I loved Morocco! The bustling streets of Marrakech with its ochre city walls, blue mosaics and pushy street vendors. Getting lost in the souks, breakfasting on the roof of our riad, eating at the food market on Jemaa el Fna. The stray cats, snake tamers and fortune tellers. The prerequisite cups of sugared mint tea before a sale. Trekking in the Atlas mountains, sleeping in refuges, watching the Berber children disappear over mountain tops with their goat-like dexterity. Camel-back riding in the Sahara, sand storms and oases. And of course, there are the meals and the flavours – tagines, lamb, chicken, couscous, figs, roses, mint, dates, almonds, prunes, apricots, pistachios. We had high hopes for our Moroccan meal in London.
Harrods sparkled with all the promises of an exquisitely cut diamond against a velvet-night London sky. Svelte men in silk suits sat back, cross-legged at street-side tables pulling hookah pipes, blue fumes billowing from their lips. Leopard-print skirts stretched taut over the rolling buttocks of plucked, pruned, manicured, bronzed, botoxed women. The Arabian quarters of Knightsbridge welcomed us with the the tappity-tap-tap of polished, candy-cane pink talons and the swift swipe of plastic.
From the moment we stepped into Mamounia Lounge we had departed the hurly-burly of London’s street life. I half expected to find myself in a Bedouin tent on the edge of the Sahara. The restaurant is decorated in rich reds and golds. Gold fringe curtains offer the illusion of private dining as you sink into overstuffed silk scatter cushions and succumb to the sweet sounds of dulcet lounge.
While the restaurant seems to be confused as to whether it is offering a dining experience or a clubbing experience, our meals were superb. Just looking at these photos I can smell the flavours in those wafts of steam as clearly as though the lid of the tagine had only just been lifted.