Wine Dine and Play: July 2017

Petra - One Of Seven Wonders







Better than seeing it on Indiana Jones
Wadi Musa, Jordan
Visited in November 2012
By Sean Overpeck (CFE)
**A full article and index glossary of restaurants, wines, recipes and travel for 
Wine Dine and Play are in the pages section above, or by following these links:




“It seems no work of Man's creative hand,
by labour wrought as wavering fancy planned;
But from the rock as if by magic grown,
Eternal, silent, beautiful, alone!
Not virgin-white like that old Doric shrine,
where erst Athena held her rites divine;
Not saintly-grey, like many a minster fane,
that crowns the hill and consecrates the plain;
But rose-red as if the blush of dawn,
that first beheld them were not yet withdrawn;
The hues of youth upon a brow of woe,
which Man deemed old two thousand years ago,
Match me such marvel save in Eastern clime,
A rose-red city half as old as time.”


Petra is the fabled "rose red city, half as old as time,”(Arabic: البتراء, Al-Batrāʾ; Ancient Greek: Πέτρα) and is an ancient Nabatean City that they called ‘Raqmu' and was established as early as 300 BC in the southern region of Jordan. Due to its unique and awe-inspiring views along with the many ruins, Petra was recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985 and was chosen in July 2007 as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. The other six are the Chichén Itzá (aka: Temple of Kukulcan), The Roman Colosseum, Machu Picchu, Taj Mahal, Christ The Redeemer, and the Great Wall of China.

Petra was the capital of the Nabataeans kingdom who were nomadic Arabs who took advantage of Petra's proximity to regional trade routes to establish it as a major trading hub with Africa and Asia. The kingdom was absorbed into the Roman Empire in AD 106 and the Romans continued to expand the city. As an important center for trade and commerce, Petra continued to flourish until a catastrophic earthquake destroyed buildings and crippled vital water management systems around AD 663. During the Crusades and Saladin's conquest of the Middle East in 1189, Petra was abandoned and the memory of it was lost to the West.

The ruins remained hidden to most of the world until the Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt, disguised as an Arab scholar, infiltrated the Bedouin-occupied City in 1812. The first major excavations of the site were after World War One, in 1929 during the forming of Trans-Jordan. Since that time, Petra has become Jordan's largest tourist attraction. The site was even included in the Steven Spielberg movie, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in 1989 as the secret castle where the ‘Holy Grail’ was hidden. In 2016, archaeologists discovered a large, previously unknown monumental structure buried beneath the sands of Petra using satellite imagery.

Harrison Ford, Sean Connery, and John Rhys-Davies
In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade 1989
I visited Petra while on a quick turn and burn three-day tour of Jordan back in November 2012. This entire trip is what inspired me to begin writing this blog which now has over 400 published restaurant, travel, and wine articles associated with it. I arranged the entire trip through my hotel in Jordan which included a driver, and the entry to the Petra. By itself, the entry ticket costs 90 JD ($127 USD). The trip from Amman was nearly two hours, and along the way, I saw a fuel tanker that had turned over along the median of the highway, and hundreds of people had pulled over, gathered around the tanker stealing all of the fuel. Some of them were smoking while collecting the fuel, and I told the driver to go through quickly not wanting to be incinerated if the tanker exploded. The same event happened on June 25, 2017, in Pakistan killing 153 people when the tanker did explode. 


As we drew closer the red and brown sandstone mountains came into view, and the nature and beauty of the area along were beyond breathtaking. The first place you come to after passing the hotels on Tourism Street is the Petra visitors Center (مركز (زوار البترا) where there are many concession stands to buy souvenirs, water, bars serving alcohol, and restaurants. One concession stand was called the Indian Jones Gift Shop. The Petra Complex has four main sights to see. The Siiq, followed by the Treasury, then the City, and finally the Monastery and beyond. It can all be seen in one day, which is all I had, but to really get a good feel for everything and to visit every tomb, fortress, and hillside alter would take an average of two to three days.


The Siiq
The Siiq (or Al Siq) is called the path to Petra and is a narrow passageway of sandstone rock that goes from the damn which begins after you pass through the concession area of the park and it leads to the famed Treasury. The length of the Siiq is about ¾ of a mile (1.2 kilometers) with a height of up to 260 feet (80 meters) and in some areas only a few feet wide. There are a few small tombs dotted around the area of the Siiq and is a beautiful walking sight that will give your neck a little cramp as you continue to look up. There are also local horsemen (people from Wadi Musa); be very careful in dealing with them, they will tell you that the horse ride is free, but once you are riding, will reveal that the "tipping" cost is actually 18 JOD per person (around £15 GBP/20 Euros/US$25), the same applies to the carriage.




