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Roasted Garlic Artichokes (Alcachofras assadas com alho )

I love artichokes, they are one of those vegetables that when I have them it always feels like it is a special treat. Maybe because they take a little more attention to prepare than other vegetables.

Roasted Garlic Artichokes has to be my favourite way to enjoy artichokes! This recipe is quite simple and so much healthier than most recipes you will come across.

  • ~ 6 artichokes 
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 pepper
  • ~7 garlic cloves
  • herbs optional and to taste

How to prepare the artichokes:

 

  1. Cut off the sharp leaf tips with a knife or scissors and trim 1 inch from the top.
  2. Trim off the dry tip of the stem and peel it using a vegetable peeler.
  3. Rinse the artichokes really well under cold water.
  4. Cut them in halves, starting from the base and cutting upwards.  Then remove the choke from the heart with a spoon (purple / pink inner leaves extending down to the white fuzzy hairs) before cooking as this is not edible.
  5. Rub the entire artichoke half on all sides with a lemon wedge (to help prevent browning)

Preheat oven to 220ºC.

Bring water to a boil in a large pan. Add the artichoke to the boiling water and cook for approximately 10 minutes. Remove them from the water and drain.

Mix the artichoke halves in a bowl with the wine, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Arrange the halves on a lined baking sheet cut-side-up and fill the artichoke cavities with the mixture as full as possible for maximum flavour.

Cover with foil and make sure to seal it tightly to prevent the moisture from escaping.

Cook for about ~15-20 minutes, or until golden or when it can be easily pierced with a knife. (cooking time depends upon the size of your artichokes)

During the process keep brushing them with a coating of the seasoning mixture, turning frequently, keeping an eye on them to prevent burning.

 

Hope you enjoyed this extremely simple recipe, but yet to die for.

PT: Alcachofras assadas com alho 

Alcachofras asadas com alho são a minha maneira favorita de cozinhar alcachofras!

Esta receita é bastante simples e muito mais saudável do que a maioria das receitas que vais encontrar por aí.

  • 1 limão
  • ~ 6 alcachofras
  • 1/2 caneca de vinho branco
  • 1/4 de caneca de azeite
  • 1 colher de chá de sal
  • 1/4 colher de chá de pimenta
  • ~ 7 dentes de alho picado
  • ervas aromáticas são opcionais e a gosto

Como preparar as alcachofras:

  1. Cortar as pontas afiadas das folhas com uma faca ou tesoura e cortar 2 cm a partir do topo.
  2. Aparar as pontas secas do caule e descascar com um descascador de legumes.
  3. Lavar muito bem as alcachofras em água fria.
  4. Cortar ao meio, começando pela base até cima. Em seguida, retirar o ‘coração’ com uma colher antes de cozinhar, pois isso não é comestível.
  5. Esfreguar a alcachofra com limão (para evitar que escureça)

Pré-aquecer o forno a 220ºC.

Pôr água a ferver numa panela grande. Adicionar as alcachofras e cozinhar por aproximadamente 10 minutos. Retirar da água e escorrer bem

Misturar as metades de alcachofra numa tigela com o vinho, o azeite, o alho, sumo de limão, o sal e a pimenta.

Colocar as metades num tabuleiro de ir ao forno, com o lado cortado para cima, regar bem com a mistura previamente usada.

Cobrir com papel alumínio para evitar que a humidade escape.

Cozinhar por cerca de 15 a 20 minutos, ou até dourar. O tempo de cozimento depende do tamanho das alcachofras.

Durante o processo, continuar a adicionar a mistura de temperos, virando as alcachofras com frequência.

Kiev travel guide

Kyiv, Ukraine’s Dynamic City on the Dnipro

Kiev or Kyiv, is the vibrant capital of  Ukraine. Full of colourful cathedrals, parks, funky cafes, colourful street art, exciting nightlife and delicious vegan food.

I would go as far as saying that is one of Europe’s most underrated travel gems.

I was curious to finally visit this former Soviet nation since I’ve only visited a few countries that used to be part of the Soviet Union (USSR), Estonia, Latvia,  Lithuania, Georgia and Armenia.

Ukraine is the second-largest country in Europe, famed for its beautiful historical cities, unusual-flavoured vodkas, beautiful beaches in the Crimean Peninsula, wonderful churches, and soviet architecture.

