Monthly Archives: May 2012
Dinner on Saturday night was fabulous!! We went to a restaurant called La Mere which serves Arabian, Indian, Mediterranean, and Maltese food. I wanted to try Arabian as I’d never had it before. I had this amazing dish called Shwarma Dajaj – chicken marinated in lemon, paprika, and Arabian spices. I loved it! And the salad had broken up toasted pita in it and was very tangy. With hummus and potatoes. Here is the link to see the restaurant and the link for the menu – the Arabian food is at the back of the menu.
It was very cozy, only 7 tables. It would have been quite intimate except that while we were dining, 2 large tables of 8 people each came in and it got so noisy we could hardly hear each other. Tony had vindaloo which is his favorite (see picture on the left) and one of our friends had the spicy chicken, chorizo and chickpea tagine (my second choice) and the tagine that it was served in was beautiful (see picture above right). And we had a lovely Lebanese red wine, the name of which I can’t recall.
The restaurant is in Valletta, the capital of Malta, an old walled city built by the Knights after the Ottoman’s Siege of Malta in 1565. Yes, I said the Knights — like of the round table! Anyway, the Maltese liked the Ottomans even less than they did the Knights, so they fought alongside the Knights to conquer the Ottomans. After the siege, the Knights, still feeling vulnerable, built the beautiful walled city with its cobblestone streets, narrow alleyways with houses, and amazing views of the harbor and the sea and named it after the Grand Master La Vallette, the leader of the siege.
PS – look under the category “Towns” on this site to read more about Valletta.
Another big job out of the way…the car is now registered, emissions tested, local plates installed, and road tax paid. Whew. What a magilla! The road tax is really expensive – 650 euros for the year – and it increases every year until the car is 14 years old. And the term road tax is a joke – the roads here are really bad – they remind me of the roads in Connecticut which are despicable, especially considering the wealth of the area and the ridiculous real estate taxes. Every town in Connecticut was the same and if by some miracle they repaired the roads, they did it the cheap way of just adding a thin layer of tar on top of the old. Of course the following winter they would all be filled with potholes again. We used to pay over $8,000 in real estate taxes and we got zero services for that…we had well water (not city water), we had to pay for our own garbage collection, our street was always the last to be plowed in the snow, horrible roads, and you could go for a week at a time without power after a storm. And we didn’t even have any kids in the school system. Now, I am MORE than happy to pay taxes so that children can have a great education (and God knows that we need some more smart people in the US to fix some of the problems and put the country back into shape), but when you pay that much tax you should at least get SOME services! And the sales tax was high, the income tax was high, there was a car tax, etc. I am so happy to be away from that expensive life!!
At least in Malta there is a really good excuse for bad roads…the country is 7,000 years old, by then the roads start to decline. 😉
Income taxes are low here, just 15% which is great. There is the VAT tax – do you know what that is? They have it all over Europe, it’s a ‘value added tax’ and it’s like a sales tax. Visitors can get a refund of VAT taxes when they leave Europe
We’re making our way through the 72 boxes of our household goods that finally arrived last week (10 weeks it took for them to get here!). About 25 of the boxes were just one framed picture each so those aren’t too bad. Tony’s computer and photography equipment account for a few more, our dive gear took up a few boxes, my guitars of course. Christmas decorations. And then books, clothes, and different things that we’ve picked up along our travels. We’re probably about half way through. It’s not a huge rush but the boxes smell funny so I want to get them out of the house. Plus I wanted to get more organized before our cleaner comes so that was the only reason to really push on getting it done. Tony opened one box and when he emptied it out he found mouse doodie in it, ugh. Glad I didn’t open that one. The boxes weren’t in great shape…smushed corners, some openings in some of them, some crushed tops, so we were a bit nervous. So far, only one thing we found was damaged, a framed painting that had broken glass. And – that was packed by the movers – all of the boxes we packed ourselves were fine. It’s disappointing when you pay so much money to have them pack and take care of your stuff…and then the few things we had them pack were the worst packed. Obviously, somewhere along the way they weren’t taken care of, even though it took twice the amount of time to get here than they had told us. Just saying…
But, it’s over now and everything is here. Yay!
