Category Archives: Reviews

Exploring our new life & some lovely discoveries on the way 

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..for a review on The Villa Kitchen in Attard (Malta), scroll down

Yesterday, our little sunshine Zoe turned 2 months. Yes, 2 months already since our sweet baby girl was born and has put our world as we knew it upside down! It’s simply incredible how fast time is flying, how much can change in such a short time and yet feel natural and right…

Maybe the journey is not so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place. 

Well, I’m definitely discovering this new ME. Being a mummy, being responsible for this wonderful little creature of life, but also to my new role as a mummy wife, a mummy friend, and soon also a mummy without a “normal” job anymore. Yes, sadly my work for SOS Children’s Villages will come to an end next year – but, hey – again – who knows what it’s good for, what new adventures and possibilities are waiting for me?? Of course it’s a lot of change at once and sometimes these changes feel overwhelming. But then, as always, I try to turn every challenge into something positive.. and maybe some of these things might be helpful for others of you in similar situations.

Zoe

This new mummy ME

Yes, nothing in your life is as it used to be. There are all these new things to learn, to do, you lack sleep and time for yourself, your partner and all the things you liked to do (like cooking for example – hahaha!!). But when these things start to stress me out I take a deep breath, look at Zoe and become aware of this incredible love and the miracle of life.  The rest I can work on…

No more time for yourself? I’m a big believer in the saying “You have to be happy to make others happy”. So I asked my husband for two outings a week. Be it a gentle restorative yoga class or a healing massage for my aching shoulders and back (hello, night feeds!) – I think us mummies deserve it and have to full right to ask for these little breaks if somehow feasible. For the times he can’t make it (that’s life) we started introducing a babysitter two weeks ago (heart breaking at first but also very liberating). I’m telling you, these are the little things which keep me sane, healthy, relaxed and happy so I can spend all the love and energy on our little bundle of joy just as she deserves ❤

No more time to cook? Yes, I know – I actually love to cook. But I only realize now with how much peace and time I used to cook. In the past, after I finished work, I had plenty of time to think about new dishes to try, to go to different places to get ingredients, invite friends for dinners and brunches or to just spend an evening in with some red wine, cooking and experimenting with new things. Well, not for now and the near future I guess 😉 But you know what? It doesn’t always have to be like that. Things in our kitchen are getting more simple (even though I always thought I do simple food but still). So when Zoe is napping during the day and I (occasionally) have some energy left, I started cooking bigger batches of food (think soups, sauces, roasted veg) which can be stored or frozen and heated up whenever we need it and we’re too exhausted to cook (which is most of our evenings, ha!)

Also, I use the opportunity and free time to eat out more often! Like this we get a good walk, social time AND – food. Thank god there are some really nice affordable places around here like Mint, Gabbana, Pure, Grassy Hopper just to name a few. So keep your eyes open and also reach out to other people! Babies are a great topic to start a conversation, which brings me to my next point…

No more social life? Yep, even though a baby keeps you busy you suddenly have a lot of free time to spend with your baby. Many of my mummy friends with older kids confessed to me that they got very bored at home, started feeling lonely and thus felt depressed at some stage which isn’t of advantage for anyone, your baby, your partner and yourself.

This challenge is even more difficult if you’re expats like us with no family around and most of your mummy friends go back to work very early (as it’s common here in Malta and many other countries unfortunately). So what to do?? I for myself started reaching out and researching for new activities from the moment I felt recovered from birth (maybe 3-4 weeks after). And you would be surprised how much you find! Why not staying in touch with some people you met at pregnancy yoga or your parentcraft course? Call a mummy-friend which you haven’t seen in a long time and see if you still get along or even better now, that you’re both in the same boat? Also try to stay active. We did a lovely Baby Massage course which Zoe loved and my hubby and I now use the techniques every night for our evening routine. Also, we’re attending a Baby Sensory course where we all learn lots of fun activities to help and strengthen our babies senses (think sounds, colors, textures etc.). In January we want to start with mummy and baby yoga and swimming classes and there is much more to check out in the new year! Just don’t overdo it, otherwise you start feeling overwhelmed which is the last thing you want. For me personally two activities a week are enough but everybody is different of course… What counts in the end is that courses are lots of fun and also a great opportunity to meet new people! Of course you won’t always resonate with all (just because we’re all mummies doesn’t mean you’ll be friends with everyone) but you will surely meet some lovely people on the way which might become good friends one day 🙂

So this is it so far.. my first conclusions and learnings from the first two months as a mummy! And of course this wouldn’t be my blog if I didn’t share something culinary with you in the end. This time it’s a review about a lovely place which I discovered after one of my baby sensory classes in Balzan. The Villa Kitchen in Attard (Malta).

