Category Archives: Food
Recently, we had a museum-hopping weekend. On Saturday, we visited The Inquisitor’s Palace which included the jail and the torture chambers (my, they were nasty people!) and The Malta Maritime Museum which is quite rich with artifacts, ship models, and actual boats. Given Malta’s strategic location in the Mediterranean, she has a very full maritime history as you can imagine.
The highlight of the weekend was the trip to Palazzo Falson on Sunday. The Palazzo is in the old walled city of Mdina which is a beautiful “silent city”. Mdina was the capital of Malta prior to the building of Valletta. As there are no cars and very little foot traffic, it has the nickname of “the silent city”. It is peaceful, quiet, and beautiful with high walls and magnificent views. It is the highest point in Malta and you can see the entire island from the walls.
The Palazzo was a private mansion owned by a collector which has been turned into a museum. The collections are vast and amazing for one single owner – art, artifacts, silver, Oriental rugs, weapons, medals, books, jewelry, he even had a very old chastity belt on display (it was appropriately included in the armory as it sure looks like a nasty weapon!). The rooms are decorated just like they were when he lived there.
We ended the day with an incredible meal in Mdina at a restaurant called Sharma – Arabian and Indian food, and a beautiful ambiance. The cuisines & restaurant décor are inspired from the ancient spice trading between India, through the Middle East leading to North Africa & the Mediterranean.
This is where different cultures influenced each other’s cuisines and customs until they became as we know them today.
The restaurant is housed in Casa Magazzini, an antique building used by the knights as stores for their ammunition. There is a large terrace with a wonderful view from the top of the bastions, this will be in operation as part of the restaurant from later on in 2012, although you can still go on the terrace now to enjoy the view.
Well, let’s just say we’re not in Italy…
The food in Malta is not that exciting. The main specialty is rabbit and I could never eat a bunny.
However, the food from the grocery store is interesting. Preservatives are not used so everything is very fresh. This means that you need to shop frequently as most food items last for only a couple of days. The Maltese bread, which is to die for, lasts for a day. Fruits and vegetables last for only a few days. And, they only sell what’s in season as it’s all local. No blueberries imported from Chile or oranges from Florida like we had in Connecticut. Therefore, you can’t get everything all of the time. There are many greengrocers that sell their produce from trucks which is a nice way to shop.
The meat tastes different as it’s not preserved, it tastes more gamy, more meat-like. Not being a meat lover I I’m not too fond of the meat.
Some of the specialties that are sold everywhere are pastizzies (flaky little tart like pastries filled with cheese or ham or bacon & egg), fish and chips (yummy), fresh fish, pasta, and pizza.
Pizzas have unusual toppings – bacon & egg, tuna fish, peas, artichoke hearts, and hot dogs. Sometimes you get it all on one pizza.
There are locally made wines but they aren’t as good as the Italian or French wines, however, they are very inexpensive as the vineyards are right around the corner. No shipping and no import tax. Only about €3 a bottle.
Dinner on Saturday night was fabulous!! We went to a restaurant called La Mere which serves Arabian, Indian, Mediterranean, and Maltese food. I wanted to try Arabian as I’d never had it before. I had this amazing dish called Shwarma Dajaj – chicken marinated in lemon, paprika, and Arabian spices. I loved it! And the salad had broken up toasted pita in it and was very tangy. With hummus and potatoes. Here is the link to see the restaurant and the link for the menu – the Arabian food is at the back of the menu.
It was very cozy, only 7 tables. It would have been quite intimate except that while we were dining, 2 large tables of 8 people each came in and it got so noisy we could hardly hear each other. Tony had vindaloo which is his favorite (see picture on the left) and one of our friends had the spicy chicken, chorizo and chickpea tagine (my second choice) and the tagine that it was served in was beautiful (see picture above right). And we had a lovely Lebanese red wine, the name of which I can’t recall.