So, we were invited to a dinner that is put on once a month by a culinary school. The students do all of the cooking and the serving, and they have special wines based on different countries and wine regions. And it’s dress up so that the students can experience what it will be like when they are working.
We attended 2 weeks ago and it was magnificent.
On May 31 it’s the students’ year end presentation and we have been invited to this one as well. Check out the attached food and wine menu, what a dinner!!
And it’s only 40 euros per person. What a bargain!! 80 euros for a 6 course meal cooked by great chefs with amazing wines for each course. One euro is about $1.33 so when I tell you what something costs in euros, just add a third to get an idea of the dollar price. Since we live here now, we’re thinking about euros as though they were dollars. So now we think of 40 euros as if was $40 though in fact it is more like $50. But you get the point.
Yum yum on this menu!!
You must come and visit and experience all these cool things for yourself! As Kabir, the great mystic poet once said, “If you haven’t experienced it, it is not true.”
Click on the link below to see the menu.
Time really does fly by here! The days go by so quickly!
Here are some of the reasons why:
There is still so much for us to do here – all the different registrations we need to do, trying to get prescriptions filled, computers breaking down , buying our car (done, finally! a Land Rover), going to the importers to get that paperwork all handled (more complex than one would imagine – a huge process actually and 4 trips to their office so far, and of course the paperwork that they need for us to get our house stuff is on the boat with the house stuff), trying to find a haircutter, trying to get insurance (no success on that yet, of course they need paperwork that we don’t have) etc.
And we’ve been invited to so many things – we have been out 4 nights already last week and had company for dinner one night.
We need to food shop every 2 days because they don’t use preservatives here. Of course that means that the food tastes wonderful. But it doesn’t last very long so you can’t buy too much at one time. And you don’t get all of your stuff in one place, Malta doesn’t have the grocery superstores that we have in the States – we go to the greengrocer, the butcher, and then the regular grocery store. The regular grocery store doesn’t sell any fish so we have to then go to the far away grocery store for that.
To the chemist (pharmacy) for that kind of stuff (not just prescriptions, but vitamins, makeup, skin care products), and to the ironmonger (hardware store) for iron mongering stuff. They don’t have books, newspapers or greeting cards in the stores, we need to go to the bookstore for books and newspapers, and I haven’t yet seen a store that sells greeting cards.
We were talking with people last night and we were saying that every time we go out to do something that seems like it should be quick, it takes 3 – 4 hours! And even the locals agreed with that. I’m not sure why, it is a small island…but it sure doesn’t feel small! It’s amazing – we go to do an errand or two and it takes half the day!
And I haven’t tried driving yet so I can’t go on my own – remember, they drive on the left hand side of the road here, and the driver sits on the right hand side of the car with the stick shift in the left hand, and the roundabouts are insane! And yes, even in Malta there is a ton of traffic, I guess that’s a universal problem.
Food shopping is such an interesting experience. Although everyone speaks English, many of the product labels are either in Maltese, Italian, or Greek. The most challenging to buy is soap – you can tell that it’s soap, but you can’t tell if it’s soap for your face, soap for your clothes, soap for the dishes, or soap for washing the floors. So far, I’m happy to say that I haven’t yet washed my face with laundry soap.
The word for anchovy is ‘incova’, pronounced ‘enchova”, and my favorite Maltese word so far is for my favorite vegetable, artichoke – qaqocc. 🙂 Pronounced ah-och.
But – one of the things that I’ve always loved about Europe is the small stores like the greengrocer and the baker for bread. The Maltese bread is the best I’ve ever had – similar to Italian bread but much tastier. That alone is worth a trip to the store everyday.