Sometimes, to know what’s current and best practice in food or restaurant marketing, you have to get back to the basics. Sometimes, you have to strip away all the advances of Western civilization and return to a time when our industry was primal and vital. And so we give you Marrakesh, the spicy North African gem with the French tendency, and the setting for this agency’s special food report.
First off, let’s just say that this is the land that food and beverage branding forgot. Sure, we spotted the one obligatory KFC and a tiny, discreet placard for a McDonald’s. But for all of its bustling Euro-tourism, the city has, for the most part, resisted the westernization of both appetites and marketing.
Our first afternoon, we felt compelled to sample the quintessential national dish: the tajine Morrocan. We found ours at Le Marrakchi, a restaurant directly situated on Place Jemaa el-Fna, the central square of the medina bounded by souks.
Our choice was largely made for us; while moseying jetlagged through the square, a gentleman in a fez whispered directly in our ear: “Nous avons du biere.” The promise of a cold (and illicit) brew (during Ramadan, no less) overwhelmed us, and we followed him up three dark flights of winding stairs. Choosing a table that overlooked the maelstrom of barkers, donkeys, carts, cats, snake charmers, monkey mongers and urchin hustlers below, we enjoyed a tepid Flag beer and a steaming lamb tajine. We knew we were in for an extraordinary week as soon as its aroma wafted around us. Cooked in the traditional earthenware vessel from which it takes its name, our tajine offered savory lamb, flavored with delicate spices, raisins and onions on a bed of couscous.
Later in the day, after much hunting, we discovered what gradually became our go-to oasis: Café Zwin’ Zwin’ (currently #13 in TripAdvisor). Its nondescript doorway opens onto the reeking, moped-imperiled, jam-packed souks along Rue Riad Zitoun El Kedim. Zwin’ Zwin’s terrace affords a sweeping view of the medina’s rooftops and offers both cheery red umbrellas and straw hat loaners.
The French owner has made a surprisingly modern, Europop, Elton John-playing venue in the very heart of the old city, and the sunset here is dreamy. We recommend the vegetable couscous for its hearty and savory delight.
Another notable stop during the week was our side trip to Jnane Tamsna in Palmeraie. We chatted with the gracious owner, Meryanne, and her ridgeback, Diva, as we soaked in the unforgettable aesthetic.
An A-lister getaway, Jnane Tamsna offered us a respite by the infinity pool with a Berber mojito. Later, we enjoyed an exquisite lunch of cold cucumber soup, beef in a delicately complex sauce with semolina, and a delightfully chill watermelon sorbet.
In our second posting on our trip, we’ll take you to two not-to-miss dining adventures and explore some findings applicable to Western food and beverage marketing.
Marketing lesson: Western audiences are increasingly hungry for authentically exotic ingredients and experiences.
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