The food delights of Malta

I always had a love affair with food. In a sentence, I would refer to food as ‘one of the three pleasures of life’ (will leave it up to you to guess the other two), and my favourite cuisine was always from the Southern Italian regions especially that of Puglia; simple, fresh, wholesome and oozing flavour!

The way they cook fish, their cheeses and pasta are simply to die for!

But I also am a great fan of certain dishes which are synonymous with Malta, such as Timpana which being a lover of pasta and pastry comes as no surprise to love this dish having them both as the core ingredients. Basically a Timpana is a pasta casserole with a juicy succulent Bolognese sauce with a pastry covering on top and baked in the oven. A variation of this dish is Imqarrun which is basically the same dish without the pastry topping.

Now the list of Maltese dishes is very vast and some are even a variation or at times, an exact copy with a Maltese tint from other countries, particularly Italy and the UK.  Think Roast Pork on Sundays with some Maltese people even taking their joint to the baker for it to be cooked in his oven. It is a fact that the baker’s oven gives off a better flavour to the meat dish.  So seeing that this blog cannot mention all the typical Maltese dishes, I shall only mention the ones which I am very fond of.

So; another dish which I love to indulge in, is Bragioli. This is basically minced beef, bacon garlic and breadcrumbs wrapped with thin slices of beef. Some even put hard boiled eggs in the stuffing but i prefer to eat them without since the eggs would otherwise have been cooked twice. In English they are called Beef Olives and whilst there are no olives in them, the word ‘olive’ comes from the old English verb, ‘to olive’ meaning ‘to roll it up’. Bragioli are best served with a mouth-watering tomato and carrot sauce and accompanied with roasted potatoes. Have plenty of scrumptious Maltese bread at the ready to dip into the sauce.

As mentioned, I simply adore a pie; meat pies in particular! Pity that such awesome fare is fattening. I would be eating them every day instead of twice or thrice a year if they were not. But I do have to mention one particular pie which is perhaps typically Maltese from time immemorial – Spinach and Tuna Pie!

Both spinach and tuna are very popular in Malta and therefore it is only naturally that the industrious Maltese housewife concocted ages ago a wholesome and very comforting dish using both of these ingredients.  The flavour of this pie is further enhanced with anchovies, olives and of course garlic. When the Lampuki fish is in season, it replaces tuna. Most Maltese simply cannot eat enough of the popular and tasty Lampuki Pie.

At be.Hotel, our hotel restaurant Fornelli, organises a Maltese Cuisine Buffet evening every Wed and one can enjoy the many delights of typical Maltese dishes which, some are traditional and others given a more modern twist, by our Head Chef and his brigade.

Come and enjoy!

James Davis is the COO of Bay Street Group that operates be.HOTEL

Segway your way around Malta

Now this is another fun thing to do whilst in Malta – Segway Tours!

Tried it once in a conference hall and it was mighty fun. Could not believe how easy it was to get the hang of manoeuvring the nimble gizmo as I whizzed around the people. Made me feel a little boy again.

The Segway technology is thanks to Its dynamic stabilisation system that allows the user the maintain balance whilst the wheels turn at the right speed. A whole array of gyroscopic sensors, tilt sensors and microprocessors allows you to balance yourself on just two wheels.

Basically you just lean sligthly forward to go forward and lean backwards to stop. To turn you just lean to the required side and hey presto, Segway turns in the direction that you want to.

Segway Malta has a number of tours available such as, the Fun Tour, three Explore Tours and two Culture Tours. Personally I think that the Valetta Segway Experience would be my preferred choice since I love cities but there are also those which show you around the Maltese countryside such as, the ‘Ride on Dingli Cliffs’ and the ‘Stunning Selmun’.  Other tours such as the ‘Mellieha Red Cliffs spectacle’ and the ‘Golden Sands Rally’ offer a beach/sea experience.

Most tours I believe, can also be held at night which cost slightly more that the usual price.  Tours come in three catagories; the 1.5-hour, the 2-hour and the 3-hour.  There is a minimum age which starts at 14 years to be allowed on the tour.

Segway Malta also offers the package ‘Ride where you want’. Just tell them where and they would organise it for you.

Prices are very reasonable; starting from just 45 euro and when on holiday such experiences add to make your trip more memorable.

I got so excited about Segway whilst writing this blog that I think I will book a tour myself now!


James Davis is the COO of Bay Street Group that operates be.HOTEL

Malta – A Diver’s Paradise

With temperatures never falling below 15° around Malta’s clear seas, diving is truly a sport that can be almost enjoyed everyday throughout the year in this sunny Mediterannean island.  No wonder that leading dive magazines feature Malta regularly and hail it as the top European diving destination and one of the finest in the World.

