Jordan is smack in the centre of the Middle East. And while many of its neighbours are still grappling with the after effects of the Arab Spring, Jordan remains at peace. That and its unassuming nature, mix of ancient and modern, welcoming people and balmy summers make its capital, Amman, the ideal spot for a quick getaway from the Emirates. Food-wise, Amman is the melting pot of the Levant and here are the best places to enjoy its culinary offerings:
1. Fakhr el-Din showcases Levantine cuisine spectacularly in an elegant stone villa. The candlelit courtyard surrounded by greenery is perfect for a romantic evening.
INFO: +962 6 465 2399.
2. Jordanians may not have invented the falafel but it has become a staple in their diets. Everyone eats it, rich or poor, native Jordanian or Palestinian, Christian or Muslim. One place where the universality of the falafel is evident is Hashem, a modest spot that even the royal family frequents for their falafel fix.
INFO: King Faisal Street.
3. Jordan’s national dish, Mansaf, is lamb stewed in a sauce of aged yogurt, served over yellow rice, and sprinkled with roasted pine nuts and almonds. Rarely made outside of homes, it is typically prepared for occasions such as weddings and funerals. Jabri is one of the few places that will serve Mansaf a la carte.
INFO: +962 6 4624108.
4. One of the best places to witness Amman’s juxtaposition of the old and the new is Rainbow Street. Located in the historic neighbourhood of Jabal Amman, it is lined with trendy bars and restaurants. It’s also the perfect place for people-watching.
The gastro-pub Canteloupe is a popular attraction and, with its rooftop bar offering magnificent views of Amman, it’s really not hard to see why.
INFO: +962 6 465 6561.
The famed Food & Wine Classic celebrates its 30th anniversary this year in Aspen, Colorado. It’s the best place to mingle with a constellation of celebrity chefs, including Marcus Samuelsson and Thomas Keller in a breathtaking setting. This year, Bobby Flay hosts the 5K Charity Run and Top Chef’s Gail Simmons hosts the Late-night Dessert Bash. There’s also an anniversary party and concert featuring Elvis Costello and The Blue Beguilers. José Andrés, Mario Batali and Michel Nischan cater at the bash.
INFO: 15 to 17 June, www.foodandwine.com/classic.
June is mango season. At least it is on the subcontinent, which means that our grocery shelves will be lined with a plentitude of choices for these fleshy, delectable fruits. Though thick-skinned varieties of mangoes are generally available year-round, the majority of Indian and Pakistani mangoes have a delicate skin and a short shelf life. Varieties to look out for at this time include the perfumed Alphonso, the green-skinned Chausan, and the tiny Kesar. Mangoes are ripe when they gently give at their stem end; colour isn’t a reliable indication of ripeness because some varieties remain green. They should be kept at room temperature, rather than chilled, to maximise their flavour.