I felt on my time in Kyiv that the city has a huge amount of potential and it had the surprising feel of being somewhat off the beaten track when compared with other European capitals.

Exploring Ukraine’s exciting and engaging cultural capital
UNESCO Sites

Kyiv has two UNESCO World Heritage sites. Both are Orthodox Christianity icons. Kyiv Pechersk Lavra and the Saint Sophia Cathedral.

  • St. Sophia Cathedral

I found that the interior was the most outstanding aspect of St Sophia’s Cathedral. The oldest standing church in Kiev, with its striking original frescoes and mosaics from the early 11th century.

The bell tower is also worth climbing for great views over Kiev.

  • Pechersk Lavra also known as the “Monastery of the Caves” comprises an ensemble of monastic buildings, overlooking the right bank of the Dnieper River.

Founded in the 11th century, Lavra has a number of gold-domed churches and an underground complex of labyrinthic caves that expands for more than 600 metres.

The monks dug caves and underground labyrinths, living and studying in them, and their mummified bodies still line the walls.

Walking around the caves was definitely an ‘experience’ that I will not repeat. I felt that was a place that should only be open to people that go there to pray, I was the only tourist there walking around in the dark and narrow passages while believers congregate from one relic to another, praying and kissing each icon and the numerous vaults which contain the mummified bodies of the monks in turns.

Cathedrals and more Cathedrals

When visiting Kiev you will not escape from visiting at least a few Orthodox Christian Cathedrals. Don’t get me wrong, they are beautiful, unique and different from what I’m used to, but after a while, I had to have a break from all the religiousness.

I honestly can’t decide which one I liked better. They were all beautiful with their golden tops glimmering with glory. So here is the list of my favourite ones:

  • St. Volodymyr’s Cathedral

Built-in the late 19th century, St Volodymyr’s Cathedral is not one of the most famous but I found the interior absolutely stunning, with art nouveau influences.

The exterior is yellow and has seven blue domes.

  • St. Michael’s Golden-Domed Monastery

This golden-domed blue church is hard to miss out. Looking from St Sophia’s past the Bohdan Khmelnytsky statue, at the other end of proyizd Volodymyrsky. The shiny cupolas are absolutely stunning and also the murals inside.

  • St Andrew’s Church

This Golden and blue baroque church is a traditional Ukranian five-domed crossed-shaped church, that dominates the view as you walk up Andriyivsky uzviz.

Make sure you climb the steps to the platform for great views over Podil and the Dnipro River.

An Introduction to Kiev at Independence Square
  • Maydan Nezalezhnosti square (Independence Square)

Maydan is the nation’s meeting point, where people come to stroll and enjoy the nightly fountain show.

Kiev’s big social heart hosts many concerts, performances and festivals, and it is known for its vibrant and lively atmosphere.  The independence Square is filled with fountains and glass domes.

Annually you can see here on August 24, the celebration of the independence, with a military parade.

  • Stroll Along Kreshchatyk Street

Khreshchatyk Street is lined with neoclassical buildings, cafés, and upscale shops. You will probably walk this street almost every day in order to reach different sights in various parts of the city.

On weekends and holidays, the road is closed to traffic.

Highlights in Kyiv’s Old Town

Is at Kyiv’s Old Town, (also known as the Upper Town), that you can find the oldest and most important landmarks of the city, perfect for aimless walking… admiring ancient ruins and gracious baroque architecture.

Discovering the Best of Kiev
  • Podil- In the heart of Kiev

The historical area of Podil is one of the most dynamic and coolest areas in Kiev. It truly has a bohemian, revivalist feel that really resonated with me.

Podil is full of stylish cafés and restaurants, art galleries and cultural centres, street art and historical orthodox churches.

Part of the joy here is wandering around without any specific purpose.

Strolling Around Andreyevsky Uzviz

Andreyevsky Uzviz (or Andrew’s Descent) is a charming winding cobblestone street.  The area has a bohemian vibe, and is a wonderful place to stroll. The main street is filled with galleries, shops, restaurants, cafés, artists’ co-ops and studios. Stop to check out the open-air vintage markets along Andriyivskyy Descent.

The Bustling Bessarabsky Market

Is a massive indoor market filled with stands selling fresh produce, jar upon jar of pickles and preserved everything! The produce is stacked beautifully and you’ll see lots of traditional Ukrainian products.

