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Sma Guides

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Malta Artisan Markets VITTORIOSA

Local Food, Arts & Crafts Join us on our Opening Day on Sunday 15th May from 9am-3pm!

Our first Sunday market will be set in the beautiful historic setting of Vittoriosa beneath Fort St Angelo on the stunning Grand Harbour Marina. The Malta Artisan Market Vittoriosa is set to be THE meeting place providing an unique experience offering LOCAL fresh seasonal produce and unique local arts and crafts as well as food specialities, baked goods and healthy food to eat on site. Meet up with friends and family at this exciting new market concept.

www.maltaartisanmarkets.com

Malta Artisan Markets

Fort Saint Angelo

Be in for a chance to win a meal for two including a local bottle of wine at: Paranga, InterContinental Malta, Da Pippo’s and Il-Veduta.

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Hop on a bus to Vittoriosa and it is only a 5 minute walk down to the marina, or park in area or catch a Fregjatina from Valletta.

Vittoriosa

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In collaboration with: Ix

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LegLigin guide ~ May 2011

I

t has been a jewel for quite some time, this city... Valletta, built in the Renaissance and following a triumphant victory over opposing forces, it comes as no surprise that its character remains as resilient, and idiosyncratic as ever. A city ‘for gentlemen by gentlemen’ indeed – it is tiny compared to other European metropoli... but how vast it sits in the memory: the historical landmarks, coupled with the shadow-yellow turns and corners of its lower underbelly (a seemingly endless sprawl seeped in as much history as the rest of the island, only less advertised), it is often difficult to come to grips with, to choose a representative (or, indeed, even favourite) spot, something to showcase to foreigners, to point as if pointing at a highly accurate postcard and say: “THIS is Valletta!” But like every city, it has a heart. And just as in London, you don’t really reach at a human core in the bustle of Oxford Street or

Trafalgar Square but instead, perhaps, the emergent, knotty mass of vintage markets and trendy youth at Spitalfields (flanked by the spartan, but magisterial Christ Church, a bone-white temple constructed by the enigmatic Nicholas Hawksmoor)... in Valletta, the tucked-away St Lucy Street, overlooking the Manoel Theatre in the evening and gazing, precariously, at the legal district in the streets ahead during the day might just serve as a perfect vantage point from which to observe the city that prevented a siege and survived a world war. But while it may be as tiny and tucked away as the street it inhabits, Chris’ Legligin shines brightly – its glittery awning would be kitsch if it weren’t so damn endearing: poised in a tiny red cubbyhole of a wine bar, it invites you without forcing you in. Reminiscent of the impetus that drove La Vallette to lay the cornerstone of the city itself, Legligin is a one-man show. And the one thing he has – the one thing he must

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have – is the trust of his visitors. “Sit, order wine, and go with the flow,” was the simple advice of one patron, while another said that “to appreciate this unique wine bar you need to sit back, order some wine and let the man do what he does best!” Proving that there truly is something about Chris. Ostensibly a tapas bar, with steady flowing nibbles at the ready, Legligin remains a very local experience. “The food is a blend of local and other Mediterranean specialties, which are served tapas-style,” Chris says, while insisting that “there is nothing Spanish about it.” “Very romantic, very elegant, and very Maltese,” yet another punter said... proving, perhaps, that Legligin could be the snapshot of Valletta you’ve been waiting for after all. Legligin is open every night except Tuesday from 8pm onwards (Fridays from 2pm). Bookings on 21221699 or 79932985.


LegLigin guide ~ May 2011

In his words

LEGLIGIN IS A ONE-MAN SHOW. NOW HEAR THE MAN SPEAK “While Legligin started off as a more or less run-of-the-mill wine bar around four years ago, it’s now a one-man show: which makes more sense, because it’s so small.” “Basically in life you have to make a decision: I knew I had a niche market. I wanted a certain type of clientele all across the board. We get all kinds of customers but the majority are people within the 30-50 age group... which happens to be my age group too. This isn’t surprising, given how the wine bar is such a personal thing.” “Legligin is just over four years

old, and it wasn’t easy to get the ball rolling at first. Not everyone subscribes to the ‘let’s just go in and be surprised’ concept. But I stuck to my principles. Having been in catering for most of my life, I believe that each establishment has to have its own soul and individual character... and if you start out in a certain way, you can’t change tack half way through.” “The whole concept of the place basically comes down to this: ‘This is my living room, come in, and I’ll do it my way’. There’s no a la carte.”

