February 22, 2011

Persian Love Cake

We just found this delightful blog at My Marrakesh.

Morocco, Libya, Bahrain, Iran and, really, the world: A tale of Persian Love Cake
In these times of turmoil, of tumult, of turbulence.  Yes, in these times of upheaval, of unrest, of uproar. Oh, in these times of clamoring, confusion, and commotion, I thought I would offer you this:
Persian Love Cake.
Persian Love Cake 3

We love the candied rose petals, which are, as Maryam writes, "helpful when wishing for rose colored glasses to see the world around you."

Read the full blog here. It is a reminder that amidst change and uncertainty, we can always go back to the textures, the flavors, and the rich culture that surrounds us. 

February 15, 2011

Considering the impact of changes in Egypt on travel in North Africa.

Hi Peggy:

I joined you on your Tuscan trip in Sept, 2002 with my friend Pat. I am thinking about Morocco for my next culinary and cultural adventure, but I’m concerned about the political unrest in Tunisia, Egypt and that region in general. What are your thoughts?

Best wishes,



Hello Jennifer,

Nice to hear from you. I can assure you that I feel absolutely safe traveling to Morocco, and bringing guests with me, in the coming months.

I am reminded of the time that I spent time in Morocco on 9/11 and the months and years just after. As an American traveling at that time, I received much heart-warming support from the Moroccan people, both close friends and strangers. What I have to say about the current political climate in North Africa is rooted in my comfort with the Moroccan culture, and from the views and opinions of many of the my contacts there, who vary in background and experience.

The government in Morocco is different form that of Egypt and other North African countries in that it is a monarchy, not a dictatorship, with a young and progressive King. He has done a lot to increase the welfare of his people and, in general, they love and respect him. Morocco also began to institute political reform some years ago. Morocco is also separated geographically from the Middle East--in many ways, it is more an extension of Europe.

I feel that what is happening in Egypt is astoundingly positive for the Arab nation. The youth of that region are changing the old mentality--something that influence from the West cannot accomplish on its own.

Here is some additional reading that you might find useful, an article from Reuters, "Morocco Unlikely to have a Tunisia-like Uprising."

If you have any other specific questions, please do let us know. We would love to have you join us!


Our booking coordinator, Merete, moments after a lesson in "How to Wrap a Turban" from two experts on the beach in Essouairia, during our Spring 2010 program. 

February 11, 2011

Recipe: Tuscan Winter Salad with Egg

Writing about Capri today, I savor the thought of fresh cherry tomatoes with wild arugula, a signature summer dish with fruity extra-virgin olive oil. 

But in February, I am in Colorado, and this winter salad strikes a cord. It has a European sensibility and taste for a winter’s want for something light and tasty.

This recipe came from my friend, Frank Stitt, perhaps my favorite American chef and southern gentleman. His restaurants Highlands Bar and Grill and Bottega, in Birmingham, Alabama are unbelievably good. His flavors, produce and know-how are completely authentic. I stepped into Bottega for the first time 8 years ago, ordered a fried oyster salad and fell in love. I said to the waiter, "Who is this man?!" 


A winter salad sure to please, as we look forward to the brightness of spring.

> 2 T extra virgin olive oil
> 1/4 lb pancetta in one piece, unrolled and cut into lardoons (1/4 by 1/4 strip)
> 1 shallot finely chopped
> 8 very fresh organic eggs 
> Maldon sea salt and freshly ground pepper
> 4 cups of mixed young lettuces, such as frisee, arugula, young big and romaine
> 2-3 T of Sherry vinegar
> 4 slices of baguette

Warm the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook for 2-3 minutes, until it just begins to crisp and render it’s fat. Add the shallots and cook for one minute until softened.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs and season with sea salt an pepper. Pour the eggs into the sauté pan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring until the eggs are just set, 2-3 minutes.

Combine the lettuces in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the vinaigrette and toss.

Add the warm eggs to the salad greens and toss lightly. Divide the "egg salad" among four plates and garnish with toasts.

Recommended wine: Vernaccia di San Gimignano.