Are you a foodie or food lover? Enjoy fine dining? or just plain awesome cuisine? Well if you ever visit Malta…there is one restaurant you can’t miss.
The first night in Malta, we arranged to have dinner by the chefs at il-Horza restaurant. I researched a bit prior to leaving and knew that il-Horza was a fine dining restaurant in Valletta, received numerous positive reviews & accolades and thus prepared myself for a night of a “party in my mouth.”
The meal was prepared and served in our penthouse suite at the Palazzo Prince d’Orange Luxury Suite so there was no need to relocate after a day/night of travel. All four bloggers were present + our MTA representative Silvia and Daniel (our guest services manager) joined us for an evening of food, wine + intense conversation.
After being seated, we were served an aperitif. “Apéritif “is a French word derived from the Latin verb aperire, which means “to open.” Therefore, we opened the meal with this drink to stimulate our appetite and to preview what sort of meal our chef was preparing!
I do not have the name of the concoction written down but it did mix melon ball sorbet and gin together. I describe it as fresh, frothy + crisp!
+ Moving on the “Snacks” section – there were three to start with. First is the Pea sponge with smoked bacon powder.
Got that guys? Green sponge bread and then sprinkles of powdered bacon. Green is my favorite color so I was pretty jazzed up about that but peas are NOT a favored vegetable of mine. Luckily, the bread tasted nothing like peas – just light and chewy with bacon flavored throughout without the grease nor the calories.
+ Part two of the “snacks” section was Duck crackers, smoked duck, fermented cabbage.
I adored this dish. The crackers were crisp with a light touch of grease. Similar to pork cracklins. The duck was soft, fresh + thinly sliced and I honestly didn’t pay much attention to the cabbage. I helped myself to two servings of this without much hesitation. Yea, I’m a fatty.
+ Last but not least of the “snacks” course was Coddled eggs, potato mousse, parsley oil, and crispy potatoes.
I could tell that these three snacks were previews of what the rest would easily be (light to heavy). Set in a slightly larger than normal shot glass, I scooped up every bit of warm egg + mousse. The eggs and mousse were silky smooth with the crispness of the potatoes adding a satisfying crunch to every bite. The crispy potatoes on top reminded me of the toasted skin of McDonald’s hash browns. Yum.
THEN. DUN DUN DUN. To the REAL Tasting menu.
+ This first course was oh-so-sunny and cheerful. It is Carrot & parmesan frittata with carrot textures.
The liquid carrot puree was poured into the plate after it was served on the table. I am not particularly fond of carrots and only eat them because I’m an “adult” but when a restaurant does THIS to veggies, I don’t need to be convinced to try it.
The frittata was thick + dense but paired nicely with the soft and smooth carrot soup. Not my favorite dish but ONLY because the other dishes were that much more better.
+ OMG – this dish was one of my favorite courses if not my #1. Prawn tartare, prawn powder, onion custard, sweet red onions, chive blossoms
One of those moments where presentation is noticed + appreciated. Doesn’t this look TOO pretty to eat?
I love prawns (and shrimp even if they are smaller than their crustacean cousins). Nonetheless, I never knew you could eat prawn “tartare” style aka chopped raw. The prawn tartare was fresh and didn’t taste like the sea or fishy at all. I love onions and felt the onion custard and red petals gave the prawns a lot of flavor while the chive blossoms gave a slight crunch to every bite. Mmmm.
+ The third course was a mouthful: Cauliflower bechamel tortellini, cauliflower & black truffle puree, Cauliflower espuma, Cauliflower shavings
This dish was also a high favorite. The tortellini was cooked al dente – just enough to be chewy. Not too firm or soft. The bechamel sauce was light but savory. You could absolutely taste the black truffle. I cleared this dish in no time.
+ The Meat dish: Crispy pork belly, braised pork cheek, pork neck pie, beetroot
So – finally. The signature dish in which il-Horza restaurant is known for. Their pork cooked in three different ways.
The crispy pork belly was baked PERFECTLY. A crisp tough top layer with pork fat slightly melted over the meat in the layers underneath. This dish really reminded me of roast pork cooked the various Asian ways (Vietnamese, Cantonese style Chinese, and Filipino).
The braised pork cheek was melt-in-your-mouth butter soft and richly flavored – nicely paired with a slice of beet root. The pork neck pie was also fantastic – I loved the crusty flaky pastry it was encased in.
+ Dessert: Honey pannacotta – textures of peach
I love desserts – especially light desserts that isn’t just fruits, chocolate, or simple cakes/pies. Definitely have got a thing for souffles and panna cotta. My face showed a satisfied look when I saw what was for dessert.
The panna cotta was firm and dense – not soft like flan. The peach flavor shone throughout and I enjoyed scooping up every bite with a piece of soft ripe peach or the peach jelly dotted on top of the white plate.
+ In closing: Macrons – chocolate and cognac
Of course – delicious macrons to close out the meal.
During dinner, we had different pairings with the courses accordingly. Everybody had white, a red, and then a sweet dessert wine. The dinner conversation involved the four bloggers getting to know one another which was quite easy. Silvia and Daniel are both experts in knowing all about Malta and were able to answer most, if not all of our questions about the country. I learned about Maltese wines, island of Gozo, the property values of Malta as well as common comfort food.
It was hilarious that between every course, there was a pause in conversation because every blogger pulled out their camera or phone to snap pictures of each dish. It was only until each of us said “ok” then was anybody allowed to touch their food – especially the snacks because they were shared among the table.
Overall, a delicious meal and if you are ever in Valletta Malta, be sure to make a reservation and have dinner at il-Horza!!
+ Thank you Kurt, Charles, and Carlos
+ I was in Malta for the Blog Island Malta campaign. The campaign was created by the iambassador team with Malta Tourism Authority and the support of Air Malta. As always, no fakin’ in the makin’ – all thoughts and opinions are mine. Many thanks for the opportunity to discover + explore magical Malta!