The Bliss Riad, run and co-owned by our friend Sheila, is a wonderful oasis from the chaos of Marrakesh. It’s got comfortable little nooks for hanging out. My favorite of these is called the “Relax & Chill” room. I’m not into relaxing, and I’m not very chill, but I love a great spot to work, and this is the best place to work in all of Morocco.
Moroccan olives are my favorite olives in the world. When we travel to Morocco, I gobble them down. And even when we're in France, I seek out the Moroccan olive sellers in Orange or Marseille -- those spicy Moroccan olives go so incredibly well with French bread and cheese.
The first thing you notice about Morocco when you fly into the country is that olive trees are everywhere. The ubiquity of olive trees reminds me of Greece. But unlike Greece, Moroccan olives are more likely destined for eating, not olive oil.
Moroccan olives seem to come in infinite varieties. Green, red and black olives are each transformed into different kinds based on curing method and the addition of herbs and spices.
And they're often used an an ingredient in cooking, such as tagines.
The truth is that my favorite kind of olive is a very common one: Moroccan green cracked spiced olives, which have their pits still in them, and flavored with spicy peppers, garlic, coriander, cumin, lemon juice and olive oil. They're super spicy and flavorful, and I just love them with bread and cheese.
(Of course, for our upcoming Gastronomad Morocco Experience, we'll be tasting olives in Berber tagines, markets, restaurants and olive farms.)
The colors of Morocco. The burnt-orange sand of the Sahara. The blue village of Chefchaouen. The deep green rivers of date palms. And the riot of colors in Moroccan spices. These colors thrill your eyes with their surreal and exotic beauty.
To travel Morocco is to travel through time. The enormous market of Marrakesh brings you to the middle ages. Entering the ancient Medina of Fez transports you to the 9th Century. And to gaze at the night sky from the top of an Erg Chebbi sand dune is to see light with the naked eye light that has travelled across the universe for a billion years.
And the food! Morocco once served as a gathering point for spices originating throughout the East. Arabic, Berber, Spanish and French influences flavor the cuisine. Morocco is the land of tagine, couscous, bastilla, olives, preserved lemon and ras el hanout, the 27-spice mixture that flavors everything from lamb to fish.
It’s also the land of wine. The wine country of Meknes is a gift left behind by French colonial rule.
Our Gastronomad Morocco Experience is two weeks of exploration of the amazing food of Morocco April 29 through May 12, 2019.
Everyone should experience Morocco at least once in their lifetimes. And our Morocco Experience is the most joyful, authentic and delicious way to do it.
Click here to join us in Morocco for a magical, unforgettable experience of a lifetime.
What I like best is the understated minimalism of the place. But seriously, this place is very cool.
We rented it from a man who used his teenage son for translation. I asked the kid how old the house is, and he said: “Everything in Fez is very old — two or three thousand years old.” That’s unlikely, because Fez was founded in the 8th Century. This house is probably no older than 400 years. But still...
It’s a lovely place to work. It has one modern element that most traditional houses lack: tables that you can put your legs under, which is very nice for typing.
Amira and I lived in Tbilisi, Georgia, about a year and a half ago, where we discovered a world of delicious foods we had never even heard of.
One of my favorite Georgian standards is something called Adjarian khachapuri. Basically, it's a boat made out of bread filled with melted cheese and an egg, with butter on top.
Khachapuri comes in many types, shapes and sizes. What they all have in common is the combination of cheese and bread, or beef and bread.
Some kinds of khachapuri are round, and look just like pizza. In fact, it's probably very close to the pizza Italians used to eat before tomatoes were brought from the New World in the 16th Century. It may have been introduced to Georgians by Roman soldiers.
The Adjarian variety appears to be the most popular kind in Tbilisi, and for good reason: Everybody loves an egg on their baked whatever. And Adjarian khachapuri has an egg.
Khachapuri is a finger food -- you eat it with your hands. Basically, each end of the boat has stub of bread. You tear one of these off and mix the cheese, egg and butter mixture, and take a bite. You keep tearing off bread and dipping it and eating it. It’s really fun to eat.
The khachapuri in Tbilisi is made with yeast-leavened modern white-flour wheat. I make mine with naturally leavened bread with a little whole grain flour.
The traditional Georgian cheese, called khacho (after which khachapuri gets its name), is often simulated outside of Georgia with a mixture of feta and mozzarella, which is what I'm using here.
Even more home-made is the fact that we're using eggs produced by one of Kevin's chickens, who just started laying last week.
