Since this is our last weekend in the Denver area, I wanted to take Linda to Mataam Fez, a Moroccan restaurant, in town.
The last time I came to Denver, for a conference in 1995, I went to a Moroccan restaurant and it was really fun. The one we went to last night isn't the one I went to before but the food was pretty similar. You get a 5 course meal and the one thing you pick is your entree....everything else just comes to you. You sit at very low tables on cushions or a low padded bench. Then someone comes out with a silver wash basin and you hold your hands over it while they pour warm water over your hands so that you can wash them. You then dry your hands on towels they've given you and you put over your left shoulder. Now you are ready to start eating...We started with soup, a traditional Moroccan lentil soup. Oh, and with all of the courses you use your fingers....no silverware. The soup was very good. Next are assorted cold salads....a beet salad, spicy carrots, seasoned potatoes, fava beans, spinach, a marinated tomato salad and then a carrot/raisin/blossom water salad to cleanse your palate in between the salads.
After the salads, comes B'Stella...minced chicken, spiced egg and almonds wrapped in puff pastry and dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Yum ! Sort of like having a funnel cake in the middle of your meal.
I have to tell you Linda's observations through all of this. When you first enter the restaurant, it's pretty dimly lit and all of the walls are covered with carpets and the ceiling looks like the top of an elegant tent. It's all meant to simulate a traditional Moroccan experience...a giant tent. Linda's eyes got real big as she took it all in but still had that "I'm not so sure" look about her. Then we took our shoes off and sat down at the low tables, on the bench seat. There were only two other tables of people there, when we arrived, but as the minutes clicked off, the place filled up. She liked the soup but when the salad plate came, she wasn't so sure about eating it with our fingers or if she'd like the salads. She started eating and said, "I'm not so sure if I like this" but kept eating. Kept saying it but was still eating. I think the food grew on her.
Ok, back to the parade of food.
Next was our entree. We had ordered shrimp. By the time we finished the B'Stella I was getting full....let alone have two more courses of food. The shrimp was the hardest to eat, without silverware. It was very hot (temperature wise). There were about 8-10 large shrimp to fish out of the tomato and onion sauce. The shrimp were very good but the only way to get any of the sauce was to kind of push it up onto your peeled shrimp and use it like a fork. It worked satisfactorily although I couldn't finish it all. Next came the washing of our hands again...they were pretty sticky by the end of the meal. Then the guy had a thing with rose water in it and splashed our hands with it as well as sort of a blessing with it as he splashed our heads (splattered all over my glasses...yuck !)Then he came with the glasses of mint tea. Usually there is a little theatrics with the pouring of the tea. This guy wasn't very good and seemed to be in a hurry to get done. The place I went to in '95 had a woman who could pour the tea into a cup on the top of her foot from above her head or she could pour it behind her back...was really impressive since it's scalding hot. I think the extent of what he did last night was put it on his elbow and then flip his arm over, catching it in his hand. With this came a plate of fresh fruit.