Sunday, September 24, 2006

I Love My Sandels

Yep, it's the time of the year that makes me a bit melancholic. Although outside it is still nice and warm, my mind is already programmed into autumn mood. There is no escaping from it: summer is slowly winding down. So, I thought it's the best time to pay my sandals a small tribute. Does that sound crazy to you? Well then, let me explain. These pair of cute string sandals did a great job throughout this spring and summer. In fact, they rescued me! I had already shipped all my summer shoes to Malta and once the unexpected heat wave rolled over Germany, my poor feet had to sweat in closed, heavy boots. Actually, I didn't want to invest in another pair since I had around 37 heels waiting for me in Malta. But then one fine day, I passed this shop and there they were, looking at me and begging to be taken with me. Once slipped on my feet, there was no turning back and I don't regret it a second. My little bronzies carried me everywhere and have seen everything: the streets of Ku' Damm, Oranienburger Strasse (one of my favourite night spots for going out), Berliner night clubs, the copplestone streets of Wiesbaden (where I got constantly stuck with my heels, but thank goodness they didn't break!), and of course, they survived the ultimate test: they withstood the cracky "streets" of Malta and Gozo (anyone female who's been here knows what I'm talking about). And although I have hundreds of others, I have to admit that these became my favorite. The most incredible is that I, as a former "I can never decide which shoe matches to what outfit", became a lover of one pair for everything!!! And now, don't you say women are complicated!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Maltese Summer Nights

If there is one thing I love to do on a beautiful Maltese summers' night, then it is to stroll by the sea, take time to contemplate and notice all the small things in life. I love watching children playing on the streets or swimming in the sea, taking their last dive before being called to dinner by nanna (Grandma).
In summer, it seems as if the Maltese live in the open. When you walk down Xemxija Bay you'll notice families and friends sitting together just outside their home while the sun is slowly setting. A lot just bring some chairs from inside, sit by the promenade and chat the night away. Somehow this always reminds me of a better world and I might be a bit nostalgic but I guess, these were the things that made me fall in love with the island in the first place and I'm glad that after all these years I'm still able to notice and appreciate it.

One day, my sister, Mark, and I came home from a day trip on the sea and as we stirred our boat inside the little bay, there were children still playing in the water. It was already getting dark and here they were jumping between the boats, cat fighting with each other and having a ball of a time while their families were preparing for the nights barbeque. From my sisters watchfull eyes I could read her thoughts because they were a reflection of mine. For a moment we were only observing, sipping in the atmosphere and admiring this way of life. In front of us was a generation of carefree and fearless children that seemed to be one with the element. It was magical and a world apart from our "big city life" upbringing. I couldn't stop wondering, if only our minds were a bit more freed of all those inhibitions and were just a little like those of the Maltese children... a bit more fearless and carefree in taking that days' last dive.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Celebrating Wine

One thing you have to know about MALTA is that the people here love entertainment and they love food & wine (although I really don't know in what order). In all these years that I have been coming to my beloved island, I learned to appreciate those social events that include exactly these three elements. I can assure you though, I was never a very avid drinker. OK, I admit in my teen years I was a bit on the wild side and I remember my first time booze but that is actually quite nothing compared to how alcoholic beverages are consumed over here. You have to understand it as a part of a Mediterranean Iifestyle and the Maltese way of socialising. In fact, I don't know any good Maltese household that doesn't have a nice and shiny wooden cabinet to store alcoholic delicacies in. As a guest, you will certainly be offered a liquor, rum, schanps, or whatever your heart/ taste buds desire. I remember that I was always wondering why they were continously offering me drinks although I was always reluctant to accept the offer. Looking back, it kind of dawned on me that this is their way of showing hospitality. Was I rude for refusing? No, but I guess they thought I was a bit strange ;-)
Fast forward 8 years and as stated above, I have come to love Malta's yearly festivals. During summer and until fall, Malta will celebrate its annual Farsons Bear Festival, the Delicata Wine Festival, the Marsovin Wine Festival, the October Fest (yeps, they even incorporated some Bavarian tradition... as long as it has to do with partying, it's ok) and I could go on and on. Normally, these events are hosted on the weekend at special landmarks, come with live entertainment by Malta's leading singers and have loads of drinks and food stalls. My favorite one of course is the Delicata Wine festival at the Upper Barraka Gardens at Valletta. The setting is amazing, a small garden/park on top of the bastions overlooking the harbor and The Three Cities. Good music, as much wine "tasting" as you like and the chance to observe the Who is Who of Malta, doesn't that sound interesting?! Well, I was very sorry that this year I have actually missed all those events... uuuhhh I hear you crying. Well, yeah I was still caught up in Berlin with things to do. But late August, as soon I made it to Malta I read about a small hosting of MonteKristo wine tasting at the five star Dragonara Resort. So, off we went to experience something new and as it turned out it was qite an enjoyable evening. The wine didn't stand up to Delicata's or Marsovin's and they weren't any fancy shows. But the event was held in a quiet olive garden, with fountains, lots of cushions on the floor to rest on and music to just chill out. I have to say, I utterly enjoyed the atmosphere.

The best part was still to come when we decided to try the set menu, consisting of 2 fresh oysters, fresh salmon bruscetta, and a glass of champagne. Ok, salmon and champagne are fine by me but fresh... alive oysters??? That scared me a litlle but how I am, I always like to try everything at least once in life. At the food stand while observing the preparation of the oysters I got a bit nervous.

I glanced over to the gentleman next to me who swallowed 2 of them with one quick and very determined swoop. My stomach turned and twisted in apprehension, and my only thought was "I hope tomorrow, I'm still alive". I guess, the service personel were reading my mind and assured me that these oysters are very fresh (and still alive!!!) and they smell (like drainage) if they are bad (and like sea water when they are fresh). Then it was my turn, I put the shell to my lips...

...and as soon as IT had slipped into my mouth, The Artist suddenly tells me "chew them!". With all that excitement and confusion, I did actually chew them. Shame on me! But at this time I was only thinking "Oh my God, I'm killing IT!". In hindsight, I should have known to just leave the oyster on my toungue, enjoying its flavor (thanks Lino for the tip!) and then swallowing it in one piece. And how about the taste? might wonder... Well, it was actually a huge chunk of wobbly mass, with a sea water flavor combined with garlic and herb taste... and by the way, I survived it! After that I needed to relax on those comfy pillows and I think I was slowely getting carried away with the nights events.