We often talk about how finding food from small island nations can be difficult. However, we finally pinned one down- Malta. When we were in London, we actually found a Maltese restaurant with a lot of good press, Parparellu (93, Fulham Palace Road, W6 8JA London). Parparellu is located near Hammersmith, in Southwest London, and is a bright, cheerful and modern restaurant. We knew we were in the right place because there was even a Maltese Cross-shaped cake displayed proudly in the window! Upon entering the store, we were immediately greeted by the friendly Maltese proprietor, Joseph Pace, who helped explain all of the items for sale.
Along with a large glass deli counter of prepared foods, there were soda, wine and snacks from Malta for sale, as well as a freezer full of take-and-bake goods. Joe assured us that everything is made fresh in the store, except for the pastizzi – which are made in Malta and shipped over frozen. We were really impressed by the large variety of pastries and prepared dishes for sale, and though some seemed similar to Italian or Greek food – all being Mediterranean neighbors- others were completely unique and new to us. It is worth noting that Parparellu also serves Illy coffee, so we took the chance to get a quick pick-me-up.
Our favorite treat was the pouch-like qassatat pastry (£0.85), filled with either tuna, spinach or ricotta. We went with the ricotta. Another traditional Maltese pastry on offer was the pastizzi (£0.95), a lobster-tail-like delicate pastry filled with mushy peas and ricotta – and we thought mushy peas were just a fish and chips thing. For some more substantial mains, we got a takeaway box filled with feta and cucumber salad and couscous with golden raisins (pay by weight). We were completely impressed by how nice and fresh everything looked, and were also tempted by the baked macaroni-and-bolognese timpana. To finish up, we selected from among the vast array of Maltese cookies, including a Maltese take on the cannoli – spelled with a “k”. We were a bit overwhelmed by all the cookies, but Joe suggested that we try the Kwalezimar: chewy almond paste cookies flavored with orange blossom water.
After picking everything up we went to a park that was somewhat near to our AirB&B – the Kyoto garden of Holland Park. We dug into our food, and managed to attract the attention of squirrels and some peacocks while doing so. Everything was fresh and delicious, and not too much worse for wear after a tube ride. The pastries were definitely standouts, with tender, flaky crust, and flavorful fillings. The mushy peas even had a hint of curry flavor, which we were not expecting, but appreciated. We are so glad we visited Parparellu to finally get a taste Maltese food. Now if only we could find some stateside….