Malta, an island of history, culture, natural beauty and one of the best diving destinations in the Mediterranean. However what about food? Malta is not generally well known for its cuisine but from gigantic heart stopping pancakes full of chocolate to stewed up bunnies the size of labradors full of tiny bones, Malta has been criminally overlooked in this department.
So come with me as I take you on a gastronomic journey across the island. Well, Paceville, well more like the immediate area around Huggins Pub and the Gozo ferry terminals.
We begin our journey at Chequers. Chequers is just down the road from Huggins pub and might possibly be connected to a lapdancing club although it’s difficult to tell. It is also right next door to Chick King which is THE destination for breaded, doorstop sized slabs of fibrous battery hen. Step up to the glowing lights and choose your pancake- sweet or savoury. For me it’s sweet every time. I order a nutella and white chocolate pancake with crushed nuts and bananas. The pancroupier or whatever he’s called then ladles out half a pint of batter with the consistency of wallpaper paste onto a giant hotplate, expertly he spreads it out into a perfect circle and then waits for the half centimetre thick layer of flour, egg and lard to solidify. Taking out a trowel he then slathers on a frankly insane quantity of nutella and liquid white chocolate, empties a feed bag of crushed nuts on top and slices on a banana before handing it over. You now have in your hand 500% of your daily recommended sugar intake in the form of a wrap of batter filled with white hot chocolate. Mmmmmm
Bedtime and soon you’ll be looking forward to breakfast, if you can ever eat again. Morning comes and you sit down to a fine continental spread of mechanically separated ham and laughing cow cheese triangles served up with cake and eggs with grey yokes. But don’t get too full now. There’s still lunch to come.
Today we’re diving on Gozo, a beautiful island with 2 of the most magical dives in Malta, the Blue Hole and the Inland Sea but to get there we have to take the Ferry, a 30 min crossing with just enough time to get yourself a coffee and a wudy. Calm down ladies, a wudy is a traditional delicacy consisting of the bastard son of a frankfurter and a cheap sausage with just the requisite percentage of pork connective tissue* to be deemed as such entombed within a greasy parcel of synthetic pastry. I can still remember taking a bite out of my first wudy and watching in horror as 2/3rds of livid, grub white, sausage cadaver slipped from it’s pastry coffin onto the plate. I still ate it though.
Once the diving is complete it’s time for an evening meal and this is where the challenge begins. Huggins pub exerts a gravitational pull on divers so great that it has it’s own event horizon and trying to extract divers from it’s orbit for dinner is an almost impossible task. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Huggins, love a cheeky half of Cisk after a dive and love spending an evening seated outside off gassing with the dive crew but I have difficulty shaking off the memory of the seafood pizza which when it arrived consisted of a pizza burned at the edges but still wet and soggy in the middle due to the small pile of fish slurry sitting in the centre that had the appearance of being swept off the floor of a trawler and then dumped in the centre of the pizza. Maxim ate it all despite my running commentary on every bite which still shocks me slightly to this day.
So instead we decide to venture further afield and head to Avenue one of the most famous restaurants in the area. Now Avenue is brilliant, here portion control is a dirty word and the main aim of the restaurant is to feed the customer with more meat than they ever thought it possible to consume. I have now eaten the ribs at this place 7 times and it never disappoints. You are served up a gigantic plate of juicy, delicious ribs, laughably they also supply side orders that sit lonely and untouched in the middle of the table as you tackle the Desperate Dan sized meal in front of you. Amazing food and incredible value, does anyone want to go there now?
Other options for evening meals include the Emperor of India a seriously good curry house and also Gozitan which serves traditional Maltese food. Our last trip to Malta witnessed a slight misstep with restaurant choice when we went somewhere with a traditional maltese menu that consisted of lots of badly cooked animals full of miniscule bones that meant you spent lots of time chewing gingerly and extracting foreign objects from your mouth. Gozitan, however, is really good. Here they serve a feast menu that consisted of so much food that we were forced to use it for a different purpose:
So there we have it, Malta has everything calorific the weary diver could need. In fact I could go for a chequers right now….
*There are various laws concerning the meat content of sausages in the UK. The minimum meat content to be labelled Pork Sausages is 42% (30% for other types of meat sausages), although to be classed as meat, the Pork can contain 30% fat and 25% connective tissue. Often the cheapest supermarket pork sausages do not have the necessary meat content to be described as Pork Sausages and are simply labelled ‘Sausages’. These typically contain MRM which under EU law can no longer be described as meat