Le Gran Balcon Café Glaciers (Marrakech, Morocco)

On our last night in the magical Marrakech, we went up to Le Gran Balcon Café Glaciers for a drink and to soak in the views of the bustling medina.  This is one of the larger and popular terrace cafes, overlooking all the action in the Djemaa el Fna. It's a great vantage point to view all the snake charmers, watermen, chefs, henna tattoo artists, etc. The large roof terrace is the place to have some drinks, hear the prayer calls, and take amazing photographs.

The drinks are more pricey than the other Marrakech spots, but you're paying for the view and the experience. I recommend coming right before sunset, so you'll see that beautiful orange glow from the sun, and also feel the active heartbeat of the Djemaa el Fna coming to life as the night moves in.

Djemma el Fna beginning to come to life.

In order to enjoy the rooftop terrace and enjoy the beautiful panoramic view, you are required to, at minimum, purchase a drink. I decided to try out this apple soda which was actually quite good, though a bit on the sweet side.

View of the Djemma el Fna with all the food stalls and the heartbeat of the square at rapid thump.

If you are looking for a restaurant or cafe with a great view of the main square, Le Gran Balcon Café Glaciers is the place you are looking for. Go to the cafe to lounge and soak in the atmosphere. As stated,  prices are higher than the other cafes and restaurants. But the view is worth the price.


Chez Chegrouni (Marrakech, Morocco)

Location: Northeast corner of the Djemma el Fna.

With our assortment of guidebooks in hand, we flipped through the books to see what wise nuggets of restaurant wisdom these guidebooks would suggest. Chez Chegrouni is often mentioned due to its excellent location. After making our way through the somewhat maze-like souks (shops that line the streets), we worked up our appetites.

Here is the view from the restaurant looking out into just one part of the Djemma el Fna.

Since we were in Morocco, we must do as Moroccans do and drink the Moroccan Whiskey. The tea is made with green tea leaves and mint leaves and stems and A LOT of SUGAR. Moroccans pour the tea by raising the teapot as high as possible, (like a few feet from the cup high) and pouring the tea into the little cups. This technique aerates the tea and in my opinion, looks pretty cool too.

Vegetable Couscous
Hmmmm...what to order??? Dilemmas, dilemmas???? Sarcasm if you didn't catch that. It isn't a tough decision when most restaurants only serve either couscous or tagine. The vegetables where cooked until super soft and the couscous was still fairly fluffy.

Chicken Tagine
Since we ordered the couscous, the only other option was tagine. The chicken tagine was served with onions, lemon, olives, and chicken. Everything in a tagine gets heavily cooked until completely braised. The lemon added a nice bit of flavor to this tagine.

With our bellies full and our bodies rested, we were ready to battle the blazing sun and do some more exploring.

As stated before, we are not that familiar with Moroccan cuisine and I am definitely no authority on it. Overall, we thought the food wasn't bad nor was it delicious. The prices at Chez Chegrouni are very reasonable as are the majority of restaurants in Marrakech. The location and the reasonable prices make this restaurant a popular one.


Restaurant Tiznit (Marrakech, Morocco)

Place Jemaa El Fna
Kassabine No28
Marrakech, Morocco

Arriving into the bustling city of Marrakech and checking into our Riad, we decided to explore the Medina (inside the walls of Marrakech). We had done our homework prior to arriving into Marrakech and read about the various scams to be aware of. I won't bore you with the details but, we only got scammed TWICE during our first hour or two in the city..... We somehow managed to find our way to back to our Riad without getting scammed again and debated locking ourselves in our tiny Riad for the next three days.

TNT Adventures...TNT Adventures...we said to ourselves. This isn't TNT UNadventures... Somehow we managed to build up the courage to leave our Riad. I think it was after we realized that we would have to eat eventually and our stomachs were growwwwwwlinggggggg.

After chatting with one of the 30 or so orange juice stands in the Jemma El Fna, we asked him for a restaurant recommendation within the square. He pointed us to Restaurant Tiznit. Tiznit is actually a city in Morocco that is known for its silver, daggers, and sabres (Thanks Wikipedia). 

Walking up the stairs to Restaurant Tiznit, we noticed that this restaurant was Tiziny, as in tiny. With about 5 to 6 tables. 

