Chefchaouen- The Blue Pearl of Morocco

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Chefchaouen 

 

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Chefchaouen, Medina 

 

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View from Salon Bleu in Tanger

We flew into Tangier, a port city on the Straight of Gibraltar. You only need an afternoon here to walk through the Medina (old city) and petit/grand Socca. Do not fall prey to the men who will offer to lead you to your hostel or hotel, as they expect payment. The next day we took a 3 hour shuttle to Chefchaouen or Chaouen, known for it’s blue-washed buildings situated in the Rif Mountains. It is one of most unique and stunning places I have ever visited. It is rumored that Jewish refugees introduced the blue walls to symbolize the sky and the heavens. Now, people also believe that the walls are painted blue to repel mosquitos. Regardless of the reason, this blue city is not to be missed!

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Local paint in Chefchaouen

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On the outer edge of the Medina in Chefchaouen

Now, on to the food! Moroccan cuisine is characterized by ras-el-hanout, a typical North African spice, which is a blend of around 30 spices including cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, paprika, and cardamom. You must try tagine, a signature Moroccan dish consisting of meat and vegetables cooked in Moroccan spices and served over couscous. Afterwards, enjoy the traditional Moroccan mint tea, made by boiling water with mint leaves and adding a generous amount of sugar. Tip: ask for the sugar on the side. The dishes are also served with bread and olives. The bread is cooked in a wood-fired oven giving it a crunchy outer layer and doughy inside.

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Snack Assada

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Beldi Bab Ssour

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Fresh Moroccan Bread!

Highlights:

Medina (old town): You can spend a whole day getting lost in the maze-like medina, where we stayed. The dazzling blue walls are lined with vendors selling patterned blankets, jewelry, and pastries.

Outa el Hamma Square: Main square where most restaurants and hotels are located. There is always something going on from religious processions to people dancing on the street.

Spanish Mosque: The Spanish Mosque is located about 20 minutes (by foot) outside of the medina and offers beautiful views of the city.

Cascades d’Akchour: A beautiful waterfall hike about 45 minutes from Chefchaouen.

Where to eat:

All the restaurants have a similar menu, but here are the ones I recommend:

Beldi Bab Ssour (Chefchaouen, Medina): A local spot that gets very crowded. It is around 3-4 euros for a main dish. We sat a communal table and met a local artist who gave us recommendations on what to order. The tagine is excellent.

Restaurant Aladdin (Chefchaouen, Medina): Located in the main square and a bit more expensive. The atmosphere and décor alone are enough to eat here. The rooms are lined with with colorful tapestries and patterned cushions. You feel like you walked into another world. Plus they have two outdoor terraces with panoramic views of Chefchaouen. However, the food was mediocre. I recommend going for mint tea or appetizers to enjoy the ambiance.

Snack Assada (Chefchaouen, Medina): Another cheap local spot that offers outdoor rooftop seating.

Restaurant Al Kasbah (Chefchaouen, Medina): Another delicious restaurant off of the main square. They have colorful tables and chairs on the street that are surrounded by plants. You feel like you are eating in the jungle.

Salon Bleu (Tanger, Medina): A beautiful restaurant that has a rooftop terrace with unbeatable views of the city. I recommend going at dusk and watching the sunset. It was our most expensive meal of the weekend, although still affordable—we paid 15 euros for an appetizer, main course, dessert, and mint tea.

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Homemade local pastries in Chefchaouen

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Al Kasbah

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Salon Bleu

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Drinking fresh juice in Chefchaouen!

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Best coffee shops in Paris

Boot Café (Marais)

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Carrot Cake + Latte

Adorable little cafe in the Marais, extremely tiny though. There is only room for four tables. They serve gourmet coffee and baked goods.

La Caféothèque (4th arr)

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Go here to study or read. Lots of space and great coffee!

Strada Café (Latin Quarter and Marais)

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Enjoy delicious lunch items and coffee in a cozy and relaxed setting. They have great wifi too! It is around the corner from my apartment so I come here often to do computer work. I love their soups, which come with salad and a tartine.

Huguette Maison de Famille (6th arr)

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Coffee shop by the Jardin du Luxembourg. One of my favorite lattes in Paris is their Golden Latte avec curcuma, canelle, gingembre, et miel. So delicious! They also have a nice Matcha Latte.

Honor (Champs Élysées)

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Outdoor gourmet coffee shop off the streets of the Champs Élysées

Lily of the Valley (Marais)

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Pink grandma-style tea house in the heart of the Marais. They offer a vast assortment of tea (green, black, white, etc.) that you can also get to-go.

