This blog is dedicated to Malta - my island home. My aim is not to bore you with history but to share my thoughts and a few facts together with a photo or two. For a more in -depth background of the island please go here. The purpose of this blog is not to point out the short-comings of the island. There are plenty that do that already. My wish is to show you the beauty of an island at the cross roads of the Mediterranean, a melting pot of history; a place where fact and fiction are sometimes fused to create unique myths and legends; a country that has been conquered so many times that our culture is a mish mesh of the lands that surround us and of lands far away. I confess that my greatest desire is to make you fall in love with this tiny enchanting island.


Friday 23 July 2010

Eating at the Priory

On a breezy day last June, our wanderings took us, as they so often do, to Mdina. It was almost lunchtime when we got there so we headed towards a little cafeteria which we had never tried before. Although Mdina is dotted with enticing little restaurants, what makes this little gem extra special is its location. As perhaps its name implies, The Old Priory cafeteria is situated on the ground floor of the Carmelite Priory adjoining the Carmelite Church in Mdina.

Rabat & Mdina (37)

As we lounged on our chairs I was struck by the austere beauty of this old place. The thick white-washed walls seemed to draw my eyes right up to the vaulted, painted ceilings.

Rabat & Mdina (30)


Rabat & Mdina (29)

There is an element of peace here, surrounded by so much simplicity. I wondered how many feet had trod on the worn tiles; how many prayers had been muttered in the hushed corridors and in the lonely, bare rooms the monks slept  in - appropriately called cells. Perhaps there were some who entered the priory in the hope of escaping the outside world. Or perhaps they came seeking an inner peace. Was this their refuge or their prison?

In truth, this is a different world to the one we know so well. Sounds from the outside are muffled by the thick walls and the windows are set high up from the ground.

Rabat & Mdina (39)

The sign over the door prohibits the entry of all those outside the priest-hood beyond that point.

Rabat & Mdina (27)

Rabat & Mdina (28)

Maybe we think of these men as leading lonely lives but I also believe that many of them had fulfilling lives, steadfast in their faith until the end.

And for those that did not find what they sought in those silent corridors beyond the door? Ah, I am afraid I do not know what fate was theirs.

Rabat & Mdina (40)

 Rabat & Mdina (43)


Perhaps they too found a measure of peace and serenity or perhaps they just slowly faded away, their former lives forgotten, their sandaled feet shuffling softly in those lofty rooms until their last breath was spent.

Rabat & Mdina (36)

Rabat & Mdina (32)


As always, old places like this make me wonder what sort of life the monks used to lead. Fortunately the Carmelite Priory is now open to the public and tickets may be purchased to tour this interesting place. I am sure that, one day soon, we will make an effort to, not only eat at the priory but to also visit the rest of the monastery. On this day though, we were content to just enjoy a meal in peaceful surroundings.

Rabat & Mdina (35)

Rabat & Mdina (45)

          Rabat & Mdina (38)

Thursday 15 July 2010

When The Capers Bloom

From mid-June to early July you will see people picking the caper buds that grow on wild bushes in the countryside. If you have never eaten capers, it is very hard to describe what they taste like. When first picked from the bushes they have a bland taste but after they are pickled in brine or vinegar (or a mixture of both) they will develop a sharp, tangy taste.


Photo source 

When I was a young girl I often used to go and cut capers with my parents, but especially with my father. Even as I write this I can feel the heat of the sun drenched rocks and the silence enveloping everything – broken only by the shrill screech of some lonely cicada (some years they start their ‘singing’ early depending on how hot the weather is). The grass would be dry beneath our feet but, in the fields, we would discern the blush of peaches and plums through the leaves. It always felt good to be out there in the valleys, enjoying a glimpse of some shy lizard that happened to cross our path and delighting in the sight of butterflies and dragonflies dancing and dipping over our heads.


Photo source 

The caper buds do not last very long and soon the buds will bloom into beautiful little flowers. It is then, when the capers bloom, that the heat seems to intensify and summer hits us in full force with its fiery breath.

Howard Gardens 006

The weeks ahead are an endless mesh of scorching hot days and balmy nights as the caper flowers wither and their beauty fades. But every time I add the caper buds to our sauces or our food, their tangy, aromatic taste takes me right back to my childhood, to the parched fields and the butterflies and to the time when the capers bloom.

Howard Gardens 005  

You can go here and here for more information on capers and their use in different recipes.

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