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Belper, Derbyshire
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Graduation Meal At Olive Moroccan, Belper

Published On Thursday 12 Jan 2023 by Sticky Beak
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We recently celebrated Fledge’s graduation and, as with all occasions in The Flock, we had to go out for a meal to mark the moment. Seeing as it was Fledge’s time to shine we let her choose the venue, and how lovely was it that she chose to go back to Olive Moroccan Restaurant in Belper?

The Man Bird and I regard Jacqui (Olive’s owner and Chef) as a friend now, and clearly the feeling is mutual as she brought over a bottle of Prosecco to kick the celebrations off in style; thank you, it was very much appreciated. Jacqui had done a few seasonal tweaks to her tasty Mezze menu and also zhuzhed up the Vegetable Tagine to include winter veggies.

There was a new member of the serving team on the evening we went, a lovely young chap named George; a student at a local catering college, he was gaining some industry experience at Olive. George went off to get our water sorted as Jacqui talked us through the Mezze board; we swiftly ordered Carrot Hummus and Olives, and Chicken Shawarma to begin our feast. We’ve never had Carrot Hummus before, but we’ll definitely have it again! The root Vegetable adds a superb sweetness that compliments the smooth, comforting texture of Chickpeas brilliantly and the pieces of warmed, plain flatbread were the perfect vessel with which to pop the tasty treat into our mouths.

Mummy Bird and I shared the Green, Black and Kalamata Olives between us – some things, at least, are still sacred from The Man birds’ clutches, and Fledge has never liked them (her loss, our gain!). Jacqui brought the platter of Chicken Shawarma over and had served the breast meat entire, rather than slicing them up as we’d had last time. The Chicken was seriously moist and juicy and its mild flavour allowed its punchy Sumac spice coating, with its sharp, lemony taste, to shine in the mouth.

Olive’s Flatbreads are so good that we ordered a double helping of the scrummy morsel, Spinach on this particular occasion, showcasing its versatility by dipping it into the rich, spicy sauce that had bathed the super-tasty Meatballs (another of our favourite Mezze dishes!). I’ve said it several times before, but it’s often the simple things that give the most pleasure; the thin flatbreads were cosily warm and stuffed in the centre with an oozy cheese and wilted Spinach pairing that was utterly moreish.

Having had them before, we were very happy to tuck into the beautifully dense, satisfying spheres that comprise the Meatballs that Jacqui serves at Olive Moroccan Restaurant. These delights are very satisfying and have an enticing warmth that comes from the spices in the mixture and bathes your senses and has your taste buds swooning in happiness. Equally scrummy is the rich, thick, spicy  sauce that we all dunked our flatbread into, and you have to give props to the adaptable nature of the flatbread here because the Cheese and Spinach paired with the sauce really nicely.

Jacqui had got Baked Goats’ Cheese with Walnuts and Honey on offer and I couldn’t resist its charms; turns out, neither could any other of the Flock members!! The musky cheese was lifted beautifully by the sweet Honey, with Walnuts adding a shot of crunch into the mix – perfect. I forgot to ask Jacqui if she uses Goats cheese from another local business, The Bull Shed at Shottle; if I remember next time, I shall enquire!

As you know, His Nibs is a salad dodger; so when he’s tucking into the colourful, bursting-with-taste Trio of Salads on Olive’s menu, you know they’re blooming good! Mummy and I snaffled the Lions’ share of the Beetroot from the Beetroot Orange, Feta and Walnut salad; the combination of the flavours here was superb; the sweet, rich earthiness of the Ruby Beetroot is lifted by the bright citrus of the segmented Orange slices with a salty, acidic blast from the cubes of Feta coming through nicely. Walnuts added a shot of crunch and texture to this flavoursome salad.

I love the Lentil and Rice combo that is Mujadarah, especially with Jacqui’s magic spice touch; I got a marvellous ribbon of Cumin across my tongue – yummy. Dinky pieces of caramelised Onion were mingling amongst the grains and to compliment all the tastes in this classic Middle Eastern dish Jacqui topped it with a good dollop of natural Yoghurt

Dinky Cherry Tomato halves were paired with oodles of fresh Parsley to ramp up the impact of the Cous Cous but, compared to the other two salads, this was a much simpler, straight-forward offering that was also a superb palate cleanser. One of the things that make the dishes at Olive Moroccan Restaurant in Belper so superbly tasty is the liberal use of fresh herbs; in fact, all the ingredients are beautifully fresh and this is why the impact of each Mezze dish is so intense!

The Flock does love cheese so we decided to have the whole Baked Camembert that was glammed up with Honey and Smoked Paprika. With absolutely no decorum whatsoever, Fledge pierced the top of the Camembert and dunked in a chunk of bread, scooping up the creamy, melted innards into her mouth! The rest of us didn’t hang about either, and soon there was nothing left to show that the dairy morsel had ever graced our table!!

We had originally planned to have Chicken Tagine too (it’s luscious!!) but just hadn’t got any more room in our greedy tums; thanks to every single dish being chockfull of taste though, our palates didn’t feel like they’d missed out. The restaurant was throng with like-minded Moroccan cuisine fans and there was a great buzz; Jacqui and her team ensure that all their guests have a wonderful time.

This was an amazing evening of celebration and is perfect for groups that like a happy, friendly environment and food that comes out at intervals so that the conversation and laughter can flow. You take your own alcohol so you can drink as much or little as you fancy (abstainers and designated drivers can help themselves to water that comes in massive jugs to each table), with the bonus that if you have a fave wine or beer, you can indulge to your hearts’ content.

Hot Wings don’t really seem enough to give to Olive Moroccan Restaurant in Belper but, other than my love and enthusiasm for the food and Jacqui, it’s all I have to give, so I do so with gratitude and affection.

No incentive was provided to visit this venue read more

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