Lonely Planet has named Wellington as the best destination in New Zealand, labelling the city “one of the coolest little capitals in the World”. And those of us who choose to live here heartily agree.
We have a mixed population of every religion, class, caste, and ethnicity. It is a thriving, bustling small city far away from the madding crowds of Europe and America, and many people desire to live here. And many. including many refugees come to make their homes here.
Because of this, we have a multitude of ethnic restaurants, from top-class silver service restaurants to cafes serving workmen on their lunch breaks and everything in between.
This wasn’t the case when we first arrived here 50 years ago. Then,
although the Capital, Wellington was very much the distant runner up to the bigger and noisier Auckland. But all has changed now. Wellington is truly a cosmopolitan city.
One of the joys, of course, is discovering and sampling food from different cultures. Some are easy to find, several sell their wares from buses and vans at markets and some are hidden away in suburbs and unknown to those who never visit those suburbs.
One such is Damascus. This is hidden away in a suburb and operates only three nights a week, Thursday through Saturday and only from 5.30 to 9.30 pm. The restaurant is owned and operated by a Syrian refugee and his wife and serves small tapas type plates of authentic food from his homeland. The business first started as a food truck in 2017 but now with the support of the Community Trust and the backing of the residents they have a place to operate.
So early on Friday evening, having made a reservation, we found ourselves in this delightful, busy, fun place and sampled our first Syrian food. Of course, Middle Eastern dishes such as falafel and hummus were known to us, but who knew what Kafta was? The menu describes each of the dishes but not realising that the idea was to share several dishes, we each chose Kafta – described as “3 pieces of minced lamb meatballs wrapped in deep-fried eggplant, served with tomato sauce and grilled capsicum” To this we added pieces of flatbread. We were both very pleased with our choice. Then as we couldn’t resist the sight of some of the sweets being served and opted to share an Osmalieh, described as “a traditional Lebanese dessert made out of sweet cream and sandwiched between two layers of Katayif and drizzled with Damascus syrupP I don’t know, nor could I find out, just what Katayif is, but it was delicious.
Everything is made on-site and the kitchen is open to the restaurant clientele. We watched the flatbread being made and saw the chopping and mixing and the plating of the food, all made onsite.
We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner and vowed to come back again soon.
Visit Damascus here
JB April 23,022