The Treasury (Al Khazna):

The Siiq opens up onto Petra’s most magnificent façade; the Treasury, or Al Khazna. This is the famous sight from the India Jones movie and the most recognizable picture of the Petra Complex. It is almost 130 feet (40 meters) high and intricately decorated with Corinthian capitals, friezes, figures and more, directly sculpted into the mountain rock-face. The Treasury is crowned by a funerary urn, which according to local legend conceals a pharaoh’s treasure. The Treasury was constructed in the 1st century BC and consists of two floors. The purpose of the Treasury is unclear: some archaeologists believed it to be a temple, while others thought it was a place to store documents. However, the most recent excavation has unearthed a graveyard beneath the Treasury. It has three chambers, a middle chamber with one on either side, and an elaborately carved facade represents the Nabataean engineering genius of the time.

The City:

Once you spend enough jaw-dropping time taking pictures of the Treasury, you move on down a wider open road that leads to the city. Dotted throughout the area are several tombs which include the Tombs to Roman soldiers, the Corinthian Tomb,  the Palace Tomb,  Uneishu Tomb, Little Petra Tomb, the Obelisk Tomb, the Silk Tomb, the Renaissance Tomb, and the Triclinium. I had to rush my way through these to see the rest of the city and complex but could have easily spent hours going through each one. 


Before you reach the tombs or the city, you run across an old theatre, that was carved into the mountainside during the reign of King Aretas IV (4BC-AD27) and it can accommodate 4000 spectators. The Romans later built more onto the theatre for Gladiator combat spectacles. 


Other sights in the city proper include the ancient ruins of the Hadrian Gate and the Cardo Maximus, along with the Street of Façades down the center with the Great Temple of Petra on one side, and further down on Colonnaded Street, the girl's palace, Winged Lion Palace, and the Al-Habis Fortress. 
The “Great” Temple Complex represents one of the major archaeological and architectural components of central Petra. Since 1993 archaeologist from Brown University has been Excavating this temple. The great temple precinct is estimated to be 76.000 sq. feet (7.000 meters squared). Beyond this area is the Restaurante Crown Plaza Basin which also contains a gift shop, Museum, and public restrooms.

Ad Deir (Monastery)

This is one of the largest monuments in Petra. It was used as a biclinium for the meetings of religious associations. And dates to the early 2nd century AD, during the reign of King Rabel II. The hall was reused as a Christian chapel and crosses were carved in the rear wall thus the name “Monastery” (Dayr in Arabic).
When you pass the restaurant a set of stairs will take you to the Monastery, 800 in all, or if you're not in perfect health you can hire a man with a donkey that you can ride on all the way to the top. I was not in the best of shape but managed to do it stopping a few times to catch my breath. It took well over an hour, but my god was it worth it. The views of the valley and all of Petra came into focus and it was beautiful. My father came to Petra later and he told me that because of his OCPD could not make it to the top to see the monastery of the views. The way down was much easier, but you still have to be careful. 


I spent another hour or more looking around the Great Temple Complex of the city, before having to make my way back to the car, and the long two-hour drive to Amman. It was a very tiring day, and I slept for most of the drive. It is a wonderful memory, and I’m glad I had the chance to visit and would love to return to see more of the complex in finer detail. 

Other interests in the area include the Mountain of Aaron (Jabal Haroun) which is the highest peak in the area. At the top, you will find a small church and the tomb of Aaron, brother of Moses. The route to the top and back will take you past the Monastery and will take 4-8 hours depending on your chosen path. That is on my list for the next visit.


Wadi Musa, Jordan
وادي موسى الشارع السياحي - مدخل المدينة الوردية,
+962 3 215 7093




Other articles from my Jordan visit:
Bourj Al Hamam Restaurant Levant, Jordanian, and Lebanese cuisines with buffet in Amman, Jordan
Jordan River Wines A Haddad Estate Shiraz from the Jordan River Valley
Sufra Restaurant Traditional and Authentic Jordanian Cuisine in Amman, Jordan

