Dine In: The Ruined Garden

Fes is the culinary capital of Morocco, so it’s well worth centering a trip here revolving around food. The medina has countless stalls serving cheap Moroccan street food, and it takes a significant amount of willpower not to keep on stopping to have a taste. Some say, though, that the best Fassi dishes are those served at home. But for those who do not know any locals or do not have the opportunity to be invited into the home of one, they can still sample some great dishes in one of the restaurants.

One of those is The Ruined Garden (attached to the hotel Riad Idrissy), located in a quiet corner of the medina, away from the main arteries. The restaurant is in, well, a garden that provides a tranquil and atmospheric environment. The menu changes between lunch and dinner, as well as throughout the days of the week (for example, couscous is only served on Fridays).

I start with mint tea, Morocco’s “national” drink. It’s something that I’ve grown to love since the past year as it really calms my stomach, especially after overdoing it with the eating. Over the past few days, I’ve learned that Moroccan tea can either be served as is or sweet, so when ordering it, you’re asked by the server if you want it with sugar or not. When I order it with sugar, it tastes too sweet for my taste (I don’t know how much sugar they put in it), so I order mine with sugar on the side. I put a piece of sugar cube to provide the drink with just enough sweetness without overpowering the mint.

Mint Tea (MAD 20 ~ USD 1.96)

For the meal itself, I go with the basics — the harira and tajine.

Harira is a traditional soup that is commonly prepared and enjoyed in Morocco and Algeria. It is particularly popular in Morocco, where it is often served during special occasions and religious festivals, such as Ramadan. Moroccan harira typically consists of tomato-based broth enriched with various ingredients. While the exact recipe may vary from region to region and from household to household, the common ingredients in Moroccan harira include tomatoes, chickpeas, lentils, onions, celery, herbs (such as parsley and cilantro), spices (such as ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon), and sometimes meat, such as lamb or chicken.

The addition of lentils adds not only flavor and texture but also boosts its nutritional value, as lentils are a good source of fiber, protein, and other essential nutrients. The combination of chickpeas and lentils in the soup provides a hearty and satisfying base.

Harira is traditionally served as a starter or as part of the meal during Ramadan, when it is consumed to break the fast at sunset. Its warm and comforting nature makes it an especially good choice for today’s cold weather.

Harisa (MAD 30 ~ USD 2.95)

As for the tajine, it’s a well-known dish that is traditionally prepared and enjoyed in North Africa, including Morocco. It gets its name from the earthenware pot, also called a tajine, in which it is cooked.

Moroccan tajine is a slow-cooked dish that combines various ingredients, including sliced meat (such as lamb, chicken, or beef), poultry, or fish, with an assortment of vegetables, fruits, and aromatic spices. The ingredients are layered or mixed together in the tajine pot and then cooked over low heat, allowing the flavors to meld together and the meat to become tender.

The spices used in Moroccan tajine, such as cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and saffron, contribute to its distinct and aromatic flavor profile. These spices add depth and complexity to the dish, enhancing the overall taste.

Since it’s a Monday, and I’m doing Meatless Mondays, I have vegetable tajine, where carrots, potatoes, bell peppers, and olives are used instead of meat.

The tajine is also served with bread, which is used to scoop up the sauce and accompany each bite. The bread complements the tajine by providing a source of carbohydrates to make the meal more filling and satisfying.

Vegetable Tajine (MAD 70 ~ USD 6.87)

The Ruined Garden offers a diverse menu with a mix of Moroccan and international dishes, often incorporating fresh and locally sourced ingredients. This allows visitors to experience a blend of flavors while enjoying the serene surroundings.

When visiting Fes’ medina, taking a break at the Ruined Garden can be a welcome respite. It provides an opportunity to savor a delicious meal, relax in a tranquil setting, and appreciate the beauty of the surroundings.

The Ruined Garden
15 Derb Idrissy Sidi Ahmed Chaoui Medina 30110, Siaj, Fes, Morocco
+212 0649-191410
Official Website

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