Other cool and unique things to do in Kiev, Ukraine
  • Kiev’s ‘underground economy’

As other post-communist countries, there are several underpasses at busy intersections. Where you can find people selling all sorts of goods – these mini-market stalls truly seem to be a part of people’s everyday life.

So marvelling at all the economy that is taking place underneath Kyiv’s walkways is a must.

  • Take the metro to the deepest station in the world

The metro in Kiev is cheap, reliable and a great way to get around.

Kiev metro is one of the deepest metro systems in the world, and Arsenalna Metro is the deepest metro station in the world (346 feet underground).

  • Go on a self-guided street art tour

The scale, quality and quantity of the street art in Kyiv is impressive and not to be missed.

  • Eat amazing Vegan food

Veganism is on the rise, and Kiev is not an exception. There are lots of interesting places to be found and delicious food to be appreciated.

  • Ride the funicular 

The funicular is not a tourist attraction, is one of the many public types of transport you have in the City. Is just a short trip, but nice, especially for the views. A simple way to travel from upper to lower city.

The funicular runs down a steep hillside to the river terminal in the district of Podil

  • Catch an Opera or Ballet

While in Kiev you should admire the amazing architecture of the opera house and see an Opera or Ballet show. They are quite affordable, and Ballet is known for being popular in the Ex-Soviet states.

  • PinchukArtCentre

The international centre of the contemporary art – PinchukArtCentre, It’s the largest exhibition area in the whole of Eastern Europe.

They have excellent free rotating exhibitions, and great views of Kyiv’s roofs from the coffee shop on the top floor.

  • Holosiivskyi National Nature Park

The Holosiivskyi National Nature Park is a protected forest and nature reserve in Kyiv and a must-visit for nature lovers.

Navigating Your Way around the city

Transportation in Kiev is cheap by most European standards. The metro in Kiev is one of the most efficient in the world.

Kyiv, a city that has it all

Kiev will surprise you and leave you pining to book a return trip, I really enjoyed my time in Kyiv, and I bet you’ll love it as much as I did.

What was your experience in Kiev? Or are you planning to go?

How to Make Tofu with only 2 ingredients (como fazer tofu)

How to Make Tofu? making it at home is actually easier than you might expect and well worth the effort.

  •  1-litre organic unsweetened soy milk (no additives)
  •  juice of 2 lemons

Bring the soy milk to a boil over medium heat, stirring from time to time and then let it simmer for about 4-5 minutes.

Remove the pot from heat. Add the lemon juice and stir. When you notice that the soy milk is beginning to coagulate, cover the pot and let it sit for 5-10 minutes.

Transfer the content into the cloth-lined colander or tofu press and let it sit for at least 20- 30 minutes. Your tofu is ready to eat/use. If you are not using it right away, soak it in water and refrigerate. Change the water every day if you don’t use the tofu.

TIPS: You can make your own soy milk

You can find plastic tofu makers and wooden ones as well.

PT: Como fazer tofu só com 2 ingredientes

Fazer tofu em casa é muito mais fácil do que imaginas…

  • leite de soja (organico, sem açúcar nem aditivos)
  • sumo de 2 limões 

Aquecer o leite até que ferva, mexendo ocasionalmente, depois deixar mais 4-5 minutos em lume brando.
Retirar do lume, adicionar o sumo de limão e mexer. Tapar o tacho e deixar repousar 5-10 minutos.
Transferir o liquido para um coador com pano ou para uma prensa de fazer tofu e prensar bem por 20-30 minutos, et voilà está pronto para entrar num belo cozinhado 🙂 Se não for para usar imediatamente, mergulhar o tofu em água e guardar no frigorífico. Mudar a água todos os dias  até que seja cozinhado.

DICAS: em vez de comprar leite de soja, pode-se faze-lo demolhando os feijões de soja durante a noite e depois triturar em alta velocidade com água – a receita está aqui

Exited prensas de fazer tofu de plástico e de madeira.

Easy Oil Free Cooking Tips

Cooking without using any oil is an upcoming trend. You might not expect it, but it is actually quite easy to leave the oil out of your cooking.

The food will taste just as nice and it has a lot of benefits regarding your health.

Personally, I love olive oil and I use it regularly for literally almost everything.

Olive oil is extremely healthy, loaded with beneficial fatty acids and powerful antioxidants. But probably like me, you use and consume way too much of it 🙂 So why not give oil-free cooking a try?

The ease of cooking with oil is without much effort replaced by other tools, which can result in even more tasteful food.

