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The Perfect Afternoon in Notting Hill

Even for the lifelong Londoners among us, there are pockets of our great city that we simply don’t give the full attention they deserve. This is the case either due to London’s vast, sprawling nature which makes it difficult to make each of its vibrant, interesting and/or quaint districts our own, or simply because our busy schedules get in the way of our exploring. While walking to Zayane the other day I thought to myself what a shame it is that many of our customers journey to the one-of-a-kind Notting Hill just to feast at Zayane. Not that I’m not delighted for their custom and flattered that my customers believe my restaurant is so good it is worth journeying to, but instead my train-of-thought was more that

I wanted to help Zayane’s existing and prospective customers embrace the multitude of wonders and treasures Notting Hill offers to enhance their Moroccan culinary experience.

With this in mind, Joe and I put our heads together to come up with what we would imagine as the perfect afternoon in Notting Hill.

Zayane Notting Hill

Portobello Road

 

Your fabulous day out begins on Portobello Road, which is considered by many to be London’s premier district for antique shopping, of course, aside from being one of the loveliest places to take a stroll in London or anywhere else in the world. On a slow day, this famous street is lined with a range of compelling and cosy shops selling antiques and vintage clothing, as well as old books and records. Not only are they brilliant for meandering through but if you choose to buy something, not only will it be a noteworthy artifact to enrich your home, style or brain, you’ll also be supporting the businesses that make Portobello Road the special place that it is. But get this: if you can make Saturday your afternoon of fun, your Portobello Road experience will become exponentially more rewarding as it is the day of what is dubbed ‘the world’s largest antiques market’!

 

The Porchester Spa

After the benevolent mayhem of Portobello Road, time to relax, unwind and build up your appetite for the Moroccan feast to follow at Zayane. The Porchester Spa is my favourite in London not just because it is within walking distance of Zayane, but because it offers one of London’s great escapes into a world of peace and tranquility within an art deco maze of steam rooms, Jacuzzis, Turkish hot rooms, saunas and a cold plunge pool. Not only that but there is a large swimming pool ideal for swimming laps and a chilled out relaxing room in which to enjoy a novel, some music or even some shut-eye. Of course, the Porchester offers a range of rejuvenating and reinvigorating treatments. One word of caution – each day caters to exclusively male or female patrons, so if you are travelling in a mix gender entourage, those excluded from the Porchester can drown their sorrows with a beverage and cake at the alarmingly amazing Chaya Teahouse.

Notting Hill best Restaurants

The Main Event

At this point your belly and palate are calling out or something delicious to sate and please it – Joe and I have you covered at Zayane. Our cuisine is authentic Moroccan with a modern twist and we’ve been recognised for our excellence as we are the only UK Moroccan restaurant included in the Michelin Guide. Our a la carte menuoffers a gourmet experience and it is very vegetarian- and vegan-friendly. You can also take advantage of our Gourmet Moroccan Summer Dining menu offer– 2 courses with a glass of wine for only £18.

 

Joe and I would like to invite you to enjoy London’s finest Moroccan restaurant this August (and beyond) and we sincerely hope that you take our advice and get to know to spectacular Notting Hillwhilst you do so.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A refreshing fruity sip of Morocco – Zayane’s new summer drinks menu

There’s a rhythm and a melody to a fantastic meal – and like any great piece of music it must begin and end in the correct fashion to unveil its lyricism fully and properly.

A refreshing fruity sip of Morocco – Zayane’s new summer drinks menu

With this in mind – not to mention the brilliant weather we’ve been having – Joe and I have decided to concentrate on an important, if more esoteric, part of our Zayane dining experience: the drinks menu. Too often cocktails at fine dining restaurants play second fiddle to the food, which shows in the insipid potables that result. At Zayane we want to offer our guests a genuinely exquisite cocktail and/or mocktail that exudes as much flair and creativity as our food. Beyond this, we want our seasonal drinks menu to evoke Morocco, which we are doing by paying homage to the utterly fabulous fresh fruit of my homeland by adding a fruity twist to some classic and cherished cocktails.

 

If you drink alcohol, the absolute best way to fully appreciate th
e Zayane experience is with one of our signature aperitif cocktails (if you don’t drink, we’ll get to our refreshing and delightful mocktails in a moment!).

