And Honeymoon in Malta part 2
Mangoes are in season and those of you who have been following me for the last year or so have come to know how much I like my culinary journey through the seasons each year, so I created this dish which is the perfect marriage of flavours with the sweet sticky caramelised mangoes covered in silky, zesty coconut custard with the hint of lime and finished off with a crunchy topping of toasted flaked almonds……..
Speaking of perfect marriages, most of you will know that I was married recently and spent a romantic honeymoon on the romantic tiny island of Malta.
Last time I wrote about Malta’s seafaring history and the Knights of Saint John (see my last post on ‘Butternut Squash Lasagne and Maltese Honeymoon for more information) But I wanted to write a little more of what this lovely little island has to offer.
Like this solitary tree, brave little Malta stood alone for many weeks during relentless bombardment during WWII
As I mentioned, Malta received the George Cross is the second highest honour that can be awarded in the UK (the first being ‘The Victoria Cross) and is an award for ‘gallantry’ given to civilians.
The island sustained more successive air raids than any other place during the second world war and a naval blockade which saw the population on the brink of dying from starvation.
During these air raids, three Gloster Gladiator bi-planes aptly named ‘Faith, Hope and Charity‘ formed part of what is thought to have been only around seven or eight of these planes that held Maltese air defences for many weeks while waiting for reinforcements in the form of British Hurricanes.
So fierce were their counter attacks and so brave their resilience, that they forced Italian bombers to be escorted by fighters imagining that there was a squadron of between twenty and thirty!
Malta’s glorious coastline
Being an island, Malta has miles of beautiful coastline, beaches and fishing villages, and of course, the Grand Harbour at Valetta, but the interior is not to be overlooked
We did this by means of an open topped tourist bus which allowed us to ‘hop on hop off’ around the island (there are in fact two tours, one taking in the north of the island, which I have featured here, and another the south) One ‘sight’ that is possible to see from the bus, if you do not want to go into the interior, is the Church of ‘Our Lady of the Assumption’ at Mosta, also know as the ‘Rotunda of Mosta’ and ‘The Miracle Church’, as during WWII the people of Mosta were at prayer in the church (which has one of the largest domes in Europe) when the air raid sirens sounded, many chose to remain inside the church which took a direct hit from a bomb, that passed through the centre of the dome and rolled down the aisle and out of the main door without exploding and the church and all inside were saved.
The Dome where the bomb passed straight through the center without exploding
View of the dome of the church at Mosta as seen from the bus
One of the stops is an interesting craft center which is housed in former WWII aircraft hangers, this is where my new husband bought me a lovely silver Maltese 8 pointed cross necklace and we bought a gorgeous hand embroidered table cloth and place mats
Former WWII air craft hangers now serving as a Craft Village
Another must is ‘The Silent City’ (the ancient capital of Malta) Mdina. Mdina which dates back more than 4000 years is one of Europe’s first walled cities, and it is said to be the place where Saint Paul lived after being shipwrecked on the island in 60AD.
This tiny medieval city was once home to many noble families throughout the years (Normans, Sicilians, Spanish) so it has many impressive palaces, bearing the crests of these families, but it is in the city’s narrow winding streets that its charm lies, and the best way to see it (though not to photograph it!) is in the back of a romantic horse drawn carriage ride (we were on honeymoon after all…..)
Mdina’s back streets and the discreet sign showing the way to the ‘Fontanella Tearooms’ with arguably the best view (and cakes!) in Malta
Your carriage awaits madame
The Fontanella Tea Rooms are also a must, tucked away down a winding backstreet, the sign is easy to miss, but if you find yourself in Mdina, seek it out, if not for the cakes, then for the view, or both!
I opted for an orange and almond gateau and my husband chose, predictably, a dark chocolate and strawberry one, both were equally delicious, as we shared each other’s.
A significant event for us was our hands brushing together as we sat side by side at a function on the very first night that we met (10 years ago to the day before the day of our wedding). My natural instinct was to pull abruptly away, but when I looked down and saw these two hands together, they ‘just looked right’ so I let mine linger a little too long and the rest is history……It seemed fitting then that we took this ‘hand shot’ of us both sporting our sparkly new wedding bands.
Breathtaking view from the terrace of the Fontanella tea rooms
Speaking of desserts, lets get to the recipe, all this ‘armchair travelling’ builds up an appetite……….
1 large ripe mango peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch (1cm) thick wedges
30 g slightly salted butter
1 sachet of vanilla sugar (1 dessertspoon of unrefined castor sugar)
1/2 pint (300mls) coconut milk
1/2 pint (300 mls) double cream
3 large free range egg yolks
1 large free range egg
1 tablespoon (30g) castor sugar
the zest of 1 large lime
A good handful of flaked almonds
Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed frying pan and saute the mango slices sprinkled with the vanilla sugar, turning once until caramelised on both sides.
Divide the mango between four serving dishes and set aside to cool
Mix the eggs and remaining sugar in a large basin
Heat the coconut milk and cream in a saucepan with the lime zest
Add the hot milk to egg and sugar mixture, beating continually with a whisk to avoid lumps
Return the milk and egg mixture to the pan and reheat, still stirring continually until it thickens into a smooth ‘custard’
Pour the custard over the mango and leave to cool
Immediately before serving ‘toast’ the flaked almonds in a nonstick pan and sprinkle over the top of each dessert and simply enjoy