Malta the ‘raison de etre’

Malta, some people can tell you stories about me and Malta but I will let them tell you. I first arrived in Malta in Nov 1971 courtesy of the R.A.F. to join my first ship HMS Bulwark as a 17 year old. Taken ashore that night I was ‘sold’ to a brothel so my mess mates could drink for free down ‘The Gut’ Life was rather different then!

Taxi from Siracusa to Pozzallo arrives sooner than I thought but cafe only 4 mins away, time for a coffee.

All the ticket people are having a coffee whilst people in cars are off to the right and other foot passengers are behind me. Wait two people are walking directly to the ticket booth, one looking like a 70 year old Rodney Trotter and his wife(?) is no Cassandra. Shutters go up and they go directly to the window. Surprise, surprise they are German!

Customs House Malta with new Barrakka lift and a memory of the “Dreadnought Bar’ and of course the Dgħajsa (die sew’s) used to get Sailors back on/off board ship, HMS St Angelo or RNWT Rinella.

Malta has changed a lot in the 20 years I was last here and I think in some places a little bit too much. Progress needs to be made and people want different things these days.

The Corinthia hotel and the view from our room.

Our room (20 hours before Sally arrives)

Reason as to why she has to bring own hairdryer!

Wanted some ‘junk’ food so went for the chicken wings, BBQ ribs and some fries with a couple of Jack Daniels (actually fries where best I have had in a long while)

Sally arrives and we go for swim in the sea. All sorts and sizes of people jumping in from rock persuade Sal it’s the best way of entering water. Guess what? She stubs her toe!

Dinner that night at the “Barracuda’ restaurant, window table overlooking bay and sea very pretty. Food was really good starters consisted of Frito misto for me, Sally went wi the scallops on a base of sweet potatoes.

The main course was Sea Bass and Red Snapper baked in sea salt, served with a selection of vegetables. Dessert was shared a sphere of chocolate mousse with a pistachio centre covered in chocolate (may sound a bit sweet but Sally can assure you it wasn’t). Called Kurt (now our official taxi driver, really nice person)

Not the best picture but the view from our table.

It was whilst having dinner, Sally gave me the devastating news about Adam, Al’s nephew, who sadly passed away in Copenhagen where he lived with his wife and young daughter Billie. Life is not fair and part of 6’5″ and 6’6″ (stay strong Ross) is no longer with us. Will miss you lots Ads as will a lot of people. God Bless xxx.

We took the bus to Valletta the next day and that was an experience in itself. We arrived in time for the 12 o’clock gun at the upper Barrakka gardens and looking over Grand Harbour evoked a huge amount of memories 1971 first visit, 1972 first withdrawal, 1973/4 based in Malta and met and married Carol. 1979 final withdrawal aboard HMS London

Looking down Grand Harbour towards St Angelo and Naval hospital.

What used to be “the Dreadnought Bar” best steak and egg sandwich ever had.

View up to Barrakka gardens and Custom House steps.

View up to Floriana.

Food time; I had chosen two of the top rated restaurants on the Island both run by the same chef Marvin Gauci and neither disappointed, same sort of theme to both taster menus but different and very tasty.

Tarragon first wonderful view over to St. Paul’s Island and a big thank you to Donald and Chelsea who entertained us royally.

That green blob was the most amazing tasting Olive we have ever had. Think tonight is going to be a good one.

Gin and beetroot smoked salmon

Tempura Tiger prawn with Calamari and garlic mayo.

Tarragon’ s signature Black Angus strudel, minced beef wrapped in strudel pastry, served with an oriental demiglace, Sally also liked this.

Wagyu and Black Angus beef minced and served in a tortellacci (not tortellini) with oyster and porcine mushroom sauce. Oh yes!!!

Love foie gras.

Cannot remember flavour but was delicious.

Think this was the better of the two sea bass fillet’s we had.

Wild boar xxx

Wild boar with a sauce to die for and the vegetables this is what really fresh vegetables taste like (we asked for doggie bag and gave to Kurt our taxi driver, next morning the first thing he said was how good they were).

Dessert was textures of pistachio! Well worth going to Malta to eat at Tarragon!