The Villa Kitchen

The Villa Kitchen

Actually I’ve heard about this place several times and I’ve been wanting to check it out in a while. I was never sure if it’s only open temporarily or only in summers but now that I’m in this area every week for our class, this was the chance to check it out! The Villa Kitchen is on the grounds of the beautiful Villa Bologna with their stunning gardens. Also The Veg Box, a small shop for organic vegetables, run by the sweet Emanuela, can be found there. So think gorgeous old Maltese buildings, olive trees, pink Bougainvillea flowers, small patches of vegetables of all kinds and lots of space, peace and quiet. A haven so to say. You can access the Villa Kitchen either from the pottery shop which Villa Bologna is known for, or through the big iron gate of The Veg Box if you have a pram like me.

Very often this is all a place can offer: location. Not with The Villa Kitchen. Run by Marina, a lovely lady who’s originally from Sweden, this place is boasting of charm. It’s very cosy and informal. More like your auntie’s kitchen/ living room (or like you wish it would be in your dreams – ha!)
When we arrived a friend of Marina, Patricia, stood in for her and gave us a super warm welcome. After our first moments of delight having found this place and hungry as only breastfeeding mummies can be, we immediately asked for food which is always different there every day. Patricia offered us freshly cinnamon buns from the oven and told us that she was just preparing a fresh quiche with kale from the gardens for lunch. Of course we wanted all of it! So we started backwards. Cinnamon buns and coffee to start with and quiche with fresh salad for later 😀 The babies got fed first and then happily dozed off into their nap while we entered foodie heaven. Not only the buns with their yummy caramel crust were exquisite, but when we spotted the pumpkin risotto and lampuki (which was prepared on order) on the table next to us of course we couldn’t resist trying that either. Accompanied by freshly baked bread there was absolutely NO other place in the world we wanted to be right then! It was simply a feast.. the quiche warm and with a lovely creamy inside, the home-baked bread, still warm with some lovely olive oil, the fresh rucola salad from the garden topped with edible savin flowers, the risotto rich and creamy with hints of curry and sunflower seeds – it was all so simple, yet original and presented in such a pretty way with a big portion of passion and love for what they do. Cooking simple home-made local food.

Marina, a big well done! you’ll definitely see me around more often and I’m more than happy to spread the word for you.

Foodies, don’t miss this place when you’re visiting Attard and don’t forget to combine it with a walk in the wonderful San Anton Gardens.

Big love,

N xx

The calm before the storm.. 

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Dar-Tal-Kaptan Gozo

Dar-Tal-Kaptan B&B, Ghasri Gozo

It’s already a week ago that we went to Gozo for our last little weekend trip before baby arrives and I don’t want to miss the chance to praise the cute gem which we found in Ghasri:  B&B Dar-Tal-Kaptan. Don’t miss to scroll down further for a yummy smoothie recipe and lots of book tips and recommendations how to help pregnancy the natural way.

Review B&B Dar-Tal-Kaptan
From the moment of your arrival, the hosts Peter & Warren spoiled us with their friendliness, a super cosy home with spacious rooms and lots and lots of attention to detail all over. The rooms are all decorated in different themes (ours was Serenity <3) and offer lots of privacy and comfort. We had our own little kitchenette with water, teas, coffee and a bowl of fresh fruit in the fridge waiting for us. The views from our room and own terrace were just lush and green and perfect for a daily gently yoga session in the morning. Blissfulness and calm are the words which come up my mind when I remember these moments…

Breakfast let my foodie heart beat faster. Next to all the usual things like cold cuts and cheeses, fresh fruit and veg, yoghurts, muesli etc Warren made us a different healthy smoothie with interesting combinations in his Vitamix and freshly prepared eggs every day. When you decide to just chill and read at the pool like us (see book tips below), you’ll get cold flavored water with fresh herbs from the garden (think rosemary and lemons) and a little surprise during the day like slices of frozen melon (such a simple and yummy idea!) or an organic apple sorbet.  Peter and Warren are always up for an interesting chat when you feel like it but give you total privacy at the same time. With joy I remember inspiring conversations about food, yoga and traveling… 🙂 It was the perfect place for us to just relax in their wonderful garden, paddle on a lilo in the refreshing pool or reading on a sun bed in the shade and enjoying the sound of the palm trees in the wind and the green around us.

