside the medina at rue du Kasbah is one that I don’t hesitate to recommend.

You will find similar Moroccan food on other menus around town, but the atmosphere and service set this restaurant apart. They have a wine list and a wide offering of menu items. The restaurant is quintessentially Moroccan with velvet seats, tiled walls, and sculptured arches. One of the best things is the music. Traditional Moroccan music played on instruments you don’t see everyday completes the scene.


It’s easy to over order in Morocco because the descriptions of the dishes are not very complete. They will usually just say something like “chicken tagine” and when it arrives there will be an abundance of vegetables, bread, and olives.

We ordered two salads, which were enormous and delicious. Either of these could have been shared between two or four people with an entrée. Our entrees were a lamb tagine and a pastilla. A pastilla is a pastry filled with chopped chicken, nuts, raisins, dates, turmeric, coriander and potatoes. It is a savory dish but the outside is sprinkled with powdered sugar and cinnamon. It’s delicious!


Pastilla originated in Andalusia. The Andalusians who migrated to Fez have spread the popularity of the dish throughout Morocco and the Maghreb (Algeria and Tunisia).


Hamadi is a very large restaurant and when we have been it has not been crowded, but I suspect once tourist season heats up, it will be. It is definitely more of a tourist experience, but one that you shouldn’t miss.

I didn’t think to make a video of the music because I was too enthralled with them, but I found a nice one on YouTube that you can see .

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