Fresh and fab­u­lous in Malta

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - DESTINATION TRAVEL - PETER MOORE FORBES, NSW

My wife and I are stay­ing in the tiny and beau­ti­ful coastal vil­lage of Xlendi on the Mediter­ranean is­land of Gozo, the sec­ond-largest in the Mal­tese ar­chi­pel­ago. It is late Oc­to­ber and cer­tainly not high tourist sea­son.

It turns out we are the only guests in our ho­tel, which makes for personalised ser­vice and se­cures us an ac­com­mo­da­tion up­grade.

On our last evening in Xlendi we de­cide to take pot luck where to have our evening meal. We wan­der down to the wa­ter­front just on dusk and stop to have a drink as we watch another gor­geous sun­set over the wa­ter.

We me­an­der along the shore look­ing at menu boards out­side restau­rants, not in any real rush. At one of the last cafes there is a ta­ble right be­side the wa­ter, so we set­tle there to peruse the of­fer­ings. Just as we sit down, one of the lo­cal multi-coloured fish­ing boats pulls into shore near us to add to the at­mos­phere.

A young man ar­rives to ask what we would like to drink and in­quires where we are from. When he de­liv­ers our or­der he asks if we have any spe­cial pref­er­ence for our meal. We both say fresh seafood and he replies, “Wait just a mo­ment.” He re­turns with a tray bear­ing a whole fish about half a me­tre long.

“My fa­ther just re­turned in that boat,” he says, point­ing to the fish­ing ves­sel. “This is his catch. Would you like this di­vided into two fil­lets, grilled and served with some fresh salad?” Yes, please — jack­pot.

Our meal is mouth-wa­ter­ingly delicious, ac­com­pa­nied by a chilled bot­tle of white wine and set off to per­fec­tion by the moon re­flected in the Mediter­ranean.

Our waiter asks if we have en­joyed the food and, of course, we as­sure him we have. He in­vites us to come with him to the back room of the cafe and meet his fa­ther, the fish­er­man, who has just com­pleted his meal.

Through a com­bi­na­tion of English, Mal­tese and sign lan­guage we man­age to have a sort of con­ver­sa­tion and con­vey our thanks to him for pro­vid­ing us with such a tasty din­ner.

As we slowly walk back to our ho­tel, we dis­cuss what a lucky catch we made choos­ing that par­tic­u­lar cafe. Fresh food in an unforgettable set­ting has been a fit­ting fi­nale to our hol­i­day in Malta. Send your 400-word con­tri­bu­tion to Fol­low the Reader : travel@theaus­tralian.com.au. Colum­nists will re­ceive an el­e­gant Cross Clas­sic Cen­tury Medal­ist Ball Point Pen, in pro­duc­tion since 1946, with a pol­ished chrome cas­ing and 23-carat gold-plated trim; black or blue ink; $89.95. More: lux­u­rypens.net.au

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