d o c t o r a n d m a m a

Linda Shiue

Linda Shiue
San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA
December 31
I am a physician and spend my free time with my husband and kids, reading everything in sight, eating, traveling, and cooking meals inspired by my travels. These days I'm spending more time at my food blog, spiceboxtravels.com. Please visit me there and follow me on Twitter @spiceboxtravels. Disclaimer: Health information presented here is not intended nor recommended as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your own physician or other qualified health care professional regarding any medical questions or conditions. © 2010-12 Linda Shiue. All Rights Reserved.

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DECEMBER 19, 2010 10:25AM

Moroccan Dates

Rate: 27 Flag
by Linda Shiue 
In her autobiographical novel, Hideous Kinky (1992), British novelist Esther Freud, great-granddaughter of Sigmund, writes from the perspective of her six-year-old self of the time she spent in 1960s Marrakech, Morocco.  She lived there with her elder sister, Bella, and mother, Julia, who journeyed there on a quest for fulfillment and enlightenment, after leaving behind her husband and their upper crust London life.  To Esther, this was an exciting time, but she wished for a father.  Her elder sister, precociously pragmatic, longed instead for structure and an education.  Morocco through Esther's six-year-old eyes is a confusing swirl of exotic color, music, and mysticism.  Kate Winslet stars as her mother in the 1998 film adaptation by the same name.  She and the young actors portraying her daughters convincingly convey the excitement and disorientation of living in a completely different world.

Like a good book or film, a good restaurant can also transport you to another place and time.  Baraka,  a sadly defunct Moroccan restaurant in San Francisco I frequented around the same time as Hideous Kinky's screen debut, did just that.  Although it was located in a nondescript storefront on the ground level of a Victorian in one of San Francisco's famously hilly neighborhoods, for the time you were there, you could imagine yourself in Morocco.  You entered through heavy red velvet curtains, which successfully created both ambience and a shield from the wind just outside the door.  Inside, small tables were spaced closely together, and if you were lucky to get one of the corner banquettes, you were cushioned by silk upholstered pillows in jewel tones, sewn with golden thread.  The light was appealingly dim, made dynamic by flickering candlelight.  The attractive waitstaff, whose ethnicities ranged from European to Asian to Middle Eastern to African, all spoke in convincing French-accented English.  I never knew if they were actually from Francophone countries or if their accents were for show, but their alluring speech added to the feeling that you might just be in Morocco.

It was at Baraka that I tasted my first tagines, those lovely stews sweetened by fruits and aromatic with sweet and savory spices, including cinnamon, saffron, ginger, turmeric and cumin.  But the menu item I missed most when Baraka closed was the must-have appetizer, dates filled with blue cheese and wrapped in bacon.  I've recreated these here in memory of the Moroccan restaurant I miss and the dreamy images of Morocco depicted in Hideous Kinky.  These dates are neither hideous nor kinky (the title refers to a phrase Esther Freud and her sister used whenever they encountered anything they found strange), but I won't judge you if your date is.  I think you'll find this to be an exotic, voluptuous, and stylish appetizer to serve to your holiday guests.  Red velvet curtains and French accents optional.
*     *     *
Gorgonzola and Bacon Dates
gorgonzola and bacon dates by Linda Shiue 
Neither hideous nor kinky, these are an exotic appetizer sure the get your party started.  They are simple to prepare and can be assembled in advance and baked just before serving, ideal for your busy party planning.  They can also be made vegetarian by omitting the bacon and reducing baking time to 10 minutes.  Either way, these are handheld bites that just explode with flavor and texture.  What other appetizer can promise you sweet, savory, salty, smoky and creamy flavors along with chewy and crisp textures, all in the same mouthful? I can't think of another.
Yield: 12 pieces
12 Medjool dates
2 oz gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
6 slices of thick-cut bacon, sliced in half width-wise
1. Make a vertical slit on one side of each date (do not cut all the way through) and remove the pit.
2.  Place a few crumbles of gorgonzola into the pocket you've created in each date, then carefully re-seal the opening after filling.
gorgonzola stuffed dates by Linda Shiue 
3.  Wrap a half-slice of bacon around each filled date, overlapping on the bottom, keeping the cut side of the date up so the cheese doesn't ooze out. Secure with a toothpick if desired.  These can be baked immediately or wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated until you're ready for your guests to arrive.
4.  Place each wrapped date on a rimmed baking sheet.
5.  Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 25 minutes, until bacon is crisp and cheese is oozy.
6.  Transfer with tongs to a plate lined with several layers of paper towels to absorb excess grease.
7.  Enjoy hot.

