After sitting here for 20 minutes writing, deleting and rewriting the perfect way to accurately summarize Corsica, I now realize why people say that words cannot describe this magical paradise. It seems nearly impossible to evoke the emotion one feels while standing along the rocky cliffs of Bonifacio, peering over a remote sandy beach, the light breeze through your hair as the sun bronzes your shoulders. Each day on this island is filled with new hikes, new views, new shallow- turquoise beaches, comfortable beach bars and sunset cliff-side dinners serving Corsican delicacies. The beauty of the island alone is so satiating that I almost forget about my biological need to eat, as I’m so distracted with my surroundings.