 

ruity sip of Morocco – Zayane’s new summer drinks menu

Let’s start with the Zayane Signature G&T, based on the cool and crisp cocktail that defines the British summer for many of us. Our rendition is lifted to a more Moroccan dimension through pear and crushed ginger, and tastes amazing alongside our trio of smoked aubergine, olive tapenade and humus dips. For those who’d like to taste the most of Moroccan fruit, I’d recommend Summer Berries – an ultra sophisticated vodka tonic enhanced with muddled fresh mixed berries. Lastly, any conversation about Moroccan fruit must include watermelon, which is one of our favourite national ingredients when it’s in season. We’ve used this delectable fruit to spice up a traditional margarita for a gorgeous and lush cocktail that will delight your palate and get you in the mood for the delicious Moroccan feast that is to come.

If our cocktails are ‘Moroccan-inspired’, the truth is our mocktails are simply ‘Moroccan’. Blended, non-alcoholic fruit and veg beverages are almost as much a part of the Moroccan summer as couscous. As we have an abundance of beautiful fruit in Morocco, not only do we excel at fruit juices and mocktails, we drink a lot of them to cool off when it’s particularly hot. Something we Moroccans absolutely adore is milk infused with almonds and rose water – this isn’t on the menu, but if you ask nicely I might make you some! My favourite mocktail on Zayane’s new drink list is our Virgin Watermelon Margarita – it is so fresh and beautiful and I am grateful that that it is alcohol-free as I am prone to drinking several in one sitting during a hot summer Moroccan meal! This mocktail – as with all of them – can be enjoyed as an aperitif but is also delightful with food. Our other refreshing and yummy mocktails include Green (celery, cucumber, apple and spinach), Red (red mixed berries) and Yellow (pineapple and lime). They are all freshly blended to order.

 

Next time you’re at Zayane, ask me about our new cocktails and mocktails, and it will be my pleasure to walk you through our selection to help you begin – and sustain – your exquisite feast with the ‘music’ that will make your taste buds sing and your palate dance.

 

See you soon!

 

Meryem and Joe

 

 

Your Perfect Private Party

The answer to the questions ‘what is the perfect private party?’ is a bit like the one elicited by asking ‘what is the best dish in Moroccan cuisine?’ – a highly subjective and personal one.

This doesn’t necessarily make life easier for the professional party planner! But easy is boring and lets one’s imagination and creativity stagnate, which would be unacceptable for Joe and me. The lack of clear-cut rules and regulations in delivering the perfect private party time and time again gives scope to making each one completely and totally unique. When we have a new private party client, we ask for their vision for their dream event. We embrace this little ‘seed’ the client gives us and we then wrap it in Zayane’s party planning expertise to let it flourish into the spectacular and memorable event that is desired.

 

If you are reading this blog you are probably interested in having a private party of some sort. You likely have an idea in your head of what it is you’re looking for – as such,

I’d like to personally walk you through what a Zayane event might look like.

 

When your guests arrive they will enter a spacious room with dimmed lights and candles that will subtlety illuminate our Moroccan décor that flows into our modern-designed bar, tables and smartly adorned servers passing out elegant flutes of Champagne and mouthwatering canapés. As you and your party chit-chat and sip and savour the delightful drink and nibbles, chilled-out vibes courtesy of the traditional Moroccan music will emanate from the rabab(fiddle),oud (lute)and qanun (zither) through our sound system. Then – out of no where – our beautiful and highly skilled belly dancer will emerge for a taste scintillating Moroccan entertainment, a feature that comes complimentary for Zayane private parties.

Zayane Moroccan Food Catering and Events

After the excitement of the belly dancing, it is time to take our seats for the sumptuous Moroccan feast.

Just after your glass is filled with the tipple of your choice, we will put in front of you and your guests a delicious spread of Moroccan starters, including merguez saucissons, pan-seared squid, blow-torched Cornish Mackerel as well as vegetarian options like our deep-fried aubergines and spicy truffle cauliflower croquettes.

To kick the party up a notch we will follow this with a selection of our famous briwats (include link to briwat blog).

 

It is now time for the main course. Guest can choose from our set menu, a la carte or a bespoke menu that we design with the client. Options might include our chicken tagine (include link to relevant blog), pan-seared halibut or for vegans and vegetarians our chickpea fritters or artichoke tagine with preserved lemons. After a satisfying dessert – maybe our rosewater cheesecake or trio of sweet briwats – and another glass of wine or some Moroccan mint tea, let the evening devolve into conversation and a spot of dancing!

 

This is a snapshot of a recent private party we hosted and catered at Zayane.

It was a most special event filled with good food, wine and fun. If you are at all interested in having your own private party, please speak to me – Meryem – directly and I can turn your idea into the stunning party of a lifetime!