Coutume Café (6th arr)

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One of my favorite coffee shops in the 6th. They serve high-end coffee, delicious baked goods, and healthy breakfast items.

Le Peloton (Marais)

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A coffee shop founded by the owners of Bike About Tours. They offer artisan coffee, homemade snacks, and bike tours.

Best Healthy Cafés in Paris

Wild & the Moon (Marais)

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Acai Bowl

A vegan/vegetarian café using plant-based and sustainably grown ingredients. They offer juices, smoothies, soups, salads, vegetable bowls, and packaged snacks (kale chips, fruit bars, hummus, etc.). Located on rue Charlot in between chic art galleries and hand-crafted jewelry stores. Highly recommend.

Holybelly (10th arr)

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Holy Baked Beans + Champignons

Popular brunch and lunch spot with healthy vegan and vegetarian options. They change their menu monthly based on what is in season— exactly what I like to hear. Relaxed and casual atmosphere. They do not take reservations so be prepared to wait.

Soul Kitchen (Montmartre)

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Adorable healthy café with Vegan/Vegetarian options. Soul Kitchen, nestled by the Montmartre steps, offers a daily-changing menu with homemade dishes made from local organic ingredients. It is owned by two cheery woman who are eager to tell you about the menu. It is creatively decorated with mismatched and colorful plates and furniture.

La Guinguette d’Angèle (1st and 11th arr)

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Lunch Box (changes daily)

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Known for her beautiful and feminine plates decorated with flower petals and herbs, Angèle brings you gluten-free delicacies. Angèle is leading the way in the emerging Parisian health food movement. She has a small take-away shop in the 1er, a café or salon de thé in the 11è, and a catering service. She is also working on her second cook book and TV show on La Quotidienne. I am slightly biased because I work for Angèle, but I firmly support her philosophy of creating natural and healthy dishes.

Café Oberkampf (11th arr)

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Green Eggs + Feta, Avo Toast, Ham Sandwich

One of my favorite affordable brunch spots in Paris. They offer delicious Shakshuka and Green Eggs + Feta (pictured above), as well as an assortment of toasts and sandwiches. Again, be prepared to wait on the weekends as the café only sits around ~15 people at a time. My friend and I were so eager to eat after waiting 40 minutes that we ordered 3 entrées between the two of us! No regrets.

Merci (3rd arr, Marais)

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Butternut Squash + Lentil Salad with citrus dressing, Lavender Scones

Merci is a combined home goods store and cafe. You have probably seen an Instagram photo of girls posing in front of the vintage mini car (painted either bright yellow or red) that is located in the courtyard. The walls are lined with books and it is common for customers to bring their well-groomed dogs. Enjoy a butternut squash and lentil salad along with lavender infused scones.

13- a Baker’s Dozen (6th arr)

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Delicious healthy dishes. They are known for their homemade biscuits and gourmet coffees (must try the mocha and pumpkin spice latte). It is owned by two charming women— one from Sweden and one from the US. The cafe is very small and cozy, off of the main street and tucked away in an alley. They also speak English here.

Season (Marais)

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Acai Bowl, Salmon Eggs Benedict, Pancakes with maple bacon

Chic healthy café around the corner from Le Carreau du Temple. They offer a seasonal menu with fresh and organic ingredients. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Lomi (18th arr)

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Salmon avo toast

Excellent drip coffee and salmon avocado toast. A great place to bring your laptop and get work done.

Ob-La-Di (Marais)

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Matcha Bowls + Drip Coffee

Small coffee shop with organic coffee and brunch items.

Strada Café (Latin Quarter and Marais)

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Celery Soup + Beet Hummus Toast + Salad

Enjoy delicious lunch items and coffee in a cozy and relaxed setting. They have great wifi too! It is around the corner from my apartment so I come here often to do computer work. I love their soups, which come with salad and a tartine.

Biglove Caffè (Marais)

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Part of the Ober Mamma Italian chain. Not the healthiest brunch items but everything is delicious. We ordered the brioche french toast and truffle eggs, along with a pistachio and chocolate latté.

Other:

Le Tricycle  (10th arr) 100% vegan

Nous (9th and 10th arr)

Pinson (Marais)

Miznon (Marais)

 

 

Apple Cider Vinegar Detox

Apple Cider Vinegar Detox

A great morning pick-me-up if you’re feeling under the weather or sluggish. Apple Cider Vinegar lowers cholesterol, clears sinuses, fights bacteria, aids in digestion, and provides extra energy. Lemon removes toxins and provides vitamin C. Honey boosts your metabolism.