See the whole list by visiting “The Wine Dine and Play Article Glossary


Other articles of interest on Wine Dine and Play:
A Taste of Willamette Damn It! A tour of food and wine from a 2015 tour in Oregon wine country
Bordeaux - A Sip and Taste Wine tours and restaurants in Bordeaux, France
Burj Khalifa Tower Take a tour of the tallest building in the world, Dubai, UAE
Clearwater Beach Taste Fest 2017 music, food, and wine near Pier 60, Clearwater Beach, Florida
Gourmet Wine Tours of South Africa A wine and food tour of Stellenbosch, South Africa
McMurdo Station - 8 Months on the Ice Ross Island, Antarctica
Napa - A Sip and Taste in Wine County A 3-day tour of wineries and fine dining restaurants
Shark Cage Diving Adventure with the Great White Shark Tours company in Gansbaai, South Africa
Sydney Wine Tasting Yearly tasting event at Hyde Park in Sydney Australia
The Bourgogne Tasting A tasting of the Vougeot AOC, caves, and the Hospices de Beaune tour
The Complete A to Z Food and Beverage Grand Dictionary If you're looking for it, then you found it
Tipping in Restaurants Etiquette, customs, cultures, and assumptions


See the whole list by visiting “The Wine Dine and Play Article Glossary by country




****
The worlds best restaurants is a subjective list of who is writing it and changes on a regular basis. The Wine Dine and Play best experiences are based on my highest rated stared restaurants, meaning that the visit was an outstanding or extraordinary experience. From cafés, chains, mom + pops, hole in the walls, to fine dining including a few Michelin spots. Visit the Top 100 page to see the entire list.


A few to tease you with…
High Rise Fine Global Dining, Highest Restaurant In The World
Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE
Elegant Modern Australian with Molecular Gastronomic dining 
Melbourne, Australia
Haute French Restaurant
Paris, France

Impeccably prepared French fine dining 
Dublin, Ireland
Contemporary, African-French Tasting Journey
Franschhoek, South Africa
Highly creative new American molecular gastronomy tasting menus
Chicago, Illinois, USA





“Culinary perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, 
But in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”
-Angelique Arnauld (1591-1661)




Who is John Galt?

TTFN




Waffle House







Scattered and Smothered
25 States With 2,100 Locations
Home Office in Atlanta, Georgia USA
Cuisine Style: Breakfast, American diner
Average Price: $
Overall Rating: 0.5/5
This article was written in December 2017
By Sean Overpeck (CFE)
**A full article and index glossary of restaurants, wines, recipes and travel for 
Wine Dine and Play are in the pages section above, or by following these links:


Waffle House, Inc., is a classic American all-day breakfast and lunch menu themed restaurant chain with more than 2,100 owned and franchised locations in 25 states. Most of the locations are in the Southeast, where the chain is a regional cultural icon. Waffle House is headquartered in Norcross, Gwinnett County, Georgia. 

Menu:
    • Eggs or omelets to order
    • Hashbrowns 
    • Waffle assortments
    • Sides
    • Salads
    • Hot Sandwiches Melts & burgers
    • Steaks and cheesesteaks
    • Desserts

Iconic menu items include Alice’s Iced Tea, Bert’s™Chili, Waffle House Coffee, and the newest grouping called The Test Kitchen where items such as the new blueberry waffle and Texas Biscuits have been added.
The story of Waffle House begins with Joe Rogers, Sr., buying a house from Tom Forkner in Avondale Estates, Georgia in 1949. At the time Joe worked for an American diner chain called Toddle House started in the late 1920s, by J.C. Stedman as a 24/7 breakfast spot. Joe and Tom wanted to create a restaurant focused on people while serving quality food at a great value. With that, the first Waffle House opened on Labor Day weekend in 1955. The concept was to combine the speed of fast food with table service and around-the-clock availability. In 1960, Waffle House, now a chain of three restaurants, opened a fourth restaurant, and the company began franchising its restaurants and slowly grew to 27 stores by the late 1960s before growth accelerated. 

The company is privately held and does not disclose annual sales figures, but says they serve 2% of the eggs used in the nation's food-service industry. Up until recently when they began accepting credit cards, they were a cash-only business. Although they are a chain located mainly in the Southeast, it has reached north to Austinburg, Ohio, and as far to the West as Goodyear, Arizona, in the suburbs of Phoenix, and as far to the South as American property can go in Key West, Florida. In 2007, Waffle House repurchased the original restaurant, which was sold by the chain in the early 1970s and restored it using original blueprints for use as a private company museum. The museum is used primarily for internal corporate events and tours and open to the public.

The servers use a now patented diner lingo to call in their orders, and the menu mentions some of that lingo when placing orders for hash brown potatoes.  Once the order is taken on an old ordering pad, with no computers, the server stands next to the grill and yells out the order. Starting with the eggs and preferred bread, and moving on to the main event with the hash browns.  "Scattered" meant to spread them on the grill with oil, "smothered" meant to add onions, "covered" was to finish with a slice of cheese after the hash browns were flipped over, "chunked" meant to add diced ham, "diced" added tomatoes, "peppered" added jalapeño peppers, "capped" added mushrooms, and the final topping was "topped" which meant that you add Bert’s chili after you take the order off the grill. You could also just order them "all the way.”