Every meal we had in Marrakech started or incorporated a piece of bread or known as khobz. Moroccans will use the bread to scoop the sauces and meats. Typically the bread does not come out warm.

Complimentary bowl of lentils. Another staple of Morrocan cuisine is the lentils.

Tagine de Beouf (60 DH) 
When you think Moroccan food, most people think of tagine and couscous. The beef tagine was made with beef, potatoes, and olives. I am definitely no Moroccan food expert, but I thought the tagine was good. Nothing all that exciting but good.

Couscous Morocain (50 DH) 
Craving some vegetables, we decided to order a vegetable couscous. The particular version had chickpeas, carrots, some zucchini type veggie, stewed raisins and onions. The couscous itself was light and fluffy, and the sweetened onions and raisins added a nice sweetness to the dish.

Overall, our first official Moroccan meal at Restaurant Tiznit was a fairly positive one. Nothing was extraordinarily delicious, but everything we ate was pretty good. Once again, I am definitely no Moroccan food connoisseur. 


San Gines Chocolateria - Madrid, Spain

Pasadizo de San Ginés, 5
28013 Madrid, Spain
913 656 546

When I was in high school, I remember one of my Spanish textbooks was titled Churros y Chocolate. I always wanted to try real churros and not the Costco or Disneyland variety. Nothing against Costco and Disneyland, but I wanted the real thing. 

This chocolateria is located on Pasadizo de San Gines, in the corner of two alleyways meeting together. Knowing the place is an attraction for tourists, we were glad to see the local Madrileños enjoying a cup of hot chocolate in the evening.

Stepping inside, I felt like I was in a fancy schmancy bar. Everything was so bright and shiny, and the waiters were wearing crisp linen shirts and greeted us with a friendly "hola." We could have enjoyed our hot chocolate with churros at the counter for a discount, but decided to pay a bit extra and sat at the tables.


The chocolate was thick, rich, and wasn't overly sweet...almost a bittersweet taste. This was the real deal right here.

The churros came out in thin long strips and were hot and crispy. No soggy churros here. The churro itself was barely if not at all sweetened. The sweet component solely belonged to the pool of chocolate we would soon be bathing the churros in.

The moment I had been waiting for since high school had finally arrived. My heart beat with anticipation. What would it taste like? Would it live up to my lofty expectations???? I am making this a lot more dramatic, but isn't it more interesting this way??

The chocolate and the churro were a perfect marriage made in heaven. Who doesn't like deep fried dough? I sure don't. Who doesn't like chocolate? I sure don't. Here is a close up shot.

My dreams of trying real and authentic churros y chocolate have come to fruition. Yo pienso que churros y chocolate son muy delicioso. Más por favor!!


Giangrossi Helado Artesanal - Madrid, Spain

Calle Cava Baja, 40

After a nice dinner and walk down Calle Cava Baja, we strolled on into Giangrossi for dessert.  Considered as one of Madrid's best ice cream, this place serves Argentinean-style ice cream as well as other food items and interesting cocktails.  With its plush white seating and clean decor, this is the more hipper ice cream places that we have been to.

There were so many interesting flavors to pick from so we ordered the Degustacion — a tasting of 5 flavors of your choice (6.5E). We didn't want the 5 flavors all at once so we asked to get them one by one so that the ice cream wouldn't melt.  The mini scoops on the mini cones were placed on a line of melted chocolate and powdered cocoa.
Mascarpone with Mixed Berries
The ice cream had the flavor of mascarpone and mixed berries but also had this strange almost slightly gritty texture to it. The gritty texture of the ice cream was not a good thing.

Don't recall what flavor this one was. I know... bad blogger.

Our final three flavors were strawberry, lemon, and ??? The strawberry and lemon were both good and neither had the gritty texture that the mascarpone had.

Just because we didn't think the ice cream was all that fantastic doesn't mean we couldn't finish it.

Flipping through a couple of magazines in our hotel room, I saw that Giangrossi was mentioned as one of the better ice cream places in Madrid. I liked the space and decor of Giangrossi but thought the ice cream was not up to par with the image. If you are looking for a cool place to have a drink, food, and ice cream, Giangrossi might be worth a stop. Just don't expect to be wowed by the ice cream.