I have literally just arrived home from our summer holidays, unpacked everything, put the dirty clothes in the washing machine and now I'm onto blog catch up...
I thought that I would post something from our respite break to Malta earlier in the year...It seems like forever since getting back from that trip... and I have finally got round to telling you a little bit about it! This is the first in a series of three from our break....
(Hopefully I won't take as long to write something about our most recent summer adventures!!)
During the middle of our week away we decided to take a rest from the pool and head out in the rental car to explore some more of the other side of the island. We had heard that there was a beach called Golden Bay (one of the few sandy beaches in Malta) over to the north west of the country. We managed to navigate the notorious Maltese traffic and arrived at the beach in much need of a swim to cool down. The beach was nice.... but the sign for the "10 different types of jelly fish" to watch out for put us off from taking a dip in the water..... and so we lounged around in the sun and took a paranoid paddle or two instead!
We didn't settle for very long... because there is always far too much to see... so not wanting to miss anything we got back in the car and headed off down the coast line towards Dingli Cliffs... the name itself was enough for us to want to go there...
We had been told that the cliffs have over 1100 species of wild edible plants (such as nettle, wild fennel, capers, cape sorrel, wild rucola to mention just a few). As we drove in that direction to see if we could spot one or two species, we passed numerous interesting little grotto's and chapels that seemed to be dotted everywhere.
... We were met with such a spectacular view as we reached the cliffs... the intensity of the blue of the sea as it merged with the sky line was just phenomenal and the refreshing wind made up for the lack of a dunk earlier at the beach.
|This is a picture of me and the hungry boy on the cliffs|
There is a really cool "Cliffs trail" that you can walk or cycle along that takes you along the edge of the cliffs and past the radar station, but we opted out of this as by now the hungry boy was getting REALLY HUNGRY and it was time for lunch! As luck would have it, we had parked just a little way down the road from the "Cliffs restaurant".
If you have read any of the previous "Eating out with food Intolerances" posts you will know that in our family we have a few individuals with gluten, dairy and egg sensitivities (plus a few others) and it's always a bit of a concern when we are out and about.... the question ever at the back of my mind....Will we find something suitable to eat or will we go hungry? We decided to go investigate the menu.
We read on the board outside that the building was "self sufficient" and that it also housed an information centre and lecture/conference room, used to teach about the local vegetation and resources. It also sold local products such as honey, meats, herbs, fruits and olives. This encouraged us somewhat and we thought that there may be a good chance that they would be able to provide for our unique food needs after-all.
I wasn't disappointed. We were first offered a drink and advised to order the fresh strawberry juice below... very delicious and refreshing.... and a nice change and surprise from the usual choices on offer elsewhere.
.....Followed by a mixed tapas style platter with local meats, mussels, olive tapenade, bean dip, and some vegetables which tasted lightly pickled/fermented?
I usually carry a pack of gluten free wraps with me for occasions just like this and the chef quite happily toasted some up for us and brought them out like this so that we could use it for the dips.
Daughter number two (who back then had no known intolerance's) ate the bruschetta and fresh salsa.
Daughter number two also had the chicken for a main.... (portion size of the protein was generously large!)
And the hungry boy and me had the seared salmon
....together with a host of vegetables on the side.... that we couldn't finish because we were so full!
The a’la carte menu was unique and all of their vegetables and salads are either bought from local farmers (within a one kilometer range), produced by La Pinta Ltd from the field down the Cliffs OR
THE CLIFFS centre also houses its own miniature kitchen garden (some of the local flora used and processed in the kitchen include borage, wild asparagus, nettle etc...)
With exception to the general items on the menu, the kitchen at THE CLIFFS offers wild food according to the season and these items are usually used in the "Specials of the Day" on the menu...always freshly prepared to order.
We eventually rolled out of the Restaurant and back in to the car with the aim of traveling further down the coast. We meandered through little villages and finally arrived at a place called Hagar Qim which turned out to be a UNESCO world Heritage site. It consists of two gigantic archeological monuments from the neolithic era. These ancient Temples predate Stonehenge AND the Great Pyramids of Egypt! The temples are hidden away under huge canopies to protect them from the elements.
We looked around the visitors centre first and watched an informative 4D movie about the history and excavation and then outside to the stones. I noticed that the pathway to the temple sites (one on top of the hill and the other about 500 metres down the hill) are handicapped accessible... however I wouldn't like to push the chair back up again! The ruins, designed by neolithic builders are obviously not designed with chairs in mind.
We wandered around the ruins at the top of the hill which consisted of a number of C shaped rooms. It's amazing that you can still get so close to the stones and be able to touch something that someone built 3600-3200 BC ...(unlike Stonehenge which has a perimeter rope around about 60 meters away from the monument)
We followed the path down the hill towards the sea in the direction of the Mnajdra temple site below..... passing the rugged landscape of stone walls, cacti and roses.
Daughter number two and the hungry boy enjoyed being able to walked in and out and around the stones ....
....and have the site all to ourselves!
All in all we had experienced a good day... partaking of just a few of the countless historical sites and artifacts that Malta has to offer. We had been fortunate enough to stumble upon the "Cliffs restaurant" and enjoy the lovely food that they prepare there.The Restaurant was a great find and perfect for our needs.
If anyone out there is planning a trip to Malta in the future I would definitely recommend The Cliffs Restaurant as a great mid point for refueling and the trip down the coast with all the stop off points along the way....
In hindsight, It's perhaps not a day that you would expect the children to have enjoyed... but they reported back to me that they thought that it was "fun" and liked the unplanned day "full of adventure, nice scenery and something different around every corner!"