Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Veggie Food in Malta

Watching the rain beat against my window on this so-called August day, makes me yearn for hotter climes and for hazy afternoons spent in flip-flops, listening to Despacito as it booms from café stereos whilst letting sandy shale drain through my sun-kissed hands on the beach.    For me this epitomises my trip to Malta earlier this summer.

Whilst I can echo the above and I could write tales that build glossy wanderlust images in the mind, but today I’m doing a shout-out for Maltese food.

Not really knowing what to expect from Maltese food having not been there before, I was keen to see what it was all about.

Firstly, I’d describe it as a hybrid of Italian and Arabic/Middle Eastern food which is not surprising when you think of Malta’s geography and history.  Although vegetarian options are available, it’s not as forthcoming as in other countries and the lionshare of menus are meat/fish dominated.  But still, restaurants that aren’t 100% veggie are eager to please and most will put something together for vegetarians if the menus don’t suit.

Pasta plays a big part on most menu roll calls, which for vegetarians is a little predictable, but many offer Speciality Ravioli with Maltese Cheese, the cheese often being from neighbouring island, Gozo.

For an instant street food snack, Qassatat is available from takeaway outlets.  They are like large pasties filled with spinach and vegetables and for a Euro a piece, they’re a bargain!
In L'Chaim
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Like everywhere, there are international restaurants dotted around, one of which is L’Chaim in the resort of St Julian’s.  L’Chaim is a Jewish/Kosher restaurant and quite a quaint find.  Jewish folk music provides the backdrop whilst a large oil painting of a Rabbi looks down on you whilst you peruse the menu, the aircon is also a welcomed blessing in the30+ degree heat.  The menu is more Jew-ish than Jewish, so expect falafel and peppered steaks rather than stalwart favourites of salt beef and latkes.  Saying that, some meals are served with pickled gherkins and you can’t get more Jewish than that!

Photo:  Word In Veg Ways
The capital Valletta is a must to see, not only for its architectural splendour but for the enchanting side streets with restaurants nestled side by side, over spilling with al fresco seating.  I loved Loop Bar in the Strait Street area.  Frequented back in the day by revelling sailors, it’s now a tourist haunt with echoes of the past present in the décor.  Their quinoa salad makes for a delicious lunch, but I imagine the sailors would’ve had something stronger though………..
Not the fruit stall as below, but outside a
shop in Gozo
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

One of my favourite memories was walking down a side street that had an open square and seeing a cheerful older lady purveying the most gorgeous large peaches, ripe huge tomatoes and an abundance of fresh fruit.  Seeing bountiful watermelons, I was told she could sell me a wedge.  The delightful lady, with cleaver in hand, sold me a quarter scored with slice marks making it easier to eat.  Her cherub-esque smile beamed at me as she exchanged the melon for 2 Euros.   This simple moment completely charmed me, I suppose this slice of watermelon symbolises a slice of Maltese life, it made me feel like a local, if only for that brief transaction.
View from Julia's Vegan Café down to
St Julian's Harbour
Photo:  Word In Veg Ways

Wherever you find your fodder in Malta, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to wash it down with a soya latte at Julia’s Vegan Café in St Julian’s, a glass of Maltese Green Label wine or a pint of Cisk beer with one or two date biscuits on the side.  Regardless what you consume, you’re guaranteed a restful, relaxing time in Malta, just like I can guarantee Despacito will still be number one in the charts as summer nudges into autumn…..