Since Vincenzo Rubino opened his doors at 53, Old Bakery Street, Valletta, in 1906, 99 Christmases have gone by.

Through thick and thin, weathering enemy bombardment and strict rationing, come what may, the citizens of Valletta and hoards of others have flocked to Rubino to buy Cassata Siciliana.

This Christmas will be the 100th time that this quasi ritual will take place. Proprietor Julian Sammut, who converted Rubino into a restaurant some 10 years ago, will up the place and stop serving meals as from December 23 to make space for the hundreds of Cassate that must be prepared.

"We shall continue to ensure that the Cassata will be very fresh, using the best possible ingredients. We believe we have improved its quality over the last years, locally produced ricotta is also far better than it was, and to mark this special year, we shall be adding pure pistachio paste to the marzipan surround to give more taste and eliminate colouring," Mr Sammut said.

Mr Sammut feels he is responsible for keeping up this popular Rubino tradition which is as much a part of Valletta life as a visit to the suq, a stroll down Strada Rjali or a coffee on Piazza Regina.

"At this point in time, I am responsible to maintain this tradition and high standards, and I hope my successors will feel duty bound to do likewise," he said.

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