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Posts by alizagreen

Ten Great Reasons to Join an International Culinary Tour

  1. You like to explore various cuisines in depth and in context
    You love to eat Indian food but haven’t experienced cashew burfi (a marzipan-like confection), parathas stuffed with methi (fenugreek leaf) and panir cheese, or sheermal (saffron naan bread cooked in a tandoor), a specialty of the Muslim community of Lucknow and a legacy of the Mughals.
    You love baklava, but haven’t experienced hot, freshly-made salty cheese filled kunefe from Nazareth, famed throughout the Arab world for the quality and variety of its sweet pastries.
    You love ceviche but haven’t experienced Arab-style ceviche made from fresh-caught Spanish mackerel in the coastal fishing town of Acco.
    You love pasta but haven’t experienced hand-made orecchiette (ear-shaped pasta) made by ladies who form the pasta on wire trays literally on the streets of old Bari.

  2. You are curious about uncommon local ingredients
    Have you ever used orange blossom water in your kitchen? Try substituting it for water in any sweet pastry dough as Moroccan cooks do.
    Have you ever tasted mastic in Mastiha liquor, mastica-flavored loukoumades (fried “doughnut holes”) or mastica-marinated lamb kebobs from the Greek island of Chios, the only place in the world that harvests this delicious, healthful tree resin?
    What about “grano nero”, blackened wheat flour from Puglia where it was originally a food of the poor gleaned from fields harvested with gas-powered threshers that burnt the wheat in the field?
    Maybe you’ve tasted black wheat but what about smoky green wheat known as freekeh from the Levantine countries of Eastern Mediterranean?

  3. You want more from a tour than a packaged list of “must-sees”
    While you must see the magnificent Hassan II mosque in Casablanca, you could also visit an organic winery in Morocco with its own farm producing all the food served in its restaurant.
    While you must visit Masada in Israel, you might also go on a foraging adventure with a local expert in wild foods and then cook your own meal
    While you must see Florence’s Duomo, go deeper into Tuscany and learn how a dedicated producer from the wild Maremma raises heritage breed Cinta Senese pigs that feed on wild acorns and chestnuts in the forest and destined to be transformed into superb salt-cured salumi without the use of nitrates.
    While you must see the Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, Sicily, you might also visit the Marsala salt pans, where the “culture of salt”  has shaped traditions passed down through the centuries.

  4. You want to give back by supporting small farmers, wineries, artisans and food coops
    Instead of spending your money on commercial “souvenirs” bring back a jar of hand-produced Moroccan argan oil, delicious drizzled over oranges and olives in a typical local salad. The rock-hard shells containing the precious argan seeds are crushed by hand using stone mills at all-female coops, providing a source of income to country women who are then able to send their daughters to school.
    You love pizza but go further and learn about the rich and tangy mozzarella di bufala cheese that is essential to authentic Neapolitan pizza. At Vannullo, a farm in Campania producing water buffalo milk from three hundred females and three very happy male companions, people line up and take numbers every morning. When the mozzarella, yogurt and gelato runs out, there is no more until tomorrow.

  5. You want to come home with new culinary inspiration to share in meals with friends
    Instead of roast chicken, try a Moroccan chicken tajine with preserved lemons and green olives
    Instead of seared steak and roast potatoes, try rosemary-scented rare T-bone sliced and served with fagioli all’ucculetto”, “bird-style” white beans with tomatoes, garlic and sage, typical of Tuscany.
    Instead of shrimp “scampi”, try South Indian coconut, turmeric and mustard seed shrimp curry.

  6. You want a vacation full of unique and memorable experiences
    Pick wild greens in the outdoor garden of a Druze family in Israel and then cooking dinner with them.
    Visit a farm specializing in indigenous herbs like desert oregano and Judean savory grown in the Negev desert where the salty soil and never-ending sun yield plants extraordinarily high in essential oils
    Learn how stuffed madfouna bread in made in the Sahara and baked directly on the ashes of a small fire, lending it flavor but also the health benefits of the alkaline ash.
    Explore the delectable world of chocolate in Bayonne, France where Sephardic Jews fleeing Spain during the Inquisition brought the first chocolate and a tradition of chocolate artisans still found in Bayonne today.

  7. You are a participator rather than a watcher
    Explore the bustling Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem and choose the best foods in season (artichokes, favas and fennel in early spring) and prepare a delicious dinner for the group with your selections.
    Make your own spice blend to bring home from Morocco, India, Israel.
    Try your hand(s) at hand-stretched pasta (the best pasta possible) from two pasta artisan sisters in Orvieto. It takes technique, strength, the right rolling pin (if you’re from Bologna, it must be made from oak; if you’re from Umbria, it must be made from maple), and the perfect tender dough made from lower-gluten soft wheat flour.
    Cook a shared dinner at the outdoor rooftop cooking school on the top floor of a family home in Delhi, at another rooftop cooking school in the elegant, arts-focused city of Lucknow.