To guarantee absolute relaxation the B&B generally has a no child policy but when you book all 3 rooms you can bring children which we’ll definitely try to organize with our friends in the future.

Thanks for an absolutely wonderful weekend, guys! We’ll surely remember it forever and will try to come again soon 🙂

The Calm Before The Storm Smoothie
Of course I also had to recreate a bit of a twisted version of Warren’s smoothies, so here comes a yummy new recipe for a healthy smoothie.

Next to lots of goodieness from organic wheatgrass powder (alkalizing), cinnamon (good for digestion), I added my chocolate pregnancy vitamin protein powder, so if you’re not pregnant please take raw cacao and a protein powder of your choice instead (e.g. pea or hemp)

Chocolay green smoothie

What you need..
(1 portion)

  • 1/2 a banana (if you don’t have one at home, I always keep chopped up frozen ones in the fridge – you never know when you feel like the next raw banana ice cream hehe..)
  • 1 cup of milk of your choice (I used organic brown rice but you can take almond, soy, oat or even organic cow’s milk if you drink it)
  • 3 tablespoons of chocolate protein powder (I used this pregnancy powder throughout the whole pregnancy which was great, but you can also just use your favorite protein powder and add 2 teaspoons of raw cacao)
  • 2 tablespoons of wheatgrass (or any other greens like spirulina, chlorella etc.)
  • 2 pinches of cinnamon

What to do..
Easy peasy – put it all in your blender, mix for a minute and enjoy 🙂

 

Books and other pregnancy tips

Book tip: Bountiful, beautiful, blissful

Book tip: Bountiful, beautiful, blissful

Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful: Experience the Natural Power of Pregnancy and Birth with Kundalini Yoga and Meditation
This book is pure bliss and positivity for the bump, heart and soul, even if you’re not into yoga and mediation – I promise. Recommended by my lovely Prenatal Yoga Malta teacher Sarah at the wonderful freemyme in Sliema.

The Gentle Birth Method: The Month-by-month Jeyarani Way Programme
Lots of helpful tips about visualization, relaxation, nutrition and especially holistic recommendations for each week e.g. which areas of the body to work on with reflexology. Talking of reflexology: if you’re lucky to be in Malta go and get some appointments with Cat from Butterfly Therapies, nothing makes you calmer and more centered 🙂

Die Hebammensprechstunde (freely translated “Consultation-hour with a midwife”)
Recommended by German speaking friends this book is like the bible of natural oriented midwives. Full of tips about herbs, teas, essential oils, homeopathy etc. So so happy I listened and bought it! So far in German only which is a real pity – maybe I should approach the author and propose to market it in English speaking countries 😉 Many of the herbal tea and oil mixes you can even buy in pharmacies in Austria and Germany so I asked my mum to send me some. But at least I found some good sources for homeopathy and essential oils here in Malta as well if you’re looking for some get in touch with the lovely homeopath Ashley from Tigne Holistic Centre or the always helpful Charlene from Soap Cafe.

The New Contented Little Baby Book: The Secret to Calm and Confident Parenting
Only in the beginning stages and partly a bit extreme but I get the idea of introducing a routine and will maybe take out some elements (some others definitely not 😉

This list of recommendations would not be complete without mentioning Robert Grech from Osteopathy Malta who helped me several times with an existing hip issue which came up again during my pregnancy and was sorted out completely within a few appointments. Yep, you don’t have to suffer physically, just because you’re pregnant – just get help and do something against it!

Also, thank you to Dini Martinez, a lovely friend, yoga teacher and experienced doula who travels the world with her family on a sailing boat (check out Sailing Yoga Family) for holding a great workshop on pregnancy and birth a few months ago which was really inspiring and helpful, too!

Last but not least I also want to say that I’m really impressed and positively surprised by the 7-week-parentcrafts-course organized by the Malta Midwives which is available for free at Mater Dei Hospital. I didn’t expect a lot and took out heaps and heaps of great information. Keep up the great job ladies!

