Casablanca Restaurants

We were only in Casablanca for forty-eight hours, but during that time, I learned that the city is chaotic and too large for me, but that they have some excellent restaurants. In the short time, we were there, we visited the famous Rick’s Café, a Spanish Restaurant called Casa Jose Gauthier and La Taverna du Dauphin.

We had incredible meals in each of them for not a lot of money. In Tangier, many restaurants have the same “family outing” menu which offers pizza, pasta, some Moroccan dishes, and sandwiches.

There are a handful of restaurants that offer seafood, international cuisine, or Moroccan and sell alcohol. These can be much more expensive and fewer to chose from. That doesn’t seem to be the case in the Casablanca metropolis.

Rick’s Café who got its fame from the 1942 film, Casablanca, opened in Casablanca since 2004. It is designed to recreate Rick’s Café bar made famous by Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in the film. The restaurant is in a large villa with the piano bar located on the first floor.


The menu is upscale and varied, and I had a goat cheese and fig salad and Ben had a shrimp and avocado salad lamb shank tagine.


Casa Jose Gauthier serves a large variety of Spanish food. We ordered from their tapas menu. We had a large variety of foods including manchego cheese, marinated anchovies, fish eggs, salad and octopus with a bottle of wine.

The crowning glory of these three restaurants, in my opinion, was at La Taverna du Dauphin. We started our meal with Daklha oysters, which are like biting into the sea. I had never had them before coming to Morocco and they set a new standard on oysters. They were served on the half shell with lemon.


We also split a delicious salad of chicory and blue cheese with a delicious vinaigrette. For my entrée, I had pan-seared scallops with a creamy risotto and my husband chose a mixed grilled platter.

Seared Scallops Rick's Cafe Casablanca
Seared Scallops Rick’s Cafe Casablanca


All of these meals were in the $20-$30 range per person including alcohol.

I have to return to Casablanca soon to pick up my passport. I will definitely make time to enjoy another wonderful meal!

Visiting the American Consulate

I paid a visit to the American Consulate in Casablanca, Morocco for renewing my passport. After living in Italy for eight years, getting married there to another foreigner, and then moving to Morocco, I’ve dealt with enough government offices bureaucracy for a lifetime.

Italy has a reputation for being one of the most bureaucratic countries in the world. Of the three countries, that I have experience with that is true. However, Italy, at least when I was there, does have some strains of humanity woven among the angst of getting documents. I chock that up to the warm, friendly Italian personality.

That’s not to say you won’t meet a few assholes along the way. I personally believe that this is how these types of jobs are filled. The bigger asshole you are, the more chance you have of being hired to do one of these jobs. Granted they aren’t easy. The wear and tear of dealing with so many different situations, people, cultures, and languages can understandably get on your nerves.

I’ve visited the American Consulate in Italy as well as in Morocco now to obtain documents. My observations are this: If you work in one of these locations, you are safe. There is more than ample security to get in and the tanks outside the Italian consulate should scare anyone away. (Including some Americans in need of assistance) I understand the need for this security, but it absolutely makes you feel like an “enemy of the state”.

Frankly, I hope I never need their help for some emergency. They don’t always seem willing to help. They have rules and laws that prohibit them from doing most things it seems. Two meetings I’ve been to in Morocco and Italy with the consulate consisted of them explaining more about what they could not do for citizens than what they can do. It seems they can notarize documents, issue visas, renew passports, and record births. All for a fee of course.

You cannot show up at the consulate to ask for assistance or questions. Everything is by appointment, online, and you must have exact documents showing the appointment, your passport, etc when you enter. I watched furiously while they patted down and scanned a man who looked to be well into his nineties, tried to walk with a cane, but needed assistance to accomplish that. He was frail, scared, and trying to renew his already expired passport. A HUGE problem.

My stomach ties in knots when I know I have to make a visit. Most of this is from dealing with documents in Italy where I referred to my visits as “going to gather information” to alleviate the inevitable failure if I thought I was actually going to accomplish something. There, the documents you need were not always clear and you often left with a list of more things to obtain. This could work for you as well as against you.

The U.S. Consulate is more exacting. In fact, they have the exact list of things that you need without any deviations. I showed up with that (my old passport, the appointment confirmation, and the form they asked to be filled out along with two photos of a particular size and pose) and after paying my fee was told that all was in order. The lead up to this simple transaction was daunting.

I approached the first woman at a desk outside the consulate. There are barriers and soldiers around the perimeter leading you to one opening. I told her I had an appointment and showed her my passport and confirmation and she passed me through to the second guard about 30 feet away. He looked at my appointment which was at 9:45 and told me to wait (it was 9:35)

He asked me if I had any cameras, lighters, cigarettes, aerosol, makeup, explosives, guns, or computers in my bag. I did have a camera and makeup and had to leave them with my husband. At 9:45, he looked at my passport and appointment again, checked me off a list that he held in his hand, used a hand-held wand to scan my body, and passed me off to the guard another 50 feet down the sidewalk. This guard was in front of the door. He checked my passport and appointment and opened the door.