The three islands of Malta, boast some very awesome dive sites whether from the shore or from a boat; wrecks, and a host of marine life which can be appreciated in the clear warm waters. With visibility of up to 40 metres, the keen diving enthusiast is assured a memorable diving holiday in Malta.

For instance, imagine you are diving amidst the sheer cliffs, caves and wrecks; these are reef habitats from which a variety of flora and other fauna sprout out. You are also likely to see a whole array of different fish species such as groupers, amberjacks, octopi and others.  Watch out for but do not handle certain fish like the Scorpion Fish and others which can be dangerous for you.

Malta is also home to a vast array of accredited diving schools and diving centres which also offer the services of a doctor.  If you are already licensed, remember to present your diving certificates; PADI, BSAC, CMAS, SSI etc at the diving centre.  As always, if not diving in a group, you are legally obliged to have a dive buddy with you.

And awesome as it is, diving can be dangerous, so if you feel that you should not dive on a particular day or situation, then don’t – Always obey instinct!

Enjoy diving but do it safely please – you are more beautiful than the awesome Maltese seas!

James Davis is the COO of Bay Street Group that operates be.HOTEL

An awesome buzz – Up, Up and Away!

This blog was supposed to be about diving in Malta, but that has to wait as I am still excited from the flight in a Delta Jet microlight courtesy of Buzz Flying Malta. It was probably the closest thing to skydiving.

Leon was my pilot; without doubt he is truly a man born to fly.  In his able hands the little yellow aircraft took us up to sky in a matter of seconds and the wind rushed to greet us both with a gentle breeze.  The sky, blue and the sea the epitome of calm.

Than the spectacle began. Flying along the south westerly shore line, Leon flew us both along Dingli Cliffs towards the beautiful beaches on that side of the island. Gnejna bay, Ghajn Tuffieha bay and Golden bay were awesome to look at from 1100 feet. Sunbathers waved at us and we waved back.

Flying north at 60 knots we reached Paradise bay and circled over the sandy beach before heading off towards the little island of the Maltese archipelago – Comino island. Santa Marija bay was full of yachts and people enjoying the clear and beautiful sea around this gem of an island.

I had to remind myself that I am not dreaming and so Leon took a selfie of both us from his mobile phone.

Leon now turned south and we headed towards Bay Street Complex and be.HOTEL, circling twice over the Complex before pushing off towards Valetta the Capital city of Malta and her majestic bastions.

The highlight of it all was probably when we flew over Grand Harbour, seeing Fort St. Angelo and Bighi from that height in an open cockpit has imprinted beautiful memories in my mind.

Sadly, all things need to come to an end and it was time for Leon to turn towards the runway at Luqa to land.

The landing was sheer pleasure as if the ground was rushing towards us to greet us back to earth. We touched down gently without the slightest bump!

I highly recommend this awesome experience provided by Buzz Flying Malta to anyone visiting Malta. In 45 minutes you would almost manage to see the entire island from the sky. The thrill is so great that you stand a chance of getting addicted to it!

If flying in an open cockpit might seem a bit too daunting for you, Buzz Flying Malta also offers flights in Ikarus C42B which has a closed canopy. (the white aircraft seen in the background)

James Davis is the COO of Bay Street Group that operates be.HOTEL

What to do and Where to go in Malta!

In my previous blog I mentioned that that I would be suggesting ways of how to spend your holiday in Malta during the summer months.

If staying in the popular tourist places such as St. Julian’s or Sliema you might enjoy taking a 10-minute ferry from Sliema to Valletta and to spend the day walking around the Capital City built by the Knights of St. John in 1565.  Visit the Upper and the Lower barraccas and feel awed by the magnificence of Grand Harbour steeped in history. From there marvel as you look at the old Three Cities from such a vantage point.  Whether you are the museum-going type or not, do not miss a visit to St John’s Co-Cathedral – it is reputed to have the most beautiful floor in the World.  Have lunch and perhaps dinner as well in one of the many fantastic restaurants in the Capital. My favourite restaurants there are Michael’s and Palazzo Preca but the choice is truly endless.

On another day, you might like to go up North and visit the old town of Rabat and the old city of Mdina. Both are indeed very quaint with their time-honoured characteristics still intact.  Have some pastizzi whilst there or take lunch at the Xara Bottegin for some authentic Maltese food. Their beef olives – bragioli are to die for.  In Rabat you can visit the Roman Villa and in Mdina you might fancy a visit to the Natural History Museum and the Cathedral Museum amongst other things.  If a sweet lover, visit Fontanella the coffee shop overlooking Mdina and capture some breathtaking views from the top. The famous Mosta domed Church which is popular with tourists can be seen from there.

