ISSUE No: 9
Editorial ISSUE No: 9
Food For Thought
ecember is back together with winter and the
much awaited festive season. The bright lit streets and the beautifully decorated windows of houses as well as commercial outlets are
the first signs that Christmas is at the door. For many people, Christmas is a time of joy to be shared
with their loved ones. It is a time to be merry and toast for the year to come. Christmas is a time when children prepare their letters to Santa where they praise their feats and Printing & Publishing: Union Print Co. Ltd, A41, Marsa industrial Estate, Marsa, MRS 3000 +356 25900200 Editor: Omar Vella firstname.lastname@example.org Design: Ryan Bezzina email@example.com
outline their lengthy wish list. It is a time when schoolbags
Christmas is a tonic for our souls. It moves us to think of others rather than of ourselves. It directs our thoughts to giving.
and copybooks are put aside to pave the way for Christmas
B. C. Forbes
ages which make every social event a much more pleas-
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Christmas is also a time for food bonanza. It is a time when we invest in all sorts of ingredients to prepare our much awaited festive meals. Dinner tables are a work of art with a vast range of meats and poultry which are accompanied with a selection of condiments. Needless to say, every meal offers an impressive choice of wines and other beverant experience. No meal can be concluded without a sweet taste which includes the traditional “Panettone”, “Pandoro”,
Front image: Courtesy of Dinara Kasko Photography by Oleg Kasko Index: Courtesy of Nina Tarasova & Dinara Kasko
stockings, games and sweets.
mince pies and Christmas log. Coffee and teas are always available at the last stage of such very demanding meals. Yet Christmas is not a merry time for all. Some do not afford presents for their children, family, and friends. Some This magazine is distributed for free with it-Torça. No part of this publication may be reproduced, or transmitted in any form without the prior consent of Union Print Co. Ltd. While we make every effort to make sure that the content of Delicious is correct, we cannot take any responsibility nor be held accountable for any factual errors printed.
are saddened during Christmas as it rekindles bad memories or experiences. Some people get depressed and angry for the excessive commercialization of Christmas, with the focus on gifts and the emphasis on “perfect” social activities. Some become anxious at Christmas because of the pressure to spend. Other people feel very lonely during Christmas time as they have suffered the loss of loved ones or their jobs. Irrespective of how we look at this time of the year, we are all called to act responsibly so as to avoid hurting ourselves and the people around us. I wish you all a Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year!
December 2017 September 2017
Delicious Bjoern Alexander Panek Sean Gravina Nina Tarasova Nadine Greeff Ruth Hinks Dinara Kasko Marcin Popielarz Tiziano Cassar Daniel Debattista
14 18 24 28 33 38 50 54 104 110 112 123 129 134 152 157
Nicolaj Christiansen Byron Saliba Chris Zammit Loretta Fanella Alain James Grech Reno Spiteri Delicious
N O W
O P E N
N E W
M E G A
O U T L E T
F R E E
C U S T O M E R
P A R K I N G
REGULAR SHOPPING HOURS Mon - Wed 08.00-20.00
Thu - Fri 08.00-21.00
CHRISTMAS EXTENDED SHOPPING HOURS Sun, 3 Dec 08.00-18.00
Fri, 8 Dec 08.00-21.00
Sun, 10 Dec 08.00-18.00
Wed, 13 Dec 08.00-20.00
Sun, 17 Dec 08.00-18.00
Sun, 24 Dec 08.00-18.00
Mon, 25 Dec CLOSED
Tue, 26 Dec 08.00-20.00
Sun, 31 Dec 08.00-18.00
Mon, 01 Jan CLOSED
Psaila Street, Santa Venera t. 2148 0807
Gorg Borg Olivier Street, St Julian’s t. 2137 8520
Spinola Park, St Julian’s t.elicious 2138 1055 December 2017
Laurus nobilis is an aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub with green, glabrous leaves. It is native to the Mediterranean region and is used as bay leaf for seasoning in cooking.
The Laurel Leaf The bay leaf plant has a long and distinguished
of fresh, can be found in supermarkets. Dried bay
history. In ancient Greece and parts of Turkey, bay
leaves should be stored airtight in a cool, dark place
laurel was woven into crowns or wreaths and given to
for up to six months.
champion athletes or heroes. Wreaths of laurel sym-
According to some medical experts, the scent of
bolized Apollo and were also prizes in the Pythian
bay leaves reduces or helps a headache. The herb it-
Games. The symbolism carried over to Roman cul-
self, when used as part of cooking, is reputed to have
ture, which held the laurel as a symbol of victory. Bay
a stimulating effect on digestion.
leaf is also the source of the words baccalaureate
Pregnant women or women with any kind of uter-
and poet laureate, as well as the expressions “assume
ine conditions or complication should never use bay
the laurel” and “resting on one’s laurels”.
leaves. Bay leaves may stimulate uterine contractions.
Bay leaves are used to flavour soups, stews, veg-
It may also interfere with blood glucose regulation
etables and meats. They’re generally removed before
and bay leaf extract should not be used by diabetics
serving. As a culinary herb, bay leaf is best known
or people who have trouble regulating their blood
as an ingredient in the French seasoning mixture
glucose levels, such as hypoglycemic or hyperglyce-
known as bouquet garni. Bay leaf is also featured
in Spanish, Italian, and Creole cooking where it is
A bay laurel is such a dynamic herb which is worth
commonly added to flavour fish and shellfish dishes,
having fresh or dried at home. Notwithstanding its
such as bouillabaisse. It is also an excellent addition
very nature bay leaf plays second fiddle to other
to many soups, stews, sauces, and pickling brines.
more prominent flavours yet it adds a layer of subtle
Fresh bay leaves are seldom available in markets.
background music for the stars of your dish to play
Dried bay leaves, which have a fraction of the flavour
Behind the Lens Interview with
Francesco Tonelli Food Photographer
Photos by Francesco Tonelli
peep through the vast collection of Francesco Tonelliâ€™s food photography keeps you mesmerized on the amount of detail each photo carries. Every image is an explosion of colours that highlights the beauty and essence of a dish. Irrespective of whether it is a chocolate bar or a lavish dining table, every photo taken by Francesco grabs your attention and encourages you to look deeper into the various components which make his work so popular across the globe. A former professional chef, restaurateur and teacher, Francesco worked in kitchens across Europe and served as a professor of culinary arts at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, before picking up a camera to explore the art of digital image capture. Francesco took some time off his daily work to share with us his amazing story that took him from the kitchen to behind the lens. He also shared with us what attracts his photographic lens and his passion for food.
Can you tell us about your journey from Le Marche to Milan to New York? I was born in Fano a small town on the Adriatic Sea. My parents were both born and raised there and my mother grew up in a farm, growing wheat, olives, fruits and vegetables; raising cows, pigs, chickens, ducks, geese, pigeons and rabbits. They pretty much produced everything they consumed: fruit, vegetables, meat, wine, olive oil, salumi, milk and cheese. After I was born my parents and siblings moved north to Milano to seek work and studies. So that’s where I grew up, far from my grandparents farm, but in a household that thanks to my mum lived on some pretty amazing food on a daily basis. So when my time came to pick a career, food was a strong contender and I ended up choosing a Culinary degree. I started working in restaurants and hotels in Italy, Switzerland and France right as I started school at the age of 14. During my culinary career in Milano I consulted and developed recipes for a period of 9 years for La Cucina Italiana the premier culinary publication in Italy. I also managed the F&B operations inside two of Milano’s most exclusive country clubs. After all that, at the age of 31, I decided to change my career and come to the United States to teach at The Culinary Instutute of America, in Hyde Park, New York. To what extent has your family contributed towards your deep passion for food? Very much so. Besides my mother being my deepest and most important inspiration, even now that she is no longer with us, my older brother became a chef several years before me and he has been a big reason for my choosing the career I chose. On your 40th birthday you decided to become a full time professional photographer. What made you decide to take the leap, leave your first career and pursue photography as a business? Excitement for creativity, spirit of adventure, love for technology…
To a certain extent, Daniel Humm was your light out of the tunnel. In what way has your collaboration with Daniel helped you find your path to success? Having the privilege to work alongside one of the greatest chefs and culinary minds of our times is beyond inspiring. I was fortunate to meet him and connect with him at the very early stages of his success and so we both dedicated 200% to each project we have been involved with together. We understood the importance of those opportunities and truly enjoyed executing each dish and each shoot to the highest level of attention to detail. The exposure I gained though the books we did together and the many images of the incredible food preparation Daniel and his team created has been a big support to my credibility and visibility in the food photography world. Many look at you as an unconventional food photographer. In what way are you different from the prototype food photographer? I am not sure what the “prototype food photographer” is supposed to be. My experience and knowledge of the way other food photographers work is unfortunately very limited. I am self taught and never went to school for photography or arts. My work is a combination of my love for technology and tools like computers, software, cameras and lights, my instincts with food and experimentation with those two worlds. In a recent interview, you stated that “there is something special about shooting restaurants that makes it very attractive to me.” Can you elaborate on such statement? Having worked for over 20 years in restaurant kitchens, going back with my gear to capture their food creations and collaborating with the chefs brings me back to those days with a combination of nostalgia for the past and excitement for the present. I try to connect with the chefs and understand how they feel about having their work captured and represented by another person. It is personal and I try to always respect that. Paolo Bonnici Ltd Marsa Tel: +356 21239363 www.paolobonnici.com 12
What are the most rewarding and also most challenging aspects of photographing food? Eating the food after the shoot. Not eating the food until the shoot is over. Seriously… as a chef, I created many dishes that I was proud of, but that have been eaten just a few minutes after. Photography gives me the opportunity of capturing my work in a more permanent way. But I do miss the part where people enjoy the flavours, aromas and textures too, and that cannot happen through a photograph.
What attracts your eye during the festive season? The piles of Panettone in the stores, even here in the US. This makes me feel closer to home in Milano… Is there any Christmas food which attracts your photographic lens? Nothing comes to mind in particular except Panettone perhaps… Do you have any projects in the pipeline for the coming year? There are several exciting projects coming up in 2018 including a new amazing cookbook. But I rather talk about them once they are officially released. Stay tuned…
Taoist Way The
Bjoern Alexander Panek Executive Chef at Twenty Six by Liberty, Hong Kong
ollowing various culinary experiences across the globe at the Michelin-starred Jimbocho Den, the Burj al-Arab and the renowned French Laundry in California, Chef Alexander has settled down in the colourful, cosmopolitan and chaotic city of Hong Kong. His journey through the busy streets of the city has always been guided by what he calls, the â€œTao Principleâ€? which helped him create amazing dishes in several leading eateries including Twenty Six by Liberty. Every dish presented by Chef Alexander is a joy to the eye and brings together the beauty of different cultures in one plate. Chef Alexander shared with us the concept of Tao and its influence on his work. He also shared with us how Christmas fits into his kitchen.
hampers Can you tell us more about your Taoist approach towards cooking? The word Tao means ‘the path’ or ‘the way’ and this underlies everything from the creation of galaxies to the interaction of human beings. The more you learn, the more you realize there’s still so much more to learn. This tends to make you humble. Arrogance and egotism come from ignorance - knowing a little bit and assuming you know a lot. I try to involve all these concepts in my cooking. When thinking of a new dish, I do my utmost to respect the ingredients. Food knowledge means to also understand other cultures. Food is also a language where we can speak without the need of any words. It’s a way of communication …. living together. You have a long-standing reputation for presenting exquisite colours and textures from unusual ingredients. Can you elaborate on such style? It’s all about your own creativity. I see all dishes I prepare as a piece of art. It must have textures, views, colours and senses. All these things make a dish memorable. However, I believe that it’s really difficult to make a memorable dish that will stay with you for years. You must find the perfect moment.
ORDER ONLINE AT:
FREE DELIVERY to anywhere in Malta & Gozo PAOLA
Antonio Piscopo Wines & Spirits 117, Triq Haz-Zabbar, Paola Tel: 2169 7074
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Piscopo’s Cash and Carry Triq l-Erba’ Mwiezeb, St Paul’s Bay Tel: 2157 0375
Opening hours for December are as follows: Monday to Saturday: Sundays & Public Holidays: 8.00 am to 7.00 pm 8.00 am - 1.00 pm
BJOERN ALEXANDER PANEK
The past years saw you move to Dubai and later on to Hong Kong. What lies behind your decision to move East? I wanted to discover more Asia and although Dubai was great, I wanted to see more, so I moved to Hong Kong. I am always hungry to discover new cultures. What is your definition of global cuisine? The term Global Cuisine is attributed to my type of cooking because I like to play with all flavours of the world. Where I live, I cook and try to get inspired by different cultures, ingredients and people. In what way has your experience at the worldfamous French Laundry helped you develop your culinary profession? Yes for sure it was a great help to my career, however I also think that most chefs I worked with and met during these years gave me something that makes me the chef I am today. Do you have any favourite ingredient? At the moment I must say that my favourite ingredient is mushrooms, however this changes from time to time, hahaha!!
In what way does the festive season exalt your work in the kitchen? It is hard to say because I work every year during Christmastime, so for me this is a normal working day. But for our guests, I try to bring a spectrum of the beautiful ingredients that the winter gives us. Do you have any particular signature dish you would attribute to the festive season? I come from the Nord Rhein Westfalen ( Ruhrpott ) Germany and we are simple people. We like to spend Christmas together with comfort food like some good sausages with potato salad, maybe a goose, cooked fish and Karpfen which are also very popular. What does your kitchen look like during this time of the year? Nothing changes, the kitchen looks the same however we are more excited because of this particular time of the year, where one is going to finish and a new one will start. Do you have any particular projects planned for the coming year? Yes I am planning a big project in Shanghai which will open hopefully in the beginning of 2018. This is one of my dreams. Later on during the year we plan to open more restaurants with a very exciting project that is perfect for me and my cuisine.
Christmas Food Indulgence Interview with
Chef Patron, Crust
Carrot, Coriander and Maltese Sausage Soup
hristmas is that time of the year we share together with our loved ones. Family gatherings are characterized by Christmas trees surrounded by heaps of gifts and dining tables loaded with all sorts of food. Many seek to impress guests with their culinary abilities yet often fall in a common trap which sees them exceed in the volumes. Late afternoon often include loads of leftovers which make the hosts puzzled what to do with it. Notwithstanding his very busy agenda which includes the launch of his new food concept, Crust, Sean Gravina took some time to offer us some tips on how to handle Christmas leftovers. He also gave us some tips on how to avoid excess. Last but not least, Sean gave us a sneak peek into his new project. What lies behind the name, Crust? Crust is a new concept that me and my partners have been working on for the past year and a half. Crust is a place where people can dine in or take out, vast selection of food including; salumeria, salads, bread, pies, and baked products. We have quite a lot of plans for the brand yet at this stage our main focus is on the St. Julians outlet so as to make sure it settles down well. We are also dedicating our energy to increase brand awareness and earn a strong reputation based on high quality and service.
INGREDIENTS 6-7 medium carrots, peeled and chopped 1 large onion, chopped 1 ½ Maltese sausage 2 tbsp ground coriander 1 tbsp tomato paste 8 cups vegetable stock 1 tbsp olive oil Salt and pepper, to taste
METHOD In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat and add in the onions, Maltese sausage, and ground coriander. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add in the tomato paste and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add in the carrots and vegetable stock; season with salt and pepper, bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low, cover and let simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, until the carrots are tender. Once tender, take the pot off the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Liquidise the soup until smooth using a handheld blender or in a jug liquidiser.
What should we expect at your new outlet? Our St.Julians outlet took us quite a while to develop. In line with our vision, we demolished the old building and developed the site into a unique conglomeration of concepts under one roof. The place consists of a ground floor and first floor area with a terrace overlooking St.Julians. The Terrace offers breathtaking views and is ideal for afternoon and weekend drinks. The place will eventually also include a bar adjacent to the terrace. Yet this project is still being developed and more details on the bar concept will be provided shortly. The second floor is dedicated to restrooms, which we wanted as far away from the seating (yet not too far) as possible. The rest rooms include a baby changer and a toilet cubical for disabled persons too. A lift makes the amenities easily accessible for anyone. The ground floor is the place where all the cooking happens. The area includes a semi open kitchen and a six meter counter full of daily prepared food. Initially clients will choose food from a specific menu yet once we settle down, we will also offer seasonal specialities. All our food will be prepared in-house. As one may note, the concept entails a lot of work and thus have opted to develop our menu gradually. I strongly believe in the importance of good ambience and feel it plays a major role in any food outlet. Me and my partners were heavily involved in the design concept. We wanted the place to convey the idea of a home away from home. Music will also play a key role. Being a music fan, I will be in charge of the daily playlists to ensure it complements our food, weather and seasons. What should we expect for Christmas day lunch at the Gravina family? Well, this year it will probably be at my mum’s house since I will be very busy with the outlet. Mum’s Christmas day menu is very traditional yet so delicious. We will start off with beef shin broth which is simply amazing, followed by a roasted turkey accompanied with various sides, a whole smoked leg of gammon. Mum’s meal also includes a capon (which is the chicken's husband :)) which we often find much juicier and tastier than the turkey. To finish off the meal, Christmas lunch includes a vast range of cakes, logs, chocolates, and
Classic French Onion Soup with Cheesy-Dijon Toast
INGREDIENTS 6 medium sized onions, sliced thinly 2 tbsp butter splash of brandy salt and pepper 1 tsp sugar 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar 8 cups beef stock
2 bay leaves 2 tsp dried thyme or 1 small bunch of fresh thyme 1 french baguette, sliced Dijon mustard, to spread Shredded old Amsterdam, to top
METHOD In a large, heavy bottomed pot, melt the butter. Add in the onions, stir to coat well, cover and allow to fry slowly on medium-low heat for about 15 minutes. Stir in the sugar and balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, and allow to continue cooking, stirring frequently, for about 30 minutes, until the onions reduce considerably and turn a deep golden-brown. Add the brandy, allow to reduce, then add in the beef stock, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. While the soup is cooking, thinly spread Dijon mustard onto the sliced pieces of baguette, top with the shredded cheese and some fresh thyme and put under the oven broiler for 5 minutes, until the cheese has melted. Serve toast with soup.
