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Malta Gala Dinner

St Julians, December 9, 2012

The most festive event of the calendar which everyone aims to attend

The splendid Portomaso Suite at the Hilton Hotel was again the setting for our Patronal Gala Dinner, an event which everyone aims to attend.

It is however a poignant occasion. There is always much joy given that is the most festive event of the year but nevertheless it is tinged with a little sadness as it is the last one in the calendar!

Champagne and canapés set the mood. The room was buzzing with chatter and laughter; the women elegantly dressed in festive gowns, dramatically contrasted by the men’s sombre, black dinner jackets.

Once at table Chancelier Charles Gatt welcomed everyone before service commenced. For the first course carpaccio of salmon and perfectly roasted scallops were set before us. A hush descended and a whispered ‘best starter of the year’ could be heard. The textures of the salmon and the scallops complemented each other perfectly. The overall taste was delicate and fresh. The accompanying Azienda Vinicola Toscana 'Capannelle' Chardonnay 2007 (Tuscany, Italy) was just right.

The excellent porcini tart with beautifully caramelised venison maintained the reverent hush. The robust flavour of 2006 Villa Gresti di San Leonardo (Alto Adige, Italy) was an excellent match.

A Champagne and mint sorbet prepared us for the main course of rack of lamb rolled in powdered cep and roasted to slightly-pink perfection. Goat’s cheese and almond rösti potatoes, confit of sea garlic, grilled honey balsamic vegetables and Madeira wine lamb jus completed this exquisite dish. The Villa Gresti continued to please.

For dessert, Executive Chef Joseph Vella gave his imagination full rein in presenting us with a ‘fantasy of strawberries’: baked strawberry and almond crumble; strawberry parfait; wild strawberry ice cream with strawberry and balsamic reduction. Delicious!  Principe Pallavicini 'Stillato', Passito di Malvasia Puntinata (Lazio, Italy) was a great sweet wine choice to accompany the last course of a memorable last dinner for 2012.

Following dinner, Bailli Délégué Joseph Xuereb reminded us that it is always important to appreciate those who created the experience. From the hearty congratulations it was quite evident to me – and everyone else – that the Chef and his brigade were left in no doubt about our appreciation and gratitude.

Candida Hasselman d’Alby-Ball, Chargée de Presse