We attended the Malta International Food Festival at Mdina yesterday. I was quite looking forward to it as it was originally the weekend of the 8th of May but was canceled due to bad weather. We also went to attend the festival the previous weekend but was not aware it was canceled so there was a lot of anticipation for it.
The festival was held in Mdina ditch which is quite epic to view by itself and definitely not to be missed when visiting Malta. The festival featured food from around the world, Mexican, Chinese, Vietnamese, Maltese and many more. Most of the stalls were local restaurants and companies promoting their business. When arriving at the festival we purchased some tokens as we were told to buy food we needed to pay with tokens but for drinks we had to pay with money. This was not completely true because some food stands wouldn’t accept tokens as payment and you could buy drinks from some with tokens so this was a bit confusing and frustrating.
To my disappointment we didn’t get to try so much different types of food as most of the stands sold full dishes priced from 6 – 8 euro for a meal. There was a Turkish kebab stand which were selling donor kabab and falafel for 8 euro for a meal which we thought was extortionate for a kebab in Malta. The prices at the festival did surprise me quite a bit as there were a lot of Maltese people at the festival but it looked like most places had tourist prices. You can get a decent meal at a restaurant on the seafront in St Julian’s or Sliema for around 8 euro.
We stopped at the Chinese restaurant stall and they had a few tasters which we could buy instead of a full meal. We chose Satay chicken, veggie spring rolls and fish cakes which were all very tasty and worked out about 1euro per piece which we felt was fare as we were prepared to pay to taste.
We popped over the the Mediterranean and Vietnamese tent where the menu stated ‘Tasters 2 euro’ When speaking to one of the staff members I was told that I can choose what ever I want to taste so I walked over to the man which looked like he was serving food and pointed out the dishes that I wanted to try. He then pointed at a taster plate and told me this is what you can taste for 4 euro. I reminded him that it says 2 euro of their menu and he told me that I can only try a small dessert for 2 euro, nothing else. At this point someone, who I assume was the manager walked over and asked what I would like. I explained to him I would like to taste different things and he offered 2 stews that I could taste from which I assumed was the Vietnamese side, but that was it. This was really confusing and annoying, because you are at a food festival but you can’t taste different things unless you buy full meals. The manager (lets just call him that for now) saw my annoyance and offered me a free plate of rice or chicken which at this point I was too annoyed to accept and politely declined.
We continued on in search of some actual food to taste and found a stand which seemed to be run by the same people as MeLounge which we attended an event at the weekend before, you can read about it here. We managed to get some of the lovely wine we so enjoyed at the event, which I would say was the highlight of the day apart from the Chinese food we tried.
We also didn’t manage to go to all the stalls as they started packing up about 30mins after we arrived so we also didn’t have the opportunity to try all of them. They started packing up around 4:30 which was strange considering the event page says 11am -19pm on Sunday and some places looked like they didn’t open on Sunday at all.
In the end for me the festival has a long way to go as far as food festivals go. We didn’t travel an hour on a bus to go to one stall and eat a full meal to be too full to try other meals, we came to taste, experience and learn but instead we were met with high prices and being unable to taste most of the food at the event. If I wanted to have a full meal I would of just gone to a restaurant.
The event has a a lot of potential, great location, great idea and I hope by next year when they do the event again that there will be more freedom to taste food and experience more.