Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Boo in Malta - Grabiel Terrazza

I hate the inevitable headache that comes with a beach holiday, the 'I'm on holiday therefore should relax and eat whatever I like' attitude at direct loggerheads with the exposure of skin one succumbs to on the beach. The carb heavy menus in Malta didn't help and disregarding recommendations from those who had fallen foul of the dodgy water in Malta on previous travels, I had lots of salads in the week that I was there. A great roasted vegetable salad in Gozo at an adorable little bay, we drove around looking for a restaurant in a hotel which had been recommended in Helen's Time Out Guide to Malta but found instead a row of nice looking eateries choosing one overlooking the bay.

I had tuna salad at a beach cafe and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of it. It was tuna chunks rather than steak obviously but I had feared much worse. Good salad and a nice olive oil dressing, great olives, tomatoes, capers and green peppers accompanied. The same could not be said unfortunately for the version of the dish sampled at Grabiel Terrazza. Dining unusually late one evening following a large lunch we wondered down the road in Marsaskala where we were staying and nipped into the closest place we could find.

I ordered the tuna salad and what i got was minus dressing with the tuna chunks still in tin can form in the centre of the leaves.

Dry and uninspiring, this salad was a huge disappointment and my companions didn't fare a lot better. Noy went for a mezze mix of local eats, Maltese sausage, the little crackers which were served everywhere, dips, cheese and tomatoes. A Maltese take on the Ploughman's lunch here in England.

Again the overwhelming factor for Noy was the saltiness of her meal, like the stroganoff she had earlier in the week, the Maltese sausage is too salty to enjoy. The sundried tomatoes were tasty and the Bigilla (dish in the middle with the crackers sticking out of it) was interesting, it's a traditional Maltese bean paste known locally as "ful tal-─áirba". See a recipe here.

Something wasn't quite right with the platter, which in theory seemed like a safe bet. Helen's sausage and tomato pasta suffered because of the inclusion of the salty sausage. She was asked to choose from farfalle, spaghetti or penne, nice to be given the option, but this was a very standard tomato sauce, unremarkable but not bad, lifted a little by the grating of fresh parmesan.

James chose the greek salad with feta and olives, there was a generous serving of the cheese and, though I didn't try it, I think salad's are clearly not their forte, I'm not quite sure what is but it's definitely not the salad!

This said, the lasting impression Grabiel Terrazza will leave is that here we sampled what had to be the most vile red wine we'd ever had. Vinegary and bitter, we each attempted to drink a glass and failed leaving a fair bit in the bottle. The waiter suggested we might like to take the remains with us, we politely declined and suggested he drink it himself. I wish him luck with that!

Grabiel Terrazza
Marsaskala, Malta

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