Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Best Dog Picture Ever

Yes, Ellie is fetching a wine cork. What can I say? We are terrible dog owners. We just can't get her off the booze.
- Jess

the best dog picture ever

Monday, January 30, 2012

Orange Season in Malta

We were gifted these lovely oranges (larinÄ¡) by a friend last week whose garden was bursting full of them. I always associated citrus with hot temperatures (Florida oranges) so we were surprised last year when we learned that citrus comes into season in January in Malta. In the middle of the winter rain and wind the trees here are heavy with bright and cheerful oranges, lemons, and limes. Such a lovely mid-winter treat.
- Jess

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Panzanella Cocktail by David Rocco

This is my very favourite drink from David Rocco's Made in Italy. The Panzanella Cocktail, a take on the Tuscan Panzanella salad. A salad turned cocktail? I'm in.

adapted from David Rocco's Made in Italy
1/4 lime
1 Tbps sugar
4 cucumber slices, 1/2 inch or 1 cm thick
2-6 fresh basil leaves
60 ml vodka
Ginger ale

In a glass, muddle or mash the lime, sugar, 1 cucumber slice and basil. My basil leaves were huge, so I only used two. Add the vodka and ice and mix well. Top with ginger ale, and garnish with the remaining cucumber slices.

If you are sitting at home in Malta thinking, wow that sounds delicious but we don't have real ginger ale here, I have news for you. We do! To our great delight, Schweppes ginger ale is sold by the bottle on the island (we got ours at the Tower Supermarket). It's a decent substitute for Canadian Dry, which we all know is the best ginger ale ever. And it is not to be confused with the truly strange British concoction that is ginger beer. Ginger beer and vodka? Don't do it.

This drink is the perfect combination of sweet, savoury and spicy. Plus it has vegetables in it, which makes it practically good for you. Buon appetito, and have a great weekend!

- Jess

ps. we aren't all about the booze over here. you can make this drink a virgin by dropping the vodka and it's just as delicious.
you know what? i would recommend dropping the vodka. before lunchtime, at least.
you can do the same with the mimosa and the spritz.
and it's called orange juice and club soda. exciting!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Italian Spritz

Yesterday, the mimosa. Today, the Spritz.

Apparently the Spritz started in Northern Italy, and in recent years it has made its way throughout Europe and the rest of the world as a signature summer drink. It's simple enough, and gets its distinct flavour from Aperol, a low alcohol liquor that makes the spritz the kind of drink that, according to David, is good anytime of the day (his words, not mine).

Aperol is a slightly bitter citrus flavoured alcohol, and since Mike and I don't like bitter drinks (you can guess how much we like the local Maltese drink Kinnie) I added a splash of sugar to our Spritzes.

A little story about bitter drinks for you. We think Kinnie is so awful (we're going to get blasted by locals for this) that we trick our guests into drinking it every time they visit. We have a can ready to go in the fridge, and gush to our new arrivals about how they absolutely must try this delicious Maltese drink.

Cue the giant, appreciative gulps of a cool drink by our weary travellers.

And the grimaces.

We've seen visitors screw up their faces, spit it out, painfully force it down, and even tear up. And we've seen locals guzzle it like its water. How do they do it?

I guess our Kinnie trick is ruined now that's I've told you all about it. You're welcome, future visitors. I'll fix you a Spritz instead.

- Jess

adapted from David Rocco's Made in Italy
60 ml Aperol
club soda
orange slices, to garnish
fresh mint leaves, to garnish
sugar, to taste

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Italian Mimosa

I'll be rounding off this week with a drink recipe everyday. No, I'm not turning into a lush, I'm working my way through David Rocco's newest cookbook, Made in Italyand I thought it was high time I learned to make some regionally inspired drinks.

This Italian version of a mimosa couldn't be easier. To start, juice a couple oranges. Ideally, blood red oranges, but really whatever you can get your hands on. Mine were from Sicily, perfectly in season and absolutely sublime. But there's always Tropicana in an emergency. (Mimosa emergencies, they do happen people.)

Next, add prosecco. And you're done.

Besides being delicious, Mike and I have a head cold and mimosas contain vitamin C. Studying a cookbook and getting my vitamins. Mom would be proud.

- Jess

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Very Valletta Afternoon at Angelica & 282 Coffee Garden

We spent a relaxing afternoon cafe-hopping in Valletta last weekend. I have been itching to try Angelica's, which opened last summer on Archbishop Street shortly before we moved to Canada. I'm so glad we finally went. You can't beat the atmosphere in Angelica on a chilly winter day - great music, warm, and oh-so-cozy. 

