It’s becoming a week for gastronomes here on MaltaInsideOut as we head through a feast of food. We started, in reverse though, with dessert (the strawberries’ post) and move on now to talk about i primi and secondi.
We were somewhat curious about an item on our Events listing about a two-evening foodie event (13 & 14 April), Degustation: Riso, Risotto, that combines the best of local, seasonal Maltese ingredients with the mastery of a renowned Italian chef, Gabriele Ferron.
With taste buds whetted, we dug deeper and discovered the people behind it were fellow Malta bloggers – brother and sister Karl and Olivia – going under the name of Eatmania. Their mission? Probably it’s to see Maltese raw ingredient shine more by learning a thing or two from our near neighbour Italy. Karl tells us more…
Why Eatmania? What’s it all about, where did it come from and where would you like to see it going?
Eatmania started as a blog. Olivia was inspired after watching the movie Julie and Julia about the parallel lives of an America TV chef and a blogger who cooks her recipes. We then continued to develop it into a blog featuring tried recipes, travel experiences with direct reference to food, information on food and the importation of exclusive Italian products.
Food is a priority in our family. We travel to savour good food, we make our lunches and dinners a socialising event, we invite friends over and prepare enticing menus for them; we produce home-made preserves such as marmalades, jams, limoncello and so on. We buy recipe books, read articles on food, and have the urge to cook and experiment with different recipes. Food is our daily focus.
The purpose of Eatmania is to share our passion and to educate and inform our followers of anything related to genuine food. We also want to learn more so all type of feedback can trigger our curiousity and we research, analyse and try to find out more about it.
Is this riso extravaganza your first event? What’s the rationale behind it? Can we expect more gastronomic events from Eatmania?
This is our first event as Eatmania. However, we used to run a restaurant in Valletta up to around two years ago. We are organising these events together with our selected suppliers in order to promote their products and mission. Hopefully, we will be doing other events in Malta. But we may change formats so as not to set a house style about what we do!
Eatmania seems to be a connoisseur of fine ingredients, mostly those imported from Italy. Where’s the Malta link up?
Part of our mission is to support local produce (meat, fish, vegetables) and import niche products from regional parts of Italy, that are not available in the Maltese market. The riso, risotto event does just that – it pairs local Maltese produce with the traditional risotto recipes from Verona.
What would you say represents the best of Maltese cooking? (flavours, ingredients we have to hand, our traditions, and so on)
I must say that local produce is something we need to be more proud of and use more in our cooking. We have fruit and veg suppliers (farmers) who provide us with the most genuine of ingredients in season; crops which are grown on their own land. In addition, the farmers’ market in Ta Qali has left positive results (this is held Tuesdays and Saturday mornings. Consumers buy direct from the farmers, removing the middle man and hopefully gaining fresher produce that way).
Also, recipes from previous generations are a treasure to hold on to. The sad thing about Maltese cooking is that many Maltese are interested in large portions and not in genuine food. We, as Eatmania, would like to introduce a culture of genuine and simple food which can be prepared easily, with a low budget, and yet still giving excellent results. Whenever we visit Sicily or the Italian mainland we always repeat this to ourselves… we have the ingredients and they are of high quality, we just need to know in Malta how to create the right dishes and have the know-how to choose the correct ingredients in the correct season.
As a former restaurateur, you must have a feel for the dining out scene in Malta. What area do you think our chefs and restaurants need to improve on?
I feel that the problem is that many restaurants open without any professional guidance or any inspiring thoughts. I believe that many restaurant owners in Malta lack the know-how to prepare simple dishes beautifully, taking the unadulterated, fresh ingredients and letting them speak for themselves. For instance, why do I have to order spaghetti vongole (clams) only to find it full of garlic and parsley. The vongole themselves, if fresh, can create a delicate palate; the garlic is just added for the smell and taste. Likewise with our traditional hobz biz-zejt (Maltese bread) full of onions and when you can do a simple hobz with a high quality olive oil, some fresh basil and a couple of Maltese capers and olives. At Eatmania, we reflect on these issues all the time. The same goes for pizza: the majority of customers unfortunately believe that the more ingredients a pizza has the better and therefore totally miss savouring the flavour of a few, but fine, ingredients.
More info on the Riso, Risotto Degustation Event with Italian Chef Gabriele Ferron on Eatmania.
Photos: courtesy Eatmania.