By Katie Friel
In every sense of the word, Deana Saukam is on an epic journey. Beginning last fall, the social media maven (her Instagram handle @faimfatale has 20K followers and counting) and Food + Wine contributor began a six-month sojourn that had Saukam researching her cookbook in Cambodia, visiting museums in New York City, dining at Paris’s most divine restaurants and living alone in a isolated villa in Bali.
For Saukam, traveling is a compulsion born out of a need for perspective. “Travel is important on many different levels,” says Saukam. “For me, it helps me realize that the world is a really big place. And whatever it is that’s bothering you, if it’s a negative thing, the world is bigger than you.”
At age 33, Saukam is redefining her role in the world of travel and culinary education. A self-proclaimed ambassador of Austin, Saukam is taking the insights she learned as a partner in the qui and East Side King empires, and creating a career that crosses cultures and inspires a deeper love of travel.
In February, she decided to join her friend, photographer Stephen Smith, in Morocco. Together, the duo met up with Peggy Markel, a Southern-born culinary anthropologist who has spent more than two decades leading cultural tours around Morocco and Italy with her company, Peggy Markel’s Culinary Adventures. (Like Saukam, who splits her time between Paris, France and Austin, Markel has homes in both Florence, Italy and Denver.)
For Saukam, it was a chance to learn from a master, a woman who has built a career around examining the connection between culture and cuisine. Explains Saukam, “[Peggy] has been doing this for so long and I was interested to see her methods and ways. It was inspiring to get out of my own bubble of traveling by myself and see how someone else is doing it.”
Together, the women traveled from the desert to the sea to the Atlas Mountains, examining the terrain, meeting the people and learning the history of this African nation. In this photo essay, they share their deeply personal experiences and give an insider’s look into one of the most buzzed-about travel destinations right now.
1. Peggy Markel enjoying lunch in the garden at the Jnane Tamsna. 2. A traditional Moroccan tagine dish of chicken, preserved lemon and vegetables served at the Jnane Tamsna; Spices in the Jewish quarter of Marrakesh. 3. Palmeraie, located on the northern edge of Marrakesh. According to legend, says Markel, “[Arab soliders] would eat dates and then drop the seeds resulting in this palm desert.
With many flights flying in and out of Marrakesh, it’s easy to make this historic city home base. Located in the high desert, this imperial city is where Saukam and Markel began their journey. The travelers stayed in style at Jnane Tamsna, a boutique resort comprised of 24 private villas spread over nine acres. During the day, Markel introduced her companions to the Jewish quarter, where they dined on tagine and marveled at the dozens of brightly-colored spices. After a trip to the Palmeraie, a vast palm grove just outside the city, the group headed to Jemaa el-Fnaa (or night market). Among the treasures Saukam collected, a handmade silk and linen coat was one of her favorites.
Located on Morocco’s Atlantic coast, Essaouira is three-hour drive from Marrakesh — perfect for a day trip. “The city is amazing,” says Saukam. “It’s a port city, kind of like Morocco meets a surfer town.” After taking in a lunch of fresh seafood (the fish was pulled from the sea only moments before it hit plates), the travelers took a camel ride down the picturesque beach. Says Markel, “Essaouira is surrounded by Berber villages. The livelihood for many of these villagers is through camels.”
Moroccan culture is very much a marriage between the region’s indigenous Berber people and France, which established a protectorate over the country from 1912 to 1956. “[Morocco] is a lot of French sensibilities mixed with Berber culture. Even though they speak French everywhere, it’s mostly the Berber experience you’re having,” says Markel, “What’s in between these different landscapes is a Berber way of life.”
Just an hour and a half away from the high desert of Marrakesh is Imlil. Located in the High Atlas Mountains, Imlil is accessible only by foot (or mule). “The first thing you do is have dates dipped in milk and sprinkled with rosewater. It’s surrounded by mountains, and almost 4,000 feet [above sea level]. You’re in the middle of that. The quality of air has changed and the atmosphere has changed and you feel like you’ve entered into something from the past,” says Markel.
After their date and rosewater welcome, guests retired to private rooms in the Kasbah du Toubkal, a picturesque lodge with unforgettable views. Though visitors may feel a sense of transcending time and place, they can enjoy yoga retreats, mountain treks and the hospitality of the Berber people.
By Dan Gentile
By James Ruiz
Springtime is a fleeting moment of transition between mild winters and scorching summers. Like our strange and wonderful weather, our outdoor living areas reflect a life lived both indoors and outdoors. Here, we take a look at how designers created beautiful living spaces to marry the amenities and style of a home interior with natural elements and outdoor activities.more
By Katie Friel
by Joanna Steblay
As the warm weather begins to set in and patio parties hit our calendars, we can’t help but embrace that summertime has returned to Austin. If you’re anything like us, you’ll be celebrating the return of the season with decadent ice cream, healthy smoothies and icy cocktails from your favorite local spots.
For those days when it’s too hot to venture out, we went to Austin’s sweet treat professionals and compiled the ultimate collection of DIY recipes to make from your home. Click through the galleries below to learn how to make everything icy and sweet, from poptails for date night to ice cream sandwiches for a dinner party.more
The spring edition of the Renegade Craft Fair returns for its seventh year in Austin May 14-15 at Fair Market. With over 125 makers on the roster, the scene is sure to be bustling with local artisans and DIYers slinging their unique, one-of-a-kind wares. In addition to great shopping, the RCF offers activities, special showcases and plenty of food and drink options for visitors. This year, celebrate your hard work shopping with a snack from Burro Cheese Kitchen and Lucky Lab Coffee Co. before commemorating the afternoon with some snapshots from Magnolia Photo Booth Co. But before...more
by James Ruiz
Inspired by the beautiful outdoor living spaces featured in our May feature The Space Between, we went window shopping and found some great outdoor furniture and accessories to liven up your outdoor patio, porch and pool. Flip through the galleries below to see how you can add a pop of color and style to your outdoor hideaway.more
Hundreds of people are moving to Austin each day, and downtown is one of the major hubs of growth for the city. Local real estate expert Jude Galligan discusses smart urban growth and what to expect this year as the skyline continues to evolve.
Your blog keeps Austin updated on the latest news in downtown. What is the most exciting development happening right now?
From my point of view, the most exciting development is the Waller Creek District Master Plan. Decades in the making, this transformative project came to life after designers competed for the contract. It is finally coming to downtown, bringing an imaginative chain of parks,...more
by James Ruiz
As you flip through the pages of our February Love Issue, one thing you’ll notice is the beautiful blooms that pop up throughout the magazine. We got some major googly eyes for the bouquets featured in our "Real Weddings" features, and earmarked the TRIBEZA Wedding Guide for even more Pinterest-worthy petals.
Instead of letting all that inspiration go to waste, we tried our hand at flower arranging to see what we could create. Since we consider ourselves floral design novices, we asked a few top designers...more