Friday, March 26, 2010


The Azure Window

Last weekend, Friday being a holiday, my husband and I decided to join our friends for a weekend break in a farmhouse on our sister island of Gozo. We were very lucky to have such beautiful weather and my husband and another guy even had a dip in the pool. On Saturday afternoon I left my female friends tending to their babes, while our hubbies played poker beside the pool and went for a drive without any particular direction in mind. I kept driving until I reached one of the most emblematic nature reserves in the Maltese islands: Dwejra. Sun was setting soon so I took out my new camera to snap away at the beautiful views in front of me.

It was a a gentle wind that blew around me. I stood fascinated looking at this beautiful sight in front of me which has been witness to so many eons of time; where rocks, sea and sky have played together in all their majesty for longer than any of us can hope to remember. On one side there was Fungus rock which seemed suspended in a perennial timelessness of its own, a silent sentinel to the surrounding area. This islet, which rises about 60 metres above the lapping waves, has been nicknamed "Il-Gebla tal-General and "Il-Hagra tal-General" all alluding to the once presumed fungus growing on this islet. Actually, in real fact it was found to be a plant which was highly valued at the time of the Knights of St John. They discovered a number of thereapeutic powers in this plant. They found it had the ability to cure typhoid, dysentery, venereal disease, hypertension and haemorrhage. A sort of primitive baskets and pulley system was connected from the cliffs of Dwejra to this islet and the place was guarded day and night. Grandmaster Pinto ordered that trespassers found on the islet would be forced to row in the Order's galleys.

A short distance away of Fungus Rock there's the iconic Azure Window, known as iz-Zerqa in Maltese. Unfortunately, this majestic natural arch is in imminent danger of collapsing. The name Dwejra which means "little house", with its curious rock formations and spilling seas, is a magical attraction offering opportunities for swimming in the spectacular deep-sea or in the Inland Sea and the unique experience of diving in the so called "Blue-Hole" near the Azure Window.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Since broad beans are in season I thought of posting the recipe of this lovely and easy soup. This Maltese dish is sometimes confused with the North African couscous since the pasta resembles the very coarse couscous.

Ingredients (for 2 persons)

1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp tomato puree
300g fresh broad beans
50g kusksu pasta (available from all supermarkets)
700 ml of water
salt and pepper
3 tbsp olive oil

1 egg
some ricotta
2 gbejniet (Maltese cheeselets)

Fry the onion and garlic in the oil, add the tomato paste and fry a few minutes longer, then add the broad beans. These should be podded and if preferred the individual skins of the beans could also be removed. Once the onions achieve that golden colour add the water to cover and cook gently for about half an hour until the onion is cooked and the beans not quite tender. Add the kusksu and continue cooking for a further 10 minutes. Stir frequently as kusksku pasta tends to stick to the pan. Cover and turn off the heat and leaver for about 10 minuts. To make a complete meal out of this soup add an egg, fresh gbejniet (Maltese cheeselets) and even some rikotta.
Kusksu can be made with frozen beans but the final result won't be as good as the one made from fresh veggies.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Some Maltese Door Knockers

Yesterday at one of my training courses (which by the way had nothing to do with door knockers) I learnt that in the past people did not knock on doors but they used to scratch at them. I had never heard of such a thing!! I wonder how they heard anyone scratching if they were upstairs!

Anyway I thought of sharing some information about some of our old and beautiful door knockers. In Maltese they are known as il-“Habbata”. Long after the method of scratching was scrapped the 'Habbata' entered in the picture many years ago as a matter of necessity. Somehow it has survived the mechanical and electric doorbell and has become part of our street embellishment. These door knockers used to reflect the personality and taste of the house owner. They were available in numerous motifs, shapes and sizes.

Some of our old buildings throughout the Maltese Islands can boast of some exceptionally fine examples which can ultimately be described as truly works of art. Perhaps the most traditional motif in the Islands is that in the shape of a dolphin. These are still manufactured in significant quantities and much in demand albeit very costly.
The above photos with the exception of the ninth one ( taken at Valletta) were taken during one of my walks at Zabbar and Birgu.