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Saturday, August 7, 2021

Malta at Home

It's been a minute, but I've had a really busy month, and I'm finally getting back to my Destination Date Nights. Our last one was to Malta, because I knew that summer deserved some actual summer destinations. As you may know, Malta has been a destination on my wish list for quite some time, and we'll be heading there in the future, if we ever get out of this pandemic.

Our most recent staycation was to Malta, where we ate oceanside and listened to Maltese music.

Things look to be doing better and then everything goes to hell again, so I don't expect regular leisure travel to really be back until probably mid-2022. What does that mean? More staycations for you and probably more time to plan a big, awesome trip when we finally come out of this. I'll still be doing some travel in the next year, though probably not as much as I hoped for, because it will have to be careful and safe and responsible. For now, let's look at how we traveled to Malta while staying at home.

Because of where it's located, Malta is influenced by Greece and Italy and northern Africa. This is shown in the architecture and foods. Malta doesn't have much that seems uniquely Malta, but the combination of other countries makes it interesting and a clash of cultures makes for a feeling of being in many places at once. 

We made this a simple Destination Date Night. We had dinner, we listened to some Maltese music and we just enjoyed each other's company. I used the look and island vibes to set my table. Malta is a beautiful, breezy, fishing destination, so I used my striped tablecloth and added a fish vase with poppies (a flower is grown in the area), and topped it off with one of the Knights of Malta. 

Because Malta is such a niche country, there aren't any Maltese restaurants around here, so, like I did with Mongolia, I found a restaurant that had items that were close to what is popular in Malta and then filled in with other foods. I found that the place I wanted to order from actually charged LESS if you purchased a meal kit and assembled/finished the food at home, so I ordered and picked up a seafood stew and a beet salad. I felt that the stew was close enough to Aljotta, a Mediterranean fish soup. Cod is a native fish there, so I chose a stew that also included cod (and also shrimp and clams). 

Everyone has salad, and it was an easy thing to include and put together from the restaurant. I always like to have some sort of vegetables with dinner, and this was a perfect fit. It was beets, gorgonzola, and pistachio brittle with a champagne vinaigrette. Malta has a bread that is similar to focaccia - Ħobż - which I thought would go really well with both the salad and the stew, and I was right. 

While we did some sightseeing via our backdrop ("That lady down there is taking a photo of those people with an iPad!") and chatted about the food and what we would do in Malta, we listened to some Maltese pop music. Then we busted out the dessert.

I wasn't sure I would be able to find cannoli in our local bakeries (it's not really that popular), so I decided to fake a Maltese dessert called imqaret. They are sort of like fig newtons, but flaky, so I baked fig paste in croissant dough. Then I did find cannoli at the bakery down the street, so we had both. Cannoli is an Italian dessert, but it's frequently served in Malta as well. Both were delicious, so I guess I'd be into visiting some bakeries while in Malta. 

Malta is a very interesting and beautiful country that I can't wait to actually travel to. I admired the scenery while watching an annual World's Strongest Man competition and have been thinking about it ever since.  Here are some ways to recreate Malta at home:

There are plenty of other ways to make this a fantastic staycation and to immerse yourself in the culture as much as possible when still at home. Take a stroll through a museum, learn a new language, find out about famous Maltins and how they contributed to the world and Malta itself. 

Unfortunately, between being so busy and our heatwaves, it's been hard to plan another one, but I have a new one coming up. You'll be seeing us visit Chicago soon, and hopefully, also Reykjavik. We'll also be actually traveling to Reno and Vegas on a road trip soon-ish. You can see photos of all of these as they happen on my Instagram. Cheers to more staycations while we're waiting to safely get back out in the world.

Have you done any fun staycations over the last year and a half? Tell us about them in the comments!

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