Did you know that Wales’ only Maltese bakery is on a street outside Cardiff University’s Students Union main city center?
And, unless you’ve traveled to Malta before, they probably serve some of the tastiest pastries you’ve ever had.
McSims, which opened on Senghenydd Road in January, serves a range of pastizzi, pies, sausage rolls and other Maltese specialties including timpana, a baked bolognese macaroni dish, and Kinnie , a sweet and sour soft drink made with bitter oranges and wormwood extract.
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The culinary specialty of their menu is pastizz, a tasty pastry filled with a range of fillings from ricotta and split peas to curry to chicken and beef. Traditionally made with filo dough, they are folded into different shapes depending on the filling they contain.
I tried two different varieties, the ricotta and the creamy spinach and the split peas with the velvety curry, and both were delicious. Served hot, the crispy, buttery and puff pastry packages were well filled with filling. They ate a treat as a mid-morning snack.
McSims is owned by Adnan Arashi from Libya. The idea of opening a Maltese bakery came to him when he had a conversation with his business partner from Malta.
“My partner Fabrizio is based in Malta where he already owns McSims. We were talking together one day and decided to open a cafe that sells pastizzi, ”he says.
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“We started looking for a store during the lockdown because we felt there was an opportunity to find a good location at that time rather than being scared.”
Adnan, who regularly did business in Malta in the early 2000s, speaks Maltese and is happy to be able to use the language again when Maltese customers visit the store.
“Now, because it’s been a long time, I’m very happy that Maltese come to the store and that I can practice my language. He came back to life.
Speaking about the Maltese people in Cardiff, Adnan says: “There is a great Maltese community in Cardiff that I discovered after opening the store. Many of them come to support us.
“For the Maltese, the most popular item on our menu is plain ricotta pastizz; we call it cheesecake. It’s also very, very popular in Malta.
“We tried to make it a Maltese community store, so I try to tell everyone to come on a Sunday. Maltese families tell me they want to meet more Maltese who they can get to know.
People also come from further afield to eat Adnan’s pastizzi.
“The Maltese who have heard of us in other cities, whenever they have work or something in Cardiff, they come to see us. They have always been a great support, ”he says.
However, it’s not just the Maltese who appreciate McSims baked goods; the students lapped them too.
“Cardiff students love the size of our pastizzi because it’s a snack and the dough is light. They love it, ”he says.
While McSims in Cardiff is Adnan’s first bakery, he is already looking to open more stores across the UK.
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