Jordan Real Food Adventure
6 days with Intrepid Travel Rating:
Day 1 Amman
Ahlan wa sahlan! Welcome to Amman. Your Jordan Real Food Adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. This trip puts a focus on the delicious cuisine of Jordan, a gastronomy shaped by centuries of social and political change. As these shifts came and went, multitudes of spices, cooking techniques and ingredients remained in their culture – the most popular of these techniques proving that Jordanians’ love for roasted foods and special sauces is one for the ages. Jordan also has bragging rights as one of the largest producers of olives in the world, so it’s no surprise that olive oil is commonly used in their dishes. Garlic, onions, tomato sauce, lemon and za’atar (a spice blend with sumac, sesame seeds, salt and other spices) are all big-ticket items, and should pop up often on this adventure. After your meeting, get your first taste of Jordanian cuisine at the Hashem Restaurant – a favourite of royals, diplomats and celebrities travelling through Amman. Dinner will consist of their famous Jordanian stuffed falafel, which is fresh and crunchy on the outside while fluffy on the inside. There’s also the chance to dip bread through smooth creamy hummus and moutabel – similar to hummus but with yoghurt, lemon juice and Arabic salad. After a filling meal, head on to the decades old Habibah Sweets shop for a slice of warm knafeh – delicious buttery cheese pastry soaked in sweet, sugar syrup.
Day 2 Madaba – Petra
Keep an eye out this morning for people stuffing their faces with hot sesame bread sandwiches – most of these will be pouring out of the Salaheddin bakery, today’s breakfast joint and a favourite among locals. Walk in, choose a hot, fresh loaf and fill it with baked eggs, cheese, spices or anything else you want from the counter. After filling up on arguably the best bread in town, board a bus and head through Madaba before reaching the Dead Sea (approximately 45 minutes drive). This body of water is famously salty – 9.6 times saltier than the ocean as a matter of fact. As a result, it’s believed to have healing properties that can be tested first hand during an optional swim. After drying off, prepare for a traditional picnic lunch, mezze style. Mezze consists of setting up a series of small appetisers with a group of friends, then scooping them up with bread. Kibbeh (fried meat with wheat), manakish (flatbread with za’tar and olive oil), spinach bread and cheeses are all served, followed by a cup of shaneeneh (an aged goat milk yoghurt drink) and a serving of hareeseh (a sweet, syrupy pudding) for desert. Continue to Petra for dinner (approximately 3 hours). Learn from a local family how to prepare mansaf, delicious lamb with fermented, dried yoghurt sauce. After a hearty meal and a few shared stories from the family, arrive at La Maison Hotel near the ancient ruins of Petra.
Day 3 Petra
Today you’ll have the chance to explore ancient Petra, known as one of the new ‘seven wonders of the world’. This archaeological city sits within 80-metre-high cliff walls – the iconic treasury, carved into the face of one of these cliffs, is the highlight of this visit. The site is expansive and to explore it all requires quite a bit of walking, and a basic level of fitness will enhance your experience. With a free afternoon to proceed at your own pace, there’s ample time to see the museum, the roman amphitheatre, the palace and other places – just head to the visitor centre for a map and a few suggestions as to where to go. Once the day is done, head back to your hotel for a free evening.
Day 4 Wadi Rum
Rise early this morning as today’s breakfast will be shared with a local shepherd as you bask in awe of the beautiful dry countryside. By this stage of the adventure, it should be apparent that a Jordanian breakfast is varied but sticks to a few staples; breads and garnishes being two of the favourites. A typical breakfast can consist of hummus, falafel, salad, pickles and khubz (a pita style bread), although dipping flatbread into olive oil then za’atar is also common. A mezze style breakfast under this towering scenery will be the perfect setting to chat with the shepherd and learn about the life and culture of a local. Afterwards, head on to Wadi Rum (approximately a 3 hour drive), a place often referred to as ‘The Valley of the Moon’. Enjoy a true ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ moment while exploring the sparse red sand dunes, steep craggy mountains and the legendary ‘Seven Pillars of Wisdom’ rock formation on a 4-hour jeep ride through the region. Later, head back to a Wadi Rum campsite for a traditional Bedouin barbecue, known as ‘zarb’. Zarb is one of the staples of Bedouin culture, capturing a long running tradition of cooking food underground in earth ovens. Bedouin locals will prepare dinner by digging a large hole in the ground and stoking a coal fire underneath it. Then, meat is prepared with water, lemon juice, pepper and salt before adding a variety of vegetables. A multi-layered barbecue rack used to cook everything with the meat at the top and the veggies at the bottom. Once it’s cooked, enjoy this hearty meal before enjoying an evening under the stars.
Day 5 Amman
This morning starts off with a delicious Bedouin breakfast – not to be confused with bed and breakfast! This typically consists of labneh (strained yoghurt, usually served with olive oil), zait (olives), za’atar, jebneh (cheese pastry) and tomatoes. You may get the chance to wash it all down with a cup of Bedouin whiskey; it’s non-alcoholic and consists of tea with sugar and sage, so don’t worry about getting tipsy before lunch. Following breakfast, take a walking tour through the desert surrounding Wadi Rum. Pictures don’t do this place justice. The sand dunes shift in colour as the day passes by and the colossal mountains sit steep and sharp, adding to a sense that these ancient lands were forgotten by time long ago. After the walking tour wraps up, take a 3.5-hour drive back to Amman and stop for a delicious falafel sandwich along the way. The final meal of this Real Food Adventure awaits in the city with a self-prepared dinner at the Beit Sitti cooking school, known as one of the most innovative developments in Jordan’s dining scene. Visitors to the school get to cook (and eat) an authentic meal under supervision, with tonight’s dish being maqluba. Literally translating to ‘upside down’, maqluba is a casserole with rice, vegetables and chicken which is cooked, flipped, then served with either yoghurt or an Arab salad with tahina sauce. Savour this last meal with newfound friends before the trip comes to an end tomorrow morning.
Day 6 Amman
Your Real Food Adventure comes to an end after breakfast.
All This Included
Jordan has a way of hiding more than ancient tombs and forgotten landscapes. For centuries, this jewel of the Levant has been a magnet for swaying influences and cultures – granting new flavours as these outsiders come and go. Phenomenally, the land itself helps its inhabitants cook and prepare meals: the sweeping deserts of Wadi Rum offer themselves to roast Bedouin feasts underground, the Dead Sea grants its salt as a world-class garnish and the country’s climate has allowed olives to grow and thrive for over 6000 years. Jordan and food work synonymously through a relationship that borders on near myth – but this relationship is something that must be experienced first-hand to be truly understood.
Hotel (4 Nights)
Desert Camp (1 Night)
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