 

For Private Party inquiries please ring Meryem at 020 8960 1137 or email her at enquiries@ZayaneRestaurant.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Innovating Tradition with Tradition– Zayane’s Bakoula Briwats

At Zayane my son Joe and I have a dish that isn’t just a culinary innovation, it
challenges the innovation process. On the one hand it goes far beyond merely
reinvigorating an originally Moroccan concept with European ingredients that
are passed through the prism of modern preparation and presentation. On the
other hand, one might argue that our tasty dish is forged in a far more humble
hue of originality and creativity.

It is a dish comprised of two measures of
traditional Moroccan cookery, and a modest measure of imagination.

Our dish
goes by the double-barrel Bakoula Briwats: two words that will be instantly
recognisable to Moroccan culinary savants, which often belong together in the
same Moroccan meal or even on the same dinner table. But it is only at Zayane
where these staples of Moroccan cuisine are fused together into one delectable
creation.

The first element is bakoula – a dish that is adored throughout Morocco.

It is awarm salad made from mallow, preserved lemons, olives, garlic, herbs and – for
those who like a spicy kick – roasted or fresh chilli. This tasty and healthy dish is
eaten with Moroccan semolina bread. When in season, mallow is Morocco’s
favourite leafy green, which we buy in bunches in the souks, or harvest wherever
the delicious edible weed grows. As mallow is hard to come by in Britain, our
bakoula at Zayane incorporates a mixture of kale and spinach that gives this
salad a remarkably similar taste and texture to the original version. It can be
enjoyed as a light and healthy snack, starter or side dish.

The second character in this gastronomic marriage is a briwat, a stuffed
triangular parcel made from Moroccan warka filo pastry that can be savoury or
sweet.

The most commonly enjoyed briwats are the sweet variety made with an
irresistible almond filling. Back home we eat almond briwats with Moroccan
mint tea as an afternoon ‘pick-me- up’ or as a special dessert. At Zayane, Joe and I
offer hungry guests a delectable range of savoury briwats, including duck, king
prawn and Camembert, as well as our tempting hazelnut, cheesecake and
chocolate briwats for dessert.

So how do Joe and I combine these two authentic dishes that have long been
enjoyed on their own, without being infused into one another?

Why would we
risk upsetting the culinary equilibrium – and offending Moroccan foodie
traditionalists – by doing so? At Zayane we are always exploring new flavours
and combinations and are particularly excited when our experiments result in
food that is as delicious as it is healthy. The first time we placed a generous
spoonful of bakoula salad into a triangle of warka pastry, the resulting briwats
were a burst of scrumptious vegetarian goodness. We threw tradition to the
wind and innovated with our eyes and imaginations firmly fixed on some of
Moroccan cuisine’s most humble dishes.
We’d like to welcome you to Zayane to try our spectacular Kale and Spinach
Briwats (Bakoula Briwats) – but if you prefer to try this Zayane innovation in
your own kitchen, click here for the recipe!

Recipe for Kale and Spinach Briwats

Ingredients
 1 kg kale (chop if large and discard large stalks)
 1 kg spinach
 2 preserved lemons (large), skin only, finely chopped
 1 handful kalamata olives, chopped
 1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
 1 bunch of coriander, finely chopped
 5 cloves of garlic finely sliced
 ½ cup olive oil
 1 tbsp sweet paprika
 1 tbsp cumin
 2 tbsp lemon juice
 1 tbsp harissa sauce (optional)
 spring roll pastry
 1 beaten egg
Method
1. Heat olive oil in a large deep pan, add spices.
2. Let them sizzle for 2 min then add garlic. Cook garlic but do not let it
brown.
3. Add all other ingredients but the spinach.
4. Stir with a wooden spoon until kale is cooked.
5. Add spinach and cook until wilted.
6. Put in colander to cool down and also get rid of excess liquids.
7. Take one spring roll sheet and cover the rest with a damp cloth. Cut into
three rectangles. Use one at the time and cover the other two as they dry
quickly.
8. Put one tbsp of the kale and spinach mixture in one corner of the pastry
and fold the pastry over it (to make a triangle) keep rolling and tucking
and then glue the end with the egg wash. You will end up with a samosa
shape. You could also shape it as a spring roll.
9. Deep fry until golden brown or bake in oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 5-
10 minutes.

