The Malta Independent 23 May 2024, Thursday
View E-Paper

Marie Benoît’s Diary

Malta Independent Sunday, 29 August 2010, 00:00 Last update: about 11 years ago

I, too, am on Shutdown. I have more or less closed my diary and want to pass the day as I please and not have to be constrained by invitations. It is simply too hot and humid and I want to loiter around half undressed (no longer a pretty sight alas)doing a little of this and that. So I have been turning down invitations, especially ones for meals. And this is also because I am still hoping to get back to size 16. I am greatly encouraged since I heard on BBC that most Englishwomen are now yes, a Size 16 and no longer a Size 14. My daughters, however, don’t look at these matters with optimism as I do. A glance of displeasure crossed the normally cheerful countenance of my eldest when I gave her what, to me, was good news. I might have been proposing a trip to Pakistan. ‘Hadn’t you better be realistic Ma. Just look at the height of the average Englishwoman. You are a pygmy compared to them. You should really be a Size 10. That’s what you should be aiming at and not a Size 16. I wish you would stop talking about the matter of your weight and even worse, writing about it and instead act. Yes, act for a change.” I suddenly remembered I was out of peaches at home and left her for half-an-hour in the hope that she would simmer down in my absence. I am realistic and know full well that even a Size 14 is now another dream which has to be ditched. I am not going to give up my food but will keep on trying. Perhaps that should be my epitaph: ‘At least she tried’.

However, I accepted an invitation proferred to hacks and hackettes by The Westin Dragonara Resort to try out a new concept they recently introduced for dinner during the summer months. This is The Terrace Grill where one can dine al fresco. I fear the heat in summer but once we sat down it was not as hot as I had feared, although I make it a point of taking a fan with me wherever I go. And there was no loud music, another bonus. People seem to like noise. It assures them that they are still alive I suppose. I don’t need these assurances.

We sat on a long table and enjoyed the view. The Mediterranean seemed particularly alluring beneath the ‘light of the silvery moon’ as the old song goes. It felt rather like sitting on the deck of a cruise liner, too.

We were soon invited by Edward Bonello to approach the cooking stations set out neatly so that one can see and indeed, choose what one is going to eat. No pompous names here: The Paysanne for a big bowl of salad for example, which I cam eacross recently. Everything is plainly written and legible.

Friday night is Fish Extravaganza night so my daughters would approve, I told myself, eyeing the fresh fish. There is also an Italian, Maltese and Arabian night. Perhaps there are other themed nights too but I cannot remember.

There seemed to be 57 varieties of hors d’oeuvres and plenty of sauces and dressings to go with them. With an eye on what my daughters would say I did not pile up my plate and was very careful in my choice. I stopped myself from stretching out for the bread and butter, too, and felt a halo slowly taking shape over my head.

The freshly prepared pasta dishes looked delicious. So for first course I had the spaghetti with crab, salmon and vodka cream. This after I had vowed not to eat carbs after 6pm. Wasn’t it Oscar Wilde who said: ‘Never hesitate my dear fellow, before abandoning your principles’? The author of this could not have been Senaca or Julius Caesar and certainly not my father. It must be a Wilde quote. But I could not resist the look of that pasta, so abandon, if not my principles, at least one of my resolutions I did.

I am forever in a state of excitement over new finds on some menu or another and I particularly enjoyed this pasta. I haven’t bought crab since my years in Mauritius where, in those days, they were sold by fisherman on the beach for a few rupees. All I seem to find at the supermarket here are those awful crab sticks. What could be more artificial? I ignore them completely and tell them to go away. So eating crab is a luxury I very rarely enjoy.

I had sea bass as main course with a few potatoes and some greens, and felt my halo getting thicker. I could report this meal to my darlings without skipping anything out, for fear of retribution. I felt particularly holy when I gave a glazed look and a wide berth to all the puddings and cheesecakes highly decorated with creams and things and had a bowl of fruit salad instead. At the end of the meal I said to myself that I would go again if I needed a value for money evening with a friend or relative.

Before my final decision to go in Shutdown mode was taken I had accepted to go to the Buttardi evening at the Twenty Seven 20 Hair and Beauty Salon in Zebbug. I have followed the fortunes of the two entrepreneurs of Buttardi jewellery – Michelle Muscat and Michelle Buttigieg for some ten years. But my goodness, finding that salon was not easy. If only I had had a GPS, I kept on saying to myself. It isn’t as if I don’t know Zebbug. I have been going to the French ambassadors’ residence there for years. However, an expedition to the Antarctic would probably have been easier than finding what turned out to be a state-of-the-art hair and beauty salon. There are so many one way streets in Zebbug so that if you miss one turning you have to start all over again. With directions from Phyllis I finally found it. She proved to be better than a GPS. What a relief!

The Buttardi collection of jewellery was very well displayed and this new salon was a revelation to me. It is a place to get pampered from head to toe in a most pleasant ambience. The only thing I do not like about it is the name. Difficult to remember. I don’t like numbers for names, whether they are a restaurant, a beauty place or indeed, a gambling outfit. Words are so beautiful why use numbers? But I can describe the salon as having metropolitan chic without my conscience pricking me. Expense has not been spared in its making.

Michelle Buttigieg is here from the States with her Maltese husband William and their two children. She is heading a couple of projects for women at the UN in New York she told me. They come to spend two months here mostly in Gozo from where she originates. She is full of oomph and drive and she keeps her jewellery business going as well. Michelle Muscat also has an input in it as she did right from the start. It is an online business mostly but these two enterprising ladies love it and do it well.

This was a most pleasant evening but unfortunately I did not get away from food. There were some lovely canapés and the two or three waiters kept on coming out with something new every 10 minutes. I told myself this would be my supper and always for fear of disappointing my girls, I only ate fruit when I got home and of course swallowed my statin pill religiously.

I had written, three or so weeks ago that I could not find a café at The Point in Tigné. Well, Mark Farrugia emailed me and pointed out that he was running Café Cuba. Would I like to go and have a look at it and try one of their coffees?

I had missed Piazza Tigné altogether on my three hour visit so Mark gave me directions and it was easy to find. I had a delicious mug of Latte and he showed me round and told me a little about it. They offer two blends of coffee – the first is one of the best Italian blends, a mix of Arabica and Robusta. The second coffee Cubita is their own and they import it directly. This is a 100% Arabica coffee, deeply flavoured dark in colour. Mark believes that this blend could easily be compared to one of the best coffees in the world such as Blue Mountain. “An espresso of Cubita coffee is an excellent way of enjoying its aroma and superior taste,” he told me. In fact at Café Cuba some 40 variations of coffee based drinks from flavoured cappuccinos and lattes to frappuccinos are offered. “As always we focus on having the best coffee hence our punch line ‘Only the best beans,’” he remarked. Someone else emailed to say that there are other cafés too. I shall have to pay The Point another visit one of these days, when it is cooler.

  • don't miss