I’ve got to admit I’m a sucker for Fat Louie’s. It’s become a seasonal tradition between my closest friends and I to pay that little smokehouse a visit and while the last few times I couldn’t resist defaulting to the Meat Platter. A delicious choice for sure, however Fat Louie’s ever changing menu and courageous tastes means there’s always something interesting on the menu. An item on their Fall menu has been especially interesting and intimately personal for the founders: an offal timpana heavily inspired by the grandmother’s recipe.
Timpana is rare enough in any restaurant in Malta and Gozo, and outside some old and established coffee shops I can’t think of an actual restaurant that offers it in their menu – or any baked goods for that matter. I’m not entirely sure why, but I’m sure the requirement of having fresh dough, a more complex prep, and longer cooking times have something to do with it. All the more why I was intrigued and excited by a timpana’s inclusion on Fat Louie’s menu. Simply put, however, was it justified?
The Timpana’s Humble Origins
Fat Louie’s has really taken this recipe’s traditional roots to heart. I’ll get this out of the way at the very start of this article: this isn’t a traditional timpana that’s been “reinterpreted” for the modern age, but this is a true interpretation of the founders’ grandmother’s original recipe (4). How true? It’s served in an enamel bowl! When was the last time you, or anyone in your family, ate or drank anything out of enamel? My parents, both in their 50s/60s, last used enamel kitchenware when they were kids.
Tradition is a key theme of the timpana. The filling, offal, isn’t the beef/pork mince you’d expect from a modern timpana, but instead animal organs and entrails. The origins of offal are entirely agricultural and, well, poor, dating back to a time before meat was the commodity it is today. If you’re killing a cow, a valuable asset on a farm, you made damn sure you used all of the beast.
The Fat Louie’s Offal Timpana
Fat Louie’s Offal Timpana is visually rustic, just a little rough around the edges so to speak, but it’s the first bite that shows just how much of the proof is in the pudding. The crust is light and crisp. It’s not overly thick, and neither is it particular soft, but it really sets the tone for the rest of the dish. The tongue picks up new tastes and flavors with every chew, as you would get from dough that you had yourself made just moments earlier. The butter, salt, and flour aren’t perfectly folded into each other to form a single perfect and uniform layer, but instead features pockets of flavor that change from chew to chew. One moment the flavor is light and bready, but the next may be heavier and more buttery. It’s wonderful.
Similarly wonderful is the filling itself. Again, it’s quite a rustic affair. Pasta is tossed in a slight pasta sauce with the offal and egg then baked within then crust. The pasta in this timpana is perfectly cooked to a few degrees past al dente. It’s soft but not mushy, and the timpana’s insides have good structure to them that only spill a little when the crust is broken. The meat itself is juicy and flavorful, and every bite is pleasant and delightful, but there’s a lack of saltiness I can’t but point out.
That’s not to say the timpana is bland, but a bit more salt in the filling would go a long way to strengthening the timpana’s very subtle flavors. I honestly recommend against ordering a soft drink or strong cocktail, sticking to just water, because some of the nuisances of thr flavor can unfortunately be easily overpowered by something sweet or tart. On the other hand the Gozitan salt I was given upon request was so amazing, so it’s something that’s easily remedied.
Is this a Fat Louie’s Staple For The Gidma Gidma Crew?
Fat Louie’s has earned itself a reputation of the kind of restaurant where, as unusual the menu may be, it’s going to taste good. In that regard the timpana really does not disappoint, and it’s a welcome addition to their Fall menu. I like how Fat Louie’s is diversifying it’s menu and my thoughts on ordering the timpana was half interest in the dish itself, and half a desire for something other than the usual meat platter or smoked meat.
The Timpana reflects everything that I’ve come to expect from Fat Louie’s. It’s delicious, interesting, and cooked to a higher degree than its competitors. The crust is so homely I would swear three Diaconos had their grandmother in the kitchen.
It’s just that good.