Zayane’s Special Relationship with Turmeric

Turmeric is a staple spice in Moroccan cuisine –

it has been since the Arabs invaded in the 7th century. Turmeric comes from the root of the curcuma longa plant and has a look and feel that is very similar to that of ginger. It can be used fresh or it can be ground into a fine powder to provide Moroccan tagines and pastries with its appealing bright yellow/orange colour and fragrant warming and peppery aroma. Not only is this spice delicious – it is also a ‘superfood’ thanks to its remarkable anti-inflammatory properties, not to mention its ability to lower cholesterol and help prevent heart disease as a powerful antioxidant. Given the turmeric’s potent punch of scrumptiousness and healthfulness, my son and I use it in all of our mains at Zayane, as well as our chicken pastilla (which evidently has some other extraordinary properties, too! . And yet, Zayane has a connection to turmeric that transcends these compelling reasons to incorporate it into our delectable Moroccan food. Our special relationship with the so-called ‘golden saffron’ and its traditional uses harken back to a little village I used to visit as a little girl in the Bled and to a very, very special woman.

The Bled is a traditional Berber village in the Moroccan countryside.

It isn’t at all the Morocco that people know and love – instead it is guided by Morocco’s pre-Arab culture and traditions. The Berbers have their own way of life and own language (which isn’t Arabic). It is – for all intents and purposes – a different country. The Bled I would look forwards to visiting during my summer holidays when I was a little girl growing up in Casablanca was inhabited by the Berber Zayane tribe (my tribe and, obviously, the one after which my restaurant is named). It was also where my mother is from and where my 110-year-old grandma lives to this day. We would drive from Casablanca, park our car in village nearest to my grandma’s abode, and travel by donkey up the mountain for about 2 miles. My grandma – who even then was very old by conventional standards – lived in a house made of clay, a building material that let her house be cosy warm in the winter and cool and breezy in the summer. There she would pass her time in the living art that is pastoral Morocco, untouched by time and tourism, joyfully keeping her fields of argan and olive trees and weaving her special Berber wool rugs.

 

One of my earliest memories was my grandma using turmeric to give her painstakingly handmade rugs their rich, vibrant yellow colour. I would sit beside her in the midst of her and her neighbours, watching them dye the wool, wash it and dry it – the secret ingredient for our renowned Berber rugs. The feast of the eyes was complemented by something sweet and delicious for the ears and palate, too. I would listen to the intermingling voices of the old ladies singing traditional songs and we would all drink mint tea and snack on fresh almonds dipped in my grandma’s luxurious fresh honey. It was quite a treat and one that I long for most days in my happy London life that is spiritually and emotionally a million miles from the Bled.

 

Back in those days we didn’t know quite what we do now about how healthy a spice turmeric was – though given the long lifespans our people tend to have we probably should have guessed!

My grandma used this hallowed spice for far more than her wool rugs

– it infuses nearly all of her mouth-watering dishes. The people of our Zayane tribe eat rather literally only the freshest food – meat from our own goats, goats’ milk and butter made from this milk! We also make our own olive and argan oil – a magical delicacy we cook with to impart a roasted nutty flavour to our food – and honey. The heady cocktail of these freshest of ingredients, when combined with Moroccan spices like turmeric redefines ‘healthy’ and – evidently – leads to long life.

 

Even to this day, when we arrive at ‘grandma’s house’ she cooks us turmeric-infused whole grain couscous with goat meat. It is a little slice of heaven – but the first day’s provisions only hint at the delectableness that is in store. On day two grandma will roast a whole goat, which she will rub with cumin, salt, turmeric and black pepper before cooking. The expression to convey just how delicious it is is generally ‘oh my God’, but even invoking the heavens fails to communicate just how delicious grandma’s roast goat really is. Without question, it is the best roast I’ve ever tasted in my life! Grandma’s favourite dish – which presumably has kept her going to 110 and I hope far beyond this wise, old age – is braised rabbit with turmeric and preserved lemons.

 

When we cook with turmeric at Zayane, it isn’t something that we learned from a cookery book

, or even from a celebrated cookery school. It isn’t even a hand-me-down. The scent of turmeric warming in the kitchen – like the ‘Proustian madeleine’ – sets me above time and space. I become that little girl visiting my grandma in the Bled and I behold grandma’s vibrant rugs and my palate savours her aromatic, exquisite cooking. If my son and I are able to offer Zayane’s patrons even a glimpse of this ecstatic vision, we will have done grandma proud.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“The Story of Zayane Restaurant”. Fine in the first instance

It was two years ago when Moroccan-born Meryem Mortell had an epiphany – Having tried everything London had to offer – some good, some less-good – none managed to give her the feeling of home. In this very moment, the seed that would germinate into Zayane was planted and sprung up in London’s Little Morocco, in Golborne Road”.