© 2010 Linda Shiue

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If you put a pacjage of dates in front of me, I'll eat them all....next day, not so good.!!great recipes...I'll ask my sister to do these...she's good at things like this!
They look delicious... as does your description of Baraka!
lovely post, linda. isn't it sad when good restaurants (that get all the details right) are gone? the stuff dates sound delicious and *so* easy. "Avec" in chicago has an incredible date appetizer (stuff with chorizo, bacon wrap, bright red piquillo pepper sauce). morocco is one of the most fascinating places in the world.
Sounds delicious. I lived in Tangier for a few months once and while I loved all the couscous dishes, mint tea and the pastries at Madame Porte's Teahouse, I don't remember ever seeing pork served anywhere. Possibly Marrakesh is more worldly, less pious.

I saw Hideous Kinky but your lively description makes the book sound more searching, Linda.

Have I wished you a Merry Christmas? There!
I always love how you bring your places & foods to life, Linda...Delicious...
ElijahRising, everything in moderation, I guess! Enjoy.

Grace, thank you. I really do miss Baraka. Medjool in the Mission is from the same owners but it's not the same.

Candace, that appetizer sounds fantastic. I am going to try to make that. I hope to visit Morocco one day.

Leon, I agree, I am confused by the bacon. May be fusion, but definitely tasty! I brought these to a brunch yesterday when I was asked to bring fruit. Everyone agreed that bacon+fruit was a good idea. Happy holidays to you too!

clay ball, thank you!
my mouth is watering! i love these flavors, and will make it as soon as i go to a real town with a real grocery store.
I make myself sick with these when I'm anywhere near them, I'm a PIG! This has always been one of my favorite apps. Wonderful holidays to you too Linda.
However you did that...
That was tricky and delicious.
Yesterday folks gathered here.
A bonfire, and hoola-dancers,
and the hoola-hoop was on fire.
I am supposed to practice all year.
Alice challenged me to a duo dance.
Next year I am scheduled to hoola.
The younger woman hoola dance.
But, I thought you were talking ref Barack.
You're right`
Annabella is supposed to show me boogie.
I bought gifts for dancers. Whole Spiced Figs.
It's a jar of ginger, cinnamon, oil, and cloves.
Figs, syrup, vinegar, and I'll eat some now.
ur making me hungry. We ate tons of stuff.
I thought my belly button might pop-outer.
One Friend is 28- years young. She swells.
Inside a belly's womb is a newborn babe.
She was only a toddler yesterday. Time.
She's gonna allow me to burp her baby.
She's eight months 'with-child' soon.
She has a cute outer poking button.
I almost asked her to poke her belly.
Actually, she let me feel the baby.
I love when the baby kick heels.
She made me as happy as a fig.
Her Family are great cheese makers.
After one more month I no change?
Stinky pants.
Eight month.
Big tummies.
Her husband was blessed with a woman.
I ask her mom`
You want to date?
She no slap fink.
She get great figs.
Ma Ma O Mommy!
I am sure behaving!
No listen to lawyers!
gads. I sure is hungry.
Maybe soon. poke belly.
no believe poke foe weed.
politicians feed off wacky!
Beautiful post. Yum, dates. I put them in my oatmeal this morning but now you have really given me ideas! I'm not a red meat-eater but I'm sure the dates with the cheese are scrumptious.
Gorgeous as usual~r
Okay, cut that out now! Everything but the dates must go with today's diet for this poor woman! :)
And i'm drooling. Are you satisfied?
Rated for the tasty story
Yum! Love the story & the pictures! I'll have to try this - bacon's an easy sell around here. Bonne chance!
Oh the memories of Morocco. I want to read that book and have Tagine again and again. I briefly touched on that world by exhibiting there and becoming friends with Paul Bowles. Thanks for the recipe to boot.
These sound fantastic!!! mmmmm
These sound fantastic!!! mmmmm
I mean - Rated :o)
I can solve the mystery of bacon used in an exotic dish from the Middle East. It's exotic, but not Middle Eastern. The recipe is called "Devils on Horseback" and originated in Jolly Olde England. An alternative recipe, called "Angels on Horseback," uses oysters. My father's side of the family is English so I suppose that's why we had both. :) Rated
I love your descripition of the restaurant..how sad it's no longer there. And this recipe sounds yummy! R!
I loved that movie, and I appreciate your recounting of the history -- which, somehow, I'd forgotten. Dates aren't something easily found here in the South and they always seem so exotic (like MOROCCAN!) when I read about them. I can't say I've ever had dates, or even seen dates, in the way you describe them, but I'd love to try!
"Like a good book or film, a good restaurant can also transport you to another place and time. " So true. Looks delicious.
Two of my favorite foods...gorgonzola cheese and dates. I never thought to put them together. Looks better than a chocolate turtle!
These look yummy and festive! And thanks for reminding me of how lovely Moroccan food is--there really aren't as many Moroccan restaurants out there as I'd like, alas!
These look wonderful. Thank you -R-
You are certainly versatile in reviewing restaurants and movies! The dates sound marvelous and I'm going to rent the movie.
Great post.
Beautiful, yummy and I love dates! Rated! :-)
I had a great version of these recently. My New Zealand friends marinate the prunes for a year in rum. This adds a wonderful richness. I've also had sockeye salmon wrapped in bacon -- incredible.