  8. You enjoy sharing new experiences and challenges with others
    Food is more fun when its shared. When the group dines out, everyone shares tastes and comments and you might even make some new friends.
    Learn to make Moroccan almond briouats (stuffed brik pastry triangles fried briefly and then simmered in cinnamon-scented sugar syrup.
    Learn from Tuareg tribesmen (the “blue people”) why Moroccan mint tea is poured from high above your glass. Next, practice making it yourself and share the tea, pastries and conversation with your new friends.

  9. You want to expand your palate and eat healthier by eating seasonally and locally and emphasizing plants rather than meats Experience the delicious possibilities of the famed Cretan diet based on an abundance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, and plenty of legumes like lentils and favas. 
    You are trying to eat a mostly vegetarian or even vegan diet but are tired of limited choices. India has developed the most imaginative vegetarian food on the planet including an entire cuisine based on chickpeas like pakora (vegetable dumplings in spiced chickpea flour; khaman dhokla (steamed chickpea flour cakes) from Mumbai, and chana dal (split chickpeas simmered till soft and topped with butter-fried whole spices.
    Learn what “catch of the day” really means in Puglia and Sicily: not cases of farm-raised fish all the same year round but a selection of a few different small whole fish, so fresh they came out of the water that same morning and cooked to order.

  10. You enjoy cooking foods from around the world
    Like Puglian Fave e Cicoria, split dried yellow fava beans simmered with extra-virgin olive oil and bay leaf with sautéed chicory greens & garlic toast, delicious and vegan.
    Like Moroccan lamb shank tajine flavored with exotic and complex Ras el Hanout spice mix blended especially by the owners of spice stores throughout Morocco. The mix is also blended to help with various physical ailments, so it is much more than just a flavoring.
    Like Yemenite Lachuch, a crepe-like flatbread cooked in a skillet and topped with various things including fiery green zhug, labne (yogurt cheese), fried egg and chopped vegetable salad. Cooks of Yemenite background in Israel make it in small hole-in-the-wall cafes.

Our Glorious Trip to Morocco: writings from a 2018 Morocco Tour Guest

Glossy black olives in hand-woven raffia basket, Fes medina

Olives, anyone? How many can we eat? And where do we put the pits?

What’s your memory of this glorious trip: is it the comfy bus in which only 5 people stayed in the same seats throughout; is it the power, wifi, nuts and water or is it the wonderful Mohammed who drove us for (how many?) kilometers, even during the

Multicolored olives for sale in the Fes medina

rain and sleet in the High Atlas mountains where some of us were terrified. But I bet it’s the extraordinary tour guide, Chacha, who spoke (at least) 5 languages, knew all about the history and geography, the architecture and the food, the people and the politics of this gorgeous country and kept us moving, interested and learning.

How about the great hotels we stayed in, including some with fewer amenities than we’re used to (e.g., hot water). Everywhere we managed thanks to our great leader, Aliza (AKA Aziza), who in her calm and professional tour-creator persona was able to deal with it all, including a melt-down, a foot injury, and unusual sleeping arrangements. Where else have you seen the tree-climbing goats, baby camels? When did you experience a longer-than-expected night-time camel ride followed by a cooking fire in the desert and sleeping in a “luxurious” tent?

There’s more: solar panels, modern architecture, ancient souks and medinas, hijabs everywhere but only 5 covered faces. ancient synagogues and cemeteries. Roman ruins, amazing on-the-water mosque, cooking lessons, spices, body scrubs and massage.

Ever find yourself puzzled by what to buy at the supermarket fish counter?

Click on the link for an article in Bottom Line Personal to learn A Chef’s Strategy for Buying Seafood at the Supermarket.

And, if you want to know more, my two books, Field Guide to Seafood (Quirk Books) and The Fishmonger’s Apprentice are packed with information. 

  Field Guide to Seafood is compact enough to carry with you when you shop. In fact, many supermarket seafood managers use the book as a handy reference.

Fishmonger’s Apprentice focuses on step-by-step photo techniques interspersed with interviews of industry professionals around the world who are working in every aspect of this complex field. 

 

 

Join me on my next culinary adventure: Israel: land of history, land of culinary excitement, February 10 to 21, 2019

Please consider joining me, culinary explorer and chef/author Aliza Green, on this exclusive tour of Israel: land of contrasts, land of plenty, land of history. 

