Nabil Hach Al-
"I offered to pay for his vacation, to delay it, but he refused," says the 46-year-old, Moroccan-born Al-
Four years later, the cook is gone and Al-
In the beginning, things were hectic, but he had learned his craft in a cramped apartment in the projects on the outskirts of Paris. There, his mother would coax chicken, rabbit, and lamb into the savory-sweet stews called tagines for her four children. As Al-
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SHOW ME HOW
He knew he wanted to do Moroccan food. But he also knew the painstaking preparations required would be nearly impossible to execute in his cramped space. "I figured I could present Moroccan flavors very well and blend them with some French ingredients and techniques," he recalls.
These days, he fills delicate quail ($30.95) with an aggressively spiced homemade version of the North African lamb sausage merguez. Then he crisps the minuscule birds and places them in a fragrant apricot sauce. For another dish, he showers fleshy branzino ($34.95) in a North African array of spices called ras el
The blending of North African and French cuisines is nothing new. France ruled much of North Africa, often brutally, for nearly a century, from the mid-1800s to the mid-1900s. The food served at Rouge is a silver lining in this dark cloud of history.