The Mediterranean is rightly synonymous with “good food,” and Malta is certainly no exception to that rule. While the country’s rocky and semi-arid terrain is less lush than other Medi enclaves, the abundant sun and long-held farming habits mean it’s bursting with delectable traditional Maltese food. From floral Maltese olive oil to piquant sun-dried tomatoes and wild capers, sun-sweet figs to local Gbejniet cheese and hobz-biz-zejt sandwiches, there’s plenty of produce to sample, whether you’re grazing at farmers’ markets or gearing up for a culinary shopping spree.
Maltese Olive Oil
First things first: it’s time to pick up some Maltese olive oil. The brilliant sunlight and sea breezes have long fostered groves of silvery olive trees across Malta – in fact, olive oil production has been practiced since the time of Roman rule. These days, chefs and traditional Maltese food lovers praise the local olive oil as some of the world’s best – delicious as a cooking ingredient or simply served up alongside a crusty loaf.
Where to pick up your olive oil, then? Many farmers informally sell bottles of their freshly pressed, extra-virgin oil, so it’s always worth keeping an eye on roadside signs. Alternatively, visitors can sign on for a tour and tasting at the Tan-Nixxiegha grove, or pick up a few bottles from the shop at the Villa Bologna.
Speaking of: if you find yourself in a restaurant facing down an antipasti platter, you’re also likely to find some wild capers alongside your olives. Technically flower buds that are salt-packed or stored in brine, capers grow wild all across Malta, making them very forage-friendly. They’re also more formally cultivated, and jars of capers can be found on most grocery store shelves.