Saturday, July 21, 2007

Olives, honey, and camping in

Last night we attended a CLO-planned event that was one of our highlights of our time in Malta so far. A pretty decent contingent of embassy folks showed up at a gorgeous estate towards the north end of Malta where Sammy Cremona is almost single handedly reviving olive oil pressing on the island. With his small batch press, he even invites folks with orchards to bring their own olives. He is also the producer who presses the Ambassador's olives (the Residence has orange and olive orchards, among other things)

Their main walkway is lined with olive trees, along with the resident emu (penned) and dog and cat (roaming freely on the property). The owner took us to his olive press and explained the process, also telling us that there are olive trees on Malta that date back 2000 years and that his farm is part of a program to re-introduce more of the native tree. The night was cool, the atmosphere relaxed. You couldn't ask for more!

All the food they prepared was grown on their, or neighbors', property, and was some of the best food we've had in Malta. I had a piece of the sheep's milk cheese before I knew what it was, and it was heavenly. I drooled over, but did not partake in, either the port-dark beef carpaccio drenched in their oil, herbs, and served with kiwi slices or the tomato-red sashimi tuna. They brought out loaf after loaf of Maltese bread and homemade rosemary foccacia cooked in their brick oven, served either simply with their oil or with this spiced pea spread. I was quite content to stick with this "acceptable" food.

They have relatively recently begun to make honey - just a few years - and Sammy showed us some of the trays of honey that were ready to process and bottle. They smelled delicious. One of the older hives works off carob trees, and their honey is chocolate dark. I can't wait to get my hands on some of that! Apparently, a hive will find a kind of flower they like and work that until there is no more nectar. The cookies they served for dessert was made with their honey and some kind of nut (I think almond, but I know they have pine nut trees so it may have been that), topped generously with powdered sugar. Mmmmm.

Here is some information about the husband and wife team.

The adventure of the evening continued when we got home. It turns out that the air conditioning units in our house are not all they are cracked up to be. Poor Bethany had no AC in her room the entire time she was visiting us last week, and the night she left the AC in our bedroom died. Our landlord called the AC folks but this is their busiest time so they can't come until this upcoming week.

Walking into the sauna that was our second floor, we realized we couldn't sleep there. When we moved into the house, both guest rooms had single beds ... we ended up putting the two mattresses from the main guest room up in storage on our third floor and putting our double bed, that we had shipped from the USA, in that room. So, we had extra mattresses that we had expected to use to house overflows of visitors - we're still waiting for an overflow of visitors! The mattresses were brought down and we slept on the floor in the living room, where the air conditioner seems to be leaking (there is what looks like a wet mark down the wall) but still working. I guess we will continue to sleep here until the weather cools off (October?) or the air conditioning folks can come and fix the units. Mind you, the units were brand new and installed the week we moved in - only 3 months ago!

1 comment:

Concerned C-villian said...

I will have to look out for that cookbook from Matty Cremona. I too love olive oil and cook with it everyday. I have to agree with Sammy that Malta should be covered in olive trees.