Saturday, November 8, 2008

Viva Aziza

I'd heard (way) out-of-way Aziza was good, but I had no idea. The fun and festive resto marries the best of Moroccan cooking with California's fresh, local ingredients. Perfect for JP's birthday. A good thing there were four of us, so that we could have our fill of a lot of different things. The only low note? The strange and sometimes awful medley of desserts we'd ordered.

Back to the main attraction ...

We started in on some tasty spreads including velvety eggplant, piquillo-almond, and yogurt-dill along with a salad of super tender rings of squid, shredded cabbage, micro-greens, chili, sour leaf, and a generous dose of lime.

Then it was on to the beef riblets with pickled onion and a chiff of mint plus the generously portioned and fragrant saffron chicken and spiced almond basteeya—basically the Moroccan version of chicken pot pie using phyllo dough, subtly sweetened with sugar and cinnamon.

Whoa nellie. Loved Aziza's hefty fall-off-the-bone lamb shank paired with barley, prune, and cranberry, with a pinch of fresh scallion on top.

We were also pleased as punch with the moist medallions of paprika-spiked rabbit with baby carrots, parsnips, dried cherries and a fluffy mound of mashies.

Bringing up the rear were the perfectly grilled scallops with corn, cauliflower, mushrooms, sultana raisins, and vadouvan (an Indian spice-mix made of cumin, fenugreek, mustard, turmeric, curry leaves, onion, garlic, and dal that made the whole dish pop with flavor).

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