Vanessa Zhâ & Olivier Poels 07:22, December 17, 2023

Gastronomy, leisure... Every weekend at 6:50 a.m., Olivier Poels and Vanessa Zha present a product, a producer and all the good plans to re(discover) a region.

Christmas in Malta

This morning we're flying off for Christmas... in Malta?

And yes, because Malta is not just about its beaches in the summer. It is a good destination in Winter, at Christmas, the weather is mild and the prices are not excessive. And it's one of the most religious countries in Europe, very much rooted in tradition. In every village, on every street corner, you will find nativity scenes or nativity scenes... including the Maltese nativity scene, Presepju, which is traditionally made of local limestone.

And Valletta is also a very cultural city, it was even the European Capital of Culture a few years ago, right?

Exactly, in 2018! And it is first and foremost a heritage town since the 16th century. It owes its name to the French Grand Master of the Order of Malta: Jean de la Valette. He was the initiator of its construction in 1566: when the Knights landed in 1530 the city did not exist, and it was in the 3 cities opposite that they settled. These 3 cities are my favorite... Absolute charm... away from the crowds... We wander through the alleys, we discover the palaces, the hidden squares, we push open the doors of the churches... little gems. To go from one city to another, you have to take Luzzu, these small wooden boats all colored marked with a Phoenician eye - it protects from the vagaries of the sea - The unmissable is Vittoriosa Birgu... with Fort Sant' Angelo ...

Do you recommend other places on the island?

Mdina, the ancient capital surrounded by ramparts... Lots of cachet. A city of know-how: most of the glass baubles that adorn Malta's fir trees are made in Mdina. And then there's the island of Gozo, Malta's little sister... 3 times smaller and therefore preserved, rural... They are separated by a small 5 km stretch of sea that can be crossed by boat. Its small capital, Victoria, has kept all its poetry. Statues and bow windows in all the alleys... The atmosphere is very special at Christmas: there is even an impressive Bethlehem Living Nativity scene recreated in Għajnsielem! And inquire about visit to book your Tuk tuk, just to go around the island.

Where do we put our suitcases?

In Valletta, at La Casa Rocca Piccola, bed and breakfast located in a palace of the Knights of Malta. It was built in the 16th century for Don Pietro La Rocca. Today it is the home of the 9th Marquis of Piro. And it has a dual function: private museum and bed and breakfast.

And for Olivier; AX Rosselli: the only hotel in Malta with two Michelin-starred restaurants.


It's fashionable, it's from Italy, it's a tradition at Christmas... This is the panettone, the large, moist cake that contains raisins and orange peel.


- 500 gr flour

- 2 eggs + 2 yolks

- 75 gr raisins

- 1 small glass of rum

- 50 g candied lemon, cut into small pieces

- 2 orange and lemon zest

- 150 gr butter

- 15 g baker's yeast

- 12 cl milk

- 12 cl lukewarm water

- 1 vanilla bean

- 75 gr brown sugar

- 1 pinch of salt


- Rehydrate the grapes in the rum the day before

- Put the yeast in warm water with a pinch of sugar and let it rise

- Mix the eggs, salt, vanilla, sugar, flour and add the sourdough starter

- Add the butter, dried and candied fruit, zest and knead well

- Place in a bowl and let rest for 1h30

- Knead again and let rest for 30 minutes

- Place in a buttered and floured tin

- brush with a little melted butter

- Bake at 200° for 10 minutes, then lower the oven to 140° and leave for another 40 minutes