What a rewarding year 2018 was! And it was so fun to end the year with a wonderful New Year’s Eve celebration with awesome friends and a rooftop party overlooking Mexico City’s Zocalo Square during The Mexico City Experience.
It was a privilege ringing in the new year with such beautiful human beings.
Bringing together our Gastronomad friends with our dear friends around the world is something that fills me with deep joy every time.
The Mexico City Experience was more than we ever dreamed of. We learned some Mexican culinary skills, we cooked and tasted the most traditional and delicious Mexican dishes, we gathered joyfully around magical dinner tables with our wonderful Mexican friends, and we drank delightful wine and drinks.
We meandered through the most idyllic cobblestone streets, we visited the most enchanting places, we picnicked in the most dreamy of places in Mexico City. We shared meaningful and joyous moments, we laughed, we sang, we danced, we embraced and became fast friends.
I loved seeing the magic of friendships blossoming as we gathered to learn about Mexican food and traditional drinks, Mexican traditions as well as Mexican gastronomy, history and heritage.
Immersed in authentic Mexican culture, the heartfelt joy we all shared and the friendships we formed will forever live in my heart.
I’m deeply grateful to see our gastronomad family of friends grow with every Experience in all these beautiful places around the world.
Our time together can best be described as joyful and magical. We learned, we explored and ate so much — surely the most delicious Mexican food in all of Mexico! The magic that happened this week is simply unforgettable.
We’re blessed to have a wonderful community of amazing people we’re so lucky to call friends.
Join us for more Mexican Magic when the scent of spring flowers infuse the air during The Mexico City Experience this spring!
Space is limited, so grab your spot today and immerse yourself in the magic of a gastronomad experience. - Amira
As we say goodbye to 2018 with gratitude, we welcome the new year with humility and anticipation.
Mike and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts for joining us on our Gastronomad Experiences, whether you join us in real life, or in spirit.
Thank you for trusting us, for following our adventures, for breaking bread with us, for reading what we write, for visiting our websites and for signing up for our newsletters.
Our heartfelt thanks to you for sharing your homes and lives with us when we visit you, for your support, for teaching us, believing in us and for staying connected with us. We appreciate you, your friendship and your love deeply.
As we embrace the new year, we look forward to twelve more months of Gastronomad adventures while striving to make magic every day.
To travel is to live. And to live is to travel.
Living fully, big and deeply, with purpose, meaning, intention, gratitude and joy as we traverse this beautiful world tasting the most delicious food, drinking the most exquisite wine, gathering with the most devoted foodies while learning from the most visionary artisans, wine makers and chefs is what Gastronomad living is all about.
When we open our minds and our hearts embracing everyone as the same, we can see the beauty in every person. A warm heart helps us appreciate our differences as much as our similarities.
Our path must be about more than just tolerance but also about respect and appreciation for each person we encounter. When we see the beauty present in others, what we see is the beauty of humanity itself.
Genuine human connection is what makes The Gastronomad Experiences what they are. True respect for other cultures and their traditions is what drives us.
We don’t want to change the world. We want the world to change us.
Our love for sharing with you the lessons we’ve learned, the wisdom we’ve gained and the friendships we’ve formed, in the now 13 years exploring this stunning world is why we want to keep roaming until the end of our days.
Happy New Year dearest friends! May you enjoy a glorious 2019 surrounded by loving friends and family.
Wishing you a fulfilling and meaningful year. May you enjoy profound peace, radiant health, boundless prosperity and unforgettable Gastronomad adventures with delicious food and abundance of joy and magic. - Amira
You can find the best and the worst horchata in Mexico City. This was pretty close to the best.
The outdoor market in Condesa (Tuesday Tianguis near Restaurante Lardo) had an abundance of tuberoses this week. Knowing that vendors run out of all the best stuff by midday, I buy all my favorite things early in the morning and ask the vendors to hold them for me while I run other errands around the city. A few hours later, I return to the market and go back to each vendor to pick up my goodies.
This week, my favorite flower lady, Cristina, had gorgeous tuberoses at 80 Mexican Pesos a dozen (that’s just $4 USD). These are the most beautiful tuberoses I’ve ever seen and their scent is divine. How does a dozen tuberoses that are 4 feet tall and absolutely perfect cost so little? It’s astonishing. And it makes me feel like I’m committing robbery. But that’s one of many wonderful things about shopping at the weekly outdoor markets or mercados: Everything is cheap. It makes me feel giddy about buying something for pure self-indulgence without feeling guilty about spending a lot.
