Maltese cuisine is an eclectic mix of flavours, full-flavoured and Mediterranean, appropriate to a country that lies between Sicily and North Africa. Choose between the many excellent restaurants scattered around the island, located by the sea or tucked in village cores.
Village Festi feature sweet street foods like imqaret (date pastries) and Qubbajt (nougat) to enjoy along with the fireworks and processions. Special occasions merit serious dishes like Ross fil-forn, (Baked Rice), Imqarrun (baked Macaroni) or Timpana (a very special rich pasta baked in a pastry case) often followed by rabbit or meat dishes served with local potatoes and vegetables.
Desserts depend on the occasion; there are easter figolli (almond stuffed pastry figures), Christmas qagħaq tal-għasel (honey rings), cassata, (ricotta filled sponge with marzipan) or kannoli, (ricotta-filled fried pastries).
Maltese cuisine is the result of a long relationship between the Islanders and the many civilisations who occupied the Maltese Islands over the centuries. This marriage of tastes has given Malta an eclectic mix of Mediterranean cooking. Although the restaurant scene is a mix of speciality restaurants, there are many eateries that offer or specialise in local fare, serving their own versions of specialities.
Unwind in Gozo and enjoy the good food and wine. Look out for the traditional village bakeries to get an authenitc ftira or sit back and relax in one of the many restaurants and take in the taste of fresh food and salty air, all seasoned by the Mediterranean…life enjoyed in Gozo in its simplicity, is pure luxury.
Tradition seasons the food and drink of Gozo. Here, tradition is alive and vital, enriched with a history of Phoenician, Roman and Arab visitors leaving their trace, then more recently, Italian, French and British colonial rule. Today, Gozitan cuisine promotes the small and local. Look out for traditional sheep milk cheeses known as gbejniet, a local favourite, or for savoury pastizzi – miniature pastries. Dip fresh bread into local olive oil and enjoy other delicacies ripened by the Mediterranean sun. Check out traditional local foods at Ta’ Rikardu, Il-Kcina Ghawdxija, il-Wileg restaurants or at Vini e Capricci and Savina outlets.
Malta may not be renowned like its larger Mediterranean neighbours for wine production, but Maltese vintages are more than holding their own at international competitions, winning several accolades in France, Italy and further afield. International grape varieties grown on the Islands include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Grenache, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Carignan, Chenin Blanc and Moscato. The indigenous varieties are Gellewza and Ghirghentina, which are producing some excellent wines of distinct body and flavour.
Tal-Massar Winery and Ta’ Mena are agricultural holdings that offer popular tours and tastings. Beer lovers, meanwhile, can sup Gozo’s very own artisan brews courtesy of the Lord Chambray microbrewery – they have tasting visits too. They also include wine history museums and opportunities to taste and buy a variety of vintages.
Visit the famous saltpans near Qbajjar Bay and look for veteran Manuel Cini, often perched on a wall here to sell his wonderful sea salt – a timeless tradition reborn in the 21st century. Or look out for cottage, pure honey in the idyllic Wied Rihan Valley.