To have street art in a luxury hotel is the equivalent of deliberately-slashed Dior jeans or look-distressed Golden Goose sneakers. Look at the image above. It’s one of the Matt Sitou walls in Innocents, the Parisa’s bar at Fairmont Tazi Palace Tanger. (Yes, there are many ways of spelling Tangier but Tanger is how the hotel spells it so Girlahead is switching to that). Matthia Sitou, now living in France, was born in Togo and originally was set for a career in finance but got side-tracked by his passion. Street art. Learn more at sitoumatthia.com
Parisa, the restaurant, serves Persian food, and it’s a brand developed by Tazi Palace’s owners, Katara Hospitality. Girlahead has always loved Persian food. Years ago, in the good old days when she edited a magazine that covered hotels in Teheran, plus Persepolis and Shiraz, there were frequent trips to Iran. Yes, the caviar was great, but the all-time, every-day, any-hour favourite was a mound of Persian rice topped by what seemed like half a pound of butter, which of course melted down into the rice. There were minced lamb nuggets around and the final touch was to break a whole egg into, on to, the mound and mush the whole thing up. A key, also, was getting the rice right. Cook in an exact amount of water so that all the water is absorbed, and the rice gets a crisp periphery without sticking irretrievably to the pan.
Perhaps Persian food is in for a spell of popularity (there’s a themed restaurant at Atlantis Royal in Dubai, which will be trialled next month during PLE Dubai, watch this space). Certainly the food at Parisa is a delight. Girlahead had one of the signature kebabs, beef bites that had been marinated for 24 hours for maximum tenderness – perfect to fit the late Robert Mondavi’s phrase, as tender as a baby’s bottom.
Actually all the food at Tazi Palace is fit for a king, or anyone else who lives in a palace. Last night Girlahead ate Moroccan, with a lemon-flavoured chicken tangine served in the customary hat-lidded pottery container. A sense of place, that feels comfortable pairing street art with culinary perfection.