Thursday, April 3, 2014
The Ruined Garden + Riad Idrissy
I recently had the good fortune to spend ten sun-soaked, wandering days in Morocco traversing that gorgeous, golden country by rail, car, and foot. We landed in Casablanca, then took a leisurely 6-hour drive up the coast to Essaouira, with a pitstop for lunch in Oualidia (a miniature seaside town known for their fresh oysters). After a few windy, lazy days by the ocean, we hopped on a bus to Marrakech, which is a whole other post of its own. And then we ended the journey with three nights in Fez, a very old, very traditional city with a fascinating medina, in which lies one very special riad and restaurant called Riad Idrissy (riad) and The Ruined Garden (restaurant). The place quite honestly knocked my socks off, and so I felt the need to give it it's own little post.
Riad Idrissy was nothing but a rather large pile of rubbish when it was bought in 2006 by an enterprising man called John Twomey, and then designed by Robert Johnstone (a friend of Twomey's from London) in 2010. Robert has since also built up the most enchanting, rambling garden in the front of the riad where a delicious breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served. It was one of the best hospitality experiences I've had in my life, and I believe that was due to a combination of factors: the beauty of the riad itself, the big, airy rooms with incredible details on the ceilings and doors, the peaceful little library that was just off our room, the fantastic staff that we felt like we were friends with by the time we left, Najia's (the housekeeper) out-of-control cooking, the little fires inside and out to keep you warm on the chillier nights, the wine served casually in thermos's instead of bottles, the nights we sat by the fire for hours on end playing Gin Rummy and sipping said wine, the Chicken Volubilis concoction on the menu that we could smell cooking all afternoon, Robert himself always up for a lovely chat, the list goes on. To put it simply, I felt as though I were staying in a really dope house that happened to have the best food ever. Can't really ask for more than that, can you. xo
P.S. Apparently, I was so busy devouring all the food there that I neglected to take a single picture of anything edible or the amazing garden it was served in. For that, click on over to Robert's blog, Ruined Garden.