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“For €15 you get the whole works and while the portions are fixed, there’s still some flexibility. But the idea is to sample whatever I’ve prepared.” “Each and every wine is chosen personally by me, so I don’t have any bad wines. And I’ve always shied away from cheap, money-


Legligin guide ~ May 2011

making schemes: I do not use small glasses, or just pour people a half measure of wine when they’ve ordered a glass. If you ask for a glass of wine you’ll get a decent measure of good quality wine, and it won’t be a rip-off, sub-standard wine.” “I’ve always liked wine – but I learned the most about it from my friend, the wine guru Michael Tabone: a challenging person with an encyclopedic knowledge of wine, who inspired me a lot ever since we met, during the time I used to run Terrazza Wine Bar in M’Skala and later in St Julians.” “A glass of wine is never the same at Legligin: if people ask, we can open a new bottle of anything – for example, of Ripasso, Aglianico, Rioja, etc.” “I cut my culinary teeth in the States: I travelled there when I was 21 years old and worked for a socialite lady who had very little to do except entertain. I learnt a

lot from her, and basically paid my way through college (I went to catering school) in the U.S. that way.” “When I returned to Malta – supposedly on holiday – I had to work to pay for my stay, and managed to get a job with the De Cesare family. Back then, what is now Eden Cinemas ‘16’ was a cabaret nightclub (Eden Palladium), and I served as assistant manager there. I was eventually promoted to manager, and to cut a long story short: I didn’t go back to the States.” “During my time in the States I had no real intention of going into cooking – I was more interested in hotel management. But as manager of the Palladium, I got the catering bug: organising the entertainment and taking care of the food operation was great fun.

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And even then, I started thinking about setting up a small wine bar some day.” “In 1993, I opened Terrazza in M’Skala, a pasta and wine bar


LegLigin guide ~ May 2011

which eventually moved to St Julian’s (where it’s still operational). The wine bar element was less successful than the pasta, but I still managed to sell quite a bit of wine in that little place. When my partner – an ambitious What’s in young chef a name? – decided to ‘Legligin’ is the move on, I plural of ‘legliga’ was left in the which is a term lurch because to connote the I never really act of drinking. considered But it has wine myself to be a connotation from professional the Maltese wine chef. But as bars of old when there was no rough homemade choice but to wine was served in give it a shot goblet-style glasses I decided to over the counter. plunge into It’s onomatopeic: it...” English: “glug, glug, “A few years glug...” later I went Maltese: “leg, leg, through a leg...” bad patch and had to leave Terrazza behind. And it was when I was at my lowest ebb, that my best friend Brian told me he had bought a ‘hole in the wall’ he wasn’t sure what to do with. I

know now that he had bought the place purposefully for me.” “What eventually became Legligin was even smaller than it is now, and was being used as an ethnic art shop so it was crammed and looked even tinier.” “Brian insisted that I could make something out of it. Thanks to his faith in me I persevered.” “The fact that I was just so down at the time worked to my advantage in a way: I had nothing to lose, so I built it all up from scratch.” “I personally choose all my raw material carefully. Tuesday is ‘Veg Day’. I buy directly from the farmers, choosing only the fresh-

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est and best quality. My clients deserve the best at the most reasonable price! My girlfriend Lana is great at this and I do all my shopping with her and nothing but the best pleases her. Wednesday is ‘Butcher Day’. I buy my meat only from Rosario, Luciano’s meat market in Qawra. The quality is superb!” “Monday is for cheeses. I buy cheeses from Paolo Bonnici Limited – their President range is fantastic!” “In between comes the cooking... lots of it! I’m not an ‘artistic chef ’ but rather a cook who likes good, honest, no-frills food and sticks to the basic Mediterranean principles of simplicity, freshness and the careful use of herbs and spices. Taste is everything!” “Stephanie, my maid, is the most important person in here because I really wouldn’t know what to do without her. She’s flexible, she takes care of phone calls and keeps the place clean, all of which is crucial to me! I value her very much.” “The joy of working alone is that you can only really let yourself down. And on a good night, when the place is full and everything is going right, I just say ‘this is what life is all about’. ”


