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Maltese drinks & traditional food in Malta

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Stuart Forster provides an overview of popular Maltese drinks and traditional food in Malta. Disclosure: Some of the links below and banners are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.Malta is a popular, year-round destination. In part, that’s because of its sun-kissed landscapes and beaches, plus its rich and varied history. Arabic, Italian, French and British influences plus Mediterranean ingredients have helped shape a delectable cuisine whose dishes are often under-rated in discussions about European gastronomy.Traditional Maltese food is rich in flavour and pairs well with locally produced wine.This post looks at some of the best traditional Maltese food and drinks to try while visiting Malta and Gozo.The Sicilian influence on Maltese cuisine is evident in many dishes.Traditional food from MaltaThough by no means exhaustive, the following suggestions are well worth getting your teeth into if you enjoy trying local cuisine when travelling:Hobz biz-Zejt or Ftira biz-ZejtLooking for lunch or a light bite? Ħobż biż-Żejt and Ftira biż-Żejt are types of sandwiches served with traditional Maltese bread and olive oil. Ħobż biż-Żejt is an open sandwich while the Ftira biż-Żejt is closed.Traditionally baked in a wood-fired oven, the bread is delightful. It’s a pleasure to dip in high-quality Maltese olive oil and nibble while sipping local wine.Rubbed with garlic and topped or filled with archetypal Mediterranean ingredients such as tomatoes, olives, capers, tuna or anchovies, Ħobż biż-Żejt and Ftira biż-Żejt are ideal for providing a flavour-packed energy boost.Qassatat are an alternative to Pastizzi.PastizziPastizzi are savoury pastries reminiscent of pasties. They are the staple snack of Malta and a must-try dish if you want to return home saying that you have experienced Maltese cuisine.Filled with ricotta cheese or a type of mushy peas, pastizzi are flaky and delicious. They are ideal as a quick snack or to pack as food on the go while hiking or enjoying a beach picnic.Chicken pastizzi is an option if you want to try snacks in Malta.BigillaA popular Maltese delicacy, bigilla is a smooth and creamy bean paste traditionally made from Djerba beans, which are known locally as tic beans or Ful ta’ Girba. When made elsewhere, fava or broad beans tend to be used. Garlic, chilli, marjoram, mint and parsley combine to provide flavour.Bigilla is often served with freshly baked crusty bread. It’s a tasty dish to share while sipping drinks or browsing a menu to choose a main course.Bigilla served with Maltese olives and cheese.KapunataKapunata is a Maltese take on caponata, the Sicilian favourite that’s much like ratatouille. Featuring aubergine, peppers and tomato along with garlic, olives and capers it’s packed with flavour and plant-based goodness. It’s ideal if you are looking to try a traditional meat-free dish while visiting Malta.Lampuki pieTorta tal-Lampuki or Lampuki pie is a traditional Maltese dish featuring a meaty white fish that’s landed at local fishing ports. Encased in flaky pastry, the ingredients also include vegetables such as spinach, onion, peas and cauliflower. Lemon, mint and marjoram add flavour.Bebbux or snails are also an option if you want to sample local cuisine in Malta.Stuffat tal-FenekRabbit is a widely used ingredient in Malta.Stuffat tal-Fenek or rabbit stew is the hearty Maltese dish that embodies the island’s culinary heritage. Slow-cooked with red wine, tomatoes, garlic and herbs, you have to try Malta’s national dish at least once.Rabbit is used in several traditional Maltese dishes, including Stuffat tal-Fenek the stew regarded as the national dish of Malta. Finding dishes containing other meats, such as the roast pork shown above, is easy if eating rabbit does not appeal.Maltese dessertsKeen to try traditional desserts in Malta? Maltese almond torte (Torta tal-Lewz) is certainly a dish worth looking out for.The Sicilian influence on Malta means that a cannoli-type dessert is served in many places. Kannoli tal-Irkotta is the Maltese take on the Sicilian favourite.Fried date pastries, known as Imqaret or Mqaret, are a legacy of the Arabic influence on Malta.Imqaret, a pastry made with dates, is a legacy of the Arabic influence on Malta.Kinnie is a Maltese soft drink that can be bought in shops and cafes.Maltese drinksRemember that tired old joke; If you want to save water you should drink beer? If you are committed to sustainability, it makes sense to eat and drink local produce while travelling.Here’s a look at some of the popular drinks from Malta that are worth trying if you want to