After lunch and touring St John's Co-Cathedral, the Missus headed off.....well, I'm not sure where. Like I mentioned before, Valletta is a pretty compact city. Making things even easier, though there are hills, the streets are set-up in a grid pattern. Go in one direction long enough and you'll find the city walls, or end up at a harbor or the Mediterranean. It's a nice place to get lost, because you'll never really be lost if you have a map. Also, everyone we ran into spoke English, probably a product of the British occupation. So "YY" if you're reading this, maybe?
One thing we noticed walking around Malta were the statues that adorn many of the street corners.
Most are of various Saints.
Eventually we came upon a small park, with a small tower. This is the Siege Bell Memorial to honor the almost 7000 people who died in the World War II siege of Malta. It seems that Malta's location is a very important strategic one, thus the island has been subjected to many attacks, battles, and sieges.
The bell overlooks the Grand Harbor and is rung everyday at noon.
In need of a break and some refreshing, we headed to the apartment.
And though the façade made the building look like it was form another century and the entrance hallway looked dark. Once up the stairway and opening the door, you were in a pretty good sized apartment. We'd have appreciated a washer, but the bed was comfortable, and there was a rather humble kitchen.
Looking thru the little breakfast nook's window and you could have a bit of a view of the Grand Harbor. Thru the other window; well, you could see part of the Upper Barrakka Gardens.
After freshening up, we walked a few meters to Upper Barrakka Gardens, the highest point in Valletta. Once the private domain of the Langue of Italy, it was opened to the public as a gift.
It is a wonderful relaxing oasis........
The view of the Grand Harbor is superb. Right across the harbor you view Vittoriosa and Senglea, two of what is called the "Three Cities". And yes, there is Lower Barrakka Gardens which will be in a future post. Oh, and those cannons....well, they are real. Each day at noon (there's a lot of noise going on at noon in Valletta) and at 4pm, the 8 cannons of the Saluting Battery are fired.
We walked along the now sparsely populated street of Valletta as dusk approached.
Walking past St John's Co-Cathedral, we heard music, and voices, and saw folks walking in. So we just followed the small group. There was a rehearsal in progress.
We felt quite honored to be able to view this. One of the staff told the Missus and I that there was going to be a "special free performance tomorrow night, so if you are here, you should come. It is a special performance that had only been done once before, many years ago." It's amazing, you never know what you'll come across when travelling.
We stepped out; the owner of the apartment had been kind enough to make reservations for us at a restaurant called Ambrosia, "it's not my favorite, but very good....my favorite is booked, so you'll have to drop by tomorrow and make reservations!"
Man, in spite of the rather deserted looking streets, this place was packed! Still, the place felt quite cozy. The chalkboard had some interesting dishes and it looked like the focus was on products produced in Malta. Being an island, Malta imports a good amount of its food. There seemed to be a nice variety of dishes, many of which featured local ingredients.
We ordered a bottle of Astarte Vermentino; an easy to drink, light, somewhat delicate white.
We started with the Caramelized Rabbit Liver and Melon Salad. To tell you the truth, I wasn't really sold on ordering this. I'm not the biggest fan of liver dishes other than a good pate.
I gotta say, this was quite good. The rabbit liver was nicely seared and had an interesting, slight sweetness to it. The metallic, iodine flavor was muted, and I thought the melon was a good foil for the liver, balancing out the dish.
The Grilled Gozo Asparagus - Pecorino salad was fine, if nothing especially memorable.
The asparagus, local, from the Island of Gozo was tender, but nothing really stood out.
The weakest dish of the evening was the Mushroom Rissotto, which, while executed well, was really lacking in mushroom flavor.
The Missus has gotten used to what I make.
Rabbit is not indigenous to Malta, but has been around so long (thought to have been introduced by the Phoenicians or Romans), that it is considered a core ingredient of Maltese cuisine. Therefore, there was no doubt that we'd be having the Rabbit Stewed in Red Wine with Dates.
This was a nice dish, the sweet just enough to balance out the flavor of the rabbit, though I would have probably been ok with something less "tame". Still, the execution of the dish was nice...it was hearty, the rabbit moist, there were no complaints from me.
Service was professional, no complaints on the timing of the dishes.
What we've had of Maltese food so far was fascinating. An interesting combination of dishes from around the globe and most of it seemed to work quite well.
137 Archbishop St
Valletta, Island of Malta
We all travel for different reasons. The Missus loves the sights, history, and stories....me, well, so much of it is about the food. I learn so much by what is served, how it is served, what is eaten, and the flavors. Malta was proving to be quite interesting........much like my home, Hawaii, there was an interesting...and I almost hate to use the term; fusion of flavors and dishes.
Malta was proving to be an interesting place.........
The Missus and I discussed our day, the food, and how surprised we were at the cuisine as we walked the now almost deserted looking streets of Valletta.
Malta was proving to be much more than what I expected, in a good way!
Thanks for reading!