Angelica (strangely) doesn't serve tea at lunch time, so we ended up with a parma ham sandwich on crazy-good bread, chicken and smoked ham quiche, and two Cokes. Coffee was being served, so as tea drinkers we felt a bit cheated. Cokes just didn't hit the spot. But I would like to go back anyway and sample more of their homemade sweets (red velvet cupcakes, carrot cake, chocolate and salted caramel tarts) and their local specialties (qarabaghli mimli/stuffed marrows, rabbit pie, and locally made artisnal bread) hopefully when tea is being brewed!

To satisfy our tea fix we headed over to a good, cheap favourite - 282 Coffee Garden on Republic Street - for jasmine green and lemon sugar crepes. And a lot of people watching.

Bellies full, we ended the afternoon at St. George's Square. We arrived in time to watch the fountains erupting to classical music, and to see an older couple join hands and waltz around the square. It was one of those very Valletta afternoon's. I love this city.

- Jess
 angelica's, valletta

Monday, January 23, 2012

Winter Swimming in Malta

The water in Malta is too cold to go for long swims during the winter so my mother got me a wetsuit (and related safety gear, which I left in Canada) for Christmas. Now that we are completely settled back in Malta I had the chance to test it out. 

The locals in Malta stare at you strangely when you wear a short sleeved shirt in the winter (British and German tourists, be warned) so you can imagine the looks I got walking the streets of Malta in my wetsuit and Birkenstocks. 

 The wetsuit I got is fragile and made specifically for distance swimming (1-3 mm thickness for the Mediterranean in the winter, in case you are in the market for one). So I needed to find easy access to the water so I wouldn't tear it on the rough limestone. In the summer there are ladders along much of the rocky coastline in Malta for swimmers, but I couldn't find any this winter. I finally located an easy access point in Sliema and took the plunge. After swimming about ten feet I also located some of those missing ladders, at the bottom of the sea.

Needless to say, after that find Jess won't let me swim in rough surf.

I've never worn a wetsuit for an extended period of time before and it makes me feel like a floaty rubbery seal. Swimming feels different in a wetsuit as the air pockets increase your buoyancy. The water temperature is about 16 degrees Celsius in the Med right now so it's still cold on my hands, feet and head but otherwise I was a comfortable temperature and I didn't have to use the yellow furnace (that I've heard wetsuit wearers use) to stay warm. Jess was glad.

- Mike

Friday, January 20, 2012

Free Parsley in Malta

Guys, in Malta fresh parsley is free. At the grocery store. You ask for a bag of it and they just give it to you.

So naturally I learned how to make taboule. Who says there is no such thing as a free meal?


p.s. I have no idea why it's free. If you know why this is done in Malta please do tell.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Stroll on Sliema's Seashore

We took the dogs for a stroll along the seashore in Sliema this weekend. Ellie decided that January is as good a time as any to take a dip in the sea. And those rain clouds? Just a tease. Not a drop all weekend. Not that we are complaining.

- Jess

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Home in Malta

We've arrived back in Malta after a weekend of hassle free travel (they do exist!) Since we've been back 'home' we've been very busy finding somewhere to live. We can't tell you much until our episode of House Hunters International airs, but let's just say 2012 is off to a great start.

We were so busy last autumn that I forgot to miss everything I love about Malta: the people, the food, the sunshine, the beautiful architecture, the sea, and that un-nameable quality that makes Malta my very favourite place. After just a few days here I can't believe I forgot.

It's so good to be home.

- Jess

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Updated: Top things to do in Malta for every budget (€5-€100+) Winter-Spring 2012 edition

carnival 2011

We have updated our Top things to do in Malta for every budget (€5-€100+) for Winter/Spring 2012! Some of my (free!) favourites include the feast of St. Paul on February 10th, Carnival February 17th-21st, and the International Fireworks Festival April 29th-30th. For less than €20 I'm pretty excited to see the productions of Alice and Wonderland (January 20th-22nd) and Oliver Twist (February 23rd) at Teatru Manoel.

Please do leave a message if we've missed a great event you know of on the island happening between now and the end of April. We're always looking for more sporting and outdoor events to add to the list of fantastic arts productions going on this season.

Researching this post has certainly made us quite excited to return to our favourite place on earth... this weekend!