At the southern end of the island you might like to take a trip to Marsaxlokk, a village which is popular for the open air market on Sundays. Marsaxlokk is a quaint fishing village where you can find quite a few good fish restaurants or perhaps sit al fresco at Ta Victor for some awesome Maltese food. His ravioli are simply exquisite.  Down South you might also wish to visit the Hagar Qim Temples which date back to 3600 BC, Mnajdra Temples built in the 4th Millennium BC and the Tarxien Temples which is a UNESCO World heritage archaeological Complex that dates back to approximately 3150 BC.

You might also fancy a trip to the sister island Gozo.  Many exciting things to do such as visiting the Cittadella in Victoria or going to see the Calypso Cave which is located on a cliff just off Xaghra and whilst the cave where Homer is thought to have written ‘The Odyssey’ is nothing much to see, the views from it of the sandy beach, Ramla Bay, are awesome.

Back in Malta, I do suggest that you take a trip to The Blue Grotto which consists of a number of sea caverns on the south coast of Malta. If you are there between sunrise until about 1 pm you can marvel at an awesome sight as sunlight leads to the water reflecting different shades of blue. Take a boat trip to visit the caves, or for the adventurous types one go go scuba diving, snorkeling or rock climbing. The local restaurants there offer food with a sensational view.

You might also enjoy visiting a Maltese village festa which is the quintessence of all that is traditional Mediterranean folklore in one event. These feasts are noisy and colourful with lights and spectacular fireworks, band music and street parties. Village feasts celebrating a particular Saint or another, are an experience that you might find quite unique.

In the evening if you like the vibrant nighlife scene, than Paceville in St Julians is the place for you. Teeming with bars and restaurants and all sort of clubs. You can also do some shopping from Bay Street Complex where shops open 7 days a week from 10am until 10pm.  You might like to have a meal at our very own fornelli restaurant which serves mouth-watering Italian dishes with a modern twist.

Whatever you plan on doing, make sure that if staying in the sun especially at one of Malta’s fantastic beaches with turquoise waters wear sun block – the Maltese sun can be unforgiving even to the climatised Maltese.

Watch out for the next blog about Diving in Malta

James Davis is the COO of Bay Street Group that operates be.HOTEL

A Mediterranean diet or a Mediterranean cuisine?

Perhaps it was the Americans who coined the word ‘a mediterranean diet’ sometime around the 1970’s when the American Diabetes Association wrote about a diet which is rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, beans, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.

This pleased the Italians who made a slight change by replacing the word ‘diet’ which has a burdensome meaning to the word ‘cuisine’ which has an elegant sound to it.

Obviously, Mediterranean Cuisine is not simply the domain of the Italians, although I must add that it is my favourite, especially the cuisines of Southern Italy and Sicily. Think of the cuisines of Abruzzo, Molise, Puglia, Campania, Basilcata, Calabria and the whole of Sicily. Each of these cuisines deserve a dedicated blog to try to do justice to their awesomeness.

So think also, Maghrebi cuisine from North Africa such as couscous. Think Levantine Cuisine from the Middle Eastern Mediterranean coast such as, tabbouleh; wheat with tomatoes, parsley and mint and drizzled with olive oil and hummus. I personally love most dishes from the levant such as their aubergine puree, mixed with olive oil, onions, tomatoes and cummin and drizzled with lemon juice.

But there’s more. Ottoman or Turkish cuisine is also part of the Mediterranean culinary family. Think Greek which sometimes has much in common with Turkish such as, moussaka and bechamel sauce. I still think of Lamb chops and yoghurt when Greece comes to mind but of course, Greek cuisine is very rich with all types of meat and fish.

Mediterranean French Cuisine is also rich in fish dishes; imagine bouillabaisse a speciality fish stew from Marseille, or Insalata Nizzarda – Salad Nicoise from Nice from where Socca, an unleavened pancake also comes.

Spain’s Mediterranean seaboard, provides us with mouthwatering dishes such as paella which originated from Valencia. This dish can come in a variety of ways including, mixed, seafood, vegatables and with chicken or rabbit to name but a few.

And of course there is Maltese cuisine, with comfort food such as timpani which is a baked pasta dish covered with pastry, or thin slices of beef stuffed with minced beef called Bragioli (beef olives) and whilst there are no olives in bragioli the word ‘olive comes from the old English verb, ‘to olive’ meaning ‘to roll it up’.

From all the different cuisines in the World, I relish the cuisine of the Mediterranean and perhaps the one main ingredient that gives them the bond to each other is the mighty olive.


