With the New Year comes another wave of fresh produce in Malta. These winter-ripened goodies are traditionally used to enhance the wholesome, comforting dishes that counter the cold snap.
With the colder weather, Malta’s exquisitely tender pork comes into its own in the hearty stews, soups and casseroles served to take the edge off the winter chill. Try some pork chops slow-cooked with apple and sage for the ultimate winter warmer.
The humble artichoke, otherwise known as the Jerusalem artichoke, sunroot or sunchoke, enjoys its peak season in Malta from October onwards. It is hugely popular in much of Maltese winter cuisine, often replacing meat as the primary feature of a dish, instead of a side. They’re absolutely delicious when roasted in the oven until soft, or added to anything from soup to pasta dishes.
From November, a new crop of garlic is harvested in Malta. Unlike its European cousins, fresh Maltese garlic tends to have a milder, cleaner flavour, that lifts but not overwhelms the taste of any meal it accompanies.
All year round, onions are the foundation upon which many Maltese dishes are built. Come wintertime, however, this staple aromatic is especially flavoursome. Look out for it alongside fennel in boosting the flavour of traditional Maltese roast potatoes, or sample the popular sun-pickled version in a jar, enhanced with a chilli and bay leaf.
The ‘thymbra capitata’, more commonly known as Mediterranean thyme, originates from the Maltese Islands but is a highly sought-after herb throughout Europe. Thyme reveals its minty, fresh flavour to its best advantage later in the year, and can often be found served with complementary herbs such as rosemary, sage and oregano in many Maltese meat dishes, but especially with duck and pork.
Children in Malta who received a traditional orange in their Christmas stocking will have enjoyed the very best of its kind. Maltese oranges are typically juicer and tastier than their European cousins and, with the peak of the orange season taking place from October through to February, there’s no better time to tuck into these prime examples of a Maltese masterpiece.
Want to try in-season Maltese produce? Pop by Le Bistro, at Radisson Blu Resort, St Julian’s. Here chefs cook up dishes that revolve around the very best of in-season foods in exciting combinations that promise to make them absolutely delicious.