Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Shrimp scampi and bellydancing

When we arrived at Marrakech restaurant on Thursday night, our waiter gave each of us hand towels instead of napkins. He placed a large bowl in the center of the table. We held our hands over the bowl as he poured warm water over them.

I'd never been to restaurant so concerned about the cleanliness of their patrons’ hands. When the waiter brought our platter of shrimp scampi, the first of six courses, I understood why. He explained that we should eat the shrimp with our fingers and use the bread to soak up the butter sauce.

We dove in. The shrimp was so good, but we didn’t want to stuff ourselves with the bread. But I swear, if I had a straw I would have slurped up the butter sauce.

By the time the belly dancer jiggled from behind a curtains into the restaurant, we were on our fourth course.
When my new friend Robert first pitched the idea of going to a belly-dancing restaurant for dinner, I drooled over the idea of watching such a beautiful art form while eating. But after putting down the tasty shrimp scampi, a Moroccan salad - marinated vegetables dipped in the best hummus I’ve had ever - and lentil soup, I’d forgotten about the dancer.

The food was so good that I ran out of buttons to unbutton on my pants, but Robert’s friend Charmagne still had enough energy to shake a lil’ sumthin’-sumthin’ with the dancer. The belly dancer worked her away around the restaurant, which had about 20 customers. She smiled, winked and cajoled a stunned crowd into applauding after she did the most hypnotic hip-shimmy move. She moved so fast, yet the movement seemed subtle.

We finished our meal with well-seasoned and tender beef kabobs (tasted as good as the buffalo, and was cheaper), followed by Cornish hen and couscous (we did get a fork for the hen and dessert). We shared dessert, a pastry the size of a dinner plate that reminded me of baklava. We each also received a warm cup of mint tea.

If you go to Marrakech, slightly off The Strip, bring your appetite. Each night’s menu is set, so if you’re a picky eater this isn’t the place for you. It costs $37.