Legligin guide ~ May 2011

Some words from Le “What I had in mind while designing Legligin was to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere based on the traditional ‘ħanut tax-xorb’ (Maltese for wine bar). The design and colour scheme relates to old wine bars long closed down and forgotten.” “Chris is definitely passionate about his work which, in my opinion, is also his life. Take cooking, serving and wine out of his life... and he is lost! So he is dedicated 101 percent. With

Brian Abela

Legligin’s interior designer & Chris’s best friend

Giuseppe Schembri Bonaci

Legligin he manages to create a unique dining experience which has been consistent over the past four or five years of operation. His product and ambience are inimitable.” “The food is a guaranteed positive experience, with carefully selected ingredients blended into personalised recipes.” “And when it comes to wine, Chris has an extremely good knowledge and grasp of it, so his recommendations are spot on.”

What Chris says about Brian: “Brian is my best friend. A true gentleman, a man of few words and a heart of gold. He made Legligin possible and his advice and friendship is worth its weight in gold to me... always.”

“In my Strada Stretta dialect, we say Leglegin instead of Legligin, so I was really intrigued when some couple years ago I saw this sign glaring up in Valletta. My brother Brian Schembri, the Paris-based Maltese orchestra director, took some pains to convince me that I have to visit this place. So despite the spelling and pronunciation difference I at last succumbed, never to be the same again.” “Chris – a rather gentle, idiosyncratic gentleman coming straight out of some 19th century fantasy forest fairy tale – succeeded not only to, Calypso-like, lure me into

his den but – and I say this through gritted teeth – he even succeeded to convert me from my 25-year Russian vodka tradition to a French Armagnac one.” Furthermore (and this is more tragic), he enticingly tricked me out of my totally vegetarian life when I was happily forced to taste his remarkable and unique lampuki. “Chris’s cooking reminds me of some kind of Mediterranean Merlin, mixing herbs and potions that I am sure would satisfy even the most gargantuan appetites of all; think Asterix and Obelix.”

What Chris says about Giuseppe: “We have a love-hate relationship (his choice of photo gives a small clue why!). Giuseppe is simply one of the most eccentric, infuriating, yet endearing, honest characters I know. He is one of my earliest clients and is almost part of the Legligin furniture. I love him to bits.”

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Legligin guide ~ May 2011

gligin’s early patrons Legligin is, for me, not just a wine bar. I first met Chris when I was undergoing changes and facing new challenges in my life. With each visit to Malta, I slowly discovered that Chris was going through his own evolution through various geographical and culinary metamorphoses that have, at least to date, landed him in Legligin.

Brian Schembri

Gianfranco Gauci

At a moment in life when few believed in his latest project, he challenged fate and won. It is not surprising that I somehow found refuge and empathy in this beautifully transformed cellar. Legligin is Chris and Chris is a talented, creative man with a somewhat distracted air, at times seemingly inapt. Therefore, I like Chris and therefore, I like Legligin.

What Chris says about Brian: “Brian has been supportive of Legligin and on a personal level from the moment we opened for business – literally! There is much more to Brian than being one of Malta’s foremost musicians and proponents of the arts. I’m proud to say that he is my friend.”

Legligin is not about harbour views or silver service, it is about home cooking and good wine at reasonable prices in a friendly and cosy atmosphere, typical trattoria style – with the difference that rather than the usual Maltese-Italian mix, I would rather say that the cuisine is Franco-Maltese fusion. As a foody, I enjoy discussing every new dish Chris produces with him, learning from his culinary techniques and gastronomic expertise – although sometimes this can get quite heated. His food is strictly and quite literally home made and I very rarely ask for anything in particular – I prefer leaving it up to him to give me a bit of everything, as I am never

disappointed. Chris is in the habit of tasting all the wine he buys, so that I have not really managed yet to spot any wine on his shelves that was not up to scratch. As regards the ambience, this really depends on your company. I have hosted clients at Legligin for a post-meeting late lunch, I have enjoyed the service with friends and I have sampled its delights in romantic evenings with my better half; Legligin’s old style cosiness lends itself equally to cordial lunches, lighthearted get-togethers and intimate dinners. My advice is relax, don’t be choosy and just let him guide you through his assaggi… but don’t be afraid to ask, as Chris has a lot to teach the willing to learn.