I entered into the “compound” with an airport security scanner and belt. I put my purse on the belt and proceeded through the scanner. The officer at the other end took out my cell phone and asked me to turn it off, took out my phone charger and ear buds, my house keys and put them in a bin for collection upon my return. He gave me a claim ticket.

He checked my passport and appointment confirmation and told me I could enter the door 20 feet ahead. I entered that door, where another guard stood and there were several glass doors with small waiting rooms ahead. I felt like I was in a prison and the surroundings were stark, clean, and sterile.

This guard told me to enter the two doors ahead and have a seat until I was called. I entered a small waiting room where the elderly man sat, another young Asian man, and a woman and her child.

From here, my process went quickly. I waited about 45 minutes for the others in front of me and there is no privacy here as the people behind the bulletproof glass bark out over speakers your name and your situation. I felt particularly embarrassed for the woman with the child who was in a real predicament and was offered no hope of a resolution and her private business was discussed over the speaker for all of us to hear.

They will email me within two or three weeks when my passport is available for pick up. They allowed me to ask questions and when I told them that I would be traveling to Italy in a little over three weeks time and that my current passport was valid for five months and Italy required six months, the only advice they offered was that I could travel at my own risk. It is the option of the admitting officer at passport control whether they will allow me entrance or not.

So, now I am waiting for the email to make the 5-hour trip back to Casablanca on a Tuesday or Thursday between two o’clock and four to pick up my passport without an appointment. Hopefully, this will happen before my trip to Italy! Fingers crossed.

Changing Seasons, Changing Times

The seasons are changing, the times are changing and so am I. I had an unexpected trip to the States to help attend to my Mother’s health,
I’m remembering the anniversary of my dear friend Linda’s death a year ago. We’re looking for a new apartment and planning a trip to Casablanca to renew my passport. I’m beginning a new teaching position. Our one-year anniversary of arriving in Tangier is almost here. I’m reliving our last month in Florence which was full of stress and anticipation.

Sometimes it seems like yesterday, and sometimes it seems I’ve always been a part of this city. Every day it surprises me. Everything is changing here and it is evident everywhere. Construction cranes rise in the city. Boats come and go from the new port. Restaurants and shops open, and Tangier is modernizing. In the midst of the modernization, ancient customs are carried out and celebrated.

With the influx of industry and innovation, the city still struggles to keep up with services of trash disposal, sidewalk maintenance, and caring for the mentally ill and poor. The more things change, the more things stay the same. My thoughts today are as random and confused and spinning like the traffic in one of the many traffic circles in Tangier. I’m just waiting for sanity and clarity to return and help me make sense of it all.

La Table du Marche’-Tanja Marina Bay

The restaurant La Table du Marche’ is a fabulous new restaurant located on Tanja Marina Bay. It is pricier than most places in Tangier, but the food, service, location, and atmosphere make it worth it. They have one menu whether lunch or dinner that serves something for everyone.

The restaurant opened in May with the opening of the Tanja Marina Bay facility.

The cuisine is international but there is a section for Moroccan cuisine as well. They serve fresh fish, grilled meats, pasta, and risotto. Our selections today were a tomato and mozzarella salad. It had fresh and sundried tomatoes with a pesto sauce. It was delicious.

I ordered a pasta dish with mushrooms and smoked turkey pancetta. It was a generous, rich, sultry dish that reminded me of autumn.
My husband ordered the fish of the day, which turned out to be grilled swordfish with tomato chutney and a side of mixed vegetables. We shared a bottle of white wine from Morocco, which was excellent.

This restaurant is also affiliated with the less pricey one next door, La Boutique. It makes the fresh bread that they serve in La Table with roasted garlic butter and a black olive tapenade. It is incredible.

The restaurant is located at the end of the end of the pier, which gives a nice view of the municipal beach and the Gulf of Tangier. There is one located in Marrakesh and in St. Tropez.

The décor inside is very modern with all glass windows to take in the incredible views. We went for lunch but I can’t wait to go some evening after dark to take in the beautiful Tangier skyline with all the lights flickering on the sea.

The Life I Imagined by Karen Mills

Morocco is not my first experience living abroad. I lived in Italy for seven years permanently after taking a one-year sabbatical in Florence. At that point in my life, I had a very successful career, two grown children, and had divorced a few years earlier. At this point, I was saying, “Is this all there is?”

I made a New Year’s Resolution to make some changes. Specifically, I decided to “live somewhere else and do something different”. After looking around for other opportunities in other cities for my job, I decided to step out of the box. If I could live anywhere I wanted, where would that be and what would I do. The result was a year in Florence, Italy learning the Italian language and so much more.