Dinner at Caviar and Bull was a bit more formal and a lot more waiters/waitresses food a bit more refined maybe not much in it between both restaurants but personally I would go back to Tarragon.

An amuse Boucher to start with and a glass of champagne each.

I had the caviar to start with, much preferred the Ossetia (the dark one on the right).

Applewood smoked salmon ( wonderful flavour).

Seared wagyu beef carpaccio.

Tiger prawn in ‘ancient tempura’, Sally liked this a lot.

Lobster and salmon filled Tortellini in an amazing sauce.

Molecular (alcoholic) tequila and lemon shot (wow).

Our sea bass baked in salt is flambe’d at the table.

The sea bass was certainly one of the best ever. Almost as good as Istanbul, the vegetables better at Tarragon.

The AAA Black Angus Ribeye was probably the best ribeye we have ever had.

The roast potatoes and gravy where very tasty as well. Both taster menu’s came with accompanied wine and all the wines we had were outstanding.

The culture part of Malta was also worth a visit and we went to Valletta and Mdina (the silent City)

The gardens at Barrakka

The Beheading of St. John the Baptist by Caravaggio in St Johns Cathedral, Valletta.

Inside the Cathedral in Valletta.

Mdina next also known as the silent city. Currently has about 300 people living in it.

The most surrounding Mdina.

Sally about to enter Mdina

Inside Mdina Cathedral

Getting ready for a wedding in the afternoon.

Chapel of Pentecost

Virgin and Guardian Angel

Last picture of St George’s Bay before we go our separate ways, Sally to the airport me to the port. Kurt our taxi driver ended up working till some unearthly hour and asked his wife to take us. This girl is the pastry chef at the Hilton and she works from 0400 to 1300 it’s now 1500 but thank you both.

Final picture of Customs House as I leave Malta possibly for the last time. Arrived as a 17 year old boy and now leaving as a 64 year old man.

Malta you carry so many memories, thank you. And also you Sally for making a long weekend great.

R.I.P. Ads you also leave some great memories but to a lot more people, God Bless xxx

Siracusa

I do not have the words to describe the history of Siracusa and will not attempt to, the place is awash with it and needs at least three days to do it justice. All I can say is if you get the chance go and visit it and stay at the the Grand Hotel Villa Politi built on the site of some of the oldest quarries that built the original Siracusa.

The Villa was built in 1862 by an Austrian noblewoman for the man of her life Salvatore Politi. Sir Winston Churchill stayed here in 1955 and said “I never slept so well in my life”. I can echo those thoughts after having two wonderful dinners here.

A local ice cold artisanal beer (well it was my first drink after travelling for 12 hours), allowing the wine to breathe.

The wine has been allowed to breath, as just in time dinner arrives.

Starters of Ravioli stuffed with seafood and a wonderful fresh basil pesto, the smell of the basil was exceptional.

Now this was absolutely fantastic Fritto misto di pesce with straw vegetables and a chilli aioli this was perfection no grease whatsoever and the batter was delightful.

Dessert (my excuse is that I am in Italy (especially Sicily) and desserts if not taken are seen as an insult. So light creamy yoghurt with fresh strawberries and shards of white chocolate coated honeycomb. Well the yoghurt was light!

Espresso and Amaretto to finish (the Germans had drank all the limoncello). Now I know why Sir Winston slept so well.

Made good use of the pool, making room for dinner tonight.

On my way to dinner after walking miles and swimming kilometres. Honestly!

First part of the night successfully concluded the choice of wine and it was excellent

Menu for tonight’s deliberations small choice but all cooked exquisitely.

Primi fresh maccheroncino creamed with njuda, zucchini and diced tomatoes and of course the parmigiana, well blow my mind away I have never thought a pasta dish could be so tasty yet simple. Will try and get our guys in Richmond to replicate this one.

Secondi was the veal with a (raw) spinach and carrot salad with a local cheese and balsamic reduction some simple but absolutely divine.

This is Sicily after all and one cannot leave without trying, one of its natural dishes Sicilian Cassatta. Sugar rush is an understatement but well tempered with a double espresso and a rather good Sicilian dessert wine.

Have to be up early next morning for taxi ride to Pozzallo to get the ferry to Malta. The “raison d’être” for this whole trip.