There’s nothing more tantalizing to our taste-buds on a hot balmy summer evening than the smell of hot charcoal wafting through the air and the anticipation of meat or fish infused with spices being slowly cooked over a grill. Eating outside is a joyful experience on Gozo’s sunshine isle – whether dining from one of our many shore-sided restaurants or gathering with friends and family for a picnic or BBQ close to the shore; sipping a glass of something chilled as you chat and eat, whilst waiting for one of Gozo’s celebrated sunsets.
Although it has become a summertime activity for many of us, not a lot is known about where the term barbecue originates from. Some believe it dates back to when the Spanish landed in the Caribbean, because the Spanish used the word barbacoa to refer to the islander’s method of slowly-cooking meat over a wooden platform. We just know that tenderized smoked food when it is cooked and eaten outside in the summer tastes amazing! So, if you are a fan of all things BBQ then read on as this week’s VisitGozo blog brings you locations in Gozo where you can BBQ responsibly in the open air.
Mġarr ix-Xini, is a beautiful pebbled bay, found to the West of Mġarr Harbour. It is one of Gozo’s most secluded beaches and is nestled within a gorge and a steep sided natural valley. Although this quiet idyllic bay made international headlines a few years ago, after it caught the attention of Hollywood A-listers Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt who fell in love with the beach and used it as a backdrop for their movie ‘By the Sea’. BBQing is allowed for smaller groups of people. (Groups of 10 or more people should request a permit from Sannat Local Coucil).
Ħondoq Bay, referred to by locals as Hondoq ir-Rummien which rather intriguingly translates to Pomegranate Moat in English. This lesser known bay off the beaten track is cherished by locals for its stunning crystal blue waters and its small, pretty sandy and pebbly beach. Because there are small caves found at water level, the bay also attracts lots of divers and snorkelers. You will find Ħondoq Bay just under the village of Qala on the southern coast of Gozo. BBQing is allowed off the beach away from the sand. (Large groups should seek a permit from Qala Local Council).
You will find Ix-Xatt l-Aħmar on Gozo’s South East coast, just below Fort Chambray. This secluded bay is another much cherished local gem, perfect for swimming and diving among its tranquil clear waters or exploring its stunning local scenery. BBQing is permitted away from the beach, off of the sand. (Groups of 10 or more must seek a permit from Għajnsielem local council).
lx-Xlendi Bay is a charming Gozitan fishing village on the southwest coast of Gozo, popular for swimming, snorkeling and diving. Xlendi’s small sandy beach is an popular haven for young families, although more thrill-seeking aqua lovers head further along the stretch of rocks bordering the beach to swim and snorkel, delving into the delights of its deepest waters.
BBQ’s are only permitted on the rocks, heading away from the beach where you will see a few wooden tables for tourists to take in the view. Small self-contained BBQ’s are permitted. Larger groups will require a permit. Although, another advantage of Xlendi Bay is that it has an amazing selection of shore-facing restaurants alongside the bay which are renowned for serving up fine Gozitan food, especially fresh fish caught daily from the colourful fishing boats bobbing its shores. So, if your barbecued food leaves you hungry for more, you can guarantee there’ll be plenty more succulent food available for you to eat nearby.
We all know BBQing is a fantastic way to enjoy food in the open air – but only if you BBQ responsibly. Always consider the safety of others and remember, beaches are public spaces to be enjoyed by all. You must use a portable BBQ, it is illegal to light fires. When BBQing, avoid the main beach sandy areas and ensure you dispose of all rubbish carefully. If you are planning a BBQ for a group of 10 people or more, then you must contact the appropriate local council to secure a permit beforehand.