Guide to Cooking Without Oil

There are various methods you can choose when cooking oil-free:

  • When baking, you can make use of fruit purée (like applesauce or mashed bananas) as a healthy replacement of oil. I can assure you, this makes your food taste extra nice.
  • When sautéing and stir-frying, it is best to only add small amounts of water or broth as often as needed to cook your food. Keep stirring it regularly to make sure it will not burn.
  • When roasting vegetables or other foods in the oven, it is really unnecessary to coat it with oil. Vegetables will brown on their own, just be a little more patient. Silicone ovenware is easy to use when you want to avoid your food to stick, but a piece of parchment paper will also do just fine.
  • When you stove your food, you can make additional use of a flame diffuser. This diffuses the heat evenly and makes sure the pan will not get large burn rings.
  • Steaming food is the perfect way to avoid oil.
Choose the Right Cookware

It is helpful to start with buying yourself a couple of high-quality non-toxic nonstick cookware to make sure your food does not stick. They make cooking without oil both easy and safe. You can choose a heavy-bottomed stainless steel pan, a ceramic-titanium pan or an enamel-coated cast iron pan.

A special nonstick pan will only last for a couple of years but can be used for all types of food. These pans are very easy to use. Stainless steel will last for years, but I found it more difficult to cook oil-free with it. Ceramic coated pans are mostly suited for vegetables, whilst cast iron can even go in the oven.

Some pans are not suited for aerosol spray oils, or should not be scrubbed with steel pads. Just make sure that you are informed about the use of the different pans.

Cooking oil-free might be a completely new thing for you. But once you learn how to cook without using any oil or butter, and experience the ease of it, I am sure that you will like it as much as I do.

Those are my tips for cooking without oil, keep in mind that will take some time and experimentation to get it right the first few times. Hopefully, you’ve found these tips useful 🙂

Kiev Street Art

Kiev, an amazing hub for street art

Kyiv, Ukraine‘s capital city is getting in the spotlight as the Eastern European cultural hotspot since 2014. Kiev today has a vibrant art scene, it’s home not only to numerous exhibitions, performances and premieres but also to street art.

And you ask what as happened in 2014? Well, since then a number of large murals began appearing on the facades of old Soviet buildings.

Nowadays, the city hosts over 160 pieces of public art produced by talented painters or graffiti artists from Ukraine and other countries such as Spain, Portugal, Argentina and Australia. Not many places can compare to Kiev in terms of the scale and volume of huge murals.

What is really cool about exploring the city through its murals, is that you will go to places that otherwise you wouldn’t since the murals are often hidden in lesser-known parts of the city.

The street art scene in Kiev is creative, big, bold, unexpected, and colourful ‘decorating’ the urban landscape perfectly.

A Self-Guided Walking Tour

The Ukrainian capital aims to position itself on the world’s street-art scene, with monumental murals cover the walls of Kyiv.

The Street Art can be found all over the city, so time is definitely required. To help you with your treasure hunting expedition there are some great resources.

Kyiv Street Art Resources

Kyiv Murals is a great up-to-date App which pinpoints murals near you. The app it’s free and includes a map of all the street art in Kyiv, with information on the artists and the meaning.

Kyiv Murals is a website with the GPS locations of almost all of Kyiv’s street art.

Kiev Off the Beaten Track!

Making your own Street Art tour is a great way to go off the beaten tourist path and discover a lesser-known side of Kiev.

You will find a bit of everything from portraits, landscapes to abstract art – hidden on the walls of the city.

Kiev’s murals are, indeed, breathtaking and well worth of exploring while visiting the capital city of Ukraine. Expect Kiev to be like a big open-air Art Gallery.

So don’t miss out and explore and discover the colourful Kiev Murals.

Location Map

Which city is your favourite for street art? Let me know so I can make sure to check it out! 

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Kiev’s Vegan Scene

Kyiv or Kiev is the stunning capital city of Ukraine. If you’re wondering if Kyiv is worth visiting, I say definitely yes!! There are many reasons to visit this city and one of them is the vegan food scene.

Over the last few years, Kyiv has seen a mini-boom of vegan restaurants and the eco-friendly community keeps growing rapidly.

During my time in Kyiv, I did encounter lots of great vegan food. For what I understand its’s partially due to religious reasons. I was told that in Orthodox Christianity there are several fasting periods, during which specific animal products are not consumed.

