Dining in Dirjanet
10 October 2008 | Medina, Rabat, Morocco
First Mate, Ziggy MacKenzie
It has been almost a week since we last touched base and during these seven days we have seen amazing sights, eaten world class cuisine and experienced the Moroccan lifestyle. Last Friday, we arrived in Rabat, the capital of Morocco. We docked in a very modern, well-appointed and extremely secure marina amongst many other English, American, and German sailors making their way to the Canaries for their crossing to the Caribbean. Jenny is thrilled as there is a catamaran with 12 and 10 year old American girls docked nearby and they have fast become mates.
Rabat itself isn't the most beautiful city with a combination of French influenced architecture and the hustle and bustle of the medina. On our second night here we ventured to the medina in search of Darjinet, a restaurant recommended in our guide book. After making a short stop at the train station to purchase return train tickets from Rabat to Marrakech, we walked down the main road, Mohammed V into the medina. Along the way we stopped at a patisserie where for 1dirham 20 (about 20 cents) we bought a fresh, soft French baguette to tie the kids over. We continued through the medina passing vendors hawking pirated DVDs, knock-off purses, jeans and shoes and traditional Moroccan cuisine including sesame with honey slices, figs and dates and meats and chickens displayed on open air carts buzzing with flies.
Crossing almost the entire length of the medina, we still had not found our restaurant, and ventured into a rather deserted, dirty street. Suddenly we saw Dirjanet painted on a wall and turned into an alley. We knocked on door #6 and two doors down, a woman poked her head out, asking (in French), "Are you looking for Dirjanet? Three doors down." We walked a little further when another woman offered assistance, and then, standing at our side, was a very slender man in traditional dress carrying a kerosene lamp, who asked, "Dirjanet?" Oui. Leading us through a maze of alleys, he stopped in front of a very non descript door within a door. Knocking, we were greeted by a beautiful woman who led us into Dirjanet through the open courtyard under the black Moroccan skies to a low table. Dirjanet is a 17th centure home converted into a restaurant and run by a French woman. Once seated, our waiter came by with a pot of rose water which he poured over our hands - a traditional Moroccan greeting when guests arrive in your home. We order kefta (Moroccan mince meat), kebabs of lamb, chicken and soup). Restaurants may serve wine and we order the 'suggestion of the sommelier', a lovely full bodied red wine.
The service was impeccable, the decor calming and the food delicious. The kids loved the washroom painted red from top to toe and larger than most hotel rooms. Upon leaving the restaurant, there was the gentleman ready to guide us to the street. After a short negotiation we hopped a 'petit taxi' (for three people and only allowed in city limits) to take us back to the marina, which technically lies in Sale, the city to the north of Rabat. Our first dinner was delightful and left us dreaming of what may come.