As they yell out the order, the grill cook grabs an empty plate, then uses a package of jam and places it on the plate. Depending on where its placed or which direction tells him and any other operators how the eggs are to be cooked. For omelets, it is placed on the plate and if the customer wants ham or onion added to the omelet they place a small diced piece of each next to the jelly packet. For the hash browns, they place a few shredded rehydrated pieces on the plate, then diced pieces of what they want in it from the “smothered” to the “capped.” This way during a rush when you have ten plates lines up with orders you know where every egg, hash brown, and waffle goes without making a mistake. You think its good memory, but there is a system. 


I worked as a manager at Waffle House from 1999 to early 2001 at several locations south of Atlanta after leaving the military, and they were my first hands-on experience to corporate fast-food style cooking and service. As it relates to food safety with the 1993 deaths from E. coli as a result of undercooked hamburgers at a Jack in the Box, the Dateline NBC television news magazine in 2004 investigated sanitation practices of popular American family restaurant chains, measuring the number of critical violations per inspection. The Waffle House averaged 1.6 critical violations per inspection. Waffle House's response to the study pointed out that they prepare all meals in an open kitchen, and consumers can readily observe their sanitation practices themselves.

Though from working with the company in this open-air environment before the NBC story, I witnessed on regular basis things such as cooks and servers smoking cigarettes while preparing the grits and eggs which was commonplace in all the stores I worked at or visited. The hash browns were delivered in dehydrated containers, filled with water, then left at room temperature instead of below 41°f to avoid foodborne illness. The practices of the time and temperature abuse were just starting to become part of food safety law under the new FDA codes and ServSafe, but it was still known, and commonly ignored. The grits were prepared on the night shift as early as midnight and left out in a heating unit to be served to start at the breakfast rush of 5am all the way until noon. The recommended hot holding time is not supposed to exceed five hours for any products. This just scratched the surface of what went on behind the scenes, and that goes beyond the Waffle House to most chain restaurants.  When I moved on from Waffle House and began taking courses in food safety I then realized all the violations that we did and how it was possible that we could have been making people sick. As time has gone on, things have improved. US laws ban smoking in restaurants, and food safety courses for restaurant managers are now mandatory. 


Waffle House is still a Southern American family restaurant icon that continues to grow, and it focuses on the challenges to food safety and customer service. Like any restaurant they have problems, but they still provide a service that people want. When I worked in Afghanistan from 2009-2013 I contacted the Waffle House corporate office for permission to use their logo and terms to make a breakfast and dinner grill special of hash browns for the soldiers. It was an amazing hit, and the concept spread to many other dining facilities on other FOB’s. Soldiers that were from the West coast and never heard of Waffle House wanted to eat there when they returned home from their tour of duty. The concept is now also practiced at dining facilities in Iraq, with a change in name to “Almost Waffle House Hashbrowns.” The founders would be proud that their logo and name made it over to Asia for the troops, and it is sad that both of them died in 2017 within two months of each other. Joe Rodgers, Sr., passed away on March 3, 2017, and Tom Forkner passed away on April 26, 2017.


Dessert:
Pecan or Apple pies are heated on the grill covered with a dome to keep in the moisture, then served with whipped cream.



Other Noteworthy Breakfast Articles and Restaurants:
Al Fanar Restaurant and Café Authentic Emirati Cuisine, Festival City, Dubai, UAE
Café du Monde Iconic café & coffeehouse serving beignets since 1862 in New Orleans, Louisiana
First Watch Café chain for health-minded breakfast, brunch, & lunch; reviewed in Tampa, Florida
Fugitives Drift Lodge and Zulu Battlefields African Cuisine Buffet, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa 
High Cotton Refined eatery with Lowcountry fare and Southern Brunch in Charleston, South Carolina
Metro Diner Local diner chain with classic American Breakfast & Lunch; Reviewed in St. Petersburg, Florida
Paradise Grille Beachside joint offering casual American eats in Pass-A-Grille, Florida
Safar Restaurant Arabic and Emirati blended buffet at the Dubai International Airport (DXB), UAE 
Stella’s Restaurant Southern-inspired comfort eats and diner in Gulfport, Florida
The Dutch Kitchen Buffet of Dutch and French cuisine at the Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam
The Jungle Junction Zimbabwe & International tastings buffet at the Victoria Falls Hotel in Zimbabwe

See the whole list by visiting “The Wine Dine and Play Article Glossary

Other Atlanta restaurants and articles on Wine Dine and Play:

Sci-Fi Convention Event at the Hyatt, Atlanta
Seasonally inspired continental European fare, downtown Atlanta and airport
Upmarket Brazilian chain Churrasco in Buckhead 

A Few other Georgia Favorites:

Eclectic tavern for Surf 'n' Turf  in Griffin, Georgia
Hip burger chain with space-age decor 
Midtown, Atlanta
Farm-to-Table Southern bites spot Sandy Springs


See the whole list by visiting “The Wine Dine and Play Article Glossary by country






Final notes, review basics, and observations:

Most reviews are subjective, depending on the writer; but they should also be responsible, and respectfully written, upholding the truth, and accurately conveying the experience to the best of the writer's knowledge, even if it includes metaphors the restaurant may not like to read about. My ratings are by the stars I award (from 0 to 5). The rating is calculated on a point accumulation of six separate factors based on individual experience. They include wine and other beverage selections, plate presentation, customer service, restaurant or café ambiance, food quality, and wow factor. To see more details of this rating list, read this article:

Overall from this experience, and the score factors outlined in the ‘about page’ section, based on my individual experience and rating, I give Waffle House a 0.5 out of 5 stars, meaning that they did not exceed my expectations and were a very basic dining experience compared to most restaurants. Maybe if I hadn’t worked there and seen the food code violations first hand and daily, or saw how the bathrooms looked even after being cleaned, then the rating would have been higher. Does that mean this is a bad place to eat? No, it is a classic American style diner, that just needs more training of employees and self-awareness. 
Scores are detailed in the chart below


***

Overall Star Rating:
0.5 of 5 Stars: 
64% Rating with a 0 point “wow” bonus
A Very Basic Dining Experience
Restaurant style:
Casual dining
Cuisine Style:
American, Breakfast all-day

Allergen or dietary accommodations: 
Vegetarian
Reservations:
Not Required
Walk-Ins:
Accepted
Dress code:
Casual attire
Child policy:


The Restaurants reviewed on this site may have a kids menu or cater to them; however, for full enjoyment of food and wine, it is recommended that kids not to be in attendance, unless they have been trained in proper etiquette. 
If not then:
Hire a Babysitter! 
Experiences:
Hole-in-the-wall, Tourist grabber
Payments:
Cash, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
Parking:
Private lot
Wifi
The restaurants reviewed on this site may have Wi-Fi, but do not require you to go online, because the excitement of the food and wine alone will keep you too entertained instead of checking your social media and emails.
Noise level:
Medium to Loud
Smoking:
a nonsmoking restaurant in most states
Patio or terrace:
No





Food Prices 
(excludes, alcohol, taxes & 20% gratuity’s)

$£€¥ -                Under 50.00 (inexpensive)
$£€¥ x 2 -          51.00- 99.00 (moderate)
$£€¥ x 3 -          Over 100.00 (pricy)
$£€¥ x 4 -          Over 200.00 (expensive)
$£€¥ x 5 -          Over 400.00 (very expensive)


**Currencies reflect the world’s major travelers, restaurant, or wine connoisseur’s**

Currency:
Price
United States Dollar (USD)
$
Great Britain Pound Sterling (GBP)
£
Canadian Dollar (CAN)
$
Chinese Yuan (CNY)  
¥¥¥
European Union (EUR)




Waffle House:

Corporate Headquarters
5986 Financial Drive,
Norcross, GA 30071



Contact Information: 
Restaurant website:
Maître d or host:
+1800 344 2968
+1 770 729 5700
Website Contact:
Serving hours:
Eastern Standard Time
(GMT, Zulu, or UTC - 5:00)
Mon-Sun
24 hours a day



Social Media 
Accolades:
Facebook link                






****
The worlds best restaurants is a subjective list of who is writing it and changes on a regular basis. The Wine Dine and Play best experiences are based on my highest rated stared restaurants, meaning that the visit was an outstanding or extraordinary experience. From cafés, chains, mom + pops, hole in the walls, to fine dining including a few Michelin spots. Visit the Top 100 page to see the entire list.


A few to tease you with…
High Rise Fine Global Dining, Highest Restaurant In The World
Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE
Elegant Modern Australian with Molecular Gastronomic dining 
Melbourne, Australia
Haute French Restaurant
Paris, France

Impeccably prepared French fine dining 
Dublin, Ireland
Contemporary, African-French Tasting Journey
Franschhoek, South Africa
Highly creative new American molecular gastronomy tasting menus
Chicago, Illinois, USA




Other Pictures:






“Culinary perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, 
But in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”
-Angelique Arnauld (1591-1661)






TTFN




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