They abstain for 40 days leading up to Easter, for a period in May/June,  for the first 14 days of August, and from 15 November to 24 December, and all year round on Wednesdays and Fridays.

For that reason, most restaurants have a ‘fasting menu‘ (‘Lenten menus’ – постное меню in Russian) that is mostly composed of plant-based dishes.

Communism also ‘helped’. There are great vegan products (not labelled as such), originated during the Communist era. In order to reduce costs and shortages, they used plant-based ingredients, instead of expensive animal products.

Apart from religion and communism veganism is on the rise in general, and Kyiv is not an exception. There are many great vegan places to eat around the city.

When you eat at a non-vegan place notice that they eat quite a lot of сало (lard), сметана (sour cream) and sometimes there are small amounts of meat ‘hiding’ in some dishes.

Vegan Restaurants, Cafés and Bakeries:

B12 candy bar is a vegan bakery, with a small shop attached located in the historic part of the city. Also offers salads and sandwiches. A great place for anyone with a sweet tooth.

Soupculture is famed for the various soups served in edible bread bowls.

Nikogoneem located in a plaza-style area with multiple vegan restaurants. They serve amazing tofu and seitan burger.

KOLO, is a lovely restaurant in Podil with a cosy interior, that serves homemade soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers, wraps and desserts.

Sereda, sells delicious cakes, fresh juices and smoothies. The place is also bike-friendly.

Orang+utan offers a rich selection of vegan sandwiches, salads and smoothies.

Cafe Imbir near the Olimpiska metro station has a cosy atmosphere and great vegan and vegetarian food. You can even find a few raw vegan options.

Bessarabsky Market,  it’s an indoor market full of stalls, farmers stands, and restaurants. There are several vegan options in this marketGreen 13, sells wraps, sandwiches, burgers, salads, soups and desserts. Ra.Man. has a wide selection of vegan ramen, six types of bowls, pitas and desserts.

To find other vegan places in Kiev happycow is your best friend!

Where to Find Vegan Food in Kiev

I’ve found that there are great 100% vegan restaurants but also interesting local restaurants with at least one meatless option everywhere. So I would say that is quite easy to travel in Kyiv as a vegan.

The trendy district called Podil is probably one of the best neighbourhoods for vegan food in Kyiv.

There are also some excellent local events such as the monthly flea market Kurazh Bazar (with delicious street food) and the annual Kyiv Vegan Boom festival, with a food court and market set up on the bank of the Dnieper river.

So I assure you, you will not go hungry in Kyiv. I think the scene there is going to get better and better and it’s definitely a city to keep your eye on.

Aït Benhaddou exploring the fortified village in Morocco

Ait Benhaddou has a distinctive look with sand-coloured houses, a massive fortification made up of six kasbahs and nearly fifty ksours (individual kasbahs) all protected by UNESCO.

This fortified village located in Southeastern Morocco, about 30km from Ouarzazate seems frozen in time resembling an elaborate sandcastle.

The maze of narrow streets and crenulated towers are mainly from the 17th century. A great example of pisé clay architecture.

Ait Benhaddou lies on the old trans-Saharan trade route, at the border of the High Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert. Ait Benhaddou is one of the most extraordinary Kasbahs in Morocco. Ksar refers to a group of houses made by soil and surrounded by high walls.

Ait Benhaddou has been used as the backdrop for many popular movies but is more than just a film set.

Things to do

To be honest, there isn’t a whole lot to do at Ait Benhaddou, what doesn’t mean that is not a great place to visit. Exploring the old kasbah by itself is a delight.

Walking around on Ait Benhaddou maze of winding streets until reaching a fortified granary is an absolute must.

From the top, you get an amazing view of the valley and the stony desert that stretches almost into infinity. 

Make sure you hike both hills because they offer completely different views of the surrounding area. The hill above the kasbah, and the hill across from the kasbah.

Inside the houses, you see small dark rooms with uneven floors and tiny windows. Nowadays the buildings are still constructed using hand-made bricks. Flat roofs are common here and used as open-air bedrooms.

The upper floors are normally adorned with ornate patterns. The more sophisticated the richer their owner is.

Without the hassle of major cities is also nice to admire the local crafts. Both sunset and sunrise are undoubtedly spectacular and not to be missed.