The restaurant is in Valletta, the capital of Malta, an old walled city built by the Knights after the Ottoman’s Siege of Malta in 1565. Yes, I said the Knights — like of the round table! Anyway, the Maltese liked the Ottomans even less than they did the Knights, so they fought alongside the Knights to conquer the Ottomans. After the siege, the Knights, still feeling vulnerable, built the beautiful walled city with its cobblestone streets, narrow alleyways with houses, and amazing views of the harbor and the sea and named it after the Grand Master La Vallette, the leader of the siege.
PS – look under the category “Towns” on this site to read more about Valletta.
So, we were invited to a dinner that is put on once a month by a culinary school. The students do all of the cooking and the serving, and they have special wines based on different countries and wine regions. And it’s dress up so that the students can experience what it will be like when they are working.
We attended 2 weeks ago and it was magnificent.
On May 31 it’s the students’ year end presentation and we have been invited to this one as well. Check out the attached food and wine menu, what a dinner!!
And it’s only 40 euros per person. What a bargain!! 80 euros for a 6 course meal cooked by great chefs with amazing wines for each course. One euro is about $1.33 so when I tell you what something costs in euros, just add a third to get an idea of the dollar price. Since we live here now, we’re thinking about euros as though they were dollars. So now we think of 40 euros as if was $40 though in fact it is more like $50. But you get the point.
Yum yum on this menu!!
You must come and visit and experience all these cool things for yourself! As Kabir, the great mystic poet once said, “If you haven’t experienced it, it is not true.”
Click on the link below to see the menu.
Time really does fly by here! The days go by so quickly!
Here are some of the reasons why:
There is still so much for us to do here – all the different registrations we need to do, trying to get prescriptions filled, computers breaking down , buying our car (done, finally! a Land Rover), going to the importers to get that paperwork all handled (more complex than one would imagine – a huge process actually and 4 trips to their office so far, and of course the paperwork that they need for us to get our house stuff is on the boat with the house stuff), trying to find a haircutter, trying to get insurance (no success on that yet, of course they need paperwork that we don’t have) etc.
And we’ve been invited to so many things – we have been out 4 nights already last week and had company for dinner one night.
We need to food shop every 2 days because they don’t use preservatives here. Of course that means that the food tastes wonderful. But it doesn’t last very long so you can’t buy too much at one time. And you don’t get all of your stuff in one place, Malta doesn’t have the grocery superstores that we have in the States – we go to the greengrocer, the butcher, and then the regular grocery store. The regular grocery store doesn’t sell any fish so we have to then go to the far away grocery store for that.
To the chemist (pharmacy) for that kind of stuff (not just prescriptions, but vitamins, makeup, skin care products), and to the ironmonger (hardware store) for iron mongering stuff. They don’t have books, newspapers or greeting cards in the stores, we need to go to the bookstore for books and newspapers, and I haven’t yet seen a store that sells greeting cards.
We were talking with people last night and we were saying that every time we go out to do something that seems like it should be quick, it takes 3 – 4 hours! And even the locals agreed with that. I’m not sure why, it is a small island…but it sure doesn’t feel small! It’s amazing – we go to do an errand or two and it takes half the day!
And I haven’t tried driving yet so I can’t go on my own – remember, they drive on the left hand side of the road here, and the driver sits on the right hand side of the car with the stick shift in the left hand, and the roundabouts are insane! And yes, even in Malta there is a ton of traffic, I guess that’s a universal problem.
Food shopping is such an interesting experience. Although everyone speaks English, many of the product labels are either in Maltese, Italian, or Greek. The most challenging to buy is soap – you can tell that it’s soap, but you can’t tell if it’s soap for your face, soap for your clothes, soap for the dishes, or soap for washing the floors. So far, I’m happy to say that I haven’t yet washed my face with laundry soap.
The word for anchovy is ‘incova’, pronounced ‘enchova”, and my favorite Maltese word so far is for my favorite vegetable, artichoke – qaqocc. 🙂 Pronounced ah-och.
But – one of the things that I’ve always loved about Europe is the small stores like the greengrocer and the baker for bread. The Maltese bread is the best I’ve ever had – similar to Italian bread but much tastier. That alone is worth a trip to the store everyday.