WELCOME – MERĦBA
We aim to share our love of food from our Maltese kitchen. One story, one recipe at a time.
Where it all started
In 2018 I was planning to celebrate the 10th anniversary since the opening of Maldonado Bistro. It was a proud milestone as my little eatery in the centre of Victoria survived its first decade. Many challenging times but also many wonderful and memorable moments.
Some people thought I was crazy to open a restaurant which was not in a prime location like a square or near the seaside. When I look back, I think they were right. So, I consider myself fortunate for where I am today.
While my background in marketing made it possible for me to navigate the tricky waters, Maldonado Bistro’s success would not have been possible without the contribution of the many people who worked in our kitchen and front-of-house. My avid love for food kept me going throughout the years. Believe me, as it easily shows in my waistline!
Forging the relationship between my marketing profession and my love for food was essential. Either being a marketeer or being a chef, you are expected to inspire with the limited resources you have available to you. Food is our medium, and nothing less than good, if not great, is expected.
From cookbook to blog
To commemorate Maldonado Bistro’s 10th anniversary, I was planning to print a cookbook. I had a plan. I still had all the menus since the first day Maldonado Bistro opened its doors. I have always enjoyed taking photos to document the many experiences we have delivered in our bistro. Our Instagram account alone is closing in on 1000 posts. Many more photos still wait dormant on the ‘cloud’ to be revisited one day. I have some recipes organised. But others scattered in notebooks, e-mails, website bookmarks and cookbooks.
The only thing I did not have was time. Time to make it happen. Running a restaurant can be very time consuming. Not only was I busy overseeing the day-to-day of Maldonado Bistro, but I was also setting up gastronomic activities in our new open kitchen space which are promoted under the umbrella of Gastro Gozo.
Covid-19 came along, and our world came to a stop. Everybody’s world came to a stop. Maldonado Bistro closed. All Gastro Gozo activities cancelled until the foreseeable future. What do we do with ourselves? How do we utilise the free time that has been ‘gifted’ to us? How do we rediscover our purpose in the scheme of things?
The belly rules the mind.Spanish PRoverb
We made good use of the kitchen quarantine as we found the time to revisit recipes, carry out some research, and keep our patrons engaged with our social media stories. The feedback was encouraging. Some followers asked for recipes. Others asked for tips on their home cooking adventures. And therefore, I decided to continue where I left off and instead of my cookbook project, I started up this blog.
This is not the first food blog out there. And it will certainly not be the last. But I have ample content on my desktop which I would love to share. As they say, sharing is caring. Let us express our love for food.
Therefore I see ‘A Maltese Pantry’ as an opportunity to organise and record the past, present and future endeavours of our kitchen at Maldonado Bistro. A medium which promotes sustainability and the challenges of today’s food supply chain. A space to celebrate local provenance and product. All from our humble Maltese kitchen. Our sanctuary. Our home.
I believe the cookbook will happen one day. Hopefully rather sooner than later. But at least for now, I can keep on documenting our recipes and gastronomic stories through this blog. It is all about appreciating the art of cooking and engaging with those who have a passion for food.
What is a Maltese pantry?
This is a question I ask to myself from time to time. Every time I revisit the menu at Maldonado Bistro. Every exchange I have with visitors curious about Malta and our cuisine. A questions which does not have one clear answer.
Malta has a chequered and eventful history with different conquerors keeping hold of these group of islands. From the Arabs to the Normans, from the Knights of Malta to the French, from the British to Malta’s independence. A historic legacy which is unique in the Mediterranean. But does it reflect in our food and our cooking?
Il-mistoqsija oħt il-għerf – A question is the sister of wisdomMAltese Proverb
I am driven by this curiosity and maybe that is why I wanted to set up this blog in the first place. Why did we not embrace Moorish food culture like our neighbours in Sicily and fellow Europeans on the Iberian peninsula? Do culinary bridges exist between our Christianity and those of fellow Orthodox Christians in places like Greece and Cyprus? If the Knights of Malta had access to the best of culinary talent to indulgently celebrate in their auberges in Valletta, what do we have to show for it? Can we consider the British occupation as a positive or negative contribution to our culinary tradition? Is Maltese cooking now becoming overly influenced by the culture of our Italian neighbours?
It is not our intention for recipes on this blog to be only Maltese. The Mediterranean kitchen is such a wider and exciting canvas to work with. A canvas which for some reason the Maltese kitchen did not embrace in full considering the many cultures and conquerors we have hosted throughout the ages.
For sure though, ingredients used for recipes must certainly be Mediterranean. Ingredients that are fresh and local. Recipes that respect seasonality. Ingredients which we had and are still found in our common Maltese kitchen cupboards. Or more appropriately, in a Maltese pantry.
Food, culture, people and landscape are all absolutely inseparable.Anthony Bourdain
Thank you for your interest
This blog does not aim to be the ‘know-it-all’ of Maltese cooking. The journey is still ongoing. There is a lot more to explore. Food is a vast topic. A topic to adore.
Fejn tħobb il-qalb jimxu r-riġlejn – The legs follow the heartMaltese Proverb
This blog aims to share the joys when trying new recipes. Share some of our own knowledge with other like-minded people. To educate, inform, and inspire fellow foodies.
When you bring food, people and culture together, you have the main ingredients to make true experiences and memorable moments. Therefore let us celebrate the love of food from a Maltese pantry.