The countdown to Qatar for Anna Grace was finally over on Monday, when she and her strings director departed for the honor orchestra festival being hosted by ASDoha. By Tuesday afternoon they were enjoying a desert safari (the trip couldn’t be all rehearsal, all the time, right?)

Tony and I departed for Qatar on Thursday afternoon. Our flight connection was dreadful (as most transits through the Middle East are, apparently), and we found ourselves with a 6 hour layover in Amman before our 0230 connection to Doha.  Rather fortunately our carrier was Royal Jordanian Airlines, and they have recently begun offering passengers with long layovers a “Zuwar Dining” Experience (Zuwar means Visitor in Arabic). For the cost of a tourist visa, one is met at Passport Control by an official; our passports are stamped; and we are escorted to and from a restaurant in Amman to enjoy a dinner of traditional Jordanian foods. Fabulous marketing.

 Dinner was at a restaurant inside a restored fortress atop one of the many hills in the city. In my research I had read that the restaurant was a top place to dine for both the setting and the food, a conclusion with which we both agreed.

One of the fortress rooms had been converted into the on-site pita bakery. The aroma of pita baking was heavenly.
Inside the restaurant, the mighty Kebap Grill.
I had read that portion control is non-existent in Jordanian dining; and so Tony and I prepared ourselves with merely just a few bites of the meal on our flight from Vienna. Ha! We sat for dinner and the mezze appeared shortly, enough to feed all the Hashemites in the kingdom, and then some. All of our favorites, too: Fattoush, Baba Ganoush, Labaneh, Tabbouleh, Hummus, Moutabal and that delicious pita.  We feasted.
Middle Eastern dining table whimsy.

All that feasting was just the warmup, as a plate of Kibbeh and Sigara Boregi, and a large bowl of savory-spiced something (eggplant or potatoes) appeared before us. We made short work of the savory Kibbeh and crispy Sigara, but barely made a dent in the savory-spiced something.

Much to our surprise, dinner was not quite over! Two more plates appeared bearing kebabs from the mighty grill–one plate each of spicy lamb and succulent chicken. All those threats about starving children in China we heard from our parents as young children rang through our heads, and we gallantly ate every bite of our kebaps.

Then, nearly two hours later, light at the end of the tunnel. Our gluttonous shame all that we had remaining, we almost devoured the Muhalabiyyeh, a milk flan with pistachio and rose water.

Dinner finally complete, our driver returned us to the airport with a special letter indicating that we had been “invited” by Royal Jordanian Airlines to dine in Amman (to explain the short time on our tourist stamp). Passport Control gave us an odd look, and more importantly, the exit stamp. We slept for an hour or so in the RJ lounge before making our bleary-eyed connection; within moments of takeoff we were fast asleep, dreaming of having eaten like royalty in Jordan.  Next stop, Doha.