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The Pearl In The Oyster

Feasting on Seafood in Oualidia, Morocco
  • La Sultana Oualidia

    La Sultana Oualidia

  • La Sultana Oualidia

    La Sultana Oualidia

  • La Sultana Oualidia

    La Sultana Oualidia

  • La Sultana Oualidia

    La Sultana Oualidia

  • La Sultana Oualidia

    La Sultana Oualidia

  • La Sultana Oualidia

    La Sultana Oualidia

  • La Sultana Oualidia

    La Sultana Oualidia

  • La Sultana Oualidia

    La Sultana Oualidia

  • La Sultana Oualidia

    La Sultana Oualidia

  • La Sultana Oualidia

    La Sultana Oualidia

  • La Sultana Oualidia

    La Sultana Oualidia

  • La Sultana Oualidia

    La Sultana Oualidia

CHEAT SHEET
WHERE

On the Atlantic coast of Morocco, halfway between Casablanca and Essaouira.

WHY GO

For the serenity that permeates the town, for the coastal landscapes, for a taste of life in a Moroccan fishing village, and perhaps most of all for the incredible, fresh seafood.

HOW

Oualidia is about two and a half hours by car from Casablanca Mohammed V Airport (CMN) and about the same distance from Essaouira-Mogador Airport (ESU).

TABLET TIP

Make time between meals for a visit to the former summer palace of King Mohammed V, left abandoned for the past forty years.

 

On the coastal road to Oualidia, a serene seaside village renowned for the quality of its oysters, the salty Atlantic air that pours through the windows of the taxi induces a deep calm before we’ve even arrived. The famous white city of Casablanca is a couple of hours to the north, the blue city of Essaouira about as far to the south, but here there’s no uniform palette; it’s a riot of colors and flavors and scents. At a café on the main street, we settle into the town’s easy rhythm, watching young fishermen heading to work, women in djellabas going about the day’s business, and the constant stream of mopeds rumbling by.

Down at the beach, the fishermen haul in a panoply of seafood. The clear waters of Oualidia are home to fish and crustaceans of every description: mullet, bream, turbot, clams, crabs, lobsters and prawns among them. There’s nothing quite like sitting at one of the shacks constructed on the sand and eating the day’s catch alongside the people who risk their lives to bring it to market. While we eat, women in colorful veils wash their laundry in the low tide.

Between the town’s farmland and salt marsh, La Sultana Oualidia stands overlooking the sea. An ancient Moorish fort whose air is laced with the scent of orange, it’s the little sister hotel to La Sultana Marrakech, the luxurious riad in the center of the Marrakech medina. The Oualidia outpost is a world of calm: just eleven rooms and suites, a turquoise pool, a greenhouse filled with exotic plants, an attentive staff and a lagoon set between two promontories. Time is marked by the rhythm of the tides and the call to dinner.

At the end of the pier that spans the lagoon, the table is set: Pacific oysters, urchins, cockles and clams, and our knives at the ready for a feast. Next to the kitchens, carved into the rock, are seawater pools full of lobsters, crabs and prawns. Freshly caught fish cook on the grill as boats glide by on their way to the mosque.

Before the next round of eating, we take a walk to the oyster beds upon which the town’s reputation rests, then head to the spa to sweat out some calories. A long nap and one glass of mint tea later, it’s already time to choose the wine for dinner. Is it best to begin with a red, like the locally bottled Gazelle de Mogador, or a gris, like the Voubilia, grown on the slopes of the Atlas Mountains? Maybe decide on the food first: the famed local “seven-hour” lamb, or the Saint Pierre (John Dory) tagine? This is about as hard as life gets on a visit here: making a can’t-go-wrong decision about what to eat for dinner.

Text and photos: Rémi Ferrante (Blast Magazine)

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CHEAT SHEET
WHERE

On the Atlantic coast of Morocco, halfway between Casablanca and Essaouira.

WHY GO

For the serenity that permeates the town, for the coastal landscapes, for a taste of life in a Moroccan fishing village, and perhaps most of all for the incredible, fresh seafood.

HOW

Oualidia is about two and a half hours by car from Casablanca Mohammed V Airport (CMN) and about the same distance from Essaouira-Mogador Airport (ESU).

TABLET TIP

Make time between meals for a visit to the former summer palace of King Mohammed V, left abandoned for the past forty years.


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