Sunday, October 29, 2006

Wine Bars, Part 2

Hi everybody, hope you had an awesome weekend! Our little team has been around again looking for some of the best wine bars in Malta. Yeah and we have great news, this week is going to be a tough choice: Which ONE is winning our title MALTA'S BEST WINE BAR?

We start off with:
Kafe Ta' Marku
Sqaq nru. 6, Triq Santa Lucija, Naxxar

Hidden in a small Alley lies the newly restored farmhouse Kafe' Ta' Marku. We were out on a relaxed Sunday evening and we heard that this place just opened for public and serves good wine. Old farmhouses always makes my heart beat jump higher. I have this nack about traditional Maltese places but sadly they are becoming less and less because of the construction that is going on in Malta. So it's good news to know that the owners made a beautiful job in converting this house to its original splendour. It is cozy and you should have a look through the several rooms that have been furbished to give the impression of a farmhouse inhabited by real people. In the evenings the building is dipped in lovely lights but you should definatley visit it on a Sunday afternoon. While the food and wine was good, I'd only recommend it if you like to nibble on something small (like a shared platter), but I'd definately recommend it for one of the best cakes I have ever eaten, THE Snickers Cake (like a Snickers bar). Wow, this one was rich but soooo good, Ruth and I devoured it! The lemon cheese cake is also highly recommended, by the way!

Every room has a small detail, here it is the fireplace.
Kafe' Ta' Marku scorred high for the ambience and the personal story that goes behind the restoration of this building. Whenever you make it to the charming town of Naxxar stop by at Ta' Marku to enjoy a cup of coffee and a cake. Saying that, it's not one of the top places for wine in Malta but definatley the place to try out THAT great Cake! Enjoy!

So now, we come to real stuff:

No 1d, Strait Street, Valletta

With most of the wine bars in Malta, you'd better ask your way because this little jewel is no exception to the rule: It is well hidden in a quiet side street and if you don't know the place you'll have difficulty finding it. While most people visit Valletta only in the morning to go shopping or to have a look at those grand buildings, Valletta's night life is quiet. Normally, the capital city buzzes with action in the morning. I think there are thousands of shoppers, tourists, business (wo)men swarming the capital city but in the evening the Old Lady is silent. Recently there have been attempts to revitalize Valletta's cultural night life with events such as NOTTE BIANCA where not only shops, but also Valletta's famous churches and palaces stay open to the public until the early hours of the next morning. There is a new hype about Valletta and the nights are slowly becoming alive again. Anyway, the real reason behind it all is a little well-hidden wine bar called TRABAXU. I've heard people talking about it. First people from Valletta, then people from other towns and then people from the other island, Gozo. Wow, that wine bar has made a name for itself already and I, after visiting it, can only join in the praise for this place!

I had to love it: there are interesting black & white portraits gracing the stone walls. Trabaxu oozes authenticity, through and through!
Ok, here a bit of fusion of Maltese and Indian cuisine. Chicken with ginger, suberp!
I am all for mixed platters and cheese platters, I call them my authentic Maltese food. Everything is fresh and top quality and Trabaxu is one of the rare places that serves REAL (famous) Maltese bread, which is still fresh, no matter what time!
Everything comes together here: great atmosphere, cozyness, authenticity, great wine & food, excellent service. Thank you Chris and Krista for a very special evening! Way to go!

And the last one for today:

36, St. John Tower Street, Birgu

I fell in love with DELborgo the first time I visited it. For one, it's situated in Birgu (one of the famous Three Cities) and I love Birgu. For two, it has style: a fusion of the traditional Maltese with modern elements. For three, the wine tastes so much better here and the platters are great.

Here the view from the entrance
A Greek platter, very delicious but not Maltese.
Here, everything has style and class and wait until you have seen the restrooms...
I can only tell everyone to book a table at DELborgo, especially weekends because it's always full of people. DELborgo is definately on the very top of the best wine bars is Malta and it is already a winner because of its location. I can only repeat myself: YOU have to GO there!

Ahhhhhh and now.... what everybody was waiting for, the winner of the evening! It is really a tough choice because all the places we visited had something special about them. But when I'm looking for THE place to go it has to fullfill a long list of criterias: ATMOSPHERE, LOCATION, FOOD & WINE, SERVICE, AUTHENTICITY. Two places were really competing for the title and it's not easy... but....

..... the WINNER is TRABAXU!!!

One thing that it all brought down: the service is one to none. At Trabaxu they know what they are doing and they do it with passion. Their attention to detail in wine & food as well as to decor is even topped by their outstanding customer service and I can only rave about them. So this is my new favourite place to be... and I hope it's going to be yours too!