Experience the best of Israel, where creative and exciting culinary fermentation combines Ashkenazi, Sephardi and Mizrachi Jewish, Arab, Druze, and Maronite traditions, ingredients, and techniques.  Tour Israel from the Galilee and Safad to the Negev, from the Mediterranean Coast to Jerusalem. 

 

Visit markets fragrant with spices like Carmel in Tel Aviv and Mahane Yehuda in Jerusalem. Experience the creations of Israeli chefs and bakers at top restaurants and small, local favorites and taste fine Israeli wines. Learn how farmers make the desert bloom in places like Shirat Hamidbar Farm. Enjoy lunch at the famed eponymous fish restaurant in ancient Akko, Uri Buri. 

Taste everything from Moroccan couscous to Yemenite jachnun bread, Ashkenazi kugel to Middle Eastern mezze and Tunisian shakshouka, now a national dish in Israel.

Meet some of Israel’s top culinarians including Tel Aviv rising-star Chef Osama Dallal, who will lead us in foraging for wild plants for a cooking workshop in an Arab home. Learn why Hadas Meir, of the Lasha Desert Bakery, believes that bread is the most spiritual food combining matter (dough) and spirit (air).

Image result for Lasha desert bakery

Savor an array of fresh and aged goat cheeses at Kornmehl Farm, where tradition and innovation work together in a fine balance. 

And, of course, visit the must-see sites like the Kotel (the Western Wall of the ancient Jewish Temple), the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, the Dead Sea, and Masada. Free time in Jerusalem to visit sites such as Yad Vashem. 

This twelve-day tour from February 10 to 21, 2019 is limited to 15 guests, traveling by private van, with accommodations in 4 and 5 star hotels.

Please send a message to ChefAlizaGreen@gmaiil.com for more information on this exciting tour and I will send back the detailed itinerary with pricing and deposit information.

Just back from a fabulous trip to Morocco, a land of mellow delights and warm, kind people

Morocco has been on my culinary radar ever since I first ate couscous in the Paris Jewish neighborhood of the Marais at age 12–it was a revelation. In years since, I had the opportunity to work with several Moroccan and Tunisian chefs, who inspired me to finally plan a trip there. Researching my two books on spices (Field Guide to Herbs & Spices and The Magic of Spice Blends), I became convinced that I needed to make that trip. And, I am very happy to say that my culinary/cultural tour with 13 guests was a delight for all, though not without its challenges–road to the Sahara closed due to snow (!), very slow-going to cross the Tichka Pass over the snow covered peaks of the High Atlas Mountains to Fez, and sleeping bundled up in every piece of clothing I owned including hat and gloves in a tent in the bitter cold of the Sahara night, which was nonetheless a high point of the trip for all.

Steaming chickpeas slow-cooked with gelatin-rich calves feet–one of the most delicious dishes of the entire trip at Dar Naji Restaurant in Rabat.

Vegetable tajine with preserved lemons and violet olives

Assorted almond cookies at Cafe Maure, Rabat

Fresh pink garlic Fes medina

Fresh cardoons, stalks of a plant closely related to the artichoke, were in season as were small, tender fresh green fava beans in the smell plastic bags on the side of the photo.

Donkeys work hard in the Fes medina

Fragrant herbs for royal tea, Fes medina

Chicken B’Stilla, a complex dish fit for celebrations, at Palais Amani, Fes medina,

Selection of spices for Ras el Hanout, rooftop of La Sagesse, Marrakech

 

Traditional stone mill for crushing argan nuts

Basket laden with spices, herbs, dyes, and other specialties at La Sagesse, Marrakech

Lamb and vegetable tajine t’faya at Le Jardin, Marrakech

Newly picked breakfast radishes and craquelines at Domaine Val d’Argan organic winery

Learning to make Moroccan breads at Chez Pierre in the Dades Gorge

 

Learn to Cook Morocco’s Fabulous Cuisine: Travel to Morocco with Chef/Author Aliza Green, February 13-25, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am happy to announce that since my first tour sold out, I am organizing a second Morocco Culinary & Cultural Tour starting February 13, 2018 for a 11-night tour filled with culinary delights, cooking classes, market tours, tastings, and visits to farms. We’ll learn to make an array of the small Moroccan salads such as the ones shown above, whether eggplant, carrot, artichoke, zucchini or fava beans. We’ll enjoy wonderful flavor-packed food based on seasonal vegetables, local olive oil and rare argan oil, purple, green, black and violet olives, fresh local seafood, and a deft hand with herbs and spices. For this small-group tour (maximum 10 guests), we’ll be staying in riads (traditional inn with inner courtyard based on Andalusian style) and will even have one night in the desert where we’ll stay in a luxury camp and bake bread in hot sand fueled by an open fire.