BUTTERNUT & CARAMELIZED ONION GALETTE INGREDIENTS FOR THE CRUST: 1 1/4 cups (about 156g) all-purpose flour 1 /4 tsp salt 1 /2 cup (1 stick or 113g) unsalted butter, frozen 1 /4 cup ice water (plus 1 or 2 tbsp more) 1 tsp finely chopped fresh sage 22
FOR THE FILLING: 450g lb butternut, sliced 1 tbsp olive oil 1 tsp salt, divided 1-2 tbsp butter 1 large onion, thinly sliced 1 /8 tsp sugar 1 tsp minced garlic 1 /2 tsp chopped sage 1 tsp balsamic vinegar (optional; apple balsamic works well) 3-4 tbsp aged or fresh goat cheese (crumbles work too, though I liked the meltiness of the softer cheese) 1 egg or a splash of cream for the crust (optional)
METHOD To make the galette crust: Remove the butter from the freezer and let it thaw briefly while you prepare the dry ingredients. (Alternatively, you can take refrigerated butter and pop it in the fridge for about 30 minutes.) Whisk together the flour, salt, and chopped sage. Using the coarsest holes on a box grater, grate the frozen butter into the flour, then mix gently with your fingers to incorporate it into the flour until no clumps larger than peas remain. Sprinkle three tablespoons of the iced water evenly over the mixture and stir with a wooden spoon to incorporate well. When the mixture holds together when squeezed, it has enough moisture - if it won’t hold, add more water, a tablespoon at a time, until it does. Knead gently a few times to form into a dough, wrap it in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill for at least an hour or up to a day ahead. For longer than a day in advance, freeze the dough. For the butternut: Preheat oven to 180 C. Wash and scrub the butternut, then cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Slice lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick slices - I found that a sharp mandoline was best for this, though be very careful when using. You can keep the skin on. Toss pieces with olive oil and about half the salt, then place in a single layer on a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes or until pieces are tender. Set aside to cool slightly. For the onions: While the butternut is roasting, melt the butter in a heavy skillet. Lay the onion slices in a single layer (they can overlap slightly), then cook over low heat, stirring once every 10 minutes or so, until soft, brown, and jammy. In the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the minced garlic, sage, and balsamic vinegar (if using). Let cool briefly. To bake: Raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Roll the galette dough out to a 12 inch circle between two pieces of parchment paper, or on a Silpat underneath parchment paper. Peel off the top piece of parchment paper, then line the galette with butternut slices, caramelized onions, and goat cheese, leaving a 1 to 1 1/2 inch border. Fold the edges over the filling, pleating as desired. If you like, brush a bit of beaten egg or heavy cream over the crust for a more golden crust. Bake until golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool briefly, then enjoy!
biscuits which are accompanied with tea and coffee. For those who have still some space for dinner, classical turkey sandwiches with good old mustard are served. YUMMY! We often talk about the main dishes and give little emphasis to the side plates. What side dishes should one consider for Christmas day lunch? I believe it is nice to have a couple of small, simple side dishes rather than 1 or 2 that take a lot of time to prepare. A case in point is creamy potato gratin which is so comforting, full of flavour and fits well with turkey. It is very easy to prepare and won’t keep you in the kitchen much, just prepare the night before and pop in the oven on Christmas day. Another recipe I do strongly recommend is lemon pepper green beans. They are very simple to prepare and fits any roast. A touch of toasted almonds will give this side an extra crunchy dimension. Last but not least, I would go for caramelised sweet potatoes!! They are such a favourite in our family lunch. Finish them with some orange zest and they are ready to serve.
It is common for many to end their Christmas lunch with loads of excess food. What tips would you propose for a good use of Christmas leftovers? Unfortunately we do often exaggerate in our Christmas dishes. Probably it is due to our eagerness to impress. Some people do love preparing loads of food whilst other simply do not know how to calculate. Irrispective of in which category you fit in, it is imperative not to waste any leftovers. I do have a couple of recipes we often prepare at home that are so simple yet at the same time very innovative. A case in point is turkey ramen. You simply gather your ramen recipe and replace the protein with the sliced turkey. It is simply delicious! At home we always end up with loads of cakes, panettone and chocolate. One of the best leftover dishes I have ever prepared was the panettone french toast with crunchy almond and clementine. We all have our very own French recipe, just replace the bread with panettone and finish it with the almonds and caramelised clementine or better still some nougat ice cream. Wow!
Buche de Noel with banana and passion fruits
An easy to prepare dessert. Very light sponge cake, wonderful cream with passion fruits and a lot of fresh banana inside. 24
METHOD Cream with passion fruit: Lightly beat the eggs together with the yolks. In a small saucepan add the juice and seeds of passion fruit together with the sugar. Heat the mixture, and stir until the sugar dissolves. With a thin trickle pour the hot syrup into the egg mixture, whilst whipping with the whisk. Return to medium heat and cook, stirring until the cream slightly thickens. Cool the cream until 60°C. Fold in a bowl and whisk at medium speed. Add the butter gradually in small pieces. Beat until smooth. Put the the cream in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours, ideally overnight.
Nina Tarasova INGREDIENTS: Sponge cake: 50 ml milk 1 /2 vanilla pod 30g butter 75g sifted flour 1 tsp. baking powder 150g sugar 3 large eggs 3 egg yolks Passion fruit cream: 170g unsalted butter, room temperature 200g granulated sugar 2 whole eggs 2 egg yolks 135g passion fruit juice 200g cream cheese 3 large bananas
Sponge cake: Preheat the oven to 200°C. Cover the baking sheet with baking paper. Pour the milk into a saucepan and add the vanilla seeds and butter. Heat the mixture over low heat until the oil dissolves. Do not to boil. Sift the flour with the baking powder. In a bowl, beat the yolks and sugar lightly. The mass should become homogeneous. Then pour everything into the saucepan and put it on a water bath. Heat the egg mixture, stirring until it is warm (50°C). Remove from heat and immediately pour back into the food processor. Beat the mixer until the mixture cools down. Sift 1/3 of the flour onto the egg mass and mix by hand. Then delicately add the remaining flour. Add gradually the hot milk and mix. Put the dough on a prepared baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the biscuit turns golden brown. Cover the table with parchment paper and place the biscuit on it. Cut banana into slices. When the biscuit cools down, distribute the passion fruit cream over all surfaces. Next lay the banana. Very carefully roll into a roll. Put it in the refrigerator overnight. Sprinkle with sugar before serving.
Composition: • 5 Spices sponge cake with orange confiture; • cranberry jelly with mulled wine; • Orange-lemon mousse; • Chocolate decor.
NINA TARASOVA Orange confiture: 250g orange pulp 200g sugar 4 g pectin NH Zest of ¼ lemon Zest of 2 oranges Carefully cut a thin layer of an orange and a lemon peel, trying to touch the white part as little as possible. You can use a potato peeler. Carefully remove any white part with a knife. Cut the rest in thin strips. Put the pulp of orange half of sugar and the zest into a saucepan and pour water (about a finger thickness). Simmer for 20 minutes or until half of the liquid has evaporated. Mix the remaining sugar with pectin and add to the mixture. Cook for 5 more minutes, stirring constantly. Refrigerate.
Biscuit “Five Spices” 315 g milk 3 g cinnamon powder 3 g five spices 3 g vanilla powder 25 g invert sugar 10 g lemon zest 100 g orange confiture 210 g butter 2 g salt 255 g honey 195 g dark brown sugar (muscovado) 125 g whole eggs 245 g flour 140 g buckwheat flour 7 g baking powder
The day before the preparation make an infusion of all spices, zest, milk and invert sugar. Just add all the ingredients to the saucepan and heat. Remove from heat, cover and leave overnight. Preheat the oven to 180°C. The next day, lightly heat the milk again. Beat the butter until soft with dark brown sugar, salt and honey. Then gradually add the eggs, each time mixing very well, at the end mix the zest. Sift the dry ingredients on top, then add the flavored milk, quince by parts and mix the dough by hand with a soft spatula. Distribute the resulting dough evenly over a silicone rug or parchment paper and bake in a well-heated oven for 10-15 minutes or until cooked. Let it cool down.
Mulled wine: 250 ml red semisweet wine 6 tbsp. l. Sahara 2 tbsp. l. honey juice and grated peel of one lemon grated peel of one orange 1 orange juice 2 cinnamon sticks, broken down into 3-4 parts 1 vanilla pod, cut along pinch of nutmeg 2 cloves pinch of cardamom 1 tsp. Ground ginger or 5 cm fresh Heat all together without bringing to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 24 hours.
Cranberry jelly with mulled wine: 200 g cranberry purée 30 g frozen cranberries 75 g sugar 70 g mulled wine 20 g gelatin Soak the gelatin in cold water and let it swell. Purée the cranberries with sugar. Heat. Pour in mulled wine and add gelatin. Pour into molds, sprinkle with frozen berries and freeze.
Orange-lemon mousse: 300 g milk 10 g acacia honey 1 lemon zest Zest 1 orange 1 vanilla pod 15 g orange blassom water 100 g butter milk 300 g white chocolate 300 g cream 33% 25 g gelatin Heat milk mixed with honey, zest and vanilla seeds. Pour into melted white chocolate, pour blender along with water orange blassom, butter milk and swollen gelatin. Cool to 28°C and gently mix whipped cream.
Assembly: At the bottom of the silicone mould, put the jelly disc, add the mousse and put the biscuit on top to freeze. Cover with velor, decorate with the remaining orange confiture and chocolate elements.
Photos by Nadine Greeff
Chiaroscuro Perspective Interview with
Nadine Greeff Food and Still Life Photographer www.nadinegreeff.com
What first interested you in food photography? I was attracted to the high level of creativity, attention to detail and the freedom to interpret food in a way that I thought would be captivating and evocative.
t is hard not to stop and stare for a while at the unique technique adopted by Nadine Greeff in her photo shoots. The South African born photgrapher’s work is a statement which attracts the eye thanks to her chiaroscuro approach which highlight the beauty of food. Her photoshoots emphasize on earth colours and make use of the contrast of light and dark to guide the viewer’s eye to specific details in the image. Although the technique is often associated with oil paintings and religious figures of French aristocrats, Nadine brings the dramatic play of natural light and shadow to highlight the detail in everyday food ingredients. It is with no coincidence that Nadine is regarded as one of the leading food photographers on the international plane. Notwithstanding a very busy agenda with several deadlines for Christmas photoshoots, she spared us some time to discuss with us her chiaroscuro approach and what attracts her eye during the festive season.
What’s your favourite food to photograph? I really like to photograph real food, everyday food and especially beautiful raw ingredients. Your work is inspired by the chiaroscuro style. Can you tell us more about such approach? Light inspires me. I love using the technique of high contrast light and shadows, or chiaroscuro lighting, to tell a story. It is about paying attention to how the light falls on the subject. For me, dark, moody food photography is about the hero of the image, the food, being clear and bright and other aspects of the story being dark and in the shadows therefore creating a bit of mystery and interest. You often note that the trick in such style is to manipulate “good indirect natural light.” Can you elaborate further on such statement? I use one directional natural light from a window and flag or block off sections of light with black scrims.
What are the most important factors for you when setting up that perfect food shoot? Light is the most important factor when shooting food. Shooting food on an appropriate background or surface is hugely important in my photography. What is the biggest challenge to address when photographing food? Making the food look delicious at all times and good light. In what way does Christmas exalt your flair? Festive food photography is usually quite luxurious with lots of prepared dishes in one shot. Do you have any major food photography projects in the pipeline for 2018? Yes, I have two cookbooks in the pipeline that I will be styling and shooting. 30
M astering Chocolate Interview with
UK World Chocolate Master
photos by Cocoa Black Limited
hocolate is for most of us a taste experience which amuses our taste buds. For others though, it is a means to express their dreams, their imagination and their own personality. Chocolate is an integral part of Chef Ruth Hinks' life which saw her develop into one of the major exponents in the industry and achieve the prestigious title of UK World Chocolate Master. Today, the South African born chocolate master dedicates her time and energy to her Cocoa Black Chocolate and Pastry school in Peebles where she equips prospective chefs with the necessary tools to excel in the industry. Notwithstanding a very busy agenda, Chef Ruth Hinks took some time to take us through her journey in the world of chocolate and why Christmas is such a special time of the year for her.
When did you develop an interest towards the world of chocolate? I first discovered the joys of working with chocolate when I was about 14 years old. I wanted to save up for a double tape deck radio and found that making and selling Easter eggs was an enjoyable way to go about it. Within about three months I was supplying the local Mercedes dealership! What makes chocolate so special? Working with chocolate everyday is a delight. The possibilities of what it can be used to create are endless and the end result usually makes people happy. What influence does your husband David, have on your career? David has a business background which has proven invaluable in helping to establish Cocoa Black. His role is to clarify what the business should do and help make
it happen. A recent example would be the new website which was developed to allow customers worldwide to interact with Cocoa Black. It was a huge effort which took David and a team of expert consultants over two years to complete. I’m delighted with the end result as for the first time we have an online presence which fully reflects what we do. You have won the UK Chocolate Masters and are considered to be one of the best pastry chefs in the World. What are your next career goals? I don’t tend to set myself goals because the nature of the work we do at Cocoa Black is very organic. Over the past ten years, we’ve been fortunate in that the business has allowed us to develop relationships with many people from all walks of life. The extended Cocoa Black family is now global and opportunities often appear out of nowhere. Given this, my only goal is to ensure that
THE PERFECT GIFT THIS CHRISTMAS! Avail yourself from our wide range of TARI TARI Maltese delicacies, delivered from farmers and beautifully presented as hampers, gift packs or custom made to your requirements.
For further information please call us on 21 583 269, 79 252 339 or 79 261 490, e-mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org or else visit our shop. Tari-Tari is a trademark of Malta Sunripe Co Ltd | St Peter Street | MÄĄarr | Malta (Please follow the signs from the main road leading to MÄĄarr Square) facebook.com/Malta.Sunripe
RUTH HINKS we look after and add value to the relationships which support the brand. Your legion of fans includes members of the Royal Family, celebrities, and countless blissed-out chocolate lovers around the world. What does that mean to you? It means that we are probably doing something right! Receiving a phone order for boxed chocolates from Buckingham Palace is an exhilarating experience and it’s nice to know that people trust the brand. What does teaching mean to you? Teaching is essential to the future of the industry. Many chef tutors are sometimes a little reluctant to pass on their skills for fear of increasing competition. In my experience, however, it’s the teaching environment which really helps establish strong relationships which in turn allows everyone’s careers to progress.
Black website. One of my favourites is Malva Pudding with Whipped Ganache which always goes down well on a cold winters evening. Do you have any plans for the coming year? 2018 is already shaping up to be a very busy year for us. We’re doing some TV work towards the end of the year and we’ve also got a number of guest chefs lined up for The Chocolate & Pastry School. The Cocoa Black boutique will be closed in January for a full refurbishment, afterwhich we’ll probably try to take things a little easier over the summer. For further information visit: www.cocoablack.com
What is Cocoa Black and how does it stand out of the crowd? We never really set out to stand out from the crowd as we’ve never really sought to emulate any other company. Business is about trial and error and what works for one will not necessarily work for another. What we do focus on is identifying the opportunities which will work for Cocoa Black and deliver them well. If we can continue to do that then the business will remain exciting. Word of mouth usually does the rest. How does the festive season fit into your kitchen? Christmas is the busiest time of the year for us. Orders typically start mid-November and steadily increase throughout December. To handle the increased demand, the business has to increase both production and order fulfillment capacity to ensure that all orders are processed quickly. It’s a great feeling on Christmas Eve when the last postal order has been dispatched. Is there any childhood Christmas recipe you are still fond of? I have many favourite recipes from my childhood in South Africa, some of which have been published on the Cocoa
SCwedish onnection Interview with
David Vidal I
Sous Chef at Laholmen Hotel, Sweden t is amazing how food can take people to different corners of the planet to grow their talent. I was aware of the impressive number of local talent in the food industry working in different corners of the planet yet would have never imagined to learn about the story of a Maltese chef working in the Swedish city of Strรถmstad. I came across, Chef Vidal through some work he recently posted on a social media platform which encouraged me to contact him and get to know better his story. His work is amazing and highlights his sense of creativity and eye for detail. During our conversation, Chef Vidal shared with us his journey in the world of food and what attracted him to the home of ABBA. 38
How did your connection with food start? My connection with food started at a young age. I always enjoyed watching my dad making cakes for special family occasions in Canada. When we moved to Malta my dad started working in my uncle’s confectionary in Luqa and after school and on weekends I always used to go and help him with pastries, cakes and making ravioli. That’s when I realised that I wanted to work in the food industry. At first my thoughts were to work solely with pastry, but after starting at the Institute of Tourism Studies I realised that I wanted to be a chef and work with all types of dishes along with pastry. In what way did the Institute of Tourism Studies help you develop your culinary skills? The Institute of Tourism Studies was a really good way to achieve my goals within the industry. If I was going to be a
chef I knew that I wanted to get the proper knowledge of the basics of cooking. A lot is learned in the restaurants and hotels that one works in but I still believe that culinary school is important to understand all the theory behind cooking and to do the practice how it is meant to be done. The school also gave me great opportunities to compete both in Malta and abroad. What encouraged you to choose Sweden as your next destination? It wasn’t a hard choice since my wife is Swedish, but of course being one of the best countries to live in didn’t do any harm either. What encouraged me also was that at the time I moved, when I followed certain food competitions, Sweden were always around the top of the list of teams winning medals, and when reading about certain restaurants I thought that the standards must be pretty high.
There is a current trend favouring the Scandinavian style of cooking. What is so special about such cuisine? I think Scandinavian style is special because it’s all about using what’s in season and using ingredients that are locally produced. This of course was made modern again with Noma and has spread around most of Scandinavia. For example why import strawberries in September when you can use sea buckthorn which is in your backyard. There is so much incredible Swedish ingredients so why not use them instead of importing. How would you describe your style of cooking? My cooking tends to be Mediterranean with hints of Swedish cuisine. When I started to work in Sweden I was still choosing to cook Mediterranean food when I 42
got the choice to decide what was to be cooked. But after a couple of years working here I started to use more and more Swedish ingredients. I like to use different textures in my dishes as I think that’s a very important part in cooking. How does the festive season inspire your work in the kitchen? When it comes to this time of the year it means a lot of work for me and probably all chefs around the world and some tiring times ahead to be honest. But what inspires me during this time is that for everyone else going out it’s a more special time than usual and when they visit our restaurant they expect to be amazed and it’s our job to deliver. In Sweden and at Laholmen Hotel every Christmas means “Julbord”, which basically means Christmas buffet. So every weekend we set up a buffet for around 300 guests. People will come with their fami-
lies or with their workmates and expectations are high to deliver a good experience. So that’s what inspires me to do a good job and to please every guest that comes to our restaurant. Is there any particular ingredient you would associate with the festive season? For me Christmas is more than one ingredient, when I think of Christmas I associate more a variety of spices which are used around this time for example cinnamon, cloves and ginger which are used in different dishes around this time of year. What are your childhood memories of Christmas in the Vidal family kitchen? Christmas as a child was always one of my favourite times. I come from a big family so we were always a lot of aunts, uncles and cousins. All of my mum’s sisters would be cooking a feast of food. Usually the main dish was always roast turkey. My dad would always be the one who fixed a couple of cakes. He used to always make cannoli with ricotta. Not really typical Christmas but since we were living in Canada they were a bit harder to come by then in Malta so this was probably the perfect time to make some. It is still one of my favourite pastries to this day. Is there any Christmas family recipe you are still fond of? At Christmas I always used to love my dad’s cake and still enjoy it when he comes home from the confectionary with one of his cakes on Christmas. It’s the usual Maltese style cake with chocolate and vanilla custard. What are your plans for the future? My plans right now are to continue to develop different types of skills within the pastry side of the kitchen. I did my first course in Italy last October and it’s something I would like to continue doing. I am also enjoying training for next year’s World Cup in Luxembourg where I will be representing the west coast of Sweden along with my teammates in Culinary Team West of Sweden, as well as the Olympics in Germany in 2020. One day I would like to write a book as well as open my own restaurant or pastry shop.
Maltese Wines of
alta has been known to produce wine ever since the time of the Phoenicians, more than two thousand years ago. Various dominations that followed make specific reference to wine production in Malta most notably the Knights of Malta. Wine production was revamped in Malta in the 1970s when various international grape varieties were imported to Malta and farmers planted them in their vineyards. However, the real revolution in modern winemaking in Malta occurred after 2004 when Malta joined the European Union. Indeed, up till that time, the wine sector in Malta was heavily protected through hefty import levies which gave a substantial competitive advantage to local wineries. At this stage, i.e. as from the 1st May 2004, all protective levies for imports from the EU were totally removed thus exposing the local industry to fierce competition, both as to quality and as to price from abroad. Thus, producers had no choice but to dedicate their energy to producing excellent wines without pushing their cost too high. Malta has indeed reached unprecedented levels with 15,340 hectolitres (hL) of Quality and Table wines being produced in 2010 by the sixteen registered wineries. Ten of these commercial wine producers, are officially registered and licensed to produce wines which are specifically protected by the EUâ€™s geographical indications. 44
The demand for Maltese wines is on a constant increase and the drought which was experienced in 2016 had a devastating effect on the harvest and even on the vines themselves. Wines protected by EU â€˜s Geographical Indication The EU has been promoting Geographical Indication (GI) both for wines and also for other food products for decades. The GIs (similar all throughout all the EU Member States) certify that a particular product originates from a specific territory or locality and has specific quality and characteristics. The system adopted and developed by the EU for quality designation based on geographical indication provides a guarantee for wine lovers and also for the wineries. The DOK or IGTIĂ†T seal is indeed an EU guarantee as to minimum standards of quality and origin of the wine. The EU has always been at the forefront to aid and promote wines and food which may be identified through GIs and also protected against counterfeit products. Thus, the EU gives cultural and also economical protection to those products which are certified as a GI. Moreover, small regions have experienced a substantial increase in income by managing to protect traditional products deeply linked to their particular territories through PDOs and PGIs. This has in turn aided in creating jobs in agri-
Congrats it’s a DOK Gozo!
