Pastilla and Tagines with a Manhattan View

Pastilla and Tagines with a Manhattan View

Life is Short, Eat It Up!

As a self-proclaimed foodie who has traversed the globe in search of the most mouthwatering delicacies, I can say with certainty that Moroccan cuisine stands out as one of the most captivating and flavor-packed culinary experiences you’ll ever have. And when I stumbled upon El Bahia, a Moroccan restaurant nestled in the heart of New York City, I knew I had found a hidden gem that would transport me straight to the bustling markets and sizzling tagine pots of Marrakesh.

A Feast for the Senses

As I approached the unassuming storefront, the aromas wafting through the air instantly had me hooked. The scent of spices like cumin, cinnamon, and ginger mingled with the rich, buttery fragrance of freshly baked pastries, creating a sensory experience that had my stomach rumbling in anticipation. Stepping inside, I was enveloped by the warm, inviting atmosphere – the vibrant tiles, the intricate lanterns, and the stunning view of the Manhattan skyline that seemed to beckon me deeper into this culinary oasis.

Diving into the Moroccan Culinary Landscape

I settled into my table, eager to embark on a journey through the diverse and captivating world of Moroccan cuisine. As I perused the menu, my eyes were immediately drawn to the classic dishes that have made this North African country a beloved destination for foodies around the world.

Tagines: Slow-Cooked Perfection

First up, the tagines. These slow-cooked stews, simmered to perfection in the distinctive cone-shaped clay pots, are the heart and soul of Moroccan cuisine. From the savory Lamb Tagine with Prunes and Almonds to the tangy Lemon Chicken Tagine, each dish was a masterful blend of tender meat, vibrant vegetables, and an array of aromatic spices that danced across my palate.

As the Dishel In Guide points out, the tagine can be a showcase for a variety of proteins, from the classic chicken and lamb to more adventurous options like goat and seafood. I decided to venture out of my comfort zone and tried the Goat Tagine, which turned out to be one of the most flavorful and fall-off-the-bone tender dishes I’ve ever had the pleasure of savoring.

Couscous: The Grain of Morocco

No Moroccan feast would be complete without the iconic couscous. These tiny, steamed semolina pearls are the staple grain of the country, and El Bahia’s rendition did not disappoint. Served with a medley of roasted vegetables, the couscous was light, fluffy, and the perfect canvas for soaking up the rich, aromatic sauces.

As the Dishel In Guide notes, the couscous dishes in Morocco can sometimes be a bit on the soggy side, but the version I enjoyed at El Bahia was perfectly al dente, with each grain retaining its distinct texture.

Pastilla: The Crowning Glory

But the real showstopper of the meal was the Pastilla – a savory-sweet pastry that is often referred to as the “soufflĂ© of Moroccan cooking.” This flaky, phyllo-wrapped delight was filled with a heavenly mixture of spiced chicken, almonds, and apricots, all dusted with a delicate layer of powdered sugar.

As Petite Gourmess describes, the Pastilla is a true test of a chef’s skills, requiring precise layering and baking to achieve the perfect balance of textures and flavors. And the version I indulged in at El Bahia was nothing short of magnificent – the crisp, golden crust giving way to the rich, fragrant filling that had me scraping the plate clean.

A Sensory Journey Through Morocco

As I savored each bite, I couldn’t help but be transported back to the bustling souks and vibrant cities of Morocco. The aromas, the textures, the bold flavors – it was as if I had been whisked away to a different world, one where time seemed to slow down and the only thing that mattered was the pure joy of indulging in the culinary delights before me.

A Moroccan Breakfast Feast

And the gastronomic adventure didn’t stop there. The next morning, I returned to El Bahia to experience their traditional Moroccan breakfast spread, and I was not disappointed. The table was laden with an array of carb-heavy delights, including the crumpet-like msemmen bread, buttery mhorba pancakes, and fresh-baked baguettes – all just begging to be slathered in rich butter, sweet honey, and tangy preserves.

As the Dishel In Guide points out, this hearty breakfast is designed to fuel you up for a day of exploring the winding streets and bustling markets of Morocco. And as I savored each bite, I couldn’t help but feel a pang of envy for the Moroccans who get to indulge in this kind of culinary bliss on a daily basis.

A Culinary Oasis in the Heart of NYC

But what truly sets El Bahia apart is its stunning setting – perched on the edge of the city, with a breathtaking view of the Manhattan skyline. As I sat there, gazing out at the iconic landmarks and towering skyscrapers, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of wonder and gratitude. Here I was, in the heart of one of the world’s most vibrant and fast-paced cities, yet I was transported to the serene, sun-drenched streets of Marrakesh, my tastebuds dancing with every bite of the authentic Moroccan cuisine before me.

Bridging Cultures, One Bite at a Time

In a city as diverse as New York, El Bahia stands as a shining example of how food can be a powerful bridge between cultures. By offering a taste of the rich, vibrant flavors of Morocco, this restaurant is not only delighting the palates of its patrons but also fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for the culinary traditions of this fascinating country.

As I reluctantly bid farewell to El Bahia, I couldn’t help but reflect on the wise words that had initially drawn me in: “Life is short – eat it up!” And that’s exactly what I had done, savoring every last bite of the exquisite Moroccan cuisine and the breathtaking views that had made this dining experience truly unforgettable.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top