Tour highlights include: Tasting tour of Fes (the Moroccan spelling of Fez, Spice Workshop with Master Blender, an Exploration of Moroccan-Jewish Cooking, and cooking classes in the Atlas Mountains, a visit to the spectacular Dades Valley where we’ll stay at the justly-famed Chez Pierre, Marrakesh, and Fes.

Beginning in Rabat, the historic, Atlantic Coastal capital of Morocco, we’ll travel next to the Imperial City of Fes. Next we travel south into the Sahara Desert, and then onto the Dades Valley. We continue to Marrakesh, the beautiful ochre city and then on to the charming, windy fishing village of Essaouira before heading to Casablanca for a final night before departing Morocco.

We’ll be drinking pots full of Moroccan mint tea made with nana mint (spearmint), traditionally poured from a great height to cool the boiling hot tea.

Only two spaces left!

Here are some images from the heritage-rich riads and hotels where we will be staying:

Window at Maison Arabe, Marrakesh

Restaurant at Chez Pierre, Dades Valley

Poolside dining at Maison Arabe, Marrakesh

 

Court with pool, Palais Amani, Fes

Click on this link to get to the itinerary for the tour (I’ll upload a new file with the correct dates in the next few days but the itinerary will be the same as shown here with the tour starting February 20th): Itinerary for February Morocco Culinary Tour

Click on this link to get to the Payments page for pricing information: Aliza Green Morocco Cooking Tour Feb 18 Pricing

Any questions, please send a message to ChefAlizaGreen@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Note on my Culinary/Cultural Tour of Incredible India

Just back from my fabulous, dizzying culinary tour in incredible India! Eleven guests plus myself and my trusty assistant traveled from Delhi (madly busy, loved Old Delhi and its spice markets-shown here–and flower markets) to Jaipur (the pink city with a fabulous outdoor cooking class at the gorgeous Raj Mahal Palace Hotel), Agra (absolutely perfect weather for our early morning visit to the Taj Mahal), Lucknow (a sophisticated city with complex cuisine not often visited by Americans), and back to Delhi.
Whether by bus, tuk-tuk, taxi, auto-rickshaw, train, and even an elephant ride up to the Amber Fort in Jaipur, we made our way, doing food walks in the bustling crazily-crowded narrow streets of the old parts of Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, and Lucknow, tasting a myriad of vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods, learning new recipes, culture and history, and having the opportunity to speak to knowledgeable locals.

We happened upon this procession of women honoring a local fertility god while visiting the 8th Century Stepwell. All were dressed in the same brilliant yellow-orange and carrying earthenware water pots on their heads filled with coconuts and bananas as offerings. 

Along with irresistibly beautiful hand-woven silk and pashmina shawls dyed with natural materials such as eggplant, tomato, saffron, and turmeric, I brought back the best saffron in the world, from Kashmir–deep red threads potently fragrant, rare white poppy seeds (known there as “opium seeds”) used to make creamy korma sauce, big fat deep green freshly harvested cardamom pods, and hard-to-find hand-pounded silver leaf used to decorate pastries. Show above are two masala dabas (spice containers) each filled with colorful, fresh spices used for our first cooking class at the charming Saffron Palate in Delhi–a charming rooftop kitchen overlooking bustling Delhi.

Dreaming of Morocco? Consider Joining me on a Culinary & Cultural Tour

Have you been dreaming about a trip to Morocco? I know that I have since I love cooking Moroccan-inspired food from slender lamb cigari; fish, vegetable and meat tajines; and baked fish in chermoula to chicken b’stilla with cinnamon and almonds; m’hancha (the serpent)–pistachio, almond and rosewater filled coiled fillo pastry; and slow-cooked lamb shoulder with homemade ras el hanout and preserved lemons. I will be leading a small group culinary & cultural tour to Morocco departing January 3, 2018–just one year away! Eight to 12 guests will join me for a 9 night tour with an optional 3 night extension. Highlights include a tasting tour of Fes, a spice blending workshop with a master, an exploration of Moroccan-Jewish cuisine, bread-making in the Sahara and overnight in a luxury tent camp, a cooking class in the breathtaking Dades Valley, and a rejuvenating hammam (Turkish bath/spa) session in Marrakech. Cut and paste the Google Slides document below for detailed information:
AlizaGreen Morocco Culinary 
Tour

And, here is a link to the payments page

AGMoroccoCookingTour-Reservation

 

Please send a message to me if you have any questions and let me know if you’re interested even if you’re not ready to make a commitment.

Happy travels!
Aliza