All tagged Desert Highway

Into Jordan 18/10/16

In the evening, after yesterday's post, we went out to dinner at Fakhr-El Din, a Lebanese restaurant that had been recommended to us before we left on our trip and then was subsequently recommended by Bashar at the Intercontinental. V had called the hotel from Toronto pre-trip and had had the concierge make a reservation and we were glad that she did, very busy. As an aside we have been trying valiantly to approximate the pronunciation of arabic names and places and I was very pleased at how well I succeeded in telling the taxi attendant where we wanted to go even though mustering the throaty guttural required to pronounce the restaurant's name made me fell as if I was calling him a very robust anglo-saxon epithet.

The restaurant was wonderful, very elegant and in the home of a former Prime Minister of Jordan, with indoor dining rooms and an outdoor candle-lit garden where we sat. We arrived at 7:30 and by 8:30 it was packed with locals seeing and being seen. Amman culture appears to be very secular and the tables were filled with larger groups of mixed gender as well as smaller tables of 3 or 4, in some cases all men in others all women, and in others mixed. The table immediately beside ours was made up of a woman with whom we chatted briefly and who turned out to be Egyptian but now living in the US and two local men who were her hosts for the evening and who spoke no english. We have been struggling to find an appropriate drink to have with dinner as the wine is for the most part imported and expensive and beer which while very good, does not appeal for accompanying a meal. Our table neighbour then introduced us to the drink that her table as well as many others was drinking, arak also known in Turkey as raki, in Greece as ouzo and in France as pastis, a semi-sweet licorice-flavouered liquor that turns milky white when mixed with water. Our neighbours sent over to us two glasses and as soon as we tasted it we knew we had come home! Under our neighbour's tutelage we learned the appropriate ratio of water to specify and the way we should ask for it to be prepared, mixed 2 parts water to one part arak in a small glass with a handful of fresh mint leaves and ice. I immediately ordered a quarter bottle, it is quite strong, and consulted with our waiter about the right bottle to order as there were a variety on offer and it seemed to be as important a decision as the right bottle of wine to order with dinner. Our waiter took charge of it when it came, mixed it properly and made sure our glasses were kept filled throughout the evening with fresh mint leaves and cold refreshing arak...