I wrote a book about that first year called, The Life I Imagined

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You can find it on Amazon in hardcopy or as an eBook. Read it and change your life!

An excerpt to whet your appetite.

The Life I Imagined

When the plane touched down in Venice, the departure point of the cruise, I felt strong, independent, and excited. The ride from the airport to the pier was a blur, and a water taxi took me to my hotel. I looked at the rippling water in the amazing red and gold sunrise glowing on the antique, ornate palaces and felt the stirrings of something inside. A bubbling up of who I might be, where I might go; the life I might lead in the future dawned like the new day over Venice. I laughed aloud and then cried with joy. Other passengers turned and looked at me with puzzled faces. We were all tired after the long overnight flight, and I laughed again and chalked it up to my emotions.

The rest of that day spurred on by some well of energy that had surfaced with this new feeling, I walked the city. I could feel the smile on my face as I took photos of everything and everybody. I noticed things that I probably wouldn’t normally notice; the curve of the wrought iron on a terrace, people kissing by the ocean, an old man eating gelato alone on a park bench, and the smell of the sea.

I got lost in the alleyways and narrow streets and crisscrossed the many bridges over the canals, gasping when I came upon the rialto Bridge, St. Mark’s Square and the Bridge of Sighs. I booked dinner for one in a fabulously expensive restaurant and drank prosecco, Italy’s bubbly, elegant answer to champagne and people-watched others at nearby tables.

Five Challenges of Living Abroad

For me, living abroad has been the right choice. I’ve seen other people come and go from both Italy and here in Morocco. Living somewhere is not like being on vacation. While it has been the right choice for me, it hasn’t always been easy. Here are the things that I have struggled with most.

1. Missing family and friends-This one is obvious. With modern technology, the world is much smaller and it is easier to stay in touch with people. Still, there are times when you want to be with a loved one and it just isn’t feasible. Making adjustments around holidays birthdays, and times, when those you hold dear are ill or in need, is difficult from afar.

2. Language-Learning the language is a necessity if you are going to live in a place. You might be able to get by in the market or around town, but when it comes to reading contracts, opening bank accounts, filing taxes, going to the doctor, you are going to need to speak the language. In addition, it makes acclimating into your new home more pleasant in that you can speak with neighbors and locals that you meet. It isn’t easy though!

3. Finding social outlets-usually you will start with the other immigrants from your home country. That is fine, but in order to enter the society in which you chose to live, you have to learn the language and get involved. That might mean volunteer work, taking classes, or finding a job. You will be happier and feel less isolated if you integrate yourself into your local community. You can usually start with a social network online that might have regular meetups. Again this might only integrate you will other immigrants, but that network will start to grow and expand into the local community.

4. Culture Shock-You likely chose your new home because of some of the cultural differences. You will not like all of the cultural differences that you find. Adapting to the culture is difficult, but you can choose which things you take to heart and which ones you do not. Things such as opening and closing times of businesses, bureaucracy, food rules and customs, religious activities, tipping practices, social interactions, and how you dress are all things to be considered. It is best to be observant and learn what the locals do so as not to stand out like a sore thumb.

5. Food-This might not be something that you think of when you think of living in another country. My primary advice is to plan to eat like a local. In countries outside of the United States, it is common to shop daily for fresh food. Refrigerators may be smaller and freezers non- existent. Produce is available in season and not all year round, but the outstanding flavor when it arrives makes it worth it. Fast food and ethnic food might not exist and may be expensive when you find it. Learning about the recipes and foods of the country where you live can be very rewarding.

Avocado Shake

Smoothies made with milk and avocado are absolutely delicious. I have to admit, I never thought I would say that. I like milk and I like avocados, but the combination of the two did not sound inviting to me. It took me a long time to try it.

When I did, I immediately loved it! It is smooth and creamy and a touch sweet. It is filling and oh so good for you. Avocados are abundant and inexpensive here in Morocco and you can buy this drink almost everywhere.

According to this Heart Healthy article, avocados have health benefits such as:

1. They are nutritious
2. They contain more potassium than bananas
3. Avocado is Loaded With Heart-Healthy Monounsaturated Fatty Acids
4. They Are Loaded With Fiber
5. Eating Avocados Can Lower Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels
6. People Who Eat Avocados Tend to be Healthier
7. The Fat in Them Can Help You Absorb Nutrients From Plant Foods
8. Avocados Are Loaded With Powerful Antioxidants That Can Protect The Eyes
9. They May Help Prevent Cancer
10. Avocado Extract May Help Relieve Symptoms of Arthritis
11. Eating Avocado May Help You Lose Weight
12. They are Delicious and Easy to Incorporate in The Diet

They are easy to make at home and there are all kinds of recipes on line like this one from MarocMama, another Moroccan blogger.