What Chris says about Gianfranco: “Such an interesting and highly intelligent guy! Always full of information and stories... Another ‘wine potato’ and one of my most loyal customers who has become a friend.”

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Legligin

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119, St. Lucy Street, Valletta Legligin is open every night except Tuesday from 8pm onwards (Fridays from 2pm). Bookings on 21221699 or 79932985.

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LegLigin guide ~ May 2011

~ Chris’ kitchen unveiled ~ SO YOU’VE HEARD TALK ABOUT LEGLIGIN’S SIMPLE, PERSONAL APPROACH TO FOOD. BUT WHAT’S REALLY IN STORE FOR YOU, ONCE YOU SUBMIT TO CHRIS’S WHIMS? WHILE IT VARIES EVERY NIGHT – AGAIN, IT’S ALL UP TO CHRIS – HERE ARE TWO SAMPLE MENUS TO GIVE YOU AN IDEA OF WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT FOR JUST €15.

Starters: Starters: Beetroot dip with sultanas, Bread + olive oil almonds and hot paprika Arjoli . Lemon mushrooms Gbejna (the best in town!) Stuffed artichokes (when they are Maltese salami in season – spring-summer), Followed by: prepared the traditional way Octopus Grilled aubergines, some topped with Zucchini stuffed with prawns, melted Grana cheese and some with rice, olives good Bavarian blue cheese. Parmigiana of aubergines Followed by: see opposite page Followed by: Vegetable broth with sour cream Pork meatballs in mushroom sauce (blended in) Stewed beef in garlic Baked loaf of minced pork, garlic, d eboar chees the , least not but last And zucchini, tomatoes and cheese features a well-chosen variety of quality Prawns, flamed in Pernot with fresh continental cheeses. ginger and coconut milk 15 e g a p see Casserole of pork in white wine, cooked with cauliflower and black Dessert * olives Chris employs the services of Melina to take care of dessert. Customers get to sample two types of mouth-watering truffles and End with nice selection of cheeses.* the chocolate, date and nut meringue.

see page

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*desserts and cheese ordered separately – 11 –


Wine

LegLigin guide ~ May 2011

A

Chateau Musar

“Each and every wine is chosen specifically by me, so I don’t have any bad wines.” – Chris

Spier Shiraz Dark plum in colour with a youthful purple edge, the wine shows inviting aromas of sweet plum, white pepper and subtle oakderived notes. a fruit-driven palate hosts well-structured tannin, with hints of sweet and smoky american oak-derived flavours.

Deep crimson, blood red colour with an intense and complex nose of spicy red fruits, cedar and deep plum notes. Generous red and black fruits follow on through to the palate combined with christmas cake spices, figs, dates and stewed plums. Good acidity, silky tannins with a rich fruited palate end with a long promising finish.

Chris’ choice for this month Les Princes Abbes~Riesling by Domaines Schlumberger a wine with a lemon yellow colour and light green reflections. the nose is pleasant with a good intensity and dominated by fruit, namely citrus and a slight mineral, smoky hint. in the mouth the wine evolves to become incisive and edgy with fruity aromas, citrus fruits, preserved lemon, spices, ginger and an underlying minerality.

Vesevo - Beneventano Falanghina IGT

Marques de Casa Concha~Merlot by Concha y Toro

light straw yellow in colour with a white flower bouquet. the palate is delicate and perfumed, with honey and sliced pear aromas. lightto-medium bodied with lots of mineral character and an intense finish of dried lemon and green apples. an excellent falanghina.

Velvety, supple, mouthwatering Merlot from chile at a fantastic price -quality ratio. Deep purple in colour, with a bouquet of red plums, black peppers, cassis, with hints of spices. this Merlot has velvety, firm, ripe tannins imparting smoothness and balance. subtle hints of vanilla and ripe fruit.

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Bread, the way it’s meant to be... bezzun

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We are making bread the traditional way (il-forn tal-hatab) Our pizza is also made using traditional methods. For free delivery of a wide range of pizzas, please call:

27017295 or 99428540 Joseph Frendo Bakery & Confectionary, 23, Triq iż-Żekka (Old Mint Street),Valletta.


