Macarons with Maroccan Prunes, oranges & a kick from the bar...

Death by Chocolate, Macarons & Self Control on Holiday

It was time to return home to Paris. Quickly before we couldn’t fit into our jeans for the return flight. After an idyllic, lazy week in Agadir, I was virtually turning into a Moroccan Lamb Tagine by flocking to the hotel buffet three times a day and baking beautifully under the welcoming warm sunshine like a Moroccan prune.

It’s amazing we actually made it to Agadir with the right holiday gear; Antoine grabbed a suitcase filled with brioche flour and macaron ingredients – luckily I remembered its contents otherwise he would have been Monsieur In-the-Doghouse on arrival. Why macaron ingredients in a suitcase? Well if you remember our mouse friend recently, for such a wee thing she upturned our storage patterns big time. I thought we were clear and it would scarper with the scary ultrasound screechers but perhaps she was wearing ear-phones. On our return, this is what we discovered under the cooking chocolate box’s cover with a peeky hole…

Holy Chocolate!

Luckily that chocolate-loving sneaky mouse has finally left us. What a way to go. Death by Chocolate has a completely different meaning in our house after that episode.

Back to Morocco.  Oh what fun it is to spy on the other European holidaymakers’ antics; especially when we’re branded with The Bracelet showing the wonderful chef and staff of the Hotel Riu Tikida Beach that we’re on an all-inclusive deal. As much as you can eat. As much as you can drink. Eye-spy-with-my-little-eye, who’s French, British or German just by watching their mannerisms from a distance? Who’s best at self control at the buffet? Who tends to lose control at the free bar? Who prefers to be in control of the best sunbeds by the pool?

Death by Chocolate. Hm. So many macaron possibilities…

Come on now, I don’t believe in stereotyping either but – and I say but – there is a remarkable correlation (I like that word: it’s to show off I learned something at University) with certain nationalities and behaviour in this kind of holiday situation.

Self restraint. Do you have it at buffets?  Antoine is one of the French exceptions: he doesn’t have much restraint when faced with so many delicious choices and he’s proud to show off his plates piled high. Yes, plates was in the plural. Now he’s complaining he put on 3 kilos and I need to put him on a diet.  Diets? I hate them and haven’t gone on one since I came to France – I even lost my excess weight from Scotland and have been stable since my 2 kids just by eating sensibly the French way. No snacking, moderation and taking the time to enjoy food and conversation at the table. So it’s out of the question of starting a diet now; he’s booked on the tennis court three times as much over the next few weeks.

macaron stack falling

I tasted so many of their tagines – particularly the fish ones, as we were on the coast. I love how the Moroccans serve dates with their traditional chorba soup as a starter. They also use the most deceiving looking, shrivelled prunes that are so surprisingly concentrated in flavour and lend that all important flavour to lamb tagines.

The ‘dangerous’ Moroccan pâtisseries were fabulous (moderation here!) but my favourite Moroccan dessert is the ever-so-simple but refreshing plate of sliced fragrant oranges served with a hint of orange blossom. Which leads me to think of these macarons on page 79 of the book: with that added touch of Armagnac for a naughty but nice French touch and thinking of our friends at the bar.

Macarons with Maroccan Prunes, oranges & a kick from the bar…

Now it’s time to get baking macarons for my brother’s wedding in Scotland this weekend.  He wants curry macarons for the drinks so let’s give them plenty of spice to send them off as Mr & Mrs! I wonder how my self constraint will cope at the bar?  Hm. Not much time to be tempted, as already we’ll be back to vote for the 2nd round of the French Presidential Elections on Sunday. What suspense!
47 replies
  1. Marsha @ The Harried Cook
    Marsha @ The Harried Cook says:

    I’ve missed so much! How did I not read somewhere that you took a trip? Sounds amazing 🙂 you know you’ve had an exceptional holiday when you’ve gained weight 🙂 the macarons look fabulous – like they always do! I’ve missed you 🙂 <3

    Reply
  2. Ivy
    Ivy says:

    Sorry for the late arrival here but I’m trying to catch up after my husband’s operation. Glad you had a wonderful time in Morocco and congratulations to your brother for his wedding. The Greeks are happy that Hollande was elected as your new Prime Minister and hope that will will not be Merkel’s puppy as Sarkozy was. Curry Macarons, yum!

    Reply
  3. thoma
    thoma says:

    Well, the suspense for the French Boss is over. How do you like it?

    Brother’s wedding. Whoa! How many are you making then? It should be over. How was it.

    And Death by Chocolate is brilliant; morbid humor lady, that’s like Poe!

    Reply
  4. Cucina49
    Cucina49 says:

    What a fun trip it sounds like you had–restraint on holidays is hard, so I just try to walk everywhere so I can fit into my jeans at the end of the trip!

    Reply
  5. Jamie
    Jamie says:

    Too funny but I am so jealous of you! What an amazing holiday and I love the all you can eat and drink bracelet…. my kind of thing although forget the bronzing by the pool (it has no charm for this Florida girl) but the food….since my husband lived in Morocco he has taught me to cook and we love tagines, couscous, etc. so this would be heaven! Glad to hear you had a blast at the wedding, too!

    Reply
    • Jill
      Jill says:

      I’m so jealous of you, Jamie: imagine having a hubby who teaches you how to make tagines and couscous. Mine hasn’t ‘cooked’ for me since before we were married. I should have had a clause written in the contract 😉

      Reply
  6. Pauline
    Pauline says:

    Interesting to see which chocolate the mouse went for?
    Curry macs for the bride groom sounds like a good way to make macs more ‘butch’ ! Maybe he just likes a spicy life, wishing them all the best!

