Stephen Travels

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A Decade of Fine Dining at Capistrano in Valletta, Malta

On my first night in Valletta as a Maltese culinary abecedarian, I devoured a three-hour, eight-course dinner at Legligin Wine Bar. Instantly hooked on Maltese food, I spent the next week eating my way through this small country that’s big on flavors. And it didn’t get much better than at Capistrano, where, over the course of the past 10 years, the flawless quality and presentation of the food has been expertly paired with the sharp, perfectly paced service and an attractive décor. Read more >

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Skeletons and Skulls That Will Keep You Up All Night

St. Peter in Chains, Rome, ItalyAs Halloween approaches, children — and more than a few adults — are deciding on their costume for this spooky holiday of ghosts, goblins, candy, and horror flicks. Skeletons have always been a staple costume, whether it’s a glow-in-the-dark bodysuit variety or a mask or makeup job largely hidden by an oversized hood on a Grim Reaper outfit. As for the other 364 days of the year, real ones have long been put on display for the devout to revere, and fake ones for Mexican communities to celebrate on the Day of the Dead. Skeletons and skulls have been depicted in art or gravestones for centuries as a symbol of our finite time on earth, fighting a guaranteed losing battle against the sand hourglass. They could be positively frightening (say, in the promotional poster for the movie Evil Dead 2) or rather amusing (as in a Scooby-Doo episode). However you react to them, they invariably promise the same denouement: The end is always near. Read more about the top five skeletons and skulls in the world >


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Big Flavors in Little Malta: Legligin Wine Bar’s Incomparable Tasting Menu

Before a recent trip to Malta, I had never sampled Maltese food. It was a cuisine that simply didn’t exist where I lived, and one that had never crossed my mind to seek out. But after a nearly three-hour dinner at Legligin Wine Bar on my first night in the country’s capital of Valletta, I was completely addicted. Malta’s culinary offerings reflect the country’s complicated history, during which this archipelago was occupied by Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Muslims, Normans, Aragonese, Knights of St. John, French, and British, culminating in a complex and outstanding cuisine that this superior restaurant deftly and deliciously captures. Read more about Legligin >