we knocked, a young man answered, and ushered us inside. on the whole the homes in the medina, on the outside, are dull, almost uniform, unattractive, on the inside, tell a much different story. there is always a central courtyard. in this case, for sitting, rather than plants or wall fountain as in most hotels. the kitchen is off the courtyard. i looked in. not large, but adequate, modern, wooden cabinetry, comfortable to work in. there are two rooms at either end of the courtyard separated by wooden columns, bench seating, with cushions, two tables each, and upstairs, on both the second and third floors, three rooms around the balcony. there is also a rooftop terrace but it was chilly and we decided to remain indoors. instead we chose a room off the courtyard. it was comfortable enough. the benches are not deep enough, and the cushions took thick for the bench seat. the tables, cutlery, plates and bowls are plain, napkins are paper. we had come for the food. i mention this only because some who read these reviews care about such things. why be misled.
soon enough my son and i became the center of attention. we were the only customers. the owner is a French woman and she employs the young Fassi man who greeted us as well as a Portuguese. it felt quite international. we talked as though we were old friends. we told the tales of our three month adventure, but it was soon clear that Zahra, the owner, is a world traveler herself. Tom Waits was playing. i commented. we decided he had a medieval side to himself he may not be aware of, which, until i heard his music in Fes, i was not aware of either. there was much laughter. eventually we got around to ordering. i ordered a tabouleh for eli and i to share, while eli went with the pasta arrabiata, and i, the pesto pasta. the bread was good, fresh from the market, warmed in the oven, slightly crusty. the salad was a couscous based tabouleh with the same sort of cut up vegetables found in most tabouleh. it was good, but not outstanding. i had been hoping for a leaf lettuce salad, a more Mediterranean style green salad. perhaps the ingredients cannot be had in Fes? there were other choices, salads with avocado or tuna, neither of which eli eats. another day. the pasta was excellent. unique. the pesto was not at all overwhelming, thankfully, but there was a hint. sun dried tomatoes, added a welcome twist, and linguine rather than spaghetti, was a nice touch, the sort of subtlety the cuisine of Le 144 maintains. eli's pasta was also quite good, and equally as subtle. the tomatoes were fresh. the spicing was average, which suits eli perfectly. on the other hand, last nite, we dined at Le 144 again, and this time switched pasta dishes and Zahra was only too happy to ratchet up the spice level. it was perfectly suited to my palette, knockin' on my door, but not overwhelming me, allowing my tongue and palette to savor each mouthful. i began with a wonderful, highly aromatic creamy carrot and ginger soup, which i highly recommend.
there was no wine, but eli had a smoothy which was quite good, and i had a lemon mint which was excellent, particularly if you enjoy sour, which i happen to love. i inquired about wine, and i was told the restaurant had only recently acquired a proper license and would begin serving tomorrow. i immediately made a reservation. time for desert. a little arm twisting and i managed to get eli to choose the lemon pie. i ordered an espresso. i am not in the least a desert eater, but i was in the mood for a taste and i did not want the chocolate cake because i do not like chocolate. the lemon pie was more a cake, and oo la la, it was good, rich, creamy but as i mentioned, in a cake setting rather than a crust. with each mouthful i was reminded of my mother. this petite gâteaux was in her style, and if there was one thing in which Bea excelled, desert was it. oh, how fondly i remember the blueberry muffins.
we sat around, the staff huddled near our table, and we chatted up, well, everything, the conversation moving of its own free will, peripatetically from one topic to the next, marked by laughter, jokes, curiosity and of course, my charming son, eli. we left at 10:00 and wandered home through a chilly dark nite. the main streets of the medina were comparably quiet. indeed, a very good day. we were tired but inordinately happy.
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