Wines of Distinction DOK Malta • DOK Gozo IGT Maltese Islands dokmaltadokgozo dokmaltadokgozo.gov.mt
Brought to you by
culturale and ensure better revenues for the agricultural operators. DOK Malta, DOK Gozo & IÆGT In Malta, GI wines are regulated by a specific legislation - D.O.K. WINES PRODUCTION PROTOCOLS REGULATIONS promulgated on the 1st May 2007. (S.L. 436.05, S.L. 436.06 and S.L. 436.07). These regulations being specific to the production of wines which benefit from GI labels fall within the ambit of the Wine Act, 2001 (CAP 436). The initial promoters of the D.O.K. and I.ÆG.T. production protocols sought to give higher value and ensure a higher quality of wines produced by wineries in Malta and Gozo. It is interesting to note that wines from the island region of Gozo have been given specific recognition and protection. In fact, DOK wines or Denominazzjoni ta’ Oriæini Kontrollata are two distinct and fully fledged DOKs – DOK Malta and DOK Gozo. This distinction was felt necessary due to the fact that Gozo is a geographically distinct region from the mainland. DOK makes specific reference not only to quality standards but is also intrinsically linked to the region where the grapes originate from. Consequently, DOK Malta can only be attributed to those wines that originate from grapes which are grown and harvested on mainland Malta. Meanwhile, DOK Gozo refers to those wines obtained from grapes which originate from Gozo. DOK is used for all types of wine including red, white and rosé. The production manuals set the maximum yield levels which are permissible and both DOK Malta and DOK Gozo adopt the same maximums as thresholds for a DOK production. Meanwhile, with regards to IGTIÆT wines, no such distinction exists and in fact, only IGTIÆT Maltese Islands is recognized by law. Thus, grapes cultivated both on mainland Malta and on the island region of Gozo may give rise and qualify for the GIIÆT “Maltese Islands”. Similar to what occurs with DOK productions, IGTIÆT refers to all wines including red, white and rosé wines.
cultivation in the Maltese Islands have been previously registered. This is an essential task to be performed so that the origin of the grapes can be easily identified. Moreover, other important data including the harvest from year to year, wine produced on a yearly basis and most importantly wine stocks are always under control.
It has to be stressed, however, that a DOK wine is of a higher quality than that of an IGTIÆT wine and the production manuals for both GIs clearly reflect this. Indeed, the winemaker has to be in line with much higher production standards (including grape quality) for DOK wines than for IGTIÆT wines. All those other wines which do not manage to obtain such a GIs, but which are produced from grapes cultivated in Malta or in other countries in the EU may only be marketed as Table Wines. This wine – which does not have any geographical indication– may be said to be at the lower end of the hierarchy of wines produced within the EU.
Later on, the process for the certification of the wines themselves starts. Officials from the Directorate collect samples of individual wines for testing by the Directorate prior to any bottling taking place. Wineries have to ensure that the wines being produced respect to the full the production protocols laid down by the DOK and IGTIÆT production manuals. An accredited certification body specifically chosen by the Ministry for Agriculture will then analyse the samples to ensure that the samples provided match the criteria established by the production protocols. It is only after a long process of checks including at the moment of harvest, fermentation and subsequent bottling, that a wine may qualify to be certified as DOK or IGTIÆT wine. Wineries which have obtained such certification may then apply for the required banderoles so that these may be affixed to each and every bottle certified as DOK or IÆT wine.
It is amply evident that these certifications need a series of controls, checks and balances all throughout the process from the cultivation stage to the final bottling stage. This is a very arduous and stringent process involving various and continuous controls by the Ministry for Agriculture which is the controlling body responsible for the observation of these production protocols.
This scheme may be said to have been immediately successful and by 2010, about 91% of the wine production in Malta was certified as GI wines i.e. DOK and/or IÆT. In Malta, consumers may identify wines protected by a geographical indication through a specific banderole. Wineries which are registered with Viticulture and Oenology Unit of the Agricultural Directorate have to undergo rigorous tests and procedures so that they may obtain such banderols for their wines.
In order to fulfill its duties, the Viticulture and Oenology Unit within the Agricultural Directorate starts with inspections at the wineries during the harvest. Wineries are indeed obliged to inform the Directorate as to the dates when crushing of the grapes destined for a GI wine is taking place so that all the process is registered. Information collated during this period is then cross-checked with the Vineyard Register wherein all areas under vine
Maltese vinegrowers and wineries have worked hard over the past decades to recover one of the main agricultural products in Malta – WINE. It is thanks to their toil and effort that locals and tourists can now enjoy Maltese quality wines and that Malta can boast of a strong and healthy wine industry.
photography by Oleg Kasko
Dinara Kasko, Architectural Pastry Chef
he concept of creative pastry is taken to another level in Dinara Kasko’s kitchen. Her work is impressive and is a game of colours and modern concepts which are rigorously disciplined by mathematical and engineering principles. Employing algorithmic tools and complex diagramming techniques, the Ukranian pastry chef is able to design and fabricate cakes aesthetically reminiscent of 3D graphs, geometric models, and avant-garde sculptures. The final desserts are interpretations of cakes, tarts, and other fully edible desserts that might look more at home inside an art gallery than on a dinner table. In order to perfect her craft and produce a diverse collection of cakes, Kasko teams up with an eclectic range of professionals, including mathematicians, scientists, and sculptors. No matter the inspiration or collaboration, however, each of Kasko’s creations emphasize her desire to “make something interesting and innovative. Chef Kasko shared with us her secrets to the development of such creative work and how does Christmas fit into her kitchen.
What made you move from design and architecture to the world of pastry? After graduating from University of Architecture, I was working as a visualizer for a long time. I got really interested in pastry about 5 years ago. First, I practiced baking after work at home. Then I started attending different classes, after some times, I realized that baking and pastry was far more interesting to me than architecture. Time goes by so fast when I am in the kitchen thinking about cakes, moulds, and recipes. It’s very important to me to create something beautiful, that’s why making cakes is a way of how I’m selfrealising as a designer.
What makes your cloud cake so popular all over the world? Last year, I signed the contract with the Italian company Silicomart, and they started producing and selling the mould (the recipe included) worldwide, so everybody in any country can buy it. Probably, people liked this mould a lot, so it’s popular all over the world. A lot of famous chefs use it. I have not expected that the Cloud would become so popular, but I am happy about that.
How would you define your style? I have always been a big fan of minimalism. I prefer laconic and stylish design with minimal décor. But at the same time, I like different interesting forms/shapes. Where do you get your inspiration to your work? I am inspired by different kinds of art. I attend different events and exhibitions where I can get some inspiration, learn something new etc. Also, modern modelling programs and different software influence my work a lot as I can create something great from scratch. Even without an inspiration, using different modelling programs, I can model fantastic moulds. In what way has your background as an architect, designer and 3D visualizer contributed to your unconventional approach to desserts? Of course, my background as an architect and designer has contributed a lot to my approach to desserts. I studied art for 9 years in total. It helped me to develop my unique artistic style. I know what I like, what I am going to make, and what techniques I am going to use. My educational background has taught me the right proportions and how to design and create beautiful objects of the right proportion. Can you tell us more about your geometric desserts? I like modelling cakes using different software. I print my moulds on a 3D printer. Then I fill a plastic master model with silicon. I work on creating moulds and recipes simultaneously.
In what way do you express the festive season in your work? I might create some specific moulds for some specific holidays. For example, on February 14th, we started selling the mould “Heart”. Last year, I posted the recipe and the video of my Christmas cake (it was made with dried fruits). I don’t express the festive season in my work on a regular basis, but sometimes I do so. What cake would fit best your definition of Christmas? To be honest, I have not thought about Christmas yet. However, it might be something that relates to Christmas attributes (snow, snowflakes, Christmas tree, gifts, candles etc.); it can be whatever that is associated with Christmas. The ingredients of the cake can be associated with Christmas somehow as well (for example, dried fruits, honey, cinnamon etc.) What’s next for you? I want to open my own studio, launch my moulds on sale labelled under my own brand, open an online school, work on new interesting projects and so on.
Polish Way The
Head Chef at White Rabbit Restaurant, Poland
arcin Popielarz currently tops the new generation of East European talent in the kitchen. This rising star has shown what can be done with passion, with fresh food and with what nature can provide you in one of the most remote islands in Europe. His talent and reputation in the kitchen has gone from strength to strength and has recently been announced as the winner of the East Europe regional final of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018 and will advance to the Grand Finale in Milan in May next year. The chef from the White Rabbit restaurant in Gdansk, Poland faced off against nine other semi-finalists with his winning signature dish of ‘Smoked Halibut with Cucumber and Dill’ on 18 October at ‘Arkady Kubickiego’ Royal Castle in Warsaw. Chef Popielarz shared with us his life and ambitions in the food industry, his love for Polish natural ingredients and the way Christmas influences his mood in the kitchen.
Good food, naturally. San Gwann Smart Supermarket (Outlet), B’Kara Is Suq tal Belt (Valletta)
How did your journey in the culinary world start? My journey started in a quite funny way. When starting my second professional training, I emphasized that I did not intend to work in the kitchen, I was terrified by the long working hours and the constant stress related to this job. The Head Chef, however, decided to do the opposite and I had to spend the whole training working as a cook directly in the section. I enjoyed it so much that I spent the next 3 years working in a similar way. Now at the age of 28, I have 12 years of professional experience. Is there any inspirational figure in your food career? I draw my inspiration from a number of chefs. Some of them, like Esben Holmboe Bang, inspired me with their creativity, while others, like Paul Hood and Dan Birk of Social Eating House, with their hard work. I cannot say that my culinary skills were formed by one Head Chef, however each Head Chef taught me certain things which helped me create my vision of the Polish cuisine.
You have recently been announced as the winner of the East Europe regional final of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2018. What does it feel like having reached such an exceptional award? In my opinion, this is a great responsibility, I am aware that I have to do my best to show my full potential. My goal is to reach the top three of the Grand Finale. I hope that this goal will inspire all chefs from this part of Europe. We no longer have to be ashamed of our culinary origin, on the contrary – it is our asset. “Slavic Cuisine” and local recipes can equal creations from different parts of the world, and I am planning to prove that from the 11th to the 13th of May in Milan. Can you tell us more about your winning signature dish of ‘Smoked Halibut with Cucumber and Dill’? This is a dish which illustrates the culinary side of the region I come from, which is in the proximity of the Baltic Sea and the Vistula Lagoon. There, is fertile soil and wildness of flora which are the main features of Ÿuławy Wiÿlane.
My dish consists of Baltic Brine Halibut in sea salt and sugar which is cooked for 15 minutes in 52 degrees Celsius and then it is smoked over in the hay which I collect on the banks of my native river Szkarpawa. The hay contains numerous splendid plants, such as water mint, wild caraway, four types of riverside grasses and wild coriander. According to Ÿuławy tradition, white fish is served with sour cream, cucumbers and dill, that is why I decided to slightly modernize the recipe. I use Polish whole-milk cream and lemon juice to make a classic Crème Fraiche, while soil-grown cucumbers are compressed in a dressing made from cucumber peel, apple vinegar and sugar. The sauce is made from juice of a whole turnip cabbage with dill chlorophyll leaves. Flavour contrast is introduced by algae crisps and a starfish made from horseradish and ewes’ milk cheese. The element of flora characteristic for the Ÿuławy region – nasturtium, wild garlic and stonecrop – is essential for this dish. You recently stated that “traditional Polish cuisine and local products are the biggest inspiration for me.” Can you elaborate? I like cooking what I can identify myself with and using products which are dear to me. I believe that every chef should thoroughly explore the gastronomic culture of their own people. It’s an unwritten responsibility which enables us to support the development of our own ‘neighbourhood’. Exploring products made by hand out of a heartfelt need, and this is exactly what Polish regional products are known for, brings me satisfaction. And when, on top of that, I can create a dish using such product and make an influence on the development and recognition of a small producer, I feel proud and self-content. What is so special about Polish natural ingredients? You won’t believe me, but it’s their richness and diversity. We are the biggest producer of game and wild forest undergrowth in Europe, we benefit from the rich gifts of the Baltic sea and large groups of natural postglacial lakes (Kashubia and Masuria regions). 58
MARCIN POPIELARZ We have three mountain chains and lowland areas below sea level. All these factors affect the diversity and versatility of the Polish product. How does your work stand out of the crowd? I believe that building a certain reputation is possible through creativity and hard work. You always need to work harder than your subordinates, this is how through a subliminal message you make them work harder and accept sacrifices. I claim that a creative process in the kitchen must be separated from production. Only this way you can achieve well-thought-out, harmonious flavours and send a cohesive message. I think, these are the most significant aspects which affect the full image of my cuisine. In what way do Christmas and the Festive Season tease your creativity in the kitchen? Dishes served at Polish Christmas should be produced and presented in keeping with tradition. However, there surely is some space for a few exceptions. For instance, Christmas dumplings with sauerkraut and dried forest mushrooms, traditionally made on a wooden pastry board by my mother, constitute a marvellous creation and richness of flavour on their own, however they can be improved. I add powder made from horn of plenty to the pastry which gives a different colour
and taste, I also serve them seasoned with brown goat butter. Are there any Polish Christmas food traditions you are still very fond of? In Poland, we do not serve meat for the Christmas Eve supper, fish and cereal products dominate the table, with 12 dishes cooked as a remembrance of the twelve Apostles. On Christmas Eve, we put hay under a tablecloth and set an additional place for a stray guest. Before the Christmas Eve supper, we share a wheat wafer and give each other our Christmas wishes for the following year. What do you expect from the coming year? Next year will be very busy for me. I would like to start working on a book inspired by the Ÿuławy region and the White Rabbit restaurant. I also plan to work on further developing the White Rabbit brand, for instance through creation of Delicatessen Bistro – a boutique restaurant which will constitute a combination of a craft store and a restaurant serving good food at reasonable price. All of this would be located in the beautiful interiors of the newly established Gdan‘sk Brewery.
MORE THAN JUST TASTE Home to an incredible range of craft beers and delicious food.
The Brew, 74, The Strand, Sliema | +356 27030398 December 2017 Delicious
must admit that I am not too much of a beer connoisseur. Beer is much more of a social beverage during my favourite Saturday or Sunday football match. Nevertheless, I recently came across a review of a restaurant which struck me by the rating given by a foreign couple which defined the place as “superb!” I quickly browsed through their website and was intrigued by their craft beer selection as well as their menu. The place was also worth a try in view of the fact that one of their beer, Gallery, was recently nominated as the official craft beer for the Valletta 2018 European Capital of Culture. I quickly called one of the owners Alexander Friggieri and asked to meet for a chat. He gladly accepted to meet on a Monday morning. The restaurant is at a meeting point between Gzira and Sliema hidden among a number of other eateries.
outlet, I walked in to take a sneak peek into the place. The interior space at The Brew is welcoming with the large kettles of the brewery being an obvious and striking feature on both floors. The outlet’s interior rekindles the concept of a traditional English pub with TVs on the sides, high stools and a strong oak wood element visible all across the restaurant. However the place has a character of its own with its vibrant interior colours which blend well with the social spirit the place seeks to convey. The smell of fermentation was very pronounced and evokes that sense of an authentic craft beer which has made the place so popular among locals and foreigners. The Brew also has an outdoor terrace at the front which is a favourite meeting place. Whilst walking out to the terrace, I was welcomed by The Brew owners, Alexander Friggieri and Dmitry Tolok
After struggling to find a parking slot close to the
who invited me to sit outside for a chat and a tasting session. I was not too keen on the tasting session especially on a Monday morning with a packed agenda set for the afternoon yet felt it was worth a try. Whilst waiting for the waitress to bring us the selection of beers, they took me through the origins of the concept. “There is a longstanding relationship between beer and Malta. It is loved by all and a staple of local social life. Beer never walks alone and calls for its loyal companion, food. The Brew introduces the concept of craft beer in a very casual environment which is complemented by an innovative selection of food.” Our conversation is interrupted by the waitress that brings us a selection of beers which I am invited to taste. The selection of in-house crafted beers, consisted of Pilsner, Vienna, Honey Dark and Golden Ale beers. The selection was a pleasure to try and I was positively impressed how each beer had a distinct character which exalted the taste buds in different ways. Notwithstanding my limited knowledge on beers, it was still clear to me to identify key ingredients which differentiated one from another. Whilst tasting the selection of beers Alex and Dmitry shared with me their numerous experiments to develop new tastes. “We constantly seek to expand our range with the introduction of new tastes. It does not always work well as it very much depends on the consumer. However, it is only by experiment that we can grow.” It is at this stage that our discussion focuses on the V18 official craft beer, Gallery. They explain to me that Gallery is the product of a close collaboration with MCAST students following the Advanced Diploma in Food Technology programme offered at the MCAST Institute for Applied Sciences. They explain that The
Brew brought on board their vast brewing expertise and knowledge in addition to the resources required to be able to produce the beer. “Together with four MCAST students who had just finished their degree in graphic design we identified and produced the highquality branding and launched the product on both the local and international markets. This project was undoubtedly a positive learning experience for us and MCAST students.” The Brew is not only about beers. Alex and Dmitry stress on the fact that the place also offers amazing cocktails, commercial beers and alcoholic drinks and non alcoholic drinks of top brands, with a wide range of Whisky Single Malt, high quality of wines and champagne. Moreover, the outlet boasts a unique selection of food which includes a selection of signature dishes which range from their one or two metre sausages, their tasty lamb shanks as well as their selection of burgers. A quick look at my watch makes me realize it is time for me to conclude my interview yet before calling it a day; I felt the need to ask them a final question regarding their future plans. “We are happy with what we have achieved over the past years. We are also proud of having successfully introduced the concept of in-house craft beer. We are looking forward to next year especially with the Gallery project yet are also looking ahead to expand further our concept in Malta as well as abroad.” It is indeed amazing what entrepreneurial talent Malta offers. It is a pleasure to see the local food industry invest and diversify in such niche segments which help the island stand out of the crowd.
Award Winner of 2017
Fruit & Vegetable Market, Imports Fruit Section No. 13, Ta Qali, Attard. Tel: +356 2143 4668 Fax: +356 2141 8025 66
1 Kg minced meat 1 table spoon salt 1 tea spoon black pepper 1 table spoon honey 2 table spoons chopped gherkins 2 table spoons chopped onions 1 egg 4 slices of Leicester cheese
METHOD Combine all ingredients except the Leicester cheese, mix well and divide into 4 equal patties. Place patties on the grill with a temperature of 250 degrees for about 8 minutes. At the last minute before removing the patties off the grill place the Leicester cheese on the patties and leave it to melt for a few seconds.