Try it! I bet you will love it too.

A Tourist at Home

When was the last time you were a tourist in your own city? Since I moved to Tangier, I’ve been a tourist here a lot. When you move to a new place, it’s always exciting to see what all it has to offer. However, after you have lived in a place a while, things might become stagnant or you might just be busy with work, family, household chores, etc.


Whenever I visit a city, I often use the hop on, hop off buses that many companies offer to tour the city. The prices are usually relatively reasonable and you can see many things and get a lot of information in a relatively short amount of time. Then you can choose places, sites, monuments, or museums that you want to revisit.

We noticed that there is a new bus in Tangier, City Tours. It is the hop on hop off style and has two routes. One is two hours and one is one hour. They offer they tour in an audio guide in four languages: Arabic, French, Spanish, and English. It costs about $16 for both legs of the tour and the ticket is good for 48 hours.


Because we are residents, they offered us a 50% discount, so for $8, we were able to take the tour. We have been to all of the places on these tours, but there was some interesting information and it was fun to see the city and the sites from a different perspective.

I grew up in Nashville, TN and my parents still live there. Whenever I go back to visit, I go on some type of tour like Nashville Trash, Backstage at the Grand Ole Opry, or visit one of the sites such as Andrew Jackson’s home, The Hermitage.

So my advice to you is to consider being a tourist in your own city. See your city as the tourists do. You might learn something new or develop a new appreciation for where you live.

Discovering Wine in Morocco

Wine in Morocco? That might surprise you given that it is 98% Muslim. They do not use wine in their religious practices. Wine has always been an important dimension in my life. That only increased while living in Italy. We’ve enjoyed and been very pleasantly surprised by the availability and quality of this luscious beverage in Morocco.

Most restaurants do not sell alcohol. You will find the more expensive, or foreign cuisine restaurants do have it. It is also available in hotel bars and sold in stores around town.

Wine has been in Morocco since the Phoenician settlers. By the time the ancient Romans were in Morocco, it was well established. The French occupation and expertise gave a boost to the industry. When Morocco gained independence, it began to die out. The high Atlas Mountains and the cooling influence of the Atlantic make is a desirable climate for the vineyards.

In the 1990’s foreign investors and know-how entered the market. At the time there was a program by the state where they rented acres of land for vineyards. Several large Bordeaux based companies entered the Moroccan market. Today, Morocco is the second largest wine producer of the Arab countries behind Algeria.

Red wine accounts for 75% of the production and rose’ and gris about 20%. There is only about 5% produced here that is white. The traditional red grapes planted in Morocco are Carignan, Alicante, Grenache, and Cinsaut. Those makeup about 40% of the crop. Plantations of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah have increased rapidly, and together makeup around 15 percent.

Morocco has five distinct wine regions. Within these five regions, there are fourteen with Appellations de Garantie (AOG) status. We drink mostly wines that are made in Meknes and Fez. We’ve had some really nice ones that go great with the Moroccan cuisine. We look forward to visiting some of the vineyards and continuing our education.

Sushi Box and Other Ethnic Restaurants

There are quite a number of ethnic restaurants in Tangier, although many of them are not very good. It is interesting to eat Chinese, Japanese, Thai, and Indian food in countries outside of their origin. I’ve eaten them in the United States and in Italy, but not in the original origin, so who’s to say whether they are authentic or not. I only know if I like them or if they are similar to what I have eaten in other places.

I’ve read that it is common for ethnic restaurants to adapt their food and menus to the locals. I’ve seen this happen in Italy when I ordered what should have been a spicy Chinese dish only to find it not so spicy at all. (Italians do not eat very spicy food). I also saw menus for McDonald’s (please excuse this example) change to fit Italian taste with pancetta instead of bacon and here in Morocco where they do not have bacon on the menu at all.

When you are vacationing, it is rarely important to check out ethnic restaurants because you are eager to eat food from the place that you are visiting. When you live in a place, it’s different. Sometimes you just want a taste of home or a different taste entirely.
I sorely miss Mexican food and have not found it here in Tangier. They have Chinese, Japanese, Thai, French, Spanish, Indian, and Lebanese. Still, there is a good selection. One of the best places that I’ve found so far is Sushi Box.

Sushi Box is located on rue Ibn Alhaytem Tangier, Morocco. This is a chain, so they also have locations in Casablanca and Rabat. They use the freshest fish and have a very extended menu. There are tiny jars of pickled ginger on the table along with wasabi, so you can eat all that you want.

The prices are in line with other sushi places I have eaten, although that is on the expensive side for Morocco. I think it’s worth it though. The only thing lacking is the sake, which I sorely missed. You can check out their menu at the Casablanca website by clicking here.

They also do home delivery. Yay!

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