get a sense of local flavours:Kinnie Maltese drinkKinnie is a popular Maltese soft drink. Bitter-sweet, its flavour is orange with a herbal hint of wormwood. It represents a refreshing alternative to branded carbonated drinks with a far broader international presence.Sip it on the terrace of a bar or buy a bottle in one of the local shops to drink in your hotel room. It’s also available via Amazon:Maltese beerTravel around Malta and you’ll undoubtedly see the Cisk brand on canopies and crates outside of cafés and bars. Cisk Lager Beer was first brewed in 1929. Served across Malta, Cisk lager is a refreshing drink that quenches thirst, making it ideal to sip as the sun sets after a day of sightseeing.Enjoy craft beer? Look out for beers from Stretta, ales from Huskie and brews from the Gozo-based Lord Chambray brewery.Cisk Lager Beer is a popular brand of beer in Malta.Maltese wineMalta’s long history of winemaking can be traced back to the time of the Phoenicians, almost 3,000 years ago. The islands’ soil and climate are ideal for growing grape varietals including Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Moscato as well as Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon. Yet it’s wine made from the indigenous Ghirghentina and Gellweza grapes that stands out because they are rarely seen elsewhere.That’s down to the domestic consumption of Maltese wine leaving little left for export. It ranges in character from fruity whites to robust reds. Nonetheless, in recent years the quality of Maltese wines has been gaining international recognition.Visiting Maltese vineyards presents opportunities to learn more about production methods and varietals. It also brings an opportunity to sample wine and purchase a bottle or two to take home or consume while in Malta.The Delicata and Marsovin wineries were both established more than a century ago. The Ta’Mena winery, on Gozo, utilises terracotta jars to age a selection of its wines. Meanwhile, back on the main island, visiting the Ta’Betta estate can be combined with a day out in Mdina.Maltese liqueursMade with carob, Hanini is a digestive that is distilled in Malta. So too is Lumincetta, a lemon-based liqueur.Another alcoholic beverage unique to Malta is Bajtra, a drink alternative spelt as Bajtira, a liqueur distilled using the fruit of prickly pears. Prickly pears can be seen blooming with red flowers in the springtime. The sweet fruit becomes available in the summer and can be bought from markets around the islands.Prickly pears are used to make Bajtra liqueur, a popular alcoholic drink in Malta.Maltese food and drinkJust as strolling the streets of Valletta, Mdina and Victoria are part of getting to know Malta and Gozo, trying traditional Maltese food and drink is a key element of the experience.Got a favourite dish that I haven’t mentioned? Feel free to outline what it is in the comments field below.Pasta dishes show the Italian influence on food in Malta.Books about MaltaPlanning a trip to Malta? You can buy the following books from Amazon by clicking on the links or cover photos:Malta: Mediterranean Recipes From The Islands by Simon Bajada: 111 Places in Malta That You Shouldn’t Miss by Fabrizio Ardito: DK Eyewitness Top 10 Malta and Gozo pocket travel guide: The Mini Rough Guide to Malta: Travel to MaltaAir Malta, British Airways, easyJet and Jet2 are among the airlines operating direct flights between airports in the United Kingdom and Malta.Map of MaltaZoom into the map of Malta below to see more detail:Google Map of Malta. Travel in MaltaLocal taxis are one way of reaching places to eat and drink in Malta. Alternatively, download the Uber app to book rides in Malta and Gozo.The comprehensive bus network in Malta and the island nation’s compact size combine to ensure that it’s viable to get around using public transport. Visit the Malta Public Transport to plan journeys and find ticketing information.Visit the UK Government for travel advice relating to Malta.Hotels in MaltaSearch for accommodation in Malta and Gozo via Booking.com:Booking.comA ricotta-filled pastizzi from a bakery in Valletta is an ideal way of trying traditional food in Malta.Further informationSee the Visit Malta and Visit Gozo websites for more information about Maltese food and drink and ideas about things to do in Malta and neighbouring Gozo.Stuart Forster, the author of this post, is an award-winning travel writer. His work has been published by Selling Travel, Northern Insight and Trip Reporter.Photos illustrating this post are by Why Eye Photography.Thank you for visiting Go Eat Do and reading this post providing an overview of popular Maltese drinks and traditional food in Malta. 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