INGREDIENTS One 160g can John West tuna chunks in olive oil, drained Three John West anchovies, finely chopped 200g linguine (fresh or dried) 1tablespoon light olive or vegetable oil 1 clove of garlic, crushed One red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped 1 teaspoon capers, chopped A pinch of dried oregano 1 tin chopped tomatoes or 450g of passata Black pepper
METHOD Heat the olive oil and add the garlic, chilli and anchovies. Fry gently for about 2 minutes, breaking up the anchovies with a wooden spoon as they cook. Add the capers and oregano, stir, then add the tomatoes or passata and season well with black pepper (don't add salt as the anchovies and capers are salty enough). Simmer gently for 10 minutes. Cook the pasta according to the onpack instructions then drain. Tip the linguine into the pan of sauce and mix well, add the tuna and the parsley and serve.
Spicy Tomato & Tuna Linguine Delicious
wishing you a prime time this festive season
Make this season memorable by opting for the best selection of fresh meat throughout the forthcoming festivities regardless of whether you are cooking Christmas Lunch for your family, entertaining friends on New yearâ€™s Eve or perhaps hosting a meal after the holidays. Prime Meat Shops offer you a wide range of specials prepared exclusively for this festive season. These include stuffed fresh turkey breast, oven ready succulent pork joints, Angus beef, gammon, capons, lamb, rabbit, fresh veal, quail, duck and of course whole turkey of any size!
Turkey and Christmas specials available from all Prime Meat Shops
Prime Ltd, Mgieret Road, Marsa. MRS 3303 T: 2124 2650 - 2122 2291/2 70 December 2017 Delicious M: 7947 8452
Facebook: Prime Matters E: email@example.com www.primemalta.com
Roast Turkey with gravy
INGREDIENTS 1 medium sized turkey, approx 4.5kgs 100g melted butter salt, pepper 1 carrot, diced 1 onion, chopped 1 tablespoon gravy mix
METHOD Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Place rack in lowest position. Make sure the turkey is thawed in advance, ideally in refrigerator. Remove the neck and giblets and save these for your stock. Place turkey, breast side up, in a deep roasting pan. Prepare a stock with the turkey neck/giblets, onion, carrot and water.
Brush the skin with the melted butter. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the turkey with aluminium foil, and place in the oven. Brush the turkey every thirty minutes with some of the stock and juices. Remove foil after 2 1/2 hours to allow for a golden colour. When cooked, allow the turkey to stand for 30 minutes before serving. Strain remaining juices and thicken with some gravy mix.
SERVING TIPS Transfer the turkey to a large serving platter. Remove wings. Use a carving knife and large fork to cut legs into thighs and drumsticks. Slice breast diagonally and serve a portion of both white and dark meat. Pour some gravy over meat and serve immediately.
we use the freshest of ingredients for our
SUNDAY BUFFET LUNCH ADULTS €35 INCLUDING FOOD AND 1 COFFEE KIDS 6-12 €10 FOOD ONLY KIDS UNDER 6 FREE FOOD ONLY
For more information and bookings, visit our website www.excelsior.com.mt or contact us directly on 2125 0520
The Family Spirit
The Glenfarclas Distillery was established in 1836, on the Recherlich Farm at Ballindalloch, in the heart of Speyside. The licence was originally held by Robert Hay, who was the tenant farmer. However, after his death the farm and the distillery were left vacant and this attracted the attention of John Grant. The Grant family were prominent local cattle breeders, who were looking for an ideal halfway staging post between their farm in Glenlivet, and the market in nearby Elgin. The cattle drovers and workmen certainly enjoyed the sustenance of a dram of Glenfarclas.
n the 1890’s, John and George Grant formed their own company, J.& G. Grant. After many years of hard work and shrewd accounting, the future of Glenfarclas had been secured, and the family’s reputation firmly established. A rival distiller wrote to the Grant family in May, 1912: “of all the whiskies, malt is king, of all the kings, Glenfarclas reigns supreme”. The 1920’s saw the retirement of John Grant, and George continued to run the distillery. So on to 1948, which is remembered as the ‘year of the party’; a social milestone for the Grant family that celebrated several anniversaries, even though the date did not coincide with any of them! At this time it was mistakenly believed that the distillery was first established in 1845, and once the war was over, George saw fit to hold a centenary celebration. Today, the Distillery’s reputation is well regarded around
the world. In March 2006 Glenfarclas was named Distiller of the Year by Whisky Magazine “for being consistently good and staying true to its core values”. In 2011 the Distillery celebrated 175 years of licensed distilling, with a ceilidh in Warehouse 14, a Royal visit, and the publication of ‘Glenfarclas – An Independent Distillery’ by Ian Buxton. Today the Grant family continue to act as custodians of the Glenfarclas Distillery, and remain committed to the principle of producing superior quality Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky.
FROM THE GRAIN TO THE GLASS Glenfarclas is renowned for its traditional full bodied and well sherried style, and is only ever released at natural colour. To produce Glenfarclas Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky, these three essential ingredients are required: pure spring water, malted barley, and yeast. Only the finest ingredients, combined with the unique size and shape of the copper pot stills, traditional distillation methods, the specially selected oak casks, and the style and location of the warehouses, are all important factors determining the final unique character of Glenfarclas. The Glenfarclas range consists of the 10 Years Old, 12 Years Old, 15 Years Old, 17 Years Old, 21 Years Old, 25 Years Old, 30 Years Old, 40 Years Old and ‘105’ cask strength. The most recent selection, The Family Casks (launched in 2007) are a unique collection single cask, cask strength whiskies. The current range comprises one cask from every year from 1954 to 2001. Glenfarclas Single Highland Malt Scotch Whisky continues to impress the tasting panels at both national and international competitions, year after year. Confirming the words of a great rival distiller in 1912, “of all the whiskies malt is king – of all the kings Glenfarclas reigns supreme.”
estled in the heart of Valletta can be found a unique artisan baker offering a throwback in time by providing authentic Maltese cuisine in a modern take on traditional dining settings. All food and drink offered on the menu is Maltese. The menu offers a wide range of traditional Maltese dishes including beef stew, fried rabbit, ravioli, various soups, the speciality of the restaurant: the ftira and delicious desserts. The emphasis at Nenu’s is the importance of Maltese bread in the diet; with their famous ftira being the highlight of the menu. There is also a good vegetarian selection as well as a children’s menu. All the food is freshly prepared using locally sourced ingredients. Upon entering the building, you notice a glass floor, this from above hints at the diorama depicting a scene from a past bakery which can be viewed in full on the ground floor. Along with figurines there are genuine artefacts, which are also placed around the restaurant. Visitors also have the opportunity to virtually explore the history of baking and a traditional Maltese bakery through an interactive web-based medium on google maps. With a mere request to the waiter, you can take a glimpse into the kitchen to see the famed traditional stone oven. The venue has private function rooms suitable for any celebration and personalised set menus can also be arranged on request. The overall feel of the restaurant aspires to be a ‘home from home’ for both tourists and locals alike, with their mouth-watering dishes leaving you yearning for a return visit. For more information or to book a table contact Nenu’s on 22581535 or on firstname.lastname@example.org.
love Gozo love food enjoy Country Terrace
Country Terrace Lounge Bar & Restaurant Zewwieqa Street, Mgarr - Gozo
Tel: +356 2155 0248 Mob: +356 9944 6833 Email: email@example.com
photos by Alan Saliba
Raw tuna finely chopped, salt, pepper, Gozo extra virgin olive oil with rucola INGREDIENTS
120 gr fresh local tuna Salt & pepper Gozo extra virgin olive oil Parsley Cucumber Onion Tomato Rucola Lemon Watercress Balsamic vinegar
ď Ž Finely chop tuna. (important not to leave any fats of the tuna) In a seperate bowl combine the olive oil, fresh chopped parsley and salt and pepper. Mix well. Pour over the tuna.
ď Ž Cut at an angle the cucumber, thinly slice the onion, tomato, lemon and place on a plate. Place the tuna tartare on a bed of rucola. Garnish with watercress, some balsamic vinegar, and Gozo extra virgin olive oil.
INGREDIENTS 4 slices of Parma ham 4 piece fresh Asparagus Brie Cheese Eggs Breadcrumbs Cucumber Onion Tomato Rucola Lemon Watercress Cranberry Sauce
METHOD: Boil the asparagus for about 5 minutes. Place the asparagus in a baking dish and wrap one slice of parma ham around each one. Grill for about 4 minutes, turning occasionally, until the parma ham is crisp and asparagus are tender, but not limp. Cut the brie cheese in small cubes (freezing it makes it easier to cut). In a small bowl, whisk the egg and add the brie cheese. In a seperate bowl put breadcrumbs, and dip the egg coated brie cheese, turning to coat all sides. In a small skillet, cook the coated brie cheese in oil over medium heat for about 2 minutes.
SERVING Cut at an angle the cucumber, slice the onion, tomato and lemon. Place the brie cheese on a bed of rucola and top with the parma ham wrapped grilled asparagus. Garnish with watercress and balsamic vinegar. Preheat the cranberry sauce for around 5 minutes and serve in a seperate bowl.
photos by Alan Saliba
Owner and managing director of Churchill Restaurant, Xlendi, Gozo
n the beautiful Xlendi bay lies a restaurant which carries an important name that connotes its origins and its deep connection with Britain. Over the past decades, the outlet has earned a reputation for its consistency in serving good food which is a fusion of local and Mediterranean cuisine. On the celebration of its 70th anniversary, we took the ferry to meet Rosie Grech, owner and managing director of the outlet. Over a coffee, she shared with us memories and achievements experienced over the past decades.
of the time Sir Winston Churchill. At the time Xlendi was a remote village close to the coast. The developments present nowadays along the bay were non-existent. It was not commercialized and was a beauty spot for local Gozitans and Maltese who would have travelled to Gozo for a day. Access by public transport was not available; the system was still primitive on the island. Over the years Churchill restaurant had welcomed various local and foreign personalities including leading protagonists which led Malta through independence and freedom from foreign occupation.
What lies behind the choice of name? Being an anglophile and a humble citizen of a rural island of a former British Colony which had its share during the Second World War, late Nicholas Grech had opened a small restaurant in 1947 along the foreshore of Xlendi Bay, Churchill, after the legendary British Prime Minister
Churchill restaurant is celebrating its seventieth anniversary. What is the key factor behind the outletâ€™s longstanding popularity among locals and foreigners? Nicholas had to close down the outlet in 1979 when Rosie, his youngest of five daughters was just 12 years of
CHURCHILL RESTAURANT age. For the following years, whilst still in her early teens, she used to regularly walk to Xlendi from Rabat (her home town), sitting on a bench along the coast opposite the closed Churchill restaurant. For her, the outlet was not permanently closed but temporarily shut; it was dormant, resting for its next season, a season marked with tourists, local and foreigners flooding Xlendi and over spilling into Churchill. This is what she used to day-dream at the time - at home, at school, at Xlendi - when tourism was still not developed on the island of Calypso. At the age of 16 Rosie wanted to lead Churchill to the next season, to the next generation, to the next leap of its evolution. She wanted her father to re-open and operate the restaurant. He was reluctant but Rosie convinced him to transfer the ownership on to her name. The public authorities refused to grant a license to sell alcohol to an underage owner. She took the case to court which upheld her claim. For the following months she regularly crossed over to Malta chasing government entities to issue the relative clearances for her to start operating. On 7th August 1984, about 5 years in hibernation, Churchill was re-opened by the 17 year old owner as a bar selling drinks and sandwiches. Having operated at a loss for the first year, she was determined to diverse the services and wanted to start making pizza and sell burgers and chips. She asked her father to lend her LM 500 to buy a LM 1,700 pizza oven, at the time the purchase price of a plot for a well-sized terraced house within the development zone. It was the first major investment which opened her road to success. Her determination had always been guided by her childhood vision. Since then she had employed scores of personnel and over the past recent years she had undertook major capital investments extending and upgrading the facilities converting it into one of the top catering outlets in Gozo Churchill, Rosieâ€™s haunting teen vision materialized. The underlying secret had always been commitment to the best quality and standards where the customer is always right. She is the managing, hands-on, director addressing all arising needs of customers, employees and suppliers on 24/7 basis. She is determined to takerisks, however calculated, and manages through hard work and dedication, which then emerges as an absolute winner. She is able to trash problems in a professional amicable manner. Her smiling attitude to life underlies 82
her charismatic approach bound customers to her passion, the dedicated staff at Churchill. Having a chat with the employees after Rosie left to travel to Malta for a meeting of the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association, gave an interesting insight to the humanity underlying the success of the young teen girl turned entrepreneur. Some of the responses just cannot be paraphrased: â€œRosie gives motivation and courage to all those who work around her; her positive supporting outlook is inspiringâ€?. Rosie had promoted gender equality even when it was not yet on the political agenda. What does the outlet specialize in? Churchill restaurant majors in Maltese-Mediterranean Fusion Cuisine; it is literally water edge dining at its best. Furthermore it serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, coffee and drinks and caters for groups, whether adults or children or mixed. It has both indoor and outdoor seating and walk-ins welcome. Table service is available and so are take away bookings.
A hand-picked range of hampers filled with gourmet foods and fine wines and spirits
Order your hamper gifts online christmashampers.com.mt or visit us at : 188 The Strand, GĹźira, Tel: (356) 2131 4161 Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 11am till late 84
FREE DELIVERY ON ALL ORDERS OVER â‚Ź25.00
Stuffed boneless Quail with Wild Rice, Sage and Smoked Ham.
Chef Joseph Attard, The Churchill Restaurant, Xlendi, Gozo
6 boneless quail Salt 2 teaspoons orange peel, grated 2 and a half cups vegetable stock Half cup wild rice 1bay leaf 1cup onion, diced small ¾ cup celery. diced small ½ cup sage 1 cup smoked ham diced small 1 egg white 1/3 cup walnuts toasted ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper ¼ cup parsley ½ cup chicken stock
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wash the quail and rub the inside of the cavities with salt and 1 teaspoon of orange zest. In a small pan bring the vegetables stock and the wild rice to a boil. Add the bay leaf and reduce heat to a simmer for 35 to 40 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed. Heat a nonstick pan and spray with vegetable oil. Sauté the onions until translucent add celery, sage and smoked salmon sauté for 2 minutes and transfer to mixing bowl. Add the egg white, the remaining orange peel, walnuts, black
pepper, cooked wild rice and parsley to the mixing bowl. Stuff the cavities of quail with wild rice stuffing and place into a nonstick pan with vegetable spray. Lightly season the quail with salt and cracked black pepper and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. When the quail is done, remove from the pan and deglaze with a ½ cup of chicken or vegetable stock. If available add ¼ cup of brown stock to the mixture and simmer for 5 minutes. Strain and ladle over quail. Garnish with blanched lemon peel.
Delicious Paolo Bonnici Ltd Marsa Tel: +356 21239363 www.paolobonnici.com.mt
FILLING 1 Ltr Milk 1 Good Pinch of Saffron 100grm Unsalted Butter 75grm Plain Flour 75grm Parmesan Cheese, Grated 250grm Mussels Meat 400grm Cod Fillets, Fresh 300grm Salmon Fillets, Fresh 2 Cloves Garlic, Crushed 4 Sprigs of Fresh Rosemary 12pcs Red Prawns, Peeled
METHOD For the béchamel sauce, place the milk and saffron in a saucepan and bring almost to the boil. In another pan melt 75g of butter, blend in the flour to make a paste and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the hot milk to the pan, a ladleful at a time, whisking as you go. Gently bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for around 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until you have a thick, smooth sauce. Stir in most of the parmesan and season well. Prepare the fresh cod and the salmon fillets by cutting in either cubes or lengthwise. Melt the butter in a large pan, add the garlic until it starts to turn golden and add the rosemary sprigs. Stir in the mussels, the cod, salmon and cook for another 3 minutes while mixing well. Add the béchamel sauce and turn off the heat. Stir well.
For the filling : Spoon some of the seafood mixture onto the bottom of the dish, add a layer of lasagna sheet and continue filling. Repeat this layering of seafood mixture and lasagna until almost all of the seafood mixture is used up. Finish off the lasagna by placing the prawns on the top of the lasagna and add the remaining seafood mixture. Sprinkle the top with the Parmesan cheese. Leave to set for around 15 minutes and cook in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 30 minutes or until fish is cooked and topping is golden brown.
DELIVERY | TAKE-OUT | HALAL | VEGETARIAN 2 HOURS FREE PARKING FULLY AIRCONDITIONED WWW.SHAKINAHMALTA.COM
CALL US +356 2731 8000 / +356 7731 8000 VISIT US 5, GORG BORG OLIVIER STREET, ST. JULIANâ€™S, MALTA EMAIL US BOOKING@SHAKINAHMALTA.COM 90 INDecember elicious GET TOUCH2017 FACEBOOK.COM/SHAKINAHMALTA
Clam Chowder INGREDIENTS 500grm Clam Meat 2tbsp Butter 1 Large Onion, Chopped 2 Carrots, Chopped 2 Celery Stalks, Quartered 3tbsp All Purpose Flour 500ml Chicken Stock 1 Cup Double Cream 2 Bay Leaves ½ Glass White Wine (optional) 400grm New Potatoes, Peeled and Cubed Salt and Pepper to taste
METHOD In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the onion, celery and the carrots, sauté until softened, stirring constantly. Whisk in the flour until smooth. Add the chicken stock, the white wine, cream, bay leaves , cubed potatoes and stir. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a medium low, stirring continuously, and cook for a further 20 minutes, stirring often until the potatoes are nice and tender. Stir in the clam meat and season with salt and pepper. Cook for a further 10 minutes. Clam Chowder can be served with crispy croutons.
Scallop Vol Au Vents INGREDIENTS 200grm Snow Crab Meat 100grm Scallop Meat 100grm Parmesan Cheese Finely Grated 12 Large Vol Au Vents 3tbsp Sour Cream 1tbsp Parsley Chopped 2tsp Dijon Mustard 3 Spring Onions Finely Chopped Pinch of Seasoning
METHOD Combine the crab and scallop meat, parmesan, spring onions, parsley, sour cream, mustard, salt and pepper and the seasoning. Mix well. Spoon the mixture into the vol au vents cases. Sprinkle lightly with a little extra Parmesan cheese. Preheat oven to 180 degrees and bake for about 15 minutes.
Feel. Embrace. Live
FAC E B O O K . C O M / H I LTO N M A LTA
Christmas cheer Hilton style
WH I TE & S I LV E R N I GHT
PR IVAT E EVEN TS
S PEC I A L E V E N T • 15
G E T T H E PA R T Y S TA R T E D I N S T Y L E
€43 per person including ½ bottle of wine and ½ bottle of water Entertainment provided by George Curmi ‘il-Pusé’ followed by a DJ.
Vast selection of party menus available.
F EST I V E S LE E P OV E R
CH R IST M AS & N EW YEAR S CEL EBR AT IO N S
S PEC I A L FE S T I V E RO O M R AT E
COUNT ON US TO MAKE IT MAGICAL
Starting from €120 for 2 persons with breakfast. Terms & Conditions apply.
ROOM BOOKINGS 2373 3645 R E S E R V AT I O N S . M A LTA @ H I LT O N . C O M
Detailed programme and information are available on our facebook page.
CONFERENCE & EVENTS TEAM L A R A . S A L I B A @ H I LT O N . C O M
F E S T I V E M E A L R E S E R VAT I O N S 2 1 3 8 3 3 8 3 E U A N . P H I L L I P S @ H I LT O N . C O M P A S C A L . S T E I N H O F F @ H I LT O N . C O M
H I LT O N M A LTA P O R T O M A S O , S T J U L I A N S . C A L L O N 2 1 3 8 3 3 8 3 • E M A I L . I N F O . M A LTA@ H I LT O N . C O M
photos by Alan Saliba
Addicted to Cakes Interview with
The Hilton, Malta
he traditional procedure of mixing eggs, sugar, butter, and flour means a lot more than just baking a cake for pastry chef, Otis Caruana. It is a constant source of pleasure, pride, and creativity. Moreover it connects him with his childhood and time working in various leading local and foreign food outlets including Noma restaurant. Otis has an undisputable talent for cakes irrespective of their size or shape. His talent attracted the management at Hilton, Malta who quickly made sure to secure his services. We have recently caught up with Otis for a little chat on his love for cakes and his new challenge at the Hilton, Malta.