James Davis is the COO of Bay Street Group that operates be.HOTEL

Julian the Poor

For the first six months of my life I lived in the town of St. Julian’s named after its patron saint; Saint Julian. He was known as Julian the Hospitaller and also as Julian the Poor and became the patron saint of hunters who flock to this part of the Island every last Sunday of August for the annual summer feast to shot off blanks in his honour. St. Julian is thought to have hailed from Belgium (Le Mans in France and Naples in Italy also claim his birthplace) which is probably why, the town’s flag is similar to the Belgian national flag.

Fifty odd years ago when I was still a young boy, visting my maternal grandparents who continued to live in St. Julian’s until their death, the town was a quiet and serene fishing village. Few would have thought that this would eventually become the prime locality for tourism in Malta.

Perhaps, it was due to the subdivision of St.Julian’s from which Paceville emerged that gave rise to the status for this locality of being the number one hotspot for tourism and locals alike, who flock to this part of the island for leisure.

After all, the place is teeming with restaurants of all genres, the finest hotels, clubs and bars, a Cinema Complex, a bowling centre and one of Malta’s biggest shopping Complexes.  It also has its own blue-flagged beach at St.George’s Bay which is cleaned every day and surrounded by places to drink and dine.

So maybe St. Julian should also have another title to his name – Julian the Favourite!

James Davis is the COO of Bay Street Group that operates be.HOTEL

MICHAEL BOLTON – When a Man Loves a Woman

When Michael Bolton started his singing career in 1975 aged 22, I was only 14 years old and preferred other music genres since I was never much into hard rock and heavy metal, but after he anglicised his name from Bolotin to Bolton and started writing such awesome songs like “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” for Laura Branigan and his Grammy Award-winning cover version of “When a Man Loves a Woman” he became one of my favourite in the music scene. Now the Multiple Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter will be visiting Malta for two concerts together with his band as part of another leg on his journey of his world tour wowing audiences around the globe.
With more than 65 million records under his belt, Michael Bolton has a strong followership here in Malta as well and this is great news for us living here, and possibly you if you fancy taking a plane to this part of the mediterranean for his two-hour indoor concerts being held on Friday 4th and Sunday 6th of August 2017 at the Mediterranean Conference Centre in Valetta. Visit to book direct. Prices start from 49 euro And when a man loves a woman, he buys her tickets to see Michael Bolton performing live in Malta.

James Davis is the COO of Bay Street Group that operates be.HOTEL

Being conscious of the world environment and cultural heritage

There are circa 20,000 hotels in the world who have embraced the policy of being eco-friendly and be.HOTEL is one of them.

ECO certified hotels are recognised for ensuring the environmental, socioeconomic, and cultural sustainability of hotels by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council as fully reflecting the GSTC criteria.

The scheme that was launched by the Malta Tourism Authority in 2002 today represents approximately 16% of hotel accommodation or 22 hotels.

Criteria such as sustainability management, waste management, Control of Chemicals, energy preservation and use of alternative energy sources, air quality, and water conservation come to mind when one thinks of eco-friendly hotels but the scope is wider than this and includes protection of the cultural heritage and natural surroundings and the promotion of such with tourists by better communication strategies. It also encourages properties to purchase local produce whenever possible and to provide such fare to foreign visitors.

In the end, eco-friendly embraces the world that we live in and all of earth’s resources so that these and the world heritage can continue to be enjoyed by future generations.

James Davis is the COO of Bay Street Group that operates be.HOTEL

The awesome Vicia Faba

Better known as the broad bean, Vicia faba is also known by many other names; fava bean, faba bean, field bean, bell bean, English bean, horse bean, Windsor bean, pigeon bean and tic(k) bean and is a species of the plant in the vetch and pea family Fabaceae.

It is reputed that the Greek mathematician Pythagoras believed that the fava beans contained the souls of the dead and therefore never ate or even looked at them. The ancient Romans used these for funeral rites, making them the forbidden legumes in ancient times.

The downside is that broad beans are associated with favism, a genetic defiency known as Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PD deficiency). Carriers of this mutation do not show any symptoms unless their red blood cells are exposed to certain risks, such as fava beans which can trigger it.

Having said this, broad beans are rich in protein and energy just like all other beans and lentils. 100 g of beans carry 341 calories per 100 g. Broad beans also contain an abundance of health-benefiting vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

At this time of year here in Malta, this little legume finds itself in a variety of dishes. I personally love them in any which way; raw with a nice cherry tomato and ricotta salad or cooked with garlic to add as a condiment that goes beautifully well with roast lamb. They sit well with peas and garlic butter for a springtime sidedish or else in a soup or with pasta.

James Davis is the COO of Bay Street Group that operates be.HOTEL