Going to the markets all over the city is one of my favorite things to do. There are so many delicious fruits and vegetables I typically don’t get access to anywhere in the US or Europe. I also love getting to know the vendors. I always strike up conversations with them if they’re not too busy and pepper them with questions about what they do and where they come from. I learn a great deal from them and they seem happy to share information. For example, I learned that tuberoses are native to Mexico.
I’m deeply grateful for the privilege of having these rich and fulfilling experiences in my life as a gastronomad. Aimlessly wandering through the market, a thought occurs to me. Life in Mexico City is sweet like the wonderful scent of tuberoses.
It’s my birthday today and my tuberoses are making our bedroom smell like heaven. I am one happy birthday girl! -Amira
Everyone keeps asking me: "How’s Mexico City?"
I reply (with unbridled enthusiasm) that "Mexico City is so much fun!!!"
This city is all about genuine revelry, delicious flavors, bright colors and good old-fashioned friendliness.
Mexico City is also a city of rich history and culture, a vivacious urban landscape of unique architectural heritage. It’s modern and traditional; charming and sophisticated; quaint and gigantic -- rendering an incredibly eclectic style in every sense of the phrase.
We love it so much that we’re adding a Spring Mexico City Experience and also an Autumn Mexico City Experience (celebrating the magical Dia de Los Muertos celebration). Every season brings something anew!
Setting foot in this enchanting city feels surprising and shocking to the senses. And somehow, something about it feels familiar and endearing—whether you’re visiting for the first or tenth time.
Mexico is the ultimate mashup of Europe and Native America. And Mexico City, as both the capital of the Aztec Empire and later the capital of New Spain, is the origin point of the New World.
It’s one of the oldest urban capitals in the Western Hemisphere. Founded in 1325, and home to the Aztec Empire, it was later conquered by Spain and became the capital of the Spanish Empire in the Americas.
Mexico City's historic center is emblematic of the Spanish colonial period -- sometimes it feels like you’re in Spain. And then you’re reminded that once upon a time, before the Spaniards, this was the native land of Nahuatl speaking Mexica people. The Aztec ruins that still remain in the heart of the captivating historic center make this fact ever so palpable.
The historic center is the heart of Mexico City and its vibrancy is magically unique. It’s by far my favorite part of the city, vivacious and spirited as if it has a life of its own. You can’t help but feel the magic of the place as you meander among the thousands of people on the streets. And yet, it never feels overwhelming. You feel joyful and alive (similar to how New York City makes you feel).
There seem to be celebrations, festivals and lively markets all over the place. We keep running serendipitously into wonderful festivities of some kind or another. And music is always part of the cheerful revelry.
It’s hard to wrap your head around all you see and experience when you’re in this awe-inspiring city.
The seemingly endless urban sprawl has some beautiful European looking neighborhoods with streets laced with green lush and majestic tropical trees.
When you’re in Mexico City, you can’t help but fall in love with it because you feel loved by it, too. Being here while enjoying the company of wonderful friends is where the real magic happens. It’s an overwhelming sense of joy, exhilaration and exultation all at the same time with a bit of wonderment.
Put Mexico City on your bucket list! But for a truly unique and immersive visit that as a tourist you won’t have access to, click on this link for the next Mexico City Experience! You don’t want to miss the magic of our genuine, authentic, joyful and exclusive gatherings and exploration! - Amira
Mexico is expecting international visitor numbers to rise by 6% next year to a total of 45 million. They’re expected to drop $23.26 billion before leaving.
Overtourism? The fact is there’s no such thing as overtourism in a country, only specific cities and locations. Cancun, for example, was built on overtourism. But there are still hundreds of locations where people can go and stay in Mexico without arriving as part of a hoard.
Overtourism ruins the very qualities that the tourists come to experience. Authentic food is replaced over time by replica food that squeezes out artisan and local producers.
I fear that Mexico City is headed that way. Walking around in the city, great food is harder to come by than it use to be; and there are slick, expensive and chain restaurants taking over.
Still, our Mexico City Experience later this month will explore the best and most authentic food experiences this city has to offer (and they’re incredible).
Mexico City is somewhat burdened by overtourism, but it has a long, long time to go before it reaches Barcelona levels.
Everyone should spend some quality time in Mexico City. If you haven’t been, I can tell you that Mexico City is not what you expect, and that you have to experience it to understand it.
Our Mexico City apartment is the perfect place to work: Tons of space, fast WiFi, great table, fully stocked kitchen, etc. We have fast WiFi because we specifically requested it. Our host contacted their provider and cranked it up, and we’re paying an extra $30 per month for the upgrade.
Pro tip: Always ask if internet speeds can be increased when you rent a house or apartment abroad.