THE MEAT SHOP
Baked Low in saturated fat
Glazed Ham This is a true Christmas centrepiece and an essential for any traditional dinner. Simple and effective, with just five ingredients to a festive favourite.
Keith Farrugia THE MEAT SHOP
INGREDIENTS 1 raw smoked gammon on the bone (about 5-6kg), rind left on 100ml maple syrup 200g apricot jam 300g light brown soft sugar 12 whole cloves
No artificial colours or preservatives
Paolo Bonnici Ltd Marsa Tel: +356 21239363 www.paolobonnici.com.mt
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/ gas 4. Place the ham on a wire rack or trivet set over a large roasting tin, pour in 480ml warm water and cover tightly with foil, and bake in the oven, immediately reduce the heat to 160C/140C fan/ gas 3 and cook for 5 hrs. Combine maple syrup, apricot jam and brown sugar in a heavy-based pan and stir in 50ml water. Bring to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave to cool. Take the ham out of the oven. Increase the temperature to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Open the foil, being careful of the hot steam. Remove the rind from the ham by inserting a sharp knife under it at the opposite end to the knuckle bone, gently lifting it away from the fat (try to keep as much fat on the leg as possible so that it will protect the ham and stop it drying out). Decorate the ham by scoring the fat with a knife to make large diamond shapes, taking the knife from one corner to the other, then making parallel scores 4cm apart. Repeat in the opposite direction. Put a clove in the corner of each diamond. Brush the ham with the sugar mixture, pushing it into the scores with the brush. Return the ham to the oven, placing it back on the trivet over the water. Bake for a further 45 mins until deeply coloured. Serve hot or cold. Will keep in the fridge for up to one week.
What attracted you to the world of pastry? Ever since I was a young boy, I was always interested in baking especially cakes. I even used to bake cakes for special occasions for my family. Later on in my life, I decided to make a career out of this so I went to ITS to become a professional pastry chef. You have worked in some of the world's best restaurants and hotels including The Lanesborough, The Berkeley and Pierre Koffman. How has such international experience widened your perspective about the world of pastry? Working abroad is essential in kitchen and pastry, because you can see different cultures. When you work abroad you can work with some ingredients that we normally donâ€™t work with here in Malta. For example when I worked in Denmark at the restaurant Noma we used to cook with berries which is an ingredient I have never used before. Then with this gained knowledge, you can experiment and see how you can adopt this ingredient for Malta. Working with Chef Pierre Koffman is a great experience as I learnt the basic things and how to do them in the proper way. You also had the opportunity to work at Belcolade and Callebaut Chocolates and Pralines in Brussels. In what way has such experience expanded your knowledge and skills about chocolate? Yes I had two opportunities to visit Belgium and when you think of Belgium you think of chocolate. Chocolate is a very vast subject and you will always learn new things about it. When I did these courses it was a great experience because I never had the opportunity to do any praline in Malta so everything was new to me. And doing praline is always fun.
You have recently stated that your job is one that comes with many rewards, both tangible and intangible. What is the value your job offers? I donâ€™t look at my job just like any other job. Working in pastry is a very rewarding career because my main aim is making people happy. How does the sweet experience of Hilton stand out of the crowd? I think it is because we are passionate about it and proud to work for such a special brand. What should we expect for the Festive Season at the Hilton? We have some special projects we are working on at the moment like the ginger bread village and much more but I think everything we are doing is going to special.
WHY WINE TASTING ? Tasting wine in the place it was made, can be a revelation. But this is not always possible. The choice of enjoyable wines is growing so fast that no importer, liquor shop or individual can keep up with the thousands of varieties that emerge regularly. For the conservative wine drinkers this may not be that much exciting but for those who like to experiment, its a blessing emerging from the barrel. Nowadays we are better served by wine makers more than ever.
Wines Prop. Stanley Cauchi
The question if Old World wines are better than the New World wines is fading by time. It was once almost unacceptable to compare Old World wines with New World wines. Maybe this fact was made more clear in May 1976, during an event that was afterwords remained known as ‘The Judgement of Paris’; a blind wine tasting between Bordeaux and California wines. A Californian wine rated best in each category, which caused surprise as France was generally regarded as being the foremost producer of the world’s best wines. The judges were nine French, one British and one American. The idea of wine tasting in Malta has been adopted by some time now. It is not obligatory to like all wines. Wine is, naturally, a matter of personal taste. But when faced by a new wine it can be helpful to relate it to wines we already know. Knowledge is very important and one will probably find all the information he desires from books or by surfing through the internet. Granted, all this is very interesting but the most important for the wine drinker and those who want to find fresh sources of pleasure, is the human connectiveness. This is what drives most wine-buying decisions.
There are wines that only rich people can afford to drink. But there are also inexpensive good wines that are made with love and passion and thus make them distinctive and stand out from the pack of commercialised wine that lacks the motivation that can make them drinkable. Many people are afraid of wine and are afraid to explore something different than what they usually drink and sometimes stick unnecessarily to the same variety of wine. A wine tasting session can be beneficial for different reasons but in my opinion the most advantageous one is that you can taste a variety of wines against a low cost. Apart from obtaining an overview obout the wine you’re drinking, a wine tasting session can introduce you to new textures, aromas, flavours and wine structure. This will help you make a better choice when selecting a wine in a restaurant. If you are disconcerned what wine you have to choose for your Christmas or New Year’s lunch or dinner, please feel free to send your questions to, firstname.lastname@example.org or PM on facebook and we can suggest the wines to you. During this festive season we can also help you create your own hampers from our shop (www.ilbettija.com. mt) . Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year from Il-Bettija Wines and Spirits.
28, Triq Guze` Duca, Qormi. Qrm9088, Malta w. www.ilbettija.com.mt - e. email@example.com t. 2149 0110 - m. 7939 0110
n o s a e S e v Festi E The Caffe Cordina
ach year we look forward to the moment when we start planning the Festive Season, when we get to plan what parties we will be hosting and when we get to pick our Christmas gifts. We will be presenting an array of our top selling, beautifully packaged Christmas hampers, all put together with thoughtful consideration, focusing on quality local and foreign delicacies. At Caffe Cordina, we not only offer a range of hampers, each varying in price, we also organise a number of customisable hampers, specifically made to suit your particular requirements and tastes. At Caffe Cordina, we also offer party menus ideal for home celebrations as well as corporate events and staff parties. With only quality items included and outstanding presentation, these menus are being offered at remarkably affordable prices, giving you that extra bit 98
of magic to celebrate this coming festive season. We can also gladly customise menus and any other special party needs that you may have. In addition, you can also find original gift ideas for sweet-lovers, such as our mouth-watering Christmas cupcakes, gingerbread cookie couple and Christmas macarons along with a choice of traditional and contemporary Christmas cakes. We take this opportunity to wish you all the very best for the Festive Season! The Cordina Family and Team
For more information please call on 2065 0400 or e-mail us on firstname.lastname@example.org
100 December 2017
But where did all start? The dream started when Antoine was just a child, a time which he claims that his uncle was a great part of. Antoine expresses that no words can ever describe how grateful he is for what uncle Freddie did for him and for his career. Antoine depicts his uncle as the person who unknowingly gave life to his dream of the wonderful place now known as ic-Çavett.
Chef Patron Iç-Çavett
In his young age, Antoine used to give his uncle a helping hand in the kitchen, initially by simply helping out with the dishes. Having said that, Antoine was always keen on learning new cooking techniques and the kitchen environment was always an inspiration to him. He always displayed great interest in learning new ways and experimenting with food to always better his product and improve his finesse. A few years later Antoine, decided to put his newly acquired cooking skills to the test and try to make his dream more tangible. And without showing any hesitation whatsoever and with all the determination he could possibly grasp, he decided to start serving whole hog barbecues for groups of 50 people. At this stage Antoine can never forget about ‘Victor ilfurnar’, a baker and a renowned man for his capabilities when it comes to whole hog barbecue preparation.
This was an immediate success from the very start, and Antoine eventually started taking bookings in Imtarfa. In a few months’ time, he had no choice but to opt for something bigger as the demand continued to grow.
The key to success Interview with
Antoine Azzopardi ntoine Azzopardi, also known as ‘Iç-Çavett’ is renowned for his expertise in using the right amount of experimentation in a way that by time, has made him famous amongst the Maltese. His fame continued to boost further as he started lowering his prices to better target the lower strands of society, always with the aim of helping the young and vulnerable. Antoine highlighted that “Nothing is more rewarding than receiving calls from youngsters saying that they loved the food complemented by the unique experience that the place gave them.”
I’m living the success of a dream that started a stone’s throw away about 34 years ago
Fast-forwarding to the present day, Antoine has now started accepting his first bookings at the ‘Çavett Place Bar and Grill’, a restaurant which has been drawing attention not only because it is a newly opened restaurant, but also owing to the unique style Antoine has set out for this place. Antoine claims that the place has now become his “second home”. The place is split in five main areas, namely: the restaurant’s bar, the grill, the seating and dining area at ground floor level, the VIP area (which is used exclusively for bookings of a specific number of persons, mostly for private occasions) and the kitchen at a lower floor.
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Oat Cake bites INGREDIENTS
Beef Olives INGREDIENTS 8 slices Irish Tender Minute Steak 800grm Minced Chicken Breast 200grm Finely Chopped Gammon 1 Large Onion Chopped Chicken Seasoning Tomato sauce Gravy
2 Cups Oats 4 Egg Whites 1 Medium Size Onion 50grm Olives 50grm Capers 150grm Tuna 30grm Anchovies
METHOD Blend well the oats and the egg whites in a mixing bowl. Add the remaining ingredients one at a time, and stir well Place a spoon full of the mixture in your hands and form dough into tablespoon sized bites. Preheat oven to 180 degrees, place the oat cake bites on a sheet of baking paper and bake for 20 minutes.
METHOD Combine the minced chicken breast, the finely chopped gammon and half of the onion. Add half a teaspoon of chicken seasoning and mix well. Spoon some of the mixture on each steak and roll up slice. Use string or toothpicks to secure rolled-up meat. Place beef rolls in a dish with the remaining onion, tomato sauce, gravy and a flavouring sauce if desired. Cover dish with baking foil. Heat oven to 200 degrees and bake for 45 minutes. Serve hot with your favourite vegetables. “One should not only try them, these recipes 102 December 2017
but also pay a visi to our Imæarr outlet for more mouth watering dishes”
CAVETT PLACE Why is the place popular locally and amongst foreigners? Çavett Place is a modern restaurant situated in the heart of Imæarr, a locality which is renowned for some of the best Maltese cuisine restaurants, mostly specialising in Rabbit dishes - either cooked in gravy or in garlic. Çavett place is pet friendly and it is thus not uncommon to see clients walking in with their pet dogs. The majority of clients that visit the restaurant for the first time ask for the mixed platter, which includes a mix of rabbit, horsemeat and quail, all of which locally bought. On the other hand, recent reviews show that the rib eye steak and the T-bone steak are also highly in demand whose size varies from 450g to 600g and 850g. Antoine also accepts bookings for barbecue hog, renowed as one of the specialities with over 30 years of experience in such serving. Çavett Place is also famous amongst foreigners, especially Australians. In fact, Antoine Çavett is one of the sponsors of the Australian radio station ‘Sydney One Ra-
dio’. Moreover, being friends with the presenter of this radio programme, Antoine sends him vouchers that enable Australians following his programme the chance to win a delicious meal during their stay in Malta. What do you have in store for the festive season? One cannot miss out on the house’s festive season specialities, including the cannelloni stuffed with goat cheese topped with beaten free range eggs, milk and cream cheese, which is locally bought. For the festive season, Cavett place also serves the traditional Rabbit with a twist - slow cooked in blue label smooth and creamy draft beer and simmered in garlic and oil or gravy. The 300g Çavett special recipe Angus sandwich burger, whose loaf is ordered directly from local bakers, is another speciality that is expected to make a huge hit.
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Malta BIRŻEBBUĠA Ferretti
Gozo MDINA Bacchus de Mondion Medina Trattoria AD 1530
DINGLI Diar il-Bniet FLORIANA Admiral’s Landing Haywharf Nan Yuan Pintonino GŻIRA Alibaba KALKARA Wejla LUQA SKYPARKS Vecchia Napoli MARSASCALA Sepia Uncle Matt’s Kitchen MARSAXLOKK Il-Bukkett iPlace La Nostra Padrona Ta’ Victor T’Anna Marì Tartarun
MGARR Tal-Majjistra Eat House MELLIEĦA Agliolio Al Ponte Commando Flavours Munchies Mellieħa Bay one80 Kitchen and Lounge Reflections Sports Pub & Grill The Arches MOSTA Ta’ Marija NAXXAR Munchies YUE Bistro PIETA’ Fumia QRENDI Blue Creek
RABAT Il-Veduta San Andrea SIĠĠIEWI Chateau Buskett SLIEMA Cuba Sliema Fratelli la bufala Medasia Sa Re Ga Ma Ta’ Kolina Tex Mex The Chophouse ST. JULIAN’S Barracuda Bianco’s Caviar & Bull Cuba Da Marina Dolce Vita Fra Martino Gululu Kċina Maltija Henry J Beans Hugo’s Lounge Il Pirata Il Ponte Le Bistro L-Għonella Lore & Fitch Steaks Marina Terrace Paranga
Quadro Sale e Pepe San Giuliano Scruples Suruchi Taro The Avenue The Villa Waterbiscuit Zen Zeri’s ST. PAUL’S BAY BUGIBBA & QAWRA Batubulan Benjawan Thai Cuisine Café Delos Gate of India Lovage Bistro Ocean Basket Peking Tarragon Oracle Casino Brasserie Venus VALLETTA Aaron’s Kitchen Giannini La Mère Michael’s Nenu the Artisan Baker Rampila Sciacca Grill Scoglitti
YOUR TRUSTED SOURCE FOR MALTA’S QUALITY RESTAURANTS, VISITOR ATTRACTIONS AND DESTINATION MANAGEMENT COMPANIES
www.qualityassuredmalta.com 104 December 2017
QALA D-BAR & Restaurant Xerri il-Bukkett MARSALFORN Il-Kartell Pulena Qbajjar L’Oro Da Napoli Ristorante Il Gambero MĠARR Country Terrace Il Migiarro Porto Vecchio Tmun Mġarr VICTORIA Brookies XAGĦRA DVenue Il-Loġġa Oleander Ta’ Frenc Xi Xi XLENDI St Patrick’s Hotel Stone Crab Ta’ Karolina The Boathouse
The Quality Assured Seal â€“ offering a choice for customers
he Malta Tourism Authority (MTA) has long recognised the importance of investing in Maltaâ€™s tourism product in order to continue to remain competitive whilst addressing new challenges in an everchanging tourism market. Following the launch of the QA seal for Visitor Attractions and DMCs, in 2014 the MTA embarked on a new Quality Assured seal for restaurants. Today, the larger percentage of Quality Assured entities are restaurants, with the aim of assisting the consumer in making an informed choice when eating out. The QA seal for restaurants has been a resounding success and been well received by the industry. Today 112 licensed restaurants have received the seal. This figure represents almost 1 in 5 licensed restaurants. The list of restaurants covers a range of categories from fine dining to family oriented outlets and offers the customer the guarantee of a quality dining experience.
Participating restaurants are assessed at least once yearly through a mystery guest visit and announced audit and need to satisfy all the criteria in order to retain the seal. The aim of the QA seal is to encourage best practice and recognise those establishments that consistently deliver a quality product. The criteria are updated regularly and through working with the industry, other national tourism boards and customer feedback we constantly ensure that any changes to the scheme criteria are in line with current consumer trends and feedback. The QA seal is supported by the Ministry for Tourism, the MHRA and Marsovin. To view the Quality Assured establishments or to find out more on this voluntary scheme, we invite you to visit our dedicated website www.qualityassuredmalta.com. For more information about the scheme you may wish to visit our website, email us on qualityassured@ visitmalta.com or on 22915728.
December 2017 105
Pâtissière, Primavera Caterers
Master 106 December 2017
or many, Buddy Vallastro is more than just the Cake Boss. He is a role model and an inspirational figure to whom they look up to. Tiziano Cassar, pâtissière at Primavera Caterers is no exception. Buddy is his hero and the person he aspires to follow in his footsteps. Tiziano’s cakes are big, impressive, eye catching and revolve around the wow factor. His hands and creative mind are never restricted by any request from his clients. Irrespective of whether it’s a baptism or a birthday party, his cakes are a statement that clearly convey the theme desired. Tiziano shared with us his love for cakes, his admiration towards Buddy and his future projects.
importance to take time and do the necessary planning. You’ve got to have an eye for detail too which helps in making you a cake master. What imprint have you introduced? I managed to give Primavera Caterers a good face lift. That extra edge which was needed to make the company modern in design. I also continued to improve and create innovative things which people are asking for. My aim is always to satisfy the client not for once but for all the necessary times. How did you develop an interest towards pastry? I form part of a family business and have always been shown creativity. All family members work in the different areas required for catering such as the food preparation, pastries, decorations etc. My mother mostly contributed in cake decorations and so I must say that I followed her footsteps!
In what way has the new generation of pastry chefs developed the local industry? The pastry chefs here in Malta are great in innovation and initiative. As individuals, they all their own methods, try and test to improve in their final products. We all have one aim, that is to have Malta on the highest levels around the world.
Why are you so attracted towards the art of cake bakery and decorating? It’s part of me to be creative and makes me feel satisfied to see people appreciating my work. I love challenging and innovative work. It tends to take more time in planning and in actual preparation but the result is mostly worthed.
How does Christmas exalt your inspiration in the kitchen? The festive season is a very busy period for everyone in the catering business yet satisfying. People request that special dessert, cake and taste to impress their family and guests. Every year new products need to be introduced both in decoration and the cake itself. We need to surprise clients who, during the year consume delicacies.
Do you have any inspirational figure who you consider as your point of reference? Buddy Valastro is a great artist. I love his huge cakes although I do tend to also follow the work of other established pastry chefs. Buddy Valastro once stated that cakes are special. Every birthday, every celebration ends with something sweet, a cake, and people remember. It’s all about the memories. To what extent do you agree with such statement? Yes, I do agree with him since any celebration ends with a sweet taste. People in general do await that special treat which must impress both taste buds as well as the eye to be remembered. What is your definition of cake master? If you want a good job, then you must plan. It’s of utmost
How do you celebrate the festive season with your loved ones? For most of the festive season I work very long hours but on mainly Christmas and New Year’s Day I love to spend them with our families especially my two-year-old daughter and my wife. They also look forward to trying a couple of my new desserts. What projects do you have in store for 2018? 2018 seems to be very challenging. I will be continuing to improve my personal skills. I will be travelling around the world since I am also working in collaboration with an international company to make demonstrations mainly in cake decorating. Besides, people tend to have high expectations and I surely do not want to disappoint in any way, therefore, I am ready for anything the new year might bring.