What a network of wonderful people I have in my life, aye? Feeling really blessed and grateful to have you all here on this little island ❤

Now all I can say is that I’m super excited and I hope all these preparations will help our big event ahead and maybe help some of you, too. Of course you can never really be fully prepared and everything can always go differently all the time but in the end I think it helps to know what’s gonna happen, what you can do to help to do it the natural way and to tell yourself you prepared yourself as good as you can.

Let’s just hope it will all go well with the final spurt, birth and afterwards and I’ll definitely keep you posted.. One thing I know for sure, it was an amazing process and experience so far and I’m super grateful for all the love around me (you know who you are!), all the things I learned so far and look forward to the new chapter ahead!

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch with me via the blog or the nadisunshine FB page.

 

Lots of love & good vibes, especially to all the other mummies to be out there ❤
N xxx

Cooking class with Claire Borg in Victoria. A little charming piece of Gozo

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I love cooking classes. They are inspiring, you learn new things, share your thoughts and experiences with other foodies and try new things outside of your own box. Claire’s cooking classes in the heart of Victoria are so much fun. It’s all mentioned above and so much more. It’s like a little piece of Gozo. It’s authentic, unpretentious and delicious. It’s casual still professional and foremost charming. For me coming to Gozo always means popping in at Mojo’s (her restaurant/cafe) in Victoria but from now on also attending on of here classes. That’s a promise.

Tonight’s class had a focus on beet root. We made a delicious soup of beet root with green apples, beet root relish, beet root pickles as well as a beet root Valhornona chocolate cake.

Thank you and keep up the great work, Claire!

More info on Claire’s classes, her cooking and her restaurant on her blog Claire Borg

Thai delights!

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One thing I sometimes miss here in Malta is proper ethnic food. Having lived in Vienna before we moved here, we were really spoiled with choice of food from around the world. Vienna’s loveliest food market, the Naschmarkt, was 5min around the corner and you could find anything a foodie’s heart could wish for.. Lebanese, Jamaican, Creole, Indian, Turkish, Japanese of the best quality – you name it.

Malta being quite a small island in the Mediterranean (thus called “the rock”), naturally offers lots of delicious places with Mediterranean dishes but all in all less variety in food. What I miss the most here is a proper, genuine Thai restaurant (yes, Thailand is one of my favorite places in the world. Also, because of it’s kitchen which also led me to attending some courses and trying to cook Thai myself).

Anyways, the search for a cosy, casual place for genuine  Thai food is over! In the middle of Gzira, just next to the road, where you’d never expect it is a small little bar called Times Gone By (for the Maltese readers, it’s just opposite Azzopardi’s fish shop).

Surprisingly you don’t only find a huge variety of over 40 foreign beers and a super friendly host, but also some really amazing Thai food. Don’t expect a fancy, pretty restaurant, it more looks like a bar in an old antique shop, but the atmosphere is great and the owner Ferry welcomes you with a big smile and heart. But the secret lies in the kitchen. Ferry’s wife is from Thailand herself and therefore really nows what she does. Our Tom Yum and Tom Ka Gai soups were like in Thailand: fresh, spicy and super yummy. Also the mains (we had a red curry and Thai noodle salad) were just delicious. All fresh, tasty and only leaving you with the thought when you can make it again next time. The belgium beers to accompany our meal were the perfect match. Also, the prices are really good (32 eur for 4 courses and two beers).

Cut the long story short: whoever in Malta likes genuine Thai food in a relaxed environment, check out Times Gone By.
Ferry, we’ll definitely see you again soon!

Times gone by - Thai food, Gzira, Malta

ราตรีสวัสดิ์ or good night 😉

Love, Nxx

P.S. Please note that Times Gone by will soon move to a new location. So better check their Facebook Page to go to the right place whenever you wish to check it out.

Chez Nico in Innsbruck, Austria. Pure vegetarian bliss!

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Hey everyone and first, a big SORRY for being so blog-lazy the last few weeks. As those of you who also live in the South might confirm, summer is always a bit crazy, full of visitors and travels and if you ever have some time off you rather spend it on the beach than in front of a computer. Anyways, I hope you all had a great summer, too – it’s good to be back!

Today I have to, yes I say HAVE TO on purpose, share my incredible culinary highlight of this week, if not the month with you. My work for SOS Children’s Villages sometimes brings me to my hometown Innsbruck in Austria. Every time I go, my stay is packed with work, meeting family and friends and also one regular date with my old friend A, a food lover himself. A and me have a pact. We promised each other some months ago to, first, always meet when I come to Innsbruck and, second, spoil ourselves with a gorgeous dinner in one of the best restaurants in town. Our choice for the second time in a row was Chez Nico, a restaurant which used to be French but changed it’s direction a while ago to strictly vegetarian due to the beliefs of the owner and chef, Nico himself.

