Ever wonder what it's like to eat like a Moroccan king? Well, when you're trapped in Chicago in the dead of winter, a trip over to Marrakech ExpressO for a taste of one of Mom's Magical Moroccan Crepes is a noble start.
I'll admit, I’ve been known to hunt down a crepe or two. A quick back story: A Moroccan guy I used to work with would bring one for lunch every single day, and I would gaze enviously at his little packet of aluminum foil as he slowly unraveled a chilled, homemade crepe chock full of creamy peanut butter and rind-filled orange marmalade. I'd never seen a PB&J served this way and was entranced by his creation. Sadly, that initial exposure has led me on wild excursions just to acquire a halfway decent crepe, including a couple of shady, back alley treks and that somehow involved more than one Pakistani drug dealer and a short, inconvenient run-in at a peep-show. Thanks, man.
But I was exposed to this local brand of crepe almost by accident; actually, the owner of Marrakech, a tidy gentleman named Booch, rather boldly pushed it on me. He claimed that it would prove to become an addictive obsession if I gave it a try, and knowing that I hadn't run across the likes of what I knew crepes could taste like since I'd sampled them in a dirty little office in LA, I decided to give it a go.
Now, unlike the French, who make their crepes a little on the thin and doughy side, the Moroccan-style crepe is like piling up a hundred tiny layers of one of God's gift to the food world, phyllo dough, and then frying it til it's buttery gold. At Marrakech, the crepe is literally drooping off the edge of pretty blue-flowered china, and it's served up flat, charred black in some areas and doused in rich honey. It's deliciously flaky and crisp, while being chewy at the same time, and the best way to eat it is to roll it from edge to edge, just like a tortilla. When the crepes are this good, there is no need to adorn them with heavier novelties like vanilla ice cream, nutella or a rich chocolate sauce. A perfect addition to the feast is an order of Moroccan tea, which is regally presented in a piping-hot silver teapot. The black tea explodes with the flavor of fresh mint and when loaded down with the petite spoonfuls of sugar, it's such a cheery way to blow an icy cold Saturday afternoon, just chillin' like a king would, sipping on some tea and ordering up crepe after glorious crepe ($2 each).
The Final Rave: Although I desperately tried time and time again, there's no way to stop at just one crepe. You have been warned.
KEEP IT GOING:
Read it: Printers Row Book Fair
Come June, try your luck at the book fair, hunting down a vintage copy of "The Crepe Cookbook." If you are blessed enough to locate one, not only can you learn about the magical world of crepes, you could make a fat fifty selling it to a buyer in the rare book world.
Eat it: La Creperie
If you think the French still deserve a chance after trying Moroccan crepes, this is the place to roll one out. Be bold and rock out with a couple scoops of ice cream and loads of gooey chocolate sauce.
Drink it: Cafe DaDa
This place is a triple threat. You can BYOB, you can get free wi-fi all the livelong day, and you can go nuts with the sugared up or meat and veggie filled crepes.
Get crazy with it: Sur La Table
What could be better than A Moroccan Phyllo Workshop? On Feb. 22, join cookbook author Kitty Morse as she dives into the multitude of ways that Moroccans cook with phyllo dough.