The Jordan Tourism Board has launched a new dedicated gastronomic microsite designed to showcase the country’s diverse and exciting culinary scene, as well as its warm Bedouin hospitality. The website comes as the destination plans to focus on gastronomy for 2014 and highlight the culinary experiences Jordan has to offer beyond the iconic landscapes of Petra, Wadi Rum and the Dead Sea. As well as an overview and introduction to Jordanian food, it features interactive recipes with step-by-step videos on how to create a smattering of native specialities including tabbouleh (traditional Arab salad made of bulgur, tomatoes, cucumber and finely chopped herbs), dough and cucumber yogurt salad. Jordan now boasts a burgeoning food scene, with the streets of the capital Amman buzzing with street vendors serving the ubiquitous falafel sandwich (balls of spiced chickpea paste deep-fried and stuffed into flat bread with salad) and shawarma (similar to a doner kebab). Meanwhile, hole-in-the-wall bakeries turn out bread rings, savoury pastries stuffed with meat or spinach, Arabic-style pizzas with thyme, and dozens of other light bites. Local restaurants also serve bowls of foul, boiled broad beans mashed with lemon juice, olive oil and chopped chili and mopped up by hand with flat bread. Accompanied by a glass of sweet, scalding hot tea (without milk, of course), this is the classic Jordanian breakfast of champions. Look out for Jordan’s national dish – mansaf, a Bedouin feasting platter of boiled mutton with rice and yoghurt, savoured most deliciously when out in the desert wilderness under a million stars. Just over an hour from Amman in the town of Madaba is Zumot winery. Owner and winemaker Omar B. Zumot’s father, who was a wine trader in the region for decades, once told him “this land can make great wine”. Omar has ended up planting 34 different grape varieties over time as an experiment to see which varieties work in the region. Bottled under the label “Saint George”, Zumot’s Pinot Noir and 2009 Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon have received gold medals at the Mundus Vini international wine awards. Meanwhile, at Petra Kitchen visitors can prepare an evening meal, working alongside local women and under the supervision of the chef. Great care has been taken to make Petra Kitchen a truly Jordanian experienceright down to the furnishings, all crafted in Jordan, the tableware, all produced by the Iraq al Amir Women’s Co-operative, and the aprons and table linens, all hand-embroidered by the Jordan River Foundation.
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