Guest blogger Camille Styles brings the bright flavors of Morocco home for a special anniversary meal. Discover how she creates new romantic memories while reminiscing on past travels with her husband.
This spring, my husband and I celebrated our fourth anniversary, so I thought it would be fun to surprise him with a romantic “al fresco dinner for two” on our back terrace. Since many of our favorite memories together are from our travels, I decided to transport us to somewhere we’ve both been dying to go: Morocco!
The great thing about entertaining for two is that you can make the details unforgettable while keeping prep time to a minimum. It’s all about great food, beautiful dinnerware, flickering candlelight and moving the eating area outdoors so that it feels more special than your typical weeknight dinner.
I love to serve cocktails and appetizers in one area, then move somewhere else for dinner to keep a gathering of any size interesting. To make our outdoor living area feel more lounge-y, I tossed cozy blankets and Moroccan-inspired pillows onto the couch, then arranged a big bowl of citrus fruit and bunches of green viburnum as a simple coffee table centerpiece.
I set out a few appetizers with an exotic bent to nibble on while we toasted with glasses of champagne. I love using serving pieces that feel organic; the Enrico Root Wood Chip & Dip Platter & 3 Section Server are perfect for sectioning out small bites like hummus, pita triangles, herb-marinated olives, roasted peppers and pistachios with golden raisins.
Next I set the table, starting with an embroidered bohemian linen that adds a punch of color and pattern to the setting. A bunch of pink roses from the garden and a bowl of clementines keep things feeling casual yet colorful, and I stack a couple of my favorite pasta bowls in anticipation of the flavorful tagine I’ll be bringing out later.
Nothing sets a romantic tone like flickering candlelight; just before Adam gets home, I light these earthy candlesticks in natural, green and blue.
Since this dinner is all about coziness, I opt for the most comfortable Telescope Deep Seat Armchairs instead of formal dining chairs. A couple more patterned pillows continues the Moroccan vibe, giving us a spot where we’ll want to lounge long after I’ve cleared our dinner plates.
Dinner time! I’ve always wanted to make a traditional Moroccan tagine, and lucky for me, it required me to scoop up this gorgeous white tagine dish to prepare and serve it in. I loved being able to pop it in the oven and then transfer it right to the table; the tagine’s cone-shaped cover funnels condensation back to the food to keep it moist and tender.
I opted for a chicken tagine cooked with carrots, apricots, green olives and preserved lemons. A Moroccan spice blend called Ras el hanout, incorporating cinnamon, turmeric, chili peppers and cardamom, infused the dish with so much flavor and imparted the best aroma when I lifted the lid.
A layer of couscous studded with pine nuts and currants went in the bottom of our bowls, then we dished the tagine and all it’s flavorful juices on top.
For dessert, you’ve got to go decadent! This dish is so simple but looks impressive: roasted pears layered with cinnamon flatbread, then drizzled with honey-sweetened ricotta and pine nuts. Everything can be prepped a couple hours in advance, and then quickly assembled when it’s time to serve.
Since this dinner was all about transporting us to somewhere we’d love to go, I made Adam a photo album that walked through all the places we’ve been together. As the night turned a little more chilly, we fired up the heaters (love the clean, modern look of our Fire Sense Square Flame Heaters) and cozied up next to them.
Over dessert and cups of traditional Moroccan tea, we looked through the album and remembered all our favorite trips… hopefully, Morocco is next on our list!