    Reply
    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Thanks, Pauline. I’m sure if mousy had the chance it would have eaten the whole lot but it only had limited access…

      Reply
  7. Claudia
    Claudia says:

    Ah buffets! Avoid them like the plague. Restraint doesn’t happen. Put plates of those gorgeous macarons would be most welcome! What an exciting vacation – a trip out of the ordinary – which is what vacations should do.

    Reply
  8. Kari @ bite-sized thoughts
    Kari @ bite-sized thoughts says:

    I giggled throughout this – the poor mouse! – and I do agree with your thoughts on country stereotypes. As with many stereotypes, they developed because there is a bit of truth in there and you do tend to see it on holiday! It sounds like a great trip 🙂

    Reply
    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Thanks, Kari. Yes we giggled rather a lot too. One woman was obsessed about taking off her bikini top but she was a scary looking woman so we christened her “Tittybogle” (Tattybogle is Scottish for scarecrow…)

      Reply
  9. Kim Bee
    Kim Bee says:

    Aw I feel so sorry for mouse. But I guess if you’re gonna go then going with a tummy full of chocolate is the way to do it. I am so jealous of your travels Jill. I want to say something clever and sweet but all I can think is “pfft”.

    Reply
  10. Maureen @ Orgasmic Chef
    Maureen @ Orgasmic Chef says:

    I haven’t been to a decent buffet in years. I’m glad the one you went to was good and I hope to find one here one day. What I’ve found is more like “belly up to the trough” and the food is more like inexpensive American steakhouse fare. I’d rather cook at home.

    I admire your eating like a French woman. I tell myself I’m going to do that and then someone comes in with a treat and I’m off. 🙂

    Reply
    • Jill
      Jill says:

      You know, I was on a chocolate walk in Paris yesterday afternoon and hadn’t eaten so much chocolate in a long time. Was saturated but today feel great, so there must be something in it!

      Reply
  11. Kiri W.
    Kiri W. says:

    I loved Agadir, though I think Marrakesh was my favorite Morrocan place. The macarons sound like the best ever fusion of two styles 🙂

    Reply
    • Jill
      Jill says:

      I also loved Marrakesh, Kiri. But the difference on this holiday is that we avoided being pushed into buying a carpet!

      Reply
  12. kale
    kale says:

    Traveling affords the opportunity to compare and notice subtle (and sometimes not so subtle!) differences in culture, even from afar. 🙂
    I hope you donned your bracelets proudly. All-inclusive sounds good to me right now! And so do your macarons…

    Reply
  13. Nami | Just One Cookbook
    Nami | Just One Cookbook says:

    Oh I’m facin the same issue with weight that I gained while I was back in Japan – not to mention the weight I was supposed to lose before trip! Ugh! Buffet is hard to control. I want everything even a small amount. Glad mouse problem is over now. Hate to see the surprise after coming back from vacation. By the way congratulation to your brother! The curry macarons! Hmm sounds delicious! Welcome back! I hope you share some pictures from Morocco! 🙂

    Reply
    • Jill
      Jill says:

      I’m sure you’ll be burning it all off soon enough with your dynamism and energy, Nami. Not many photos, I’m afraid since they’re all of the family and hubby doesn’t want me to post photos of the kids. Never mind.

      Reply
  14. Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen
    Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen says:

    Death by chocolate? What a way to go! Love the pretty colour of these Macs, Jill. Sounds like you’ll need another holiday what with the election and your brother’s wedding to look forward to. They’ll have the poshest canapés in town!

    Reply
    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Thanks, Hester. Forgot we have 8th May as a holiday in France. May is such a wonderful month so we can burn the candle at both ends…

      Reply
  15. Paula
    Paula says:

    Poor mouse, but if you have to go, death by chocolate is a great way:) Hope Antoine enjoys the tennis.
    The macs are scrumptious looking as always and I love the look of the speckled ones.

    Reply
  16. Liz
    Liz says:

    Oh, yes, Death by Chocolate is a macaron I MUST make! And that sneaky critter…how dare he invade your chocolate stash! Welcome home~

    Reply
  17. Vicki Bensinger
    Vicki Bensinger says:

    Ive never been to Morocco but after reading various sites and following Paula Wolfert’s site, cookbook author of Moroccan cooking, i need to add that to places I want to visit.

    When we travel my husband desperately avoids buffets because he cannot control himself. He was raised to eat what’s on his plate and when he keeps going back for more – well, you get the picture. Me, I eat a little and almost always save room for dessert.

    I hope you’re able to nip that little mouse right out of your place before he gobbles up all your macaron goodies. I haven’t made them in a while but the orange blossom ones sound Devine. I will have to check that recipe. They sound delightful and light.

    Have a great day!

    Reply
    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Ah, Vicki. Your husband sounds so alike. We also eat everything on our plate so tends to be a tricky one to cope with at buffets, especially when dealing with the kids! Hope you get around to making macarons again…

      Reply
  18. Tina@flourtrader
    Tina@flourtrader says:

    Well I am glad the mouse is long since gone. Usually when there is one you fear them to be more.
    It sounds like you had a wonderful time in Morocco! It is hard to take vacation and not gain weight, especially when the cuisine is not your standard fare. The macarons do look amazing as usual!
    Congrats to your brother! He will be starting a new chapter in his life very soon. I am sure your curry macarons will be well received. Have a great day!

    Reply
    • Jill
      Jill says:

      Thanks so much, Tina. Yes, that mouse episode was worrying and did think there were more lingering. It’s amazing how much was eaten! So excited for my brother.

      Reply

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