Friday, 27 July 2018

Chronicles from Malta | Valletta Food Trail





I love food and all about it! Love roaming through the markets to find an ingredient, love preparing and cooking the food for my family and friends, love to test new recipes and to reinvent old ones, and absolutely love to know a country and its people through the things they eat and their culinary tradition.

That being stated its understandable that, when possible, a Food Tour run by local people can be a great occasion to know more about the country or city that I'm visiting, its history and culture. That was the case on our recent visit to Malta. While in Valletta we were kindly invited to participate in the Offbeat Valletta Food Trail, and the outstanding organization of the event, the remarkable knowledge and sympathy of our guide Maria, and the (huge amounts of) delicious food that we had the opportunity to taste, made that morning a high point of our voyage.

But let's go to the specifics. At 10 o'clock the group gathered in front of St. John Co-Cathedral, and after a briefing on the basics of Maltese food, we started our tour. If you want a suggestion, do this kind of tours on the first days of your visit, because you'll get solid tips for some of the best places to eat delicious food.


TAL-HWAWAR - THE SPICE SHOP





If you are lucky enough (we were!) you get a guide that knows the city and its history so well that your food tour becomes also a city tour. Maria's knowledge of Malta's and Valletta's history was pair only to her ability to tell a story and capture our attention at every moment. So, after a short walk and a load of interesting information, the group was at Tal-Hwawar's door, a small Spice Shop in the heart of Valletta. The owner received us and teach how to make a spice mixture to perfume the house (the same one that is used in Valletta's churches on special occasions). You can imagine the perfume!





IL-GIFEN





With a pack of fragrant spices in hand, we walk to our next stop. Il-Gifen is a small local café where we had the opportunity to enjoy some authentic Maltese Pastizzi, freshly made and still warm accompanied by a traditional "tazza te", a glass of hot tea with milk, just the way the locals drink it in the morning. The pastry was crispy and flaky, with a delicious ricotta filling, and although I was a little apprehensive about the tea, I've found it quite nice.






NENU THE ARTISAN BAKER





Our next stop was at this bakery/ restaurant/museum place that is Nenu. There you can find photos and scenes from the old day's bakery, decorating the restaurant space and bringing past and present together. We had the opportunity to know more about the history of the bakery and the role that bakeries had in the community life of Malta (pretty much like Portugal, in that respect), and of course to taste some of the specialties of the house. The traditional Maltese Ftiras with fresh indigenous ingredients arrived at our table straight from the oven next door, and I must say it was delicious. I'm a pizza lover, and the Ftira also presents a high soft base (like bread) covered with different sorts of options. I choose the vegetables Ftira and it was really tasty. To wash it down I've had a local soda Kinnie) with a distinctive orange and herbs flavor. Although this is not my kind of drink, if you go to Malta you should give it a try.






KING'S OWN BAND CLUB





By this time we were already with a full stomach and we only had starters (actually not all the starters!). So, we walk to our next stop, right on Republic Street. The King's Own Band Club is the restaurant operating in the building of one of the many Valletta's bands and there we had a Maltese platter with varied dips, followed by a rabbit dish, one of the main culinary traditions in Malta. All of it accompanied by a fresh local white wine. The rabbit was tender and perfectly seasoned and, although is not an option for everyone (people with bunny pets find it difficult to eat) if you're a foodie, this is not to be missed in a visit to Malta.







CHOCOLATE DISTRICT





And then we head to paradise! At least to chocaholics paradise... Chocolate District is the most charming chocolate store and its owners are such welcoming nice people that I wouldn't mind to stay there for the rest of the day. They have a beautiful selection of chocolates from top brands along with their own creations, making Chocolate District a perfect place to buy some gifts to bring back home. There we had the opportunity to try a signature drink of chocolate and fig liqueur and the delicious chocolate torrone of the house.







PANORAMA





One could think that we had already had dessert, right? Well, wrong... we still had more to come. From Chocolate District we head to Panorama, a restaurant facing the Grand Harbour. And it was with the panoramic view of the Three Cities that we finished our Food Tour, sipping a Prickly Pear liqueur and enjoying a traditional Mqaret, a fried pastry filled with dates. The conversation was good, and both Maltese, Danish, Australian, and Portuguese were sharing their food preferences and experiences. But our tour was ending and this foodies fellowship had to part, but I'm sure all will remember this experience as a high point of their visit to Valletta.






The tour takes place every Saturday, at 10am and includes 3  flavour filled hours (until 1 pm). For more informations on how to book this food tour, contact


OFFBEAT MALTA FOOD TRAILS

E-mail: info@offbeatmaltafoodtrails.com
Phone: +356 2180 2383

Adults and children 12 years+ : 65 € (VAT included).
Price includes: Licensed Tour Guide + All Food Tastings +1 copy of The Definitive(ly) Good Guide to Restaurants in Malta & Gozo








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