We continue to unveil the novelties of the new menu at El Jardín del Califa. In one of the previous posts we were able to savour the exoticism of the new seasonal dishes that we have added to the restaurant’s summer menu. Today we talk to Amina Essaadi. Behind the famous Caliph’s Arab pastries are the extraordinary hands of this 39-year-old Moroccan baker, who has been making the desserts and sweets for almost all of the Califa’s establishments for 15 years. They are all traditional recipes “with a personal touch”, she explains.
Her entire professional career has been linked to the world of confectionery. Amina makes us dream and sweetens us with every bite of her handmade delicacies prepared by her hands in the kitchen of El Jardín del Califa since 2006.
“I prepare desserts for Califa Express, Califa Tapas, La Tetería del Califa, FEZ, the hotel Madreselva in Los Caños de Meca and the Emir service of all the Califa hotels. In high season there are days when up to 500 pastries and desserts are made in the kitchen in one morning. Other days 200 or 300. It depends on the type of pastries being made and the season we are in”.
The ingredients for the delicate at the Califa are all natural, fresh, local wherever possible, based on dried fruit, walnuts, almonds, pistachio, organic flour “although we use little flour for desserts” sugar and local honey “we sue only orange blossom honey in our kitchen”.
Amina is from Kenitra, Morocco. Married with two children, her love affair with baking began when she was 21 years old. Morocco is a country with a rich culinary tradition and cakes made in the family. “The whole family gets together the day before a special occasion to prepare the sweets”. These are traditions that Amina misses from her homeland, although she continues to do so with her sisters who live here. “We meet in a house and cook together, and I always get the desserts,” she says with a laugh.
One of her sisters, Khadija Essaadi, is the executive chef and manager of the restaurant. And what is it like to work with a sister who is also your boss? “At work, we get on well, as colleagues. And outside, we are sisters”, she says with a smile. “My sister is everything to me, my family, my role model”.
Not to be missed…
- What are the novelties of the season?
One of them is the Mouhalabie, a Lebanese flan made with milk, cornflour, orange blossom essence, rose syrup and pistachios. Another of the new delicacies is saffron ice cream with pistachio biscuit. Also not to be missed, according to the pastry chef, are the Baklava, with a choice between the classic middle eastern variety, a succulent dessert of crispy pastry, pistachios and honey, and the Emir, filled with walnut and caramel ice cream. A real treat!
- The Califa’s most popular desserts?
“The Sultan’s cheesecake is a favourite, as are the handmade pastries, the Emir’s baklava or the chocolate and tahini fondant with vanilla Kulfi, to name but a few”.
- Amina’s recommendations
Amina recommends everything, she laughs. Her favourite desserts are the Emir’s Baklava and the Mouhalabie, “two good remedies against the heat”.
Discover the dessert menu here.
Have a sweet summer!