What can I say?? Places like Chez Nico are the reason why I call myself a food lover. I definitely don’t mind to spend some money on food if it’s worth it. Often it’s sadly not the case… but not at Chez Nico. The food offers all which makes a foodie’s heart beat faster… it’s creative, totally unusual, sometimes crazy and is always made with ingredients coming from sustainable sources of best quality.  The different dishes have a twist, combine the normal with the abnormal and offer the wildest experiences through different textures, colors and temperatures.  The restaurant itself is small and cosy, yet cool and simple at the same time. The last key to success of winning my heart is the staff. Nico himself is not only an artist in the kitchen, he’s truly inspiring and ahead of his time (changing from a typical French restaurant to a purely vegetarian restaurant in a city like Innsbruck speaks for itself!). Often he joins you for a chat after finishing in the kitchen and you end up having the most amazing conversations with him and the super friendly main waiter Manni. Also their wines are excellent, served with a carafe of Tyrolean water, what else can you wish for?

There is always one set menu of 7 courses, all light and yummy so better don’t skip courses – it’s definitely worth the price of 60 euros. Chez Nico also offers a lunch menu with two courses at 13 ,50 eur which are a  great way to start the experience or if you work nearby (which I unfortunately don’t).

But enough talk, check out last time’s creations to get a picture yourself….

Chez Nico

Pics from left to right, top to bottom:

Japanese Aubergine with Kombu, Miso, Kuzu and Yuzu

Roasted Beetroots with blackberries, soy sauce, lavendar and horse radish

Ash & Coal with truffles, porcino mushrooms, almonds and hazelnuts

Forest refreshment espuma of Swiss pine, swiss pine & cranberry powder and cranberry granita

Plum & Cabbage with elderberries and tarragon

Tagliatelle of black salsify with lapsang souchong tea, blueberries, nettles and tasmanian pepper

Tobinambour & Honey with beer, bergamot and toffee

To the whole team of Chez Nico: keep up the great work! I hope enough food lovers will find you to show you the appreciation you deserve ❤

Love from Malta,
Nadine xx

Some lovely photos and more info on their website http://www.chez-nico.at/fotogalerie/

Waterbiscuit @Intercontinental, Malta

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Oh my! How I’ve missed my poached egg for the last years. Being a foodie and lover of cooking I still haven’t managed to make them as nicely as my mum makes them. It’s one of my favorite childhood memories when she served my poached egg with spinach and tomatoes on toast to bed for my bday, the whole family sleepy and singing happy bday for me in the dark Austrian winter morning. Ahhh good sweet memories!

Anyways, I still love poached eggs but as I said never successfully made them in my own kitchen. Now there’s no more reason to moan about it. Finally a great bfast spot opened up its doors in Malta, straight at the Intercontinental hotel in Paceville.

First to say, their menu is pure joy to read. You can choose from a vast choice of eggs, especially versions of eggs Benedict (poached) which are their signature dish. Besides, there’s different sweet and savory dishes and a lovely choice of juices and smoothies. The staff is very professional and friendly – another big plus in Malta as its not always the case 😉 The design is simple and cool and the pricing is totally okay. Definitely not the last time we’ve been there!

The only little downside was their spinach cucumber celery juice which got me really excited when I spotted it in the menu. They use lots of ice with it,more like a smoothie – not really a juice from my point of view. There seems to be a different understanding of the management about it (had a nice discussion with the bartender who tried to explain and really tried hard :). Anyways, you’re better off with the beet root mint juice which is a real juice and absolutely lovely!

Many happy bfasts, lovely people!
xxNadine

Taxbiex Waterpolo Club: Treats with a view

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My favorite orders lately: a collection of side dishes. Like this home made parmeggiana with baby spinach and mange tout with lemon. Yummy, healthy and great if you don’t wanna spend a fortune every time you go out 🙂

This meal I enjoyed at the Taxbiex Waterpolo Club which I can highly recommend. Amazing views on the sea and Valletta, very friendly and professional service staff and: the best parmeggiana on the island! A must when you live in Malta or you’re here on a visit.

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