Discovered a new chocolate bar. 99% cocoa, 1% sugar. Understated packaging.
Mexico City is a big city with a huge population and yet it feels quaint and intimate. Some districts can feel chaotic but not in the overwhelming way that other big cities around world do.
Of course, like other large cities, impoverished communities coexisting with posh neighborhoods is part of the reality here. Mexico City has everything in between these extremes in the socio-economic scale. Homelessness also exists, and it’s heartbreaking to see here just as it is everywhere else in the world.
Day and night, Mexico City seriously bustles with life, thriving commerce, superb street food vendors, splendid mercados (including night-time markets), bohemian nightlife, sumptuous fine dining restaurants, opulent luxury brand stores, magnificent museums, impressive art galleries, brilliant traditional artisans, wonderful bookstores, world renowned chefs and one of the largest and most spectacular urban parks in the Western Hemisphere. Chapultepec Park is the second largest park in Latin America. And It’s a world of its own. The park even contains some of the most majestic museums I’ve seen.
Music is everywhere, and it seems like it’s always festive party music!
I don’t recall ever seeing a city that’s so genuinely awe-inspiring, intricately diverse, totally unique, and wonderfully vibrant as Mexico City.
Mexico City is cosmopolitan and sophisticated -- but it also conveys a sense of simplicity and authenticity with the down-to-earth and laid back friendliness of a charming town. It’s hard to understand how a city with a population of 21.3 million can feel so delightful and enchanting.
I love many places on this beautiful planet and I’ve had the privilege of encountering exceptionally kind and generous human beings in all our travels. But I have to say that Mexico City is a place dear to my heart. Its impressive culture and amazing cuisine are second to none. But there’s something about Mexico City that I find especially endearing: and that is the people. Everyone we encounter is extremely polite, genuinely welcoming, helpful, warm and friendly. They really make us feel at home. - Amira
Big businesses in Mexico City tend to close on Sundays. But many of the smallest businesses and street vendors stay open everyday, including Sunday.
I spent my Sunday yesterday meandering through small markets that sell agro-ecological products.
These small open markets are wonderful to explore. You can find fruits, vegetables, flowers, cheese, mezcal, chocolate, tacos, supplements, handmade shoes, clothes and much more.
The food producers grow or make everything using organic practices, but they’re not necessarily certified organic. The sellers of non-edible products tend to make them by hand as well.
Most of these markets are pretty new, having started only in the past couple of years. And they're popular and growing.
I’m noticing a lot initiatives in Mexico City to promote and support ecological agriculture as well as clean air -- from electric bikes and scooters to special privileges for bike riders to support for these agro-ecological markets.
So great to see! - Amira
This is a lovely place to work. The apartment is on the third floor, and my window overlooks a pleasant, tree-lined street in the Polanco neighborhood of Mexico City. - Mike
Mexico City has bookstores everywhere — many of them are tiny specialty stores trading in rare or niche books. Other bookstores, like this one, sell a great selection of books, plus offer coffee and snacks and nice areas to sit and read.
Best of all, for at least one gringo, this bookstore has an entire section of libros en Ingles!
Wait, remind me again why we’re all so eager to get rid of spaces like this in favor of Amazon? - Mike
Google Translate is one of those apps that has been around for years, and which therefore everyone mostly ignores. But Google is constantly improving it — on the backend, with the artificial intelligence — where it really counts.
Their visual translation feature, which used to be another app called Word Lens, is still miraculous. (Google bought it years ago and integrated it into Google Translate.) I love how it translates printed words while retaining their contextual place in your visual field. - Mike
I don’t often work in co-working spaces, mainly because they’re too expensive and also because I prefer the coffee and food at a coffee shop.
But I discovered a place here in Mexico City called Coffice, run by the couple you see here.
Their prices are astoundingly low. And they also make delicious home-made food. (I haven’t tried their coffee, but I’ll bet it’s good.)
How low are their prices? Well, their “Basic” plan is $1.50 an hour. The “Quickie” plan is only $5 for three hours and comes with a snack. And the “Workaholic” option charges only $9 for the whole day, with a 10% discount on food. And all their plans come with all the coffee you can drink.
Crazy, right? I don’t know how they do it.
They also offer very fast WiFi.
If you’re familiar with Mexico City, you’ll know their location. They’re right in front of La Cibeles Fountain in the middle of La Roma.
Amira and I had a lovely and adventuresome dinner at the posh and innovative restaurant, Lorea. As you can see from our photos below, the place is really thinking outside the box with ingredients, plating and flavors.