Zayane opened its doors for business about a year ago, and if you are wondering where the name comes from there is quite a story behind it. The first inhabitants of Morocco were the Berbers and Zayane was one of the tribes. Meryem’s grandmother comes from the Zayane tribe and some of her most precious childhood memories are from the mountains, where the Zayanes cooked food that was original, fresh and full of Moroccan spices and flavours. “I want everybody to experience that”, she mentions, “Morocco is not just big towns like Marrakesh – there is so much more to it (Morocco) and Moroccan food”.

 

Trying to keep Moroccan traditions alive, Meryem has created a fusion cuisine mixing Moroccan and British ingredients, always maintaining the balance between the flavours. How she has managed to do this? Her secret is simple: The meat is cooked traditionally with all the spices and exotic Moroccan ingredients but the side dishes are inspired by British cuisine and do not include any spices. Meryem has created a new culture by introducing a fusion Moroccan-British cuisine, which her son and head chef, is now following adding his own personal touch after training with a Michelin star chef.

The ingredients used in all Zayane dishes are either locally sourced seasonally or imported from Morocco. Using the best quality seasonal ingredients is not reflected just on the taste but also on the menu. Each season, customers can find different dishes in both meat and vegetarian options.

Veal and Couscous Zayane Restaurant

When it comes to the menu, the lamb, accompanied by onion puree and caramelised vegetables is a must-try at Zayane. There are also lots of vegetarian and gluten free options available. If you are into a small meal, the light bites are perfect for lunch or dinner. Moroccan tapas, great for sharing while enjoying “The Zayane”, the restaurant’s signature cocktail made of infused Moroccan tea and prosecco. Alternatively you can try one of the other low calorie cocktails offered. If you are around the area on a Saturday, make sure to stop by and try the shakshuka (eggs cooked in Moroccan tomato sauce), a perfect breakfast or brunch dish. There are no Moroccan desserts at Zayane, but the traditional almond biscuits will definitely compliment your tea.

 

What Meryem and her son are trying to accomplish is to make every customer feel like home in Zayane and give him/her a traditional, authentic experience, a real taste of Morocco.

Why should you visit Zayane? “If you want to eat well and have a good, full meal come here” she explains. “Customers come here because they feel like home.”

Escape to Morocco this Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day, the day of love and romance, of intimacy and warmth…is ironically in the middle of the greyest month in the British calendar! Yes, February in the UK can be cold, wet and dismal – not exactly conducive to a great date. So, this year, we recommend you throw convention out of the window and take a trip to Morocco for Valentine’s Day – or, at least, pretend to!

Head to Greenford, in North-West London to start the day, and be transported to a slice of Casablanca on the Central line. Here, on an unassuming slip road off the A40, you will find Moroccan Bazaar, a magical marketplace filled with Moroccan home furnishings. One of London’s best-kept secrets, the Moroccan Bazaar is a treasure trove of lighting, soft furnishings, and furniture – the perfect place to stock up on beautiful things for your home. If you plan in advance, why not also book an appointment with Moroccan Fine Art? This lovely gallery specialises in North African and Middle-Eastern Art and could be the place to buy the perfect gift for your Valentine.

From Greenford to Golborne Road, often known as “Little Morocco”. This street in Notting Hill is a great place to browse for Moroccan ceramics and kitchenware, especially if you take a look in Fez, at number 71. This beautiful shop is the perfect place to find carpets and fabrics, tagines, lanterns, and leather goods – including comfy slippers and stylish pouffes.

Once you have finished perusing, make your final stop for today and enjoy a romantic, Moroccan meal at Zayane. Begin with a selection of tasty filo parcels, known as “Briwats”, dipped in spicy harissa, with seafood, Merguez sausage, and cheese and olives, which you can enjoy with a glass of Prosecco. For your main course, there is a choice of succulent lamb shank with winter vegetables and a flavour-packed lamb jus, perfectly-cooked black cod with porcini mushrooms and pea purée, or our delicious couscous with mixed vegetables and harissa. To finish, opt for our decadent chocolate tarte or our light, yet indulgent pistachio and white chocolate mousse.

And there you have it – a wonderful Valentine’s Day spent exploring London, looking at beautiful things, and eating delicious food – what could be better?

 

Zayane is now catering for events

Moroccan Food Events Catering Notting Hill

 

An Arabian Night in Shoreditch, London, with the Gnawa band and proper belly dancers entertaining guests while a delicious buffet based on Lamb Mechoui, chicken pastilla, couscous with vegetables and Moroccan biscuists were provided by Zayane. We could not forget to provide Shisha and mint tea through the evening for all the guests.

Zayane Moroccan Food Catering

If you are thinking of a special night and would like our help please don’t hesitate to contact us  or give us a call at +44 020 89601137