Ait Benhaddou — One of the most famous villages in Morocco

I just want to reinforce the idea, that despite finding Ait Benhaddou quite picturesque, depending on the time you visit, the village can be thronged with tourists. Game of Thrones seems to to have done quite a good job at putting this village on the map.

There are still a few families living in the ksar, other houses are open to visitors for a fee of 10 dirhams.

If you spend the night the kasbah empties out and becomes a peaceful spot to watch the sun go down.

Getting there from Marrakech

The cheapest way is by bus but the best option is to rent a car.

Two companies travel here the CTM and Supratours, I heard that they have other local companies, that are a bit cheaper, but not as reliable as the other two.

In Marrakech take a bus to Ouarzazate and tell the driver you want to be let off at the intersection to Ait Benhaddou (stop at the crossroads in Taborah).

From the stop to Ait Benhaddou are 16Km, but are always a few taxis around waiting for passengers. You need a taxi ride to get you to the actual kasbah.

There are two option, a collective taxi (5DH) or a private taxi. Negotiating the price for private taxi is important (~30DH). The drive only takes 10 minutes.

How Long to Stay in Ait Ben Haddou

Most people come here on a day trip for 1 or 2 hours.  I think one day and one night is just ideal.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Is it worth going to Meknes in Morocco?

Meknes is known for its huge gates and remnants of its imperial past, and also for being close to the famous ancient Roman ruins of Volubilis.

I didn’t really have big expectations about Meknes, but because was on the way and I had time to spare I stopped there. I found Meknes quite disappointing, and don’t really recommend including Meknes on your travel plan.

The city itself is ok, but not worth a visit when compared with other cities in Marocco. On the bright side, Meknes receives fewer tourists than other imperial cities.

Walking in the old medina is nice. Because Meknes receives fewer tourists it feels in a way more authentic and untouched than other cities. Simply wander and get lost in the small streets of the old city.

The gates are huge and really impressive, The most beautiful one is Bab Mansour right in front of Hedim square.

The Place Hedim (also called Lahdim square) its the heart of the city, full of people, music, games, coffees and restaurants, a less chaotic version of Jemma el Fna square in Marrakesh.

But there is a dark side to this place. It’s where snake charmers, ostriches and monkey with lids being explored.

Visiting the market is also a must, they sell a bit of everything.

Visiting the Moulay Ismail Mausoleum it’s free and non-Muslim can enter. It’s also a beautiful place with fountains, courtyards, colourful tiling and stucco walls.

Tourists are not allowed to ‘approach’ the tomb itself, but it is easy to see through the archway, and another side window where viewing is permitted.

The Dar Jamai Museum is worth a visit more for the building rather than the collection. The entry fee is DH10 (~$1).

Bou Inania Madrasa is a beautiful building, that used to be both a school and a mosque. Located right in the centre of the old Medina. To enter the entrance fee is DH60 (~$6.50) not worth it.

The royal stables have fallen in decay due to poor maintenance, and are not worth a visit. The entrance fee is DH70 (~$7.50).

The prison of Habs Qara is a huge underground prison where the Sultan Moulay Ismail would keep prisoners. In my opinion also not worthy of a visit. The entrance fee is DH60 (~$6.50)

Since I don’t really recommend any of the paid attractions there isn’t a whole lot to do as a tourist in Meknes.  So just soak up the atmosphere.

Outside of Meknes

Located a less than an hour from Meknes you have the ancient city of Moulay Idriss and the Roman ruins of Volubilis. both worthy of a visit.

How to get to Meknes From Fez
How to get to Meknes from Fez

It’s really easy to travel from to Meknes, all 3 options are good. Get to Meknes from Fez by bus with the company CTM or by train.

You can also travel in a shared taxi. The shared taxis stop in front of the main bus station (just outside Bab El Mahrouk).

The short answer to my question: Worth going to Meknes in Morocco? No, but if you have plenty of time on your hands why not 🙂

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Volubilis a stop into a Roman past

The Archaeological Site of Volubilis is part of the UNESCO World Heritage. Probably the largest and best preserved Roman ruins in Morocco.

The Roman city of Volubilis dates from the 3rd centuries B.C. and the remaining structures still stand stubborn against the skyline nowadays.

Volubilis was one of the Roman Empire’s most remote outposts.

Entrance

To enter the site you need to pay an admission fee of 70 dirhams(~$7.50).

There are guides waiting for you at the entrance who can be hired for around DH150-200 for around an hour. It’s your choice to wire one, I always prefer to walk around at my own pace.

