Cafe Clock was packed solid last night for the launch of the long-awaited Clock Book: Recipes from a Modern Moroccan Kitchen, written by Tara Stevens.
The beautifully presented book, with a foreword by Tahir Shah and photographs by Julius Honnor, is a fitting tribute to Mike Richardson, owner of Cafe Clock. His vision has made the Clock a landmark in Fez.
Publisher Andrew Morris of 33Books in London, himself a house-owner in Fez, flew in for the evening. The books were quickly snapped up and Tara spent the evening signing them.
The Clock Book features, says Tara, "the dishes and the stories I have encountered in more than a year of regular visits to the Fez medina". She worked closely with Mike and Max and the Clock staff. "Together, we have updated many of the traditional dishes of Morocco to bring them more in line with 21st-century lifestyles, which means we account for busy working weeks as well as healthier diets and the Western kitchen".
The book costs Dh200 and will soon be available at www.amazon.com.uk. There are, of course, copies for sale at Cafe Clock.
Here's a typical example of the way in which Tara has adapted the classic Moroccan mechoui - a lamb dish traditionally slow-cooked in a clay oven.
"The smell alone", says Tara, "is enough to get you salivating, and by the time it emerges from a slow oven, it's maddening. No wonder it's traditionally torn apart with the fingers and eaten with no embellishment. Shoulder works better than leg as it is fattier, so you should get tender flesh running with juices and a delicious, crispy skin. Serve it with dishes of the juice, and freshly ground cumin, sea salt and dry harissa for dipping."
2kg shoulder of lamb
10 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp cumin seeds, crushed
1 tbsp coriander seeds, ground
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ginger, ground
salt and pepper
1. Combine the butter and spices together and chill overnight.
2. Preheat oven to 220C
3. Wash and dry the lamb, slash crosswise to score the skin (avoid cutting the flesh), then rub the spiced butter into the lamb and roast on the middle shelf for 30 minutes until the skin begins to turn a golden brown.
4. Turn the oven down to 140C, cover the lamb in foil and continue roasting to another 3 hours.
5. Transfer to a board with the foil still on and leave to rest for 10 minutes before carving, serving the pan juices on the side (if they are on the scant side, add a splash of water or white wine and heat through on the stove before serving).
RECIPE FOR DRY HARISSA DIPPING MIX
Mix together 2tbsp bright red paprika and 1 tbsp cayenne pepper. Can be stored in an airtight container.
Reprinted by kind permission from Tara Stevens
Photographs: Omar Chennafi