Enjoy everyone and keep looking out for new reviews!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Wine Bars, Part 1

The last few weekends, we have been going around Malta and Gozo to check out the best places to enjoy good wine and food. Like I already mentioned in my first post, wine is BIG here. More and more people actually cultivate their own grapes for winemaking. And last year I had a fair share of wine pressing and botteling mself. I have to admit though, that my knowledge about wine is rather superficial and I thouroughly rely on the judgement of our personal wine connoisseur (aka very good friend who knows what he's talking about). So lucky us, we had some great weekends out and enjoyed every minute. Here is a review of the places you definately have to go to. Wait for the second part, which features THE top of Maltese wine bars.

Delicata Classical Wine Festival - Gozo

Ok, this is not a bar, but this is definately an event not to be missed. First of all, this takes place at Nadur which is a beautiful village on Gozo's hilltops overlooking the harbor, the church and village of Mgarr (and at daytime you will also see the blue lagoon from there). Lots of Maltese will stay for a weekend in Gozo to relax and this event is the perfect opportunity to go.
You buy a glass for LM 2.75 (approx. EURO 7.50) and you can go around the stalls and taste all the wines on offer by Delicata.
Here with Ruth and Mark, our wine specialist. Below: Marco and Ruth

Big stars! Ira Losco is Malta's number one export star. She's not only HUGE here but was in the top 10 of the European charts. I remember once driving around with the car in Berlin and hearing the radio announcer saying: "And now the new song by Ira Losco." Wow, was I surprised. I think part of her breakthrough came also with the Eurovision song contest in which she placed 2nd.

The Delicata wine festival is special for the atmosphere (if you like busy crowds) and for the wine! Check it out next year!

Veccja Wine Bar & Restaurant

I love this place since it is right on the edge above the sea in a small fishermen's harbor, Xemxjia Bay. Here you come for beautiful summer evening and if you are lucky you will find seating on the little terrace. The wine bar is separated from the restaurant and you will have to go down the stairs and enter the bar form the blue side door. If you like jazz, you have to come Thursdays, where there will be a live band performing.

Veccja bar is rather small but really cozy with subdued light, jazzie music, small tables and a corner with pillows on the floor. The best part is the small terrace (notice the word "small" here?). There is actually a tree growing right through. Probably the bar was build around the tree, but the tree has become quite massive. I love it!
This is the view over Xemxija Bay. After a visit to Veccja have a stroll around the promenade and the harbor.
Veccja Bar & Restaurant by night. If you prefer fresh air and you only like to enjoy a small drink you can stay at the tables outside. On a Saturday in summer, there will be many people standing and sitting on the stairs and chatting.
Very worth visiting, a piece of Maltese culture. A place for enjoying a good wine with friends, for food either visit the restaurant or just have something small to "nibble"!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Seaside Breeze

Hello everyone, I just wanted to share some pictures that I took last week when we headed to Golden Sands after the big storm. The light was incredible! I wish I had my Nikon D200 with me but I only grabbed my fuji digital point & shoot since it is so nice and handy and you can practically take it anywhere with you. I pumped up a bit the contrast and color but in reality IT really was an awesome scene. Yeah, it would have made a perfect backdrop for a photoshoot. *sigh*

And a rare one of me since I don't like to give the camera out of my hands... but I know my family likes to see me from time to time too!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Impressions of Xlendi Bay

This is for all the ones out there that love Xlendi Bay, Gozo... and of course for the ones that still have to fall in love with it.
Xlendi (pronouced Shlendi) holds a special place in my heart. 20 years ago, it was the first time I came to Gozo and we stayed at this little sea side resort. No matter how many times I've come here though, it still keeps amazing me: the gorgeous bay with sparkling azure water sourrounded by high cliffs, is really an amazing sight.
On my last visit, I strolled around Xlendi and managed to snap some images. Here they are:

Paralell to the promenade is a small trail that follows close by the sea. There are benches everywhere to stop and enjoy the amazing view.

Yeah, you don't have to eat everyday at the hotel's restaurant. Instead you can have your breakfast on one of these neat picnick tables.

The main view of the promenade and St. Patricks Hotel.

You just have to love the old stone buildings. They ooze so much atmosphere. In the morning and late afternoon you can actually witness how two old ladies practice their tradition of maltese lace making. When you visit, have a look right by that white door.

At the front you'll find many small restaurant and bars.

Some typical Maltese fishing boats which most of the time will take tourists around the bay.

Lots of activity by the sea

Another view of the stunning cliffs. Actually, I took this image because I saw a person standing on one of them and I was wondering how he got up there.