Two weeks ago, I was teaching at the Le Mirage Hotel just on the outskirts of Tangier for five days to help their chefs get ready for the hotel’s new cafe launch in April. Whilst there I wrote three daily diary type posts talking about how much of an amazing experience it was. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to finish the blog posts until now. Hence why they are written in the present tense, rather than past. So, here’s my blog post about Teaching in Tangier Day 2.
I don’t know what I’m loving more about my time in Tangier…the baking…the hotel…or the people. Firstly, if you missed my Teaching in Tangier – Day 1 post, read it here. Secondly, I’ve hardly left the hotel (this one if you’d like a nosy) whilst here and whilst I’d usually be feeling the need to go out and explore, I’m actually very okay with just hanging out and taking some time to myself.
I mean, come on, how could I not be! I’ve stayed at some lovely hotels in my life but this one just beats them all with regards to luxury and peacefulness. I wake each morning to the sound of the sea, the sun shining through my window and I can hear absolutely nothing else but the occasional bird or person walking past my patio. The sunrises and sunsets are some of the prettiest I’ve ever seen, and I can’t stop thinking about how much I want to come back here already.
After breakfast this morning, I went for a little walk and discovered a second swimming pool which looked equally as relaxing as the one outside my room. The big round lounger has my name all over it. I can’t wait to curl up later with my book and a cocktail. Whilst here I’ve been reading ‘Everything I Know About Love‘. It’s the BEST pool type book I’ve read in a long time!
The baking and teaching side of what I’m doing here is my absolute priority. I’m cool with the staggered hour’s we’re working. We’ve had a couple of experimental bakes due to the difference in ingredients and when we finally cracked the dairy/milk/buttercream/sour cream problem yesterday, it was a huge relief.
So far, it’s been an experience I don’t think I’ve ever had before. I’ve had a couple of moments where I’ve just felt in awe of where I am and why I’m here. I’m still very much enjoying my own company, but I’m wondering how long it’ll be until I start missing my family. It’s strange travelling on your own, and something I don’t have a lot of experience with.
Mohammed and Hercules, the two chef’s I’m teaching, have been an absolute joy to work with.
They are the complete opposites of each other but one thing they have in common is that they are both very talented. I feel like I’m learning from them as much as they are learning from me.
I was particularly in awe of both their ninja-style chopping skills. Hercules didn’t even look at his hands whilst he thinly sliced the apples for our apple and cinnamon tart today. He laughed when he saw the look of panic on my face.
His real name isn’t Hercules by the way… it’s Abdeilah, I just can’t say it properly!! So, I use his nickname. 🙂 Hercules has a very cheeky sounding laugh and he’s very polite and respectful. He also loves cake so he’s 100% a good guy. We joked we’d be calling him Hulk soon if he didn’t stop eating all the cakes that we’d baked.
Mohammed has one of the biggest smiles you’ve ever seen. He is super professional and very very tidy. I’m not tidy…I throw ingredients around and am generally a messy baker! I use all the equipment and he just calmly cleans up around me, and I hardly even notice he’s done it! He’s utterly spoiled me and going home and cleaning up after myself is going to be really tough! Mohammed also makes an amazing vegetable paella and he’s cooked me so many delicious meals whilst I’ve been here.
I don’t speak French or Arabic and Hercules and Mohammed speak limited English, though Hercules can speak more than he lets on. We’ve Whatsapped a couple of times when we’re not baking, and his English gets better and better each time.
It’s actually made me feel pretty ignorant that I can’t speak any other language than English. I wish I’d paid more attention in school or was quicker at learning how to speak a different language, but I’m so rubbish at it! I can however now say hello and thank you in Arabic, so that’s a start I suppose!
Despite the language barrier, we’ve actually been totally fine with the communication side of things. Sawsan (the owner of the hotel) translates when hand gestures and pointing aren’t enough, and we’ve had quite a few laughs as we’ve gone along. Tomorrow will be my last day of baking so we’re going to run through everything we’ve done one last time. I’m just going to sit back and keep an eye out to make sure all goes as it should.
We’ve baked various different cupcake flavours, a chocolate fudge layer cake, a lemon drizzle, my amazing Chocolate Banana bread, Banoffee Pie, Vanilla Cheesecake, and an Apple & Cinnamon Tart. We’re baking the tart again tomorrow as the apples I usually use at home are way too tart here, so we’re going to re-do that with some different ones and use a little less lemon.
I always knew that I wouldn’t be able to instantly get the same results I do at home and the ingredients here would be all part of the learning process. I’m keen for the hotel to be able to use what’s readily available and easy to get so it’s incredibly important we get the recipes right.
There’s only one other cupcake baker in Tangier, so we’re doing a little bit of competitor research tomorrow and Sawsan has arranged to have a box delivered to the hotel for me. I’m hugely intrigued and desperate for ours to be better! Is that bad?
One very exciting thing that we did this afternoon was to head over the site of the new cupcake cafe. Sawsan lived in London for quite a few years and I knew she was a fan of Peggy’s, Elan Cafe and all the pretty modern cake shops so I had a pretty good idea of what to expect.
Or so I thought…
It was incredibly beautiful! AND huge. Even better than what I had imagined, and I was insanely envious and happy for Sawsan that she was getting to live out this dream. I can’t share too many photos yet, despite taking a gazillion, as they’re having a grand reveal when they open in April. I can tell you however that there’s a beautiful flower wall, comfy luxury seating, a VIP room, pretty photos, and a gorgeous gold counter which will be filled with all sorts of delicious treats and cakes. Even the toilets are pretty!
So, if you ever go to Tangier not only do you have a beautiful hotel recommendation, you also now know where to go if you have a cake craving! The cafe is located right here next door to the Eden Club:
Le Mirage Hotel is located right next to the famous
Free entry, quiet, the caves are something of a symbol for Tangier with their strange sea window, shaped like a map of Africa. A maze of underground caves, part natural and part man-made, Mythological tradition says that the Roman god Hercules stayed and slept in this cave while on his way to the garden of the Hesperides. Hercules had to cross the mountain that was once Atlas but instead of climbing the great mountain, Hercules used his superhuman strength to smash through it. By doing so, he connected the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and formed the Strait of Gibraltar.
It didn’t take long for me to walk around before heading back to the hotel but it’s worth a stop off. I spotted the Tangier sightseeing bus has a stop outside, so you could easily visit the caves as part of a day out in Tangier.
Day 3 is going to be really full on so I’m going to sign off this post here. I’m going to climb into my giant comfy bed in my fluffy dressing gown and order some room service.