Melina,

LegLigin guide ~ May 2011

the Dessert Lady F

or Melina, it all started with some chilli-chocolate truffles. Picture the scene: it’s winter, you’re at a friend’s birthday party at a charming little wine bar, and each guest can take home a small packet of truffles. But the owner catches sight of this too. And yes, it’s our Chris again. He likes the truffles so much that he decides to play flexible with his own rules, and introduces Melina to his one-man show. So from that day forward, Melina has been supplying Legligin with chili and spice dark chocolate truffles and cranberry and cointreau white chocolate truffles… the perfect way to cap off a stay at Chris’ living room. But who is Melina? A garden designer by profession, her passion for plants, flowers, fragrance, colour combinations and all things garden-related comes second only to her pull towards sweets. This has resulted in her own service, the sprightly-titled ‘Tart!’ However, there are rules to which she

abides: too sweet, too creamy and too spongy just won’t do. But she’s definitely more than just a mini-factory for sweet treats. Melina puts great stock in creativity… again bolstered by her floral predilections. Flowers are used for their aroma as well as for their colouring properties, so any artificial additive is steered well clear of. Karkadè for example, the dried flowers of Hibiscus sabdariffa, have an exceptional colour and slightly tart taste which is ideal for tinting on icing or frosting.

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She also believes that sweets don’t necessarily have to be bad for you – just keep the sugar and fats at a humane amount. To this end also, the Tart’s pantry remains loyal to wholegrain flours, brown sugar and many other unrefined ingredients. If you fancy yourself a bit of Tart, visit its Facebook hub to get regular updates on Melina’s creations: www.facebook.com/Tartmalta


Legligin guide ~ May 2011

...And patrons say: Francesca Farrugia Tired & stuffed after a brilliant meal - as always! at LEGLIGIN in great company xxxx www.facebook.com Adam Ussishkin Thanks for an incredible meal this evening! www.facebook.com Julian Boffa Great Cognac Tasting Yday!! Cheers Chris. www.facebook.com Marika Bartolo Navarro A SPLENDID evening as always...thanks Chris! www.facebook.com

“A French tavern selling ‘tapas’ in the heart of Malta’s capital. Mona likes. Or maybe it’s just the St. Emilion talking...” Mona www.planetmona.com

“... Chris calls the bits of food he serves tapas, but since tapas comes from the Spanish for ‘caps’, used to cover beer bottlenecks, then these aren’t. I’d rather call them Malta’s only menu degustation. We had a sublime chicken and walnut terrine, some superbly fresh crusty bread, very herby meatballs in tomato sauce, smoked fish, mussels in cream, and a wonderful, very intelligently chosen selection of French and continental cheeses. Practically all mouthfuls were well thought out, suffused with flavour and the perfect thing to nibble and more.”

“Sit, order wine and go with the flow” Joda1988 www.tripadvisor.com

This was our second visit to Legligin and it was just as good as we remembered. Its a wine bar which serves tapas, its ideal for tapas virgins or shy diners as it couldn’t be easier or more relaxing. The menu consists of today’s offerings, we had chicken, rabbit, prawn, octopus, mushroom soup, stuffed vine leaves and many more. Everything is beautifully cooked, pleasantly presented and served on Cath Kidston style mismatched crockery. To appreciate this unique restaurant you need to sit back, order some wine and let the man do what he does best! Its a tiny, rustic cellar/ basement and the white chocolate truffles are the best on earth.

Mesdames et messieurs hâtez-vous, il n’y aura pas de place pour tout le monde!

Cecile Hinze www.monnuage.fr

Search for Legligin on facebook.com

Sma Guides

Descendez quelques marches et laissez-vous glisser dans l’ambiance agréable et tamisée de Legligin. Installez-vous et faites votre choix parmi les nombreux vins proposés et l’assortiment de petits plats traditionnels maltais savamment concoctés : le fromage de Gozo, le lapin en sauce, les tomates séchées, la salade de poulpe… Vous y êtes? Il ne vous reste plus qu’à mettre vos sens en éveil et à passer une délicieuse soirée : dégustez, savourez, appréciez! Enfin, comme dans tout bar à vin digne de ce nom, oubliez les cappuccinos, sodas ou autres boissons sacrilèges. Publications for your business +356 79827522 info@smallguides.eu

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Legligin Guide  

The quaint wine bar in Strada Sta Lucia in Valletta, Malta, where the good flowing wine is exhalted by Chris' unique culinary delights.