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  • Glass of water
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Squeeze the lemon into the water then add the apple cider vinegar and honey.

Creamy Summer Smoothies

 

Creamy Peach Smoothie 

 

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Ingredients:

1/2 frozen banana

1 Peach

3-4 ice cubes

1/2 cup Almond milk

Coconut Peanut Butter Shake

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1 frozen banana

3 dates

1 teaspoon maple syrup

1 tablespoon peanut butter

1/4th cup coconut cream (from can)

Splash of coconut milk

 

Creamy Berry Sorbet

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1 frozen banana

1/4th cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1/4th avocado

1/4th cup frozen mango

1/2 cup almond milk

Celebration Dinners

Celebrations 

These are my favorite restaurants for special occasions.

The Ivy (Beverly Hills and Santa Monica) Very fancy and well-known.

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Fried calamari and oysters

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The halibut

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My mom and our family friend Nu

I came here for my 21st birthday. You are greeted with complimentary champagne and ushered into an elegant living room with a live pianist and fireplace. The whole restaurant is covered in huge floral printed couches and pillows. We ordered the fried calamari, oysters, halibut, black cod with ginger coconut curry, and wild swordfish. While the food was delicious, this is a place you go to enjoy the atmosphere. The servers make your experience very magical and special. Dessert is brought out with a firecracker candle. There is a good chance you will see a celebrity—we saw Larry Flynt. Recommend: The black cod with fresh ginger and coconut curry. Atmosphere: lavish and elegant (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)

Animal (N. Fairfax) Very creative and adventurous tapas food.

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Grilled Quail, Plum, Pomegranate, and Apple

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Pig ear with chili lime and egg

Part of Jon and Vinny’s restaurants (Son of a Gun, Trois Mec, and Petit Trois, Helen’s). We shared the bone marrow, grilled quail, pig ear, BBQ pork belly sandwiches, and ended the meal with the yellow peaches mocha and brown butter ice cream. The servers are eager to recommend dishes for first-timers. Recommend: The bone marrow and pork belly sandwiches. Atmosphere: dimly lit, chic (5 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)

Lucques (West Hollywood) Refined and pricey.

Scallops

Scallops

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Chocolate tart with espresso hazelnut and cardamom ice cream and the shortcake with pistachio ice cream

I came here on my college graduation night with my family. The servers are very attentive. The owner actually checked in on us and asked how our meal was. We ordered the scallops, the halibut, the market fish, and the lamb. For dessert we ordered the chocolate tart with espresso hazelnut and cardamom ice cream and the shortcake with pistachio ice cream. The food is decent but not the best I’ve tasted in that price range. Recommend: the scallops and the halibut. Atmosphere: elegant, sophisticated. (4 taste, 4 atmosphere, 5 service)

Sugar Fish (BrentwoodUpscale sushi.

I came here for the four-course Dine LA meal: First course – seasoned edamame; second course – one piece of salmon sashimi; third course – 4 pieces of sashimi (albacore, salmon, yellowtail, and scallop). My favorite was the scallop piece. The fourth course was a toro hand roll. Cost $20. Recommend: “Trust Me” meal. Atmosphere: clean, simple, trendy. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)

Flores and The Ladies Gunboat Society (on Sawtelle Blvd.) Rustic chic LA restaurant.

Unfortunately, I did not take any photos but check out their Yelp Page! Flores uses fresh ingredients but takes it to the next level with rich flavors and decadent sauces. Everything is served family style. The décor of Flores is a fairy’s cavern meets a grandma’s living room with vintage-style mismatched silverware and plates. We ordered the house made biscuits with maple butter and sea salt, toasted farro risotto, seared diver scallops, and salmon. The desserts are out of this world. We ordered the vanilla bean cake with mascarpone mousse and the berry crumble with buttermilk ice cream. The cake was extremely moist and rich. Recommend: the biscuits, scallops, and vanilla bean cake. Atmosphere: trendy, vintage/rustic, modern eclectic. (5 taste, 5 atmosphere, 5 service)

Bulletproof Coffee with Coconut Oil

Bulletproof Coffee with Coconut Oil 

Coconut oil gives you extra alertness, boosts brain function, and suppresses hunger cravings. Blending the coconut oil with the coffee makes the coffee taste creamy and frothy. I love the hint of coconut mixed with coffee. Plus it will give you energy throughout the day rather than a quick burst of energy you may experience when you drink a regular cup of joe.

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Blend in Vitamix or food processor until frothy.

Optional:

Blend a splash of soy milk with a couple tablespoons of black coffee. It will turn frothy. Pour on top of the bulletproof coconut oil coffee.

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