Food & drink
Maltese-ify your cheese board: 5 ways to make your selection a little more local
A cheesy feast done right!

Kristina Cassar Dowling

A cheese platter is quite a delicate thing. It’s a luxurious presentation of the finer things in life carefully chosen to tickle the palette and elevate the senses. But, it is more than the simple juxtaposition of flavours: it’s about textures, aromas, colour and, most importantly, balance. Introducing Maltese elements to your charcuterie is quite simple - here are some ideas on how you can add a little bit of these Southern Mediterranean isles to your board!

Something sweet

Every cheese platter should feature a sweet item to complement the more robust slabs like an aged parmigiano or salty pecorino. Jams or conserves usually do the trick. And, why not substitute your typical fig confit for a local quince jam? Elegantly sweet, it will trigger all your taste buds as soon as it reaches your mouth.

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Fresh fruit like local grapes, seasonal figs or even the odd strawberry could also add a touch of sweetness to your board.

Pretty pickled

Pickled foods are coming back into fashion, although their popularity never really faded. And, indeed, in recent years, there has been a rising demand for healthy items such as kraut or fermented kimchi (fermentation is a type of pickling which introduces lactic acid to the process).

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Local products, which are perfect for pickling, include eggs, onions and gbejniet. These food options will boost your cheese offering with a spot of acidity - plus, they pair really well with mature cheddar!

Fresh, so fresh

The term 'fresh' might need a bit of an explanation. Let’s clarify: everything you put on your cheese platter should be ‘fresh’, but locals will immediately understand the difference between fresh and dried gbejniet, for instance. 

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Fresh gbejniet are unpasteurized, and even though that might be frowned upon, most of the Maltese have been eating them since childhood and we turned out pretty OK (we like to think). Serve this local cheese with a drizzle of locally sourced extra virgin olive oil, some freshly ground pepper and local sea salt; add a generous wedge of ftira to make it complete.

Every vessel

You’ll need some crackers to scoop up the runny goat's cheese, as well as a bit of crunch for the soft Brie and, possibly, even an extra slice of Maltese hobza, just because it’s so mouth-wateringly tasty.

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Galletti (water biscuits), fresh from the baker, are the best addition to localise any cheese selection. Your best bet is to go for the plain option to let the cheese you’ve chosen speak for itself. But, if you can get your hands on the big square galletti, snatch them up - there’s really something special about the crunch they make.

Ridiculously red

Maltese wine is known to please even the biggest sommeliers and our gellewza and girgentina grapes are pretty good creators of fine vintage. The winter season usually calls for red, but if you’re feeling crisp and in the mood for something fruitier, opt for white instead.

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Try and match your wines with your cheeses: opt for a rich local Merlot if you're featuring dried gbejna on your platter; or liven your selection up with a local Pinot Grigio, paired with some fresh mozzarella.

A good cheese board would usually consist of a variety of cheeses: hard, soft, blue and goat. They all need to be fresh and in good quantities - just because there’s never enough. A good bottle of wine (and a spare one in the kitchen), some fresh bread and crackers are essential for your platter's success. And, don't forget, a conserve, fresh fruit, pickled delicacies and time. Lots and lots of time.


Kristina Cassar Dowling
Written by
Kristina Cassar Dowling
A local writer in love with the Maltese islands, Kristina is a hunter for all things cultural both in Malta and outside its shores. A curious foodie, music fanatic, art lover and keen traveller with an open mind and a passion for writing.

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