Friday, January 18, 2019

Spiced Café Noir #FoodieReads


I still don't remember how I ended up with The Caliph's House: A Year in Casablanca by Tahir Shah* on my to-read stack. I don't recall if a friend recommended it, or it was just one of those 'people who bought x also bought this' suggestions that always gets me on Amazon. Always. But, after I finally kicked jetlag from our holiday trip to Denmark, I picked this book up off my shelf.

On the Page
Unfortunately, I liked the idea of the book more than the actual book. British travel writer Tahir Shah uproots his family from the gloom of London and buys a house in exotic Casablanca. He has dreamt of making Morocco home since he traveled there as a child. In the same tradition of Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes or A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle - that the French Winophiles will be reading next month! - Shah details his trials and tribulations about being a foreigner making a home in a new country.

He acquired Dar Khalifa, a crumbling seaside mansion in Casablanca that once belonged to the city’s spiritual leader, or caliph, and wants to renovate it. Sounds interesting, right? The guardians or caretakers believe that that house is inhabited by jinns, invisible Islamic spirits, that need to be exorcised. Still interesting.

However, this felt fictional and bad fiction at that. I mean, how many times can you "trust" a native, get burned, and still be surprised? I find it difficult to believe that someone as worldly as Shah could be such a bumbling simpleton. The anecdotes just didn't ring true and I was glad when the book ended. So I'm happy to move on to other books that are requesting my attention!


In My Cup
Despite my feelings about the book, I was excited to create an exotically-spiced coffee inspired by Moroccan cuisine. This isn't a traditional recipe, but I loved the idea and the flavor of this cup. Café Noir appears in the glossary at the end of the book. No real recipe, just that it doesn't include milk. Okay.

Ingredients makes 2 cups of coffee

  • 1 C water
  • 4 T coffee grounds (I used a dark roast)
  • 1 t ground cardamom
  • large pinch of saffron
  • 2 T rosewater

Procedure
Pour water into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Spoon in the coffee grounds, ground cardamom, and saffron. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 or 6 minutes. Raise the heat to bring it to a boil, then pour in the rosewater. Bring the coffee to a boil for a third time. Simmer for another 5 to 6 minutes. Strain out the grounds and pour into small cups.


I served this Café Noir in demitasse cups with dates, mixed nuts or pastries.

*This blog currently has a partnership with Amazon.com in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to Amazon.com and search for the item of your choice.


Here's what everyone else read in January 2019: here.

2 comments:

  1. Well this one wasn't on my radar and now it is definitely not going to be on my tbr list. Looking forward to Mayle's book.

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  2. I am currently drinking some tea (on a much needed holiday off work) and I think I may wander into the kitchen an make me a cup of cafe noir. I would so have been sucked into this book (because I love the whole Marlena di Blasi books about her renovations in Italy) but thanks for the tip. I will leave this out of my TBR stack.

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