Better to go early in the morning or later in the evening for sunset, to avoid the heat of the day and the tour groups. The site opens at 8:30 and closes at 19:30.

Just beyond the entrance gate, there is an on-site museum, which displays the ancient city’s most celebrated finds documenting the whole history of the ruins.

The ruins, still impressive all these years later

Nowadays still a lot is left to be seen. From an impressive triumphal arch to mosaic floors in what were once rather magnificent townhouses.

My favourite mosaic was located at the House of Orpheus, where you see Orpheus playing his lute to an audience of wild animals, a dolphin and Poseidon, the Roman god of the sea.

At Volubilis, there’s nothing much separating you from the ruins, just a few bits of rope. So wander the site at will. Just let’s hope that all tourist are respectful and will not destroy anything.

It’s also still possible to the foundations of many houses, hot and cold rooms, the city’s basilica, temples, graceful columns and bathhouses. The ruins offer a fascinating insight into the city that once served as the capital of the kingdom of Mauretania.

Much more is still there to be found since the site is only partially excavated.

Getting to Volubilis

I recommend spending one night at the picturesque and charming town of Moulay Idriss and walk down to the ruins. The setting is just stunning, you have hilly, wheat fields and olive groves.

But if you don’t have the time to stay at Moulay Idriss you can still visit the Roman city of Volubilis as a day out from Fez or Meknès. From fez are an hour and a half drive and less than an hour from Meknès.

The most expensive way to wire a taxi, the cheapest alternative is to take a shared grand taxi from Meknès to Moulay Idriss (Dh10). – (shared grand taxis to Moulay Idriss only run from near Meknès’s Institut Français)

From Moulay Idriss is just 4 kilometres to Volubilis so easily walkable if you don’t go when the sun is at its strongest. If you are not much of a walker hire a grand taxi to take you to the ruins (~Dh30 one way).

I adored Volubilis, the site itself is beautiful and also all the nature around it. I’m glad I had enough time to visit the site and to explore and walk around the Moroccan countryside.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Crispy Baked Tofu (tofu assado)

This recipe a great way to make tofu, it’s really easy, and totally customizable with the seasonings you like the most. Baked tofu is surprisingly crispy, versatile, and delicious.

Crispy Baked Tofu Recipe:

  • 600g extra-firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • garlic powder to taste
  • any mixture of seasoning you like to taste

If you are doing your own tofu, follow the instructions here.

Pre-heat the oven to 200ºC.

Drain the tofu well and slice it as you wish, little cubes, triangles, rectangles..

Using a large mixing bowl drizzle the tofu with olive oil and sprinkle evenly with cornstarch, salt, garlic, pepper and all the other spices you are using.  Gently toss until evenly coated.

Put the tofu in a baking sheet carefully with space between each piece.

Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until crispy and flip each of the tofu bites so that they can cook evenly on the other side.

Put it back in the oven for 10-15 more minutes, or until the tofu reaches your desired level of crispiness.

Remove the tofu from the oven and serve warm, or store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3 days.

PT: Tofu Crocante Assado

Esta receita é uma ótima maneira de fazer tofu, é muito fácil e totalmente personalizável a nível dos temperos.

O tofu assado é surpreendentemente crocante, versátil e delicioso.

  • 600g Tofu extra firme 
  • 2 c. de sopa de azeite
  • 1 c. de sopa de amido de milho
  • Sal e pimenta a gosto
  • alho em pó a gosto
  • qualquer mistura de especiarias a gosto

Se quiseres fazer o teu próprio tofu, segue as instruções aqui.

Pré-aquecer o forno a 200ºC.

Escorrer bem o tofu e cortar em qualquer formato, cubinhos, triângulos, retângulos…

Usando uma tigela grande regar o tofu com azeite e polvilhar uniformemente com amido de milho, sal, alho, pimenta e todas as outras especiarias que estiveres a usar. Envolver  delicadamente até uniformemente revestido.

Colocar o tofu com cuidado numa assadeira com espaço entre cada peça.

Assar por aproximadamente 10 minutos ou até que estejam crocantes e virar cada uma das peças de tofu para que elas possam cozinhar uniformemente do outro lado. Levar ao forno por mais 10 a 15 minutos.

Retira o tofu do forno e sirve quente, ou guarda-o num recipiente fechado no frigorifico por 3 dias.

baked tofu recipe