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Stuffed breast of lamb INGREDIENTS
It’s beginning to Smell A Lot like Christmas at Ali Baba
abanon celebrates every festival with great charm and vigor. Just like other festivals, Christmas is also celebrated with much fanfare and enthusiasm in the country. Indeed, Christmas in Lebanon is one of the most celebrated holidays around the year. It reflects a spirit of welcome and joy. Days before the festival, the country gets enveloped in the air of festivity. There is a lot of buzz and merriment around this time of the year. This is no exception at Ali Baba. The kitchen becomes a festive laboratory. It is busy and chaotic with many pots, pans and loads of ingredients all around. It is also jam-packed with hands helping out with the various dishes prepared for this time of the year. The smell of herbs and spices is incredible and gives you that unique Christmas feeling with a distinct Lebanese touch. Hany Harb, Chef Patron of Ali Baba is busy preparing Lebanese delicacies which include an assortment of rich delicacies, consisting of chicken and rice, and kibbeh or burghul. The cuisine prepared is mostly traditional and flaunts a regional flavour. The delicacies also include the emblematic Lebanese dessert called meghli which is a sweet made of rice semolina, aniseed, cinnamon and sugar. This delicacy is made to celebrate new born in Lebanon. When planning your activities it is definitely worth giving Ali Baba a try this Christmas.. 108 December 2017
110g pine nuts 100g blanched almond halves 300g minced lamb 1 tsp allspice 1 tsp ground cinnamon ¼ tsp finely ground black pepper Sea salt 400g Calasparra rice, rinsed under cold water and drained 1 side of a breast of lamb (ask your butcher to slice off the rib bones and to make the opening between the skin and the rib meat) 1 cinnamon stick vegetable oil 1 bay leaf 1 medium onion spiked with 8 cloves
METHOD Preheat oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Spread the pine nuts and almonds on a non-stick baking sheet and roast in the preheated oven for 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Put the lamb mince in a non-stick pan large enough to cook the rice and sauté over a medium heat until it has lost all traces of pink. Add the spices and salt to taste, then add the nuts (reserve a little for garnish) and the rice. Mix well, then add 650ml water and more salt to taste. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Cool slightly. Sew one side of the breast and start stuffing the pocket with the rice mixture. You want to use about one third of the rice and serve the rest on the side, having moistened it with a little of the cooking broth of the stuffed breast to finish cooking it and heating it up. Spread the rice evenly in the pocket, align the edges of the breast and sew the opening shut. Melt a little vegetable oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Delicately transfer the stuffed breast to the pan and brown on both sides. Then add 1½ litres water, together with the cinnamon stick, bay leaf and the onion with cloves. Bring to the boil. Skim the surface clean then cover the pan and boil gently for about an hour and a half. Remove the breast from the pan and at this stage you can serve it as it is, or if you want it to have a more golden colour, you can transfer it on to a baking dish and bake it in a hot oven for 10-15 minutes, or until golden. During that time, add a little broth from the breast to the remaining rice, and cook over a low heat until the rice is completely done and very hot. Rest for 5 minutes then slice the breast thickly, being careful not to break up the rice. Serve with more rice on the side.
Pesce al Sale The Catch
of the Day A
t the outskirts of Mosta lies a small fish shop which tells a story about an entrepreneur who four years ago decided to open his very own business. Rodney Cauchi is young, energetic and ambitious. His outlet reflects his passion for the fish industry and his will to succeed. Rodney tell us that “Four years have passed since I opened my very own fish shop. It is amazing how much we have achieved in such a short span of time.” The place is spotless and conveys that sense of freshness you can easily note in every single fish available in his display. He proudly guides us through his selection of fish and explains to us the details customers should look for to determine whether a fish is fresh or not. Rodney stresses on the fact that his success in the industry does not only depend on him but also to reliable fishermen and other suppliers who provide him with the best produce our surrounding sea offers. “Fishermen are fundamental for our survival. The fish we enjoy during our lunch or dinner is owed to their ability to be out there in high seas irrespective of whether it is a rainy, sunny or cold day.” He also points out that his success is also thanks to his family and girlfriend’s unconditional support notwithstanding the long hours and challenges running a business entails. Rodney finally fillets my preferred choice of fish and it is time for me to leave him to other waiting customers. I must say, I was positively impressed with Rodney’s story and above all his commitment to deliver a quality product and service to each client that stepped into his outlet. The place is definitely worth another visit in the very near future.
INGREDIENTS 1 kg sea bass gutted, leaving the scales on Dilberto Olive Oil 1 kg rock salt 3 egg whites 100g flour 50ml water 4 local king prawns 1 /4 cup dry white wine Freshly chopped parsley
Matthew Schembri Lovage Bistro
METHOD Preheat oven at 200°C. Combine together salt, egg white, flour and water. In a baking dish place the sea bass, and cover with the salt mixture, ensuring fish is well covered. Bake for 30 minutes until crust is golden. Heat oil in a frying pan, add the king prawns, wine and the freshly chopped parsley. Remove salt crust from the sea bass, place on serving dish and drizzle with Diliberto olive oil.
December 2017 109
In Pursuit of Excellence W Interview with
Executive Chef at the Phoenicia, Malta
110 December 2017
e all have that special place at home or elsewhere we enjoy being in. For Chef Daniel Debattista, the kitchen is that place he is most connected to. He was always fascinated by the activity in kitchens. From a young age, he roamed around his motherâ€™s, amazed at her daily home-cooked dishes. It was here that he got the passion and inspiration to follow his dreams in the culinary world. During his culinary journey lived the kitchen experience of leading local and foreign eateries including The Lanesborough, Andrew Fairlie at Gleneagles, Le Gavroche, Mirabelle and La Pergola which helped him develop in one of the major exponents of the local food industry. Daniel shared with us his childhood experience in his motherâ€™s kitchen and took us through his career in the food industry .
In what way has your mother’s home kitchen attracted you to the culinary world? From a very young age I was always attracted to the colours, sounds and smell of food. It all started whilst watching my mum washing, peeling, cutting and chopping vegetables to prepare typical home dishes like ‘brodu’. I was always impressed how the blend of carrots, courgettes, onions, potatoes, celery chopped up evenly and cooked gently into this typical broth with chicken offal’s or beef bones would create such an amazing taste and smell. Your first taste of the high standards demanded by the culinary world was at Christopher’s restaurant in Ta’ Xbiex. In what way has such experience provided you with the necessary tools for your subsequent career in the food industry? At the age of eighteen, I walked into this grand restaurant Christopher’s. Little did I know that the place would play a fundamental role in my career. I was lucky enough to learn from the best. Chef patron, Christopher had built a strong team around him which earned the place a reputation for high quality food and service. During my time at Christopher’s, I was lucky enough to also work with Chef Victor Borg who taught me the high standards required by haute cuisine. I was also taught the fundamental principles to become a chef. I learnt the right attitude required in the kitchen, which includes discipline, persistence and respect. Sacrifice and late hours soon also became a daily routine. Your curriculum includes experience in several leading international eatery outlets such as The Lanesborough in Hyde park, Le Gavroche, Mirabelle and Rome La Pergola. How has such exposure helped you develop further your culinary skills? Learning is an ongoing process. Different chefs and eateries adopt different food styles and food philosophy which reflect the chef’s background and the restaurants location. This helps a chef expose himself to new realities and confront his style with others. It is a must for any chef to visit established restaurants where great chefs spend their time in their kitchens coaching their team and often enough only good habits one can learn and see. That is the only way a chef can grow and develop his very own imprint in the kitchen.
Who are your food heroes that most inspire you, and why? Michel Roux and his family. They inspired and educated so many great chefs. The place is a school. Marco Pierre White. He is simply a legend! Andrew Fairlie. He gave me the opportunity to work in his kitchen where I learnt his food philosophy You have worked both in restaurants as well as leading hotels. In what way does the kitchen environment in both settings differ? In a restaurant the process is more direct. There is a specific menu with minor variations and the diner is the main focus Moreover, in most cases you have the same team on shift that have the same days off. On the other hand, hotel operation is more multitask and necessitate the operational, banqueting and staffing overview of multiple restaurants. Moreover, one must also consider other departments which need to be synchronised to deliver guest experiences. How would you define your style of leadership in the kitchen? I like to be fair and try to make the work place our second home! I am a strong believer in team efforts. Empowering and motivating people helps the development of staff members. I also believe that discipline and mutual respect is essential. Do you follow any Christmas rituals? Not much. I just take advantage of whenever I manage to have a day off! In what way does the festive season have an impact on your mood in the kitchen? Generally I am a positive person, and during the festive season I am quite the same. Is there any ingredient you would not do without in your kitchen during the festive season? I try to follow seasonal ingredients as much as possible throughout the year and during these times I would be looking forward to game, chestnuts and what I call Christmas spices. What do you expect from the New Year both from a professional and personal point of view? I do not expect or believe in any New Year resolutions. I do my best on a daily basis both at home and at work. I believe if one does good things, good things will follow!
December 2017 111
Point of View Interview with
Nicolaj Christiansen T Executive Chef, Tree Top
he Danish food industry is associated by many with Rene Rendzepiâ€™s Noma restaurant. However, the Danish culinary industry offers more. Hidden in the cold streets of Denmark, lie other gems which highlight local talent and the beauty of genuine Danish fresh produce. Whilst browsing through some food blogs, I was impressed with the work of a young Danish chef, Nicolaj Christiansen. Irrespective of whether the main ingredient is an oyster, a cucumber or a fine cut of meat, his work gives a different dimension to food and exalts the artistic beauty hidden in every product. His work is a game of colours, smoke effect and detail which makes him one of the best food talents in Denmark. Nicolaj took some time to discuss with us his journey in the food industry, his relationship with local produce and how Christmas fits into his agenda.
112 December 2017
Who are the inspirational figures you look up to in the food industry? One of my favourite chefs in the world is definitely René Redzepi with his very innovative approach to the kitchen. He is one of the greatest chefs in Denmark and has helped me a lot in my journey through the gastronomic world. Is there any signature dish that exalts your Danish roots as well as your very own character? At the restaurant we serve a particular dish with cucumber, beluga caviar and walnut. It was one of my first dishes I developed when I became a head chef at Tree Top. It is a very distinct dish which amazes our clients in view of its presentation where the main feature is cucumber with a smoke effect which gives a unique wow effect to the plate. The cucumbers are sourced from farmers who specifically focus Danish organic vegetables. How does the Christiansen family Christmas food table look like? Our Christmas table is predominantly focused on traditional Danish food. I spend most of the day in the kitchen preparing food. In view of my culinary background, it is taken for granted that I handle all the cooking. Christmas food generally includes normal potatoes and caramelized potatoes. We also eat duck which is cooked over the grill as well as roast pork cooked in the oven. Meats are accompanied by sauces. Side dishes include red cabbage and chips. This year though, I will celebrate
Christmas with my girlfriend’s family. Hopefully, this time round, I will not be that much in the kitchen. How do you spend the time of the year? Time with my family is generally limited in view of the workload during this busy time of the year. Our free time is more limited this year with the launch of our new menu. Staff in the kitchen is all busy learning the new dishes. Moreover, this year we just got a new menu, so we are really busy learning the new dishes. Notwithstanding my busy agenda, I love this time of the year and enjoy watching families dining together. Luckily, the restaurant is closed between Christmas eve and New Years’ Eve which gives me a much needed rest to charge myself for the coming year. What projects do you have in the pipeline for the coming year? My main goal is to achieve my very first Michelin star. I am aware of its commitment which will include a lot of hard work, long hours and a big doze of creativity. I am also aware that my competitors are tough, but I am too.
December 2017 113
meets Creativity Interview with
Owner of Campo d'oro
n the southwestern town of Sciacca lies a food manufacturing company which brings together the beauty of Sicilian food traditions, genuine raw ingredients extracted from the fertile southern Italian lands, and the efficiency and high quality standards guaranteed by state of the art machinery. The final product is a total reinterpretation of what we generally associate with preserves. Every jar is a work of art which evokes the love and respect the company has towards fresh produce extracted from Sicilian lands. It is with no surprise that the brand is so sought after across the globe. We had the opportunity to discuss with Paolo Licata, owner of Campo d’oro the company’s three decade story, the secrets of his success and his future plans for the company. How did it all start and how did it develop? For more than three decades, Campo d’Oro has been producing a vast range of gastronomic products, keeping alive my family tradition that is committed to producing high quality food preserves. The company evolved when I decided to continue my long standing family legacy passed on to me by my late father, a producer of a small line of locally sold foods in central Sicily and make his dream a reality. Initially, we started with fish based products yet later expanded our production line in a way to provide the market with a wide variety of authentic Sicilian foodstuff that integrates local agriculture and the fruit and vegetables of the land. Moreover, production was at first limited to only a few products but with progressive yet sustainable growth, the company has been able to develop and considerably ex114 December 2017
properties. The vacuum technology also allows the recollection of otherwise lost aromas which are an added benefit to our preserves. When the cooking is complete, it is then time for the automated product jarring and tunnel pasteurization. This procedure guarantees to our products their preservation time and shelf life of three years from the time of production. Each jar after being marked with the printing of the name or lot number and expiry date, is stocked in pallets ready for pick up. The process offers us the possibility to ensure consistency in the high quality offered on the market.
pand their selection to over 150 different products from antipasti, tomato and pesto sauces, paté and condiments featuring fresh seafood, marmalades and jams, sweet creams and spreads, and extra virgin olive oil. In order to satisfy the needs of our most valued customers, the production range has now been subdivided in to four different lines: Villa Reale, Villa Reale Supreme and Paolo Licata brand labels. The company stresses on the fact that tradition is your inspiration. Can you elaborate on such statement? Our brand is driven by a strong attention towards Sicily’s longstanding food traditions. In order to guarantee the product’s authenticity and quality, all the raw materials are processed with artisan methods directly after the harvest. By the term “Artisan” we mean the methodology employed when using only the freshest ingredients which are quickly processed and packaged by modern machinery without the use of chemical additives and colourings. There is also an emphasis by the company on the production cycle. Can you elaborate further? Just after the harvest the raw materials are selected, sorted, washed and prepared. These ingredients are transformed depending on the process requirements of the recipe that is being worked on. Then various steps are followed indicating the dosage, mincing or the addition of other ingredients. Our processing method uses modern machinery which allows the ingredients to be cooked at low temperatures to ensure they maintain all their organoleptic and vitamin
How does your packaging help the product stand out of the crowd? Packaging is of the highest importance for gastronomic products of this nature, as it is external and visible image that not only promotes the brand, making it recognisable but it gives the clientele their first peep inside the product. Our packaging also reinforces our capacity to preserve the taste and freshness of every product and capture the typical tastes and colours hidden in traditional Sicilian food traditions. Moreover, the use of glass for our product range reflects our desire to use recyclable materials which are directly reusable by consumers. The company also heavily invests in corporate social responsibility. Can you tell us more about your CSR commitment? Growth and market consolidation are not our only objectives. We also look at other aspects. Indeed the company heavily invests in initiatives aimed at supporting the environment we operate in. We are also actively involved in initiatives aimed at promoting social well-being. As a matter of fact, every year Campo d’ Oro dedicates part of its sales proceeds to specific humanitarian projects. What are the company’s future plans? The positive results achieved over the past years induce us to expand further our product range. We also seek to expand further the brand on the international market. The international market has been very receptive to our brand which encourages us to invest further in business development. It is imperative though that our planned product and market growth will be supported by further investment in quality control in line with international standards.
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Goat Cheese Mousse with Pesto alla trapanese con aglio rosso di nubia
Ryan Marmara Executive Chef at Villa Arrigo Boutique Events
Pan roasted pork belly, pesto polenta, goat cheese mousse infused
with ‘Pesto alla Trapanese con Aglio Rosso di Nubia’ Polenta:
4 hours in the fridge. When well set, shape and spread the pesto on top. Set aside until needed.
1l water 250g polenta 60g butter 75g parmesan cheese 50g Villa Reale Pesto alla Trapanese con Aglio Rosso di Nubia
Cook the polenta for 25mins then add the butter and parmesan cheese and continue cooking for 2 minutes until well melted and incorporated. Pour in a container and press well. Let it set for about
Cook the pork belly overnight at 90°C in the oil ‘confit’. Remove from the liquid and press it for 2 days then cut in small portions. In a hot pan, cook the skin until crispy.
116 December 2017
INGREDIENTS 1.5kg pork belly 5ltrs corn oil
240g goat cheese 500g double uht cream 2 sheet gelatine 1 shallot 1 bay leaf 1 clove garlic 3 cloves 1 spring thyme 2 dsp white truffle oil
METHOD Soak the gelatine in water. Meanwhile place cream, shallot, bay leaf, garlic, thyme, and cloves in a pan. Bring them to a boil and simmer to 4 mins. Sieve the mixture and add goat cheese heat gently whilst stirring until goat cheese is completely melted. Add gelatine together with pesto and whisk. Whisk in too the truffle oil. Once ready, mould in cylinder moulds
To assemble the dish you require the following: Pumpkin seed oil Tomato powder Roasted mushrooms Grilled leeks Asparagus tips Micro greens Sage snow
Ricotta Chocolate Christmas Bauble
Byron Saliba Executive Pastry Chef at Villa Arrigo Boutique Events
with Mango Confit and Sweet Vanilla Dough Coconut Biscuit
INGREDIENTS 75g Egg whites 75g Caster sugar 30g Whole eggs 60g Egg yolks 25g Flour 25g Coconut 15g Soft butter
METHOD In a mixing bowl equipped with a paddle, whisk the egg whites and caster sugar. Add the egg yolks, the whole eggs then the coconut and flour mixture. Sweet Vanilla Dough
INGREDIENTS 120g Flour 80g Butter 50g Icing sugar 15g Ground almonds purée 25g Whole eggs Vanilla essence
METHOD Blend in mixer the flour and butter until the mixture is crumbly. Stir the icing sugar, ground almonds,
eggs and the vanilla essence. Mix the dough and spread the dough (about 3mm thick) between papers. Refrigerate and cut round shapes of 4cm diameter.
75g Egg whites 150g Whipped cream
125g Mango purée 60g Passion fruit purée 30g Inverted sugar 50g Caster sugar 4g Pectin
Prepare a sabayon by beating the egg yolks, water, milk powder and glucose at 85 degrees together in a stainless bowl over a pan of simmering water. When the mixture thickens add the ricotta. Stir the gelatine leaves. Whip the cream and fold everything together. Red Glaze
Heat and melt both purées and the inverted sugar in a saucepan. Add the sugar and pectin mixture. Bring to boil. Pour into a circular ring diameter of 4cm. Set in the freezer. Ricotta & Chocolate Mousse
50g Water 150g Caster sugar 100g Condensed milk 10g Powdered gelatine 200 bloom 150g Glucose syrup 120g Water 150g White chocolate 5g Red food colour
30g Yolks 30g Water 12g Powdered milk 8g Glucose 2 Gelatine leaves 150g Villa Reale Dolcezza Ricotta e Cioccolato
Hydrate the gelatine with the 50g water. Bring the water sugar and glucose to boil. Pour onto the chocolate. Add the condensed milk and the gelatine. Blend very well together with the colour. Apply at 35 degrees Celsius. Plate the ingredients.
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photos by Alan Saliba
INGREDIENTS 1 Cup Arborio Rice 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil 1 Finely Diced Shallot 1 Clove Garlic Finely Chopped 50mls White Wine 200mls Vegetable Stock 50grm Diced Pancetta 100grm Diced Pumpkin 20grm Butter Unsalted Shaved Parmesan Cheese Salt and Pepper Sprig Fresh Thyme
Pumpkin and Pancetta Risotto
Heat olive oil and a touch of butter in a non stick frying pan. Add the chopped shallot, garlic and lightly fry until translucent. Add the pancetta and fry until fat renders from it. Stir in the pumpkin and thyme, cook until soft and add the rice. Stir until rice granules are all coated in the mix. Blend in the wine and vegetable stock and bring to a slow simmer, cook until liquid is all absorbed and the rice is tender. Stir in the butter and season to taste. Serve with freshly shaved Parmesan.
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INGREDIENTS PANCAKE 100grm Sifted Flour 100mls Milk 50grm Melted Butter 2 Whole Eggs Vegetable Oil Finely Chopped Dill Seasoning Smoked Salmon Filling 4 Slices Smoked Salmon 1 Thinly Sliced Cucumber 100grms Cream Cheese Juice of 1 Lime 50grm Chopped Parsley Salt and Pepper to Season
METHOD Sift flour into mixing bowl, add eggs, milk, butter and a touch of oil, using a whisk blend well until it has a very smooth consistency. Add the chopped dill and seasoning. Heat a non-stick pan and add vegetable oil just enough to cover the surface (a greased paper towel works well to do this) add the batter mix and tilt pan until an even coat is applied. After a few seconds turn pan cake over with a spatula, cook for a few more seconds and remove from pan. Continue cooking until you have used all the batter. Whip the cream cheese with the juice of 1 lime and spoon on the pancakes , fill with remaining ingredients and roll to form a roulade. Serve with your favourite salad.
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Smoked Salmon and Dill Pancake
Chicken Breast Filled with Chorizo and Camembert INGREDIENTS
4 whole Chicken Breasts 1 Camembert Cheese Chopped Parsley Finely Chopped Chorizo 1 egg 100grm Chicken Mince Chives Salt and Pepper for Seasoning and Touch of Paprika
Using a sharp knife to make an incision in the sides of the chicken breasts. Carefully form a pocket in each breast. Mix all the ingredients except for the Camembert cheese. Cut the cheese in small cubes, divide in 4 equal portions and stuff inside chicken breasts. Using a piping bag or spoon, fill each chicken breast with the mix. In a large non stick frying pan, lightly fry chicken breasts until golden brown. Remove and place chicken breasts in a baking dish and bake in oven mark 180 degrees for 15 minutes. Serve with your favourite vegetables and potatoes.
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A Sweet Tooth for Christmas Interview with
Chef Byron Saliba
t is commonly agreed by all that a Christmas meal must always conclude with a good sweet taste. However, desserts can turn out to be a pretty challenging matter. We all leave some room for a sweet bite yet the challenge lies in our ability to determine the best compromise between not too little and not too much. No one better than Chef Byron Saliba can help us out on such a challenge. Chef Byron took some time to guide us on what to choose for dessert this Christmas.
nitely love to use the Ceylon Cinnamon. Notwithstanding the fact that cinnamon is available throughout the year the fragrant sweet and warm taste of cinnamon is a perfect spice to use. What is crucial when preparing Christmas sweets? The most crucial is to buy your main ingredients well ahead.
What would you recommend for dessert on Christmas day? I recommend a truly rich moist Christmas pudding with luxurious winter spices and a good mix of aroma. Ideally the pudding is soaked with dried fruit and a good brandy sauce that blends into it. That will definitely be a good dessert to entertain your guests and seal the deal for Christmas Cheer.
Neither too simple nor too complicated. How do you find the right balance when preparing Christmas sweets? Christmas is full of rich desserts. A good preparation and a good follow up on the recipe to avoid mistakes are fundamental. I believe it is important to give that Christmas aroma to your desserts by using luxurious spices and fragrances that can be obtained during this time of year. A good balance of alcohol into the desserts is also essential.
Is there any ingredient you would consider as fundamental for any preparation of sweets during this time of the year? This time of the year is very joyful due to the fact that there are a lot of lovely spices involved in preparation. I defi-
What message should a Christmas dessert convey? The message is simply a good dessert prepared with love and passion with its richness and taste that brings everyone together and put smiles on the faces.Â
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A weet Perspective
Pastry Chef, The Food Factory
t is amazing how our childhood environment often determines the steps we take at a later stage in our life. Indeed, Chef Caruana’s passion for the food industry developed at a very young age when he used to spend his time in the busy passageways of the kitchen where his father served as a chef. He was always amazed by the big pots and pans around him and the busy environment a restaurant kitchen offers. As he grew older, he developed a sweet tooth which encouraged him to take pastry as his main profession. After several years entertaining clients in various local and foreign eateries, Ronnie is now at the helm of the pastry section at James Caterers. Ronnie took some time to take us through his career in the food industry and his vision for James Caterers. How has your childhood exposure to the food industry influenced your career path? My father was a chef in a restaurant and I have fond memories of my childhood with him, observing and learning the tricks of the trade. I used to eagerly join my father at work to observe every movement in the kitchen. My time spent with my father, had a very strong influence on my choice of career. As I grew up I touched most aspects of the food industry but my main interest was pastry.
How would you define your style and approach in the kitchen? I tend to consider myself as very eclectic person and loyal to classic creations. Nevertheless, I do keep an eye on current trends to be included in my work. I do focus on the taste element as well as the visual aspect. I am often defined by others as a perfectionist with a maniacal focus on detail. Your curriculum includes extensive training in several countries including Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg and the UK. In what way has such international exposure helped you develop further your pastry skills? Travelling abroad helped me develop both from a personal and a professional point of view. Every country I visited and worked in helped me develop my own style and imprint. In Switzerland and Belgium I was exposed and trained in the creation and use of chocolate, in places such as the Gstaad Palace in Switzerland and Darcy Pastisserie in Belgium. In the United Kingdom I worked with Paul Gayler who in the 1999 featured in the Discovery Channel’s Great Chefs of the World television series. I also worked in Michelin Star Restaurants and luxury hotels such as The Lanesborough and the Claridges. Working abroad exposes you to different styles, skills,
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RONNIE CARUANA tastes and methods. I believe it is essential for anyone aspiring to grow in the food industry. Meeting different people opens a window onto a new world. It offers the opportunity to show how the same ingredients are created and developed differently due to cultural differences. This experience also exposed me to a very high level of pastry creations and a very wide range of quality levels within my chosen field. At the age of 22, your career experienced a dramatic leap forward when you were appointed as pastry chef for a leading four-star hotel. How has such role helped you grow further and change your perspective of the pastry industry? Being thrown in the deep end at such a young age and with no experience gives you a reality check and it is one of those things which can either make you or break you. Having no experience whatsoever in such a big role helped me develop my character. This experience was my first exposure to management and leadership. I had to lead a team of people who were older and more experienced than me. This is not always easy especially in a field where experience is very highly valued. This appointment helped me grow up both personally and professionally and looking back I feel that this experience matured me and prepared me to take even bigger roles later in my career. Such a role showed me how much more I need to learn. It gave me a huge push to continue learning and improving. The role also exposed me to large production demands. You reckon that one of your major professional achievements was your silver medal at the Culinary Olympics held in October 2004, in Erfurt, Germany. Can you tell us more about such achievement and why does it still hold a special place in your curriculum? I spent fifteen years as the pastry chef of the national team. Such participation offered me the possibility to win several prestigious awards including gold at Hotelympia in London and Scothot in Scotland. I have also won the silver medal at the Culinary World Cup in Luxembourg. The Culinary Olympics organised by the World Association of Chefs Societies are comparable to the World Cup of football organised by FIFA. Achieving a silver medal in this event has been one of the main highlights of my professional career.
Why did you accept the challenge offered to you by James Caterers? The Food Factory project by James Caterers is unique on a number of levels. The project includes a private label facility. The sheer scale of the project provides an opportunity to work on some very large productions which present a very interesting challenge in that one has to balance the quality and finesse of the product together with its adaptability to produce on a large scale. To a certain extent this is a similar challenge to the one I was offered at an earlier stage in my career. The Food Factory project is unique and I am really happy to have this opportunity to explore a completely new world to the one which I am accustomed to. In addition to the above I was also given the opportunity to create my own project and through a partnership with the Company we have created RC Cakes. This is a new Company specialising in the development, manufacturing and sales of cakes and pastry products. In addition to that we have also opened our first cake shop under the brand name Lellas which is situated in San Gwann. RC Cakes and Lellas are my first attempt in business and I am grateful that I have this fantastic opportunity to learn and explore yet another area of business to which I was not previously exposed. What novelties should we expect from James Caterers? I am part of The Food Factory team not of James Caterers and James Caterers is a client of ours just like many other clients, some of whom are direct competitors of James Caterers. It seems confusing at first but as I said before this is a very interesting concept through which the company has opened its manufacturing facilities and capabilities to everyone who wishes to grow in the food manufacturing industry. My arrival at The Food Factory highlights the company’s wish to continue developing and improving its product portfolio. Together with the team at The Food Factory we are working hard to create a new range of products which are sellable both on the local and international markets. Going forward our clients should expect a range of new products together with an update of our existing product range. We are looking at an interesting schedule of product launches and having new products which are both classical but at the same time we are planning to be quite experimental and innovative in our bid to push the envelope further.
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Interview with Culinary Artist, Chef
hocolate has a particular reaction on the mind of Chef Chris Zammit. It teases his imagination and pushes his creativity to another level. His work is impressive and works on a very fine line which distinguishes real from surreal. His work is impressive and makes you wonder how a block of chocolate can turn into a little piece of art. Indeed, under the talented hands of Chris Zammit chocolate is transformed into an artistic beauty which represents a flower, a portrait or a superhero. Whilst carving through his latest work of art, Chef Chris Zammit shared with us his interpretation of culinary art and what lies behind his intimate relationship with chocolate. 128 December 2017
What attracted you to the world of pastry? Early in my scholastic life, I realized that a purely academic future was not that attractive to me and I felt I needed to do something challenging and at the same time rewarding. I got hooked on pastry when I enrolled at the newly opened Technological School and had my first contact with this ‘art’. From there, I moved on to ITS where I studied under Mr Andrew Farrugia, who opened up for me a whole new world. My attraction to pastry stems from the fact that there is no limit to one’s creativity and mediums to work with. What encouraged you to pack your bags and move to the UK? Due to the size of the Island and the limitation it imposes, I was finding it difficult to expand my horizons. Most of the chefs in the top hotels and restaurants tend to remain in position for a considerable number of years limiting the possibilities for juniors to work their way up. So, 10 years ago, I decided to pack my bags and move to the UK. The fact that my girlfriend’s family also lived in the UK, made that step much easier for me. You had the opportunity to study chocolate techniques under the supervision of international masters in the industry such as Martin Chiffers and Ruth Hinks. In what way have they helped you develop further your talent? It is thanks to them that I started off on the right footing. When I moved to the UK, I was still very much in love with pastillage and miniatures. But then I also developed an interest in butter sculptures, which in turn kindled in me a fascination for chocolate and chocolate showpieces. I was lucky enough to attend my first course with Martin and Ruth. Being people of such high stature in the industry, they shared their wide knowledge and expertise and instilled in me a passion for anything chocolate. From what do you draw much of your inspiration in the kitchen? Chocolate is such a versatile medium that it can be moulded into the most imaginative of ideas. For the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie, we got the idea for the showpiece from Marvel Comics. For the UK Pastry Open, I
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CHRIS ZAMMIT was stimulated by Disney’s Aladdin. Nature tends to play a huge part in my inspirations as a chocolate showpiece will, most of the time, be adorned with birds, butterflies, flo wers and greenery in season. What is your interpretation of the term, culinary artist? Culinary Art is not simply about the cooking of food but has more to do with the preparation and presentation of the finished dish or showpiece whichever the case might be. In my case, the culinary artist is capable of creating chocolate masterpieces unshackled by the concept of weight, size or shape, limited only by the constraints of his imagination. Marcus Samuelsson once stated that “Chocolate is one of the world’s most beloved discoveries”. What makes chocolate such a special ingredient? Maybe Regina Brett could answer that question ‘when it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile’. Chocolate has been around as early as 1500. In 1847, milk was introduced to it and milk chocolate was created. There are various explanations why we crave it so much, but it is generally accepted that the chemical component of the cocoa bean stimulates the brain’s pleasure centres. Whatever the reason, Marcus continues by saying, ‘when we need a quick boost of energy and endorphins, chocolate is the go-to treat’. You have recently formed part of Team UK at the Coupe du Monde de la Patisserie earning a spot in the world’s top 5 with your chocolate showpiece. In what way does chocolate exalt your artistic flair? As a young boy, I was always good with my hands, especially at dismantling things…and putting them back together again was not always successful! When I started working with fat and butter, I found my fulfilment in carving, etching and building up the showpiece. But working with fat is a straight forward act of carving a block. Working with chocolate involves the use of moulding techniques, casting, carving, modelling, colouring and polishing. Once one masters the basic techniques, the possibilities for creating a showpiece are endless. 130 December 2017
Once one masters the basic techniques, the possibilities for creating a showpiece are endless.
What does the festive season means to you? Christmas has always held a special meaning for me as a young boy. The smell of baking, the Christmas decorations and the rush to open the presents, Father Christmas left for us by the fireplace, are all fond memories I would like to pass on to my young daughter. Unfortunately, it is not always possible for all the family to meet over the festive period but we make sure that we have some members of the family over in the UK. How do you express Christmas in your work? When I am preparing a showpiece or giving lectures at Catering Colleges here in the UK, I always try to adapt the project to reflect the season. So obviously, the winter season being all about Christmas, this tends to reflect in my work.
What are your plans for the coming year? I am presently in mid preparation for the initiation of a chocolate showpiece course in Malta in January 2018, in collaboration with a local company. I tend to make this a regular thing. I am also presently in discussion with a UK catering college where I have been asked to take a class teaching chocolate techniques. Meantime, I am in consultation with a UK company for the creation of chocolate items to complement their range of ice-cream and ice-cream products. On the side, I will be spending time practising for my future participation in the UK Chocolate Masters, hopefully in 2021.
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Land Ahoy The Black Pearl is Back in Port! The Black Pearl has recently been taken under the management of Ferretti and Haywharf. 132 December 2017
erched on land at the edge of the Msida Yacht Marina, overlooking the Marsamxetto harbour lies the Black Pearl. The 100 year old wooden schooner has recently been taken over by Ferretti Catering Ltd. After successfully managing key local establishments including Ferretti restaurant in Birÿebbuæa, Haywharf restaurant in Floriana and the Exiles Beach Club in Sliema, the company felt it was the right time to invest its energies in the legendary Black Pearl. The Ferretti management has developed a new concept on two separate decks. On the upper deck lies an à la carte restaurant offering a seasonal menu inspired by local seasonal fresh produce. Food is complemented by the amazing interior decor which evokes the schooner’s centenary story. Weather permitting; food is also served on the adjacent terrace where guests are offered the possibility to dine and enjoy the breathtaking views the area offers. The new management will also reintroduce the famous pre-dinner aperitif by the bar at The Captain’s Cabin prior to heading at the dinner table as well as after dinner. Food is also complemented by a vast range of wines and beverages from all over the World. On the other hand, the Captain’s Cabin offers the possibility of small private and intimate receptions The Pub is housed on the lower level of the vessel and will offer all day hospitality, streaming sports, cultural recreation programmes and other scheduled events. Whilst unwinding at the pub, guests are entertained with a range of ales, lagers, stouts, ciders as well as special brews. The pub also boasts a vast range of award winning signature cocktails named after our restaurants and clubs. For those on a non alcoholic diet or who prefer a warm beverage, the pub offers a selection of non alcoholic beverages, coffees and teas. A drink rarely goes alone and thus the management made sure to include an interesting menu of quick bites, nibbles and cakes. The Black Pearl is definitely a place to try! For Reservations, Weddings, Events and any further assistance, contact us on E-mail: email@example.com FB page: https://www.facebook.com/blackpearl1909 Tel: +356 2166 1422 (08:30hrs – 17:00hrs) +356 2133 8439/+356 7933 8439 Pub Daily Opening hours: 11:00am till late Restaurant Daily Opening Hours: 12:00pm – 02:30pm and then from 06:30pm – 11:00pm
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Interview with Chef
oundaries were never a limitation to Chef Loretta Fanella. Her work is a game of culinary experiments, which go beyond the restrictions of common knowledge and the creation of something innovative and non conventional. Notwithstanding an anti conformist approach, her work conveys a strong sense of rigor, precision and order. With a small physique and blonde hair, Lorettaâ€™s sharp sky-blue eyes reflect her iron will to succeed which has over the years rewarded her with a formidable track record. Loretta is considered to be one of the major exponents of the modern pastry industry. Although her agenda is very hectic, Loretta found some time to take us through the salient achievements in her career and shared with us her experience of Christmas.
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Art has multiple facets and always starts with a desire: moving a boundary, drawing a new horizon, and speaking in other words.
As a child, you wanted to be a fashion designer. How come you had a change of heart and chose the pastry world? Yes that’s right!! My parents were not too fond of seeing me study far away from home and thus encouraged me to opt for the closest option being the Fiuggi hotel management school. In 2003 you decided to go abroad. Why did you choose Spain? I was always impressed and fascinated by the work of the Adrià brothers at El Bulli. It was always my dream to work with such great personalities. After having met Albert Adrià in Italy, I took a summer vacation to start a stage at El Bulli and after two weeks the brothers invited me to stay with them in Roses. What started as a monthly internship made me stop in Costa Brava for three years. Here I accomplished some of the most deflating culinary experiments, understanding that it is possible to overcome the limitations of common knowledge, experimenting, going beyond the normal path, creating something different, overturning the rules of the ‘moment’ dessert.
photo by Giovanni Panarotto
You had the opportunity to work in the kitchens of Ferran Adrià in Barcelona, Carlo Cracco in Milan and Giorgio Pinchiorri in Florence. How did such experiences in important kitchens help you grow further on a professional level? Yes these experiences helped me to grow a lot. They helped me develop a sense of rigor, discipline, and respect towards raw materials. They also helped me improve my skills in the kitchen and better understand the love I have for this job.
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To describe the concept of dessert, you say, “It’s not just an ice cream or a biscuit, but something more, something that has shape, substance, and soul.” Can you tell me about your reasoning? Precisely! A cookie next to an ice cream gives a different shape and dimension to a plate. Every plate changes its form and character with the inclusion of key ingredients such as flowers. Why did you choose to devote yourself to the training of colleagues and professionals in the field? Training is an area I am still devoted to as it gives me the unique opportunity to share my knowledge with others who have an interest in the food industry. It is also a way for me to meet more and more people who are determined to know more about the culinary world. In 2010, you published your book, Oltre. Can you explain the theme and main purpose of the book? I wrote it in 2008, with recipes that I was already developing in 2007. It’s a rich book of avant-garde techniques that have revolutionized the way we create a dessert. I personally believe that the book was the best way to showcase 136 December 2017
LORETTA FANELLA my work and show my abilities, ideas and distinct imprint. How does Christmas inspire you in the kitchen? Christmas is a special time of the year that brings with it a special scent in the air we breathe. It is also a time of colours which lighten the sky above us and the shops and homes around us. It is also a time when every kitchen has that unique smell of yeast and baked biscuits. This unique Christmas spirit changes my mood and inspires my creativity which I transpose in the dishes I prepare during this time of the year. What sweet do you associate with the ChrisÂtmas season? I would go for torrone. Yet, I also associate with this time of the year my famous Christmas tree, a dessert I have served for several years in the shape of a Christmas tree and decorated with coloured balls.
photos by Martino Dini
Can you describe your famous dessert, the Christmas tree? It consists of a red berry cream, a pistachio mousse, a soft biscuit with passion fruit and two almond crispy waffles. What are your plans for next year? I do not generally plan anything. I prefer to leave it in the safe hands of destiny to dictate the next steps to be taken.
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rosemary, season and slowly bring to a simmer for 15 minutes. Leave to cool.
Peppered Tuna with Nicoise Salad and Black Olive Dressing WHEN CHOOSING TUNA STEAKS, ALWAYS BUY ONES THAT ARE DEEP RED AND AREN’T TURNING BROWN AT THE EDGES
FOR THE DRESSING
8 cherry tomatoes on the vine stems attached 300ml olive oil plus extra for drizzling 1 garlic clove sprig of fresh rosemary Salt and freshly ground black pepper 4 quail eggs 4 new potatoes 100gr green beans, topped but leaving the tail 3 tbs vinaigrette 200gr fresh tuna 50gr cracked pepper 8 anchovy fillets A handful of mixed salad
100gr pitted black olives 10gr capers ½ garlic clove 50ml olive oil
METHOD To make the black olive dressing, combine all the ingredients in a blender and whisk until smooth. Pour into a squeezy bottle. Set aside. Place the tomatoes with the stem still attached in a pan and cover with the oil, add the garlic and
Fill a pan with water, boil and carefully place the quail eggs. Cook for 2 1/2 minutes, remove and plunge in iced water. Place the potatoes in a pan, cover with water, season with salt and bring to a boil. Gently simmer for about 10-15 minutes or until cooked. Refresh under cold water. When cold, slice the potatoes into 1cm thick pieces and place in a bowl. Bring a pan of salted water to a boil, cook the green beans for 5-6 minutes. Remove and plunge into iced water, drain, add to the potatoes and dress with two tablespoons of vinaigrette. Season the tuna with salt, roll in the cracked pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Place on a hot griddle for 30 seconds then flip over and cook for another 30 seconds. Slice into 2cm thick pieces. To serve, draw a circle round the plate with the dressing, place two pieces of tuna on opposite sides followed by two of each ingredient. Finish the circle by rolling the anchovies and top with a half a quail egg. Dress the mixed leaves with the remaining vinaigrette and place in the centre.
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Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms 2 SERVES
1 portobello mushroom 50g pancetta cubes 20g crab meat 10g shallots 5g truffle paste 10g parmesan cheese
BEURRE BLANC INGREDIENTS 150g butter 50ml cream 50ml Vermouth 5g Lemon zest
METHOD: Cut the shallots into small cubes, add the pancetta cubes, the truffle paste and mix together. Stuff the portobello mushroom, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and put in a pre-heated oven 180°C for 10 minutes.
METHOD FOR THE BEURRE BLANC Melt the butter in a pan whisking constantly. Add the vermouth and flame it so you burn the alcohol. Remove from heat and add the cream. Whisk until you get a smooth consistency. Serve on a soup plate with the beurre blanc at the bottom and the portobello mushroom on top.
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hen one has an attack of diarrhoea one looks for the diarrhoea sachets containing the electrolytes sodium, potassium and magnesium. These diarrhoea sachets have been taken by your parents and your great grand parents, generation after generation with the purpose of replacing the electrolytes that have been lost. Studies today show that not only electrolyte salts are lost during diarrhoea but also the good bacteria that live in the intestine, better known as the flora. So sachets containing just electrolyte salts are not enough and it is a must to take sachets containing both flora and electrolytes. Sachets containing just electrolytes are old generation, whereas the new generation sachets are the sachets containing both electrolytes and the good bacteria (flora)
• helps in the digestion and absorption of food • supports our immune system • detoxifies noxious compounds • contributes to the manufacture of essential vitamins • fortifies and rebuilds the natural flora • contrasts the bad flora ALTAFLORA ELECTROLYTES will provide you not only with beneficial intestinal flora but also with electrolytes, that is • Sodium chloride • Magnesium • Potassium • Calcium ALTAFLORA ELECTROLYTES will replenish your body’s water and electroltye levels after dehydration caused by exercise, diarrhea, vomiting, intoxication or starvation. Even athletes who exercise in extreme conditions such as a three hour or more marathon risk over hydration, in other words hyponatremia, unless they consume electrolytes. ALTAFLORA ELECTROLYTES are made in France and are presented in both sachet and capsule form to replace both electrolytes and flora. Altaflora electrolytes are the new generation sachets for diarrhoea prescribed by doctors worldwide. 142 December 2017
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Your sinuses are hollow air spaces within the bones between your eyes, behind your cheekbone, and in the forehead. They produce mucus, which helps keep the inside of your nose moist. That, in turn, helps protect against dust, allergens, and pollutants. 144 December 2017
There are eight sinus cavities in total. They are paired, with one of each in the left and right side of the face. • Two sinus cavities are located in the forehead. • Two are behind each cheekbone. • Two sinus cavities are within the bones between your eyes. • Two are behind each eye. Sinusitis is an inflammation, or swelling, of the tissue lining the sinuses. Normally, sinuses are filled with air, but when sinuses become blocked and filled with fluid, germs (bacteria, viruses, and fungi) can grow and cause an infection. Conditions that can cause sinus blockage include the common cold, allergic rhinitis (swelling of the lining of the nose), acute or chronic hay-fever, nasal polyps (small growths in the lining of the nose), or a deviated septum (a shift in the nasal cavity). If you’re among the millions of people who suffer from sinus problems, you know just how miserable the symptoms can make you feel: the congestion, the facial pain, the postnasal drip. Summer often brings a bit of a relief, as the cold viruses that trigger most cases of sinusitis are less active in warm weather.
There are different types of sinusitis, including: • Acute sinusitis: A sudden onset of cold-like symptoms such as runny, stuffy nose and facial pain that does not go away after 10 to 14 days. Acute sinusitis typically lasts 4 weeks or less. • Subacute sinusitis: An inflammation lasting 4 to 8 weeks. • Chronic sinusitis: A condition characterized by sinus inflammation symptoms lasting 8 weeks or longer. • Recurrent sinusitis: Several attacks within a year. Who Gets Sinusitis? Millions of people around the world suffer from at least one episode of sinusitis each year. People who have the following conditions have a higher risk of sinusitis: • Nasal mucous membrane swelling as from a common cold • Blockage of drainage ducts • Structural differences that narrow the drainage ducts • Nasal polyps • Conditions that result in an increased risk of infection such as immune deficiencies or taking medications that suppress the immune system. In children, common environmental factors that contribute to sinusitis include allergies, illness from other children at day care or school, pacifiers, bottle drinking while lying on one's back, and smoke in the environment. In adults, the contributing factors are most frequently infections and smoking. What Are the Signs and Symptoms of ‘Acute’ Sinusitis? Some of the primary symptoms of acute sinusitis include: • Facial pain/pressure • Nasal stuffiness • Nasal discharge • Loss of smell • Cough/congestion Additional symptoms may include: • Fever • Bad breath • Fatigue • Dental pain
Dr. Z. Teebi
is a Medical Consultant with a special interest in Allergy. Hu studied and graduated from the Imperial College London (UK). firstname.lastname@example.org
Acute sinusitis may be diagnosed when a person has two or more symptoms and/or the presence of thick, green, or yellow nasal discharge. What Are the Signs and Symptoms of ‘Chronic’ Sinusitis? People with chronic sinusitis may have the following symptoms for 8 weeks or more: • Facial congestion/fullness • A nasal obstruction/blockage • Pus in the nasal cavity • Fever • Nasal discharge/discolored postnasal drainage Additional symptoms of chronic sinusitis may include: • Headaches • Bad breath • Fatigue • Dental pain How Is Sinusitis Diagnosed? To diagnose sinusitis, your doctor will review your symptoms and give you a physical examination. The exam may include the doctor feeling and pressing your sinuses for tenderness. He or she may also tap your teeth to see if you have an inflamed paranasal sinus. Other diagnostic tests to assess the potential causes for sinusitis may include a mucus culture, nasal endoscopy (see below), X-rays, CT scan of the sinuses, allergy testing to identify the possible triggers and initiate appropriate treatment.
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il Cortile I
l Cortile Complex is a charming complex offering warm hospitality and a simple approach to the Meditteranean cuisine. With a well-known owner Hermann Bonaci this complex evokes a sense of rustic comfort, with its warm design and traditional details. There are three areas to suit the mood: Il Cortile Wine & Dine, an intimate restaurant offering a warm, comfortable and elegant style decor. The atmosphere is relaxed and diners are encouraged to linger over a seasonal menu that features an artful blend of traditional Maltese classics, as well as signature specialities from international experienced Chef Adrian Zammit. Dishes range from an ‘interesting’ premium quality meat, fresh local fish, pasta and much more. Hermann's thoughtfully selected wine list features reasonably priced wines from all over the world, including some special selections. Il Cortile Wine Bar, fabulously revamped but preserving the authenticy of an internal yard, allows
you to try a variety of perfectly crafted dishes to share amongst friends with an eclectic wine list to bring the meal together nicely, and with many great bottles easy on the pocket. While the Premier Café Garden is the perfect spot to meet with friends at any time of the day over coffee, enjoy after work drinks or perfect to evening drinks and nibbles. With superfast Wi-Fi, also means you can work from our cafeteria. Complementing our nice weather there are also outside tables, perfect for a glass of wine or two, and dining. And for that special occasion or intimate dining Il Cortile Complex has a private events area, suited for a variety of occasions. Ground floor set-up is ideal for wheelchair bounds in all areas from parking to all complex. With a large parking area Il Cortile Complex surely offers no worries and hassle free parking, a perfect peace of mind.
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INGREDIENTS Duck Breast Thyme Honey
SAUCE 1 Onion chopped 100gr Dried Cranberries Port Wine 200ml Cranberry Sauce Â½ Orange segment 148 December 2017
METHOD Score the duck breast's skin, marinate in the honey and thyme, leave overnight. In a pan on medium heat, fry the duck breast's skin side down for 5 minutes. Turn it and cook for another 3 minutes. Sauce: Fry the onions. Then add the cranberries and flame with Port wine. Add the cranberry sauce and orange segment and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
This and more marks Il Cortile Complex as the perfect treat tucked away from the bustling streets, attracting guests all year round for dining, parties, events and family get togethers.
This vibrant and welcoming complex occupies a bright and airy site. Indoor or the option of outdoor dining Il Cortile Complex cannot fail to please. Open for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and late night dinner or simply for a glass of wine. The ambition behind Il Cortile Complex is to offer clients more than just a cafeteria, restaurant and wine bar.
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INGREDIENTS King Prawns 2 Garlic Cloves 1 Small Shallot 7 Cherry Tomatoes Parsley Basil 50ml White Wine Olive Oil 1 shot Pernod
METHOD ď Ž Fry the onions and garlic in olive oil. Add the king prawns, white wine, cherry tomatoes basil and parsley. Simmer for 4 minutes. Flame prawns with Pernod and serve.
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Alain James Grech
Chef Patron at The Chef's Table
152 December 2017
apoleon Hill once stated that “the way of success is the way of continuous pursuit of knowledge”. This statement could not fit better Alain James Grech’s journey in the world of food. His time spent both in local and international kitchens offered him the possibility to develop further his culinary skills and strengthen his determination to embark on his very own entrepreneurial project. Indeed, after earning a reputation as one of the leading chefs on the local scene, Alain felt it was time for him to open his very own restaurant. His new outlet, Chef’s Table seeks to create an informal environment where anyone is welcomed with amazing food in a relaxed ambience. Alain shared some time with us to take us through his experience in the world of food and what lies behind his new outlet, Chef’s Table.
What attracted you to the world of cooking? When I was 15 I got my first summer job frying chips in a Luna Park. That same summer I helped in a professional kitchen and fell in love with the smells, sounds and excitement of a kitchen. From that experience, I decided to study at the Institute of Tourism Studies and my cooking career took off. Describe your style in three words. Simplicity is key.
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Paolo Bonnici Ltd Marsa Tel: +356 21239363 www.paolobonnici.com.m t
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ALAIN JAMES GRECH
You have recently embarked on an entrepreneurial journey. What encouraged you to take such an important step in your career? After working in various well-established local and international restaurants, I felt it was the right time to start my own project. As an individual I like new challenges and now I can have a place where I can truly be myself and realize my vision. What is the concept behind The Chef’s Table? I would like to create an informal environment where people can taste amazing food in a relaxed ambience. What ingredient are you most comfortable working with? To be a chef you must be able to work with any ingredient but if I had to choose one particular ingredient I would opt for fresh seafood. How does Christmas fit into your kitchen? Christmas is a beautiful time of the year when one connects with his loved ones. What better way to enjoy the season than with good hearty comfort food, the smell of the bubbling mulled wine and the crackling sound of a beautiful roast turkey. Is there any particular dish you would associate with Christmas? I would go for a classic beef Wellington with porcini mushrooms, winter spiced chicken liver and a crispy puff pastry. How do you celebrate Christmas with your close circle of friends and loved ones? Being a chef, I don’t enjoy much of Christmas yet I always find time to get together with my family and eat my mum’s minced pies! What tops your wish list for Santa? A successful year for my business, happy customers, good health and happiness for my loved ones.
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A day in the life of a
BBA (Mngt)., Dip.M., ACWP. CCTP., Certified Wine Professional Certified Culinary Travel Professional Professional Member of the Society of Wine Educators (USA)
What do restaurant reviewers do? In a nutshell, restaurant reviewers write reviews for magazine, newspapers, blogs and even travel guides. In our job we are the ultimate connoisseurs of taste, style and cuisine quality and goodness. In Malta, although everyone thinks that being a food and restaurant critic is an easy job and many do try their hands on starting dead-end blogs on social media which only last for a few weeks at the most, there are not many professional restaurant and harder still any professional wine critics or quality reviewers. Barring a weekly column in one or two local newspapers, one can say that there is a dearth of practical knowledge on these spheres. Having said this, from an educational viewpoint, we have moved somewhat in the last few years with education in wine, restaurant management and cuisine and food management, leading to qualifications over and above those conferred by ITS. This augurs well for the knowledge base, but above all else one needs dedication, patience and respect for the food and wine professions as a whole. Simply having a love for food and wine is not enough. Running a dedicated website, “Wines and Restaurants of Malta. Com”; a very successful social media blog cum group named: “Restaurants In Malta: The Good; The Bad;
The Rip-offs” - which has well over 19,200 members all of whom can participate in the discussion forum, as well as running another two educational social media pages on wine with thousands of followers, plus the occasional participation on talk shows on television and radio, and, having this column on Delicious Magazine every season, is not any easy job at all, and financially it is neither here nor there. The first question has thus been answered in as far as my own work is concerned. What is the preparatory work and knowledge needed to be a successful restaurant reviewer and a recognised force in the restaurant industry? As a professional, the research work one has to do is great, and this includes maintaining self-study programmes to keep one’s food and wine knowledge up to date. One has to keep himself informed of all the new rules and laws emanating from the EU such as the “European Food Information for Consumers Regulation No: EU1169/2011”, which deals with dangerous al-
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lergens and the proper labelling of food. One has to have a deep knowledge of HACCP requirements that is the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points – which is a systematic preventive approach to food safety from biological, chemical and physical hazards in production processes that can cause the finished product to be unsafe, and designs measurements to reduce these risks to a safe level. General preparatory studies in business management go a long way to understand the pros and cons of running a successful restaurant business as well as courses of study through reputable study centres on wine, visits to wineries and drinking wine of every genre, grape variety, blend, from different countries, regions and terroirs; as well as reviewing over 120 restaurants a year is no mean feat. But this is what differentiates between the professional wine and restaurant reviewer and the raw amateur who tries to go into the game simply for spite or fun. If the above was not enough, six years ago, I established the WRMC organization – which is short for Wines and Restaurants of Malta. Com. The WRMC is the Restaurants Quality Recognition and Rating assessments and adjudicating organization in the Maltese Islands and is the benchmark in this sphere. The WRMC’s aims are to place Malta on the culinary map of the world, by enhancing the quality ratings of restaurants in Malta to international levels, by creating quality awareness within both restaurateurs and the dining public. The WRMC Gala dinner and Awards Ceremony is held every year, on the third Monday of January, normally at the Hilton Malta. The main WRMC Awards are the: Silver Spoon Awards of which there are only sixteen restaurants who were conferred with this award over the last six years. The assessment criteria is very high, and restaurants can lose this award if there quality consistency level drops. The Blue Riband Award conferred on the thirty, best upscale restaurants that would have been assessed during the previous twelve months from the awards date. The Special concept Award which is conferred on the top ten casual dining restaurants, assessed during the last twelve months.
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RENO SPITERI Also conferred are special individual awards to the: Top Local Chef; Top Foreign Chef; Top Front-of-house-Manager; Top Maltese Restaurateur; The Lifetime Achievement Award. These assessments and adjudications take a major part of my day’s work on a 24/7 time basis, as reviews and restaurant visits are continuous. These aspects in themselves make us an authority on restaurant quality recognition as our investment in knowledge, research and hands-on approach is second to none. What about the rest of the daily work of the wine and restaurant reviewer? The day normally starts at 07.00 in the morning. A bit of light exercise, shower and breakfast. At about 08.00, emails are checked, posts and comments that would have been posted on our social media groups and pages as well as in the website are checked, approved, moderated or even removed as necessary in accordance with our code of practice. Then follows, writing the reviews on any wines and or restaurant that would have been assessed, analysed and reviewed the previous day or so. Selecting the best food photographs that we would have taken of the food
as served during the assessment. My writings and descriptions have to be exact and imaginative, appealing to all the senses and showing how a restaurant is different from other places serving similar cuisine. Attention to décor, ambience, management attitude towards clients, waiting staff efficiency and knowledge of the food on the menu, the atmosphere within the restaurant are also to be carefully considered and assessed. Business meetings when these are needed, are scheduled for the morning and early afternoon between 11.00 and 13.00. After that it is either lunch at home, or a business or assessment lunch at a restaurant. 15.30 would once again see me checking on wine which would have been received by courier from various wineries all over the world for assessment, with a view to import such wines, to advice the wineries on quality and to publish such reviews. Our page “Wine Uncorked” was started for such an aim. Restaurant dinner review visits are normally done on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday lunch time. Degustation or as they are also called tasting menus seem to be the order of the day, with chefs wanting clients to sample a variety of their best preparations. New openings are normally left for a few weeks to settle down before we do a first visit, and would instantly know whether the places is going to be a one to six months wonder, or whether it is going last. It’s a pity but over the years we have seen numerous ambitious ventures starting but then falling by the wayside within the
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first year or much before. A phenomenon that have occurred over the last twelve months was the massive movement of Chefs from one hotel to another, from one restaurant to another, causing a certain sense of instability in some cases, but also an improvement in others. Personnel poaching is rife in the restaurant industry, and this sometimes throw our assessments astray, as a restaurant which would have already been reviewed once, twice or even three times with a view to short list it for an award, would need to start the assessments from scratch. It is not an easy life at all, and restaurant reviews can also be expensive exercises especially if they have to be repeated. Ultimately, the final review is ready to be published. It will recognize the Chef and give the restaurant more business, if the review is positive. If the restaurant is somewhat negative, indicating serious shortcomings, my normal direction in this instance is to write directly to the owners indicating what we found. If they accept our findings and constructive criticism all’s well and good. If as happens from time to time, a very naive owner or 160 December 2017
employed manager objects, then the whole world will know about it and why. This happens very occasionally as most would ask us to discuss the matter further with them so that they would improve their situation, which would pay dividends in the end. Are you and the WRMC accepted by restaurateurs in Malta and Gozo as an authority on restaurant quality ratings? The WRMC Restaurants Quality Recognition Awards Gala dinner and Awards Ceremony is always over booked, although participants who would be receiving an award are directly and individually invited. Awards are proudly displayed visibly in restaurants, and describe themselves with pride as “Silver Spoon Restaurants” or “Blue Riband Restaurants”. In as far as myself, personally, I think that there are very few owners operating top class and quality restaurants that do not know me or about me. I do hope that I am giving a good and worthwhile service to all concerned, and my dream of placing Malta on the culinary map of the world, will one day become a reality.
Gozo Time to be together
CHRISTMAS IN GOZO 2nd Dec 2017 till 7th Jan 2018 Christmas in Gozo
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Terms and conditions apply. 162 December 2017
Delicious is a quarterly magazine which looks at the latest culinary trends and developments on the local and international plane from the e...
Published on Dec 10, 2017
Delicious is a quarterly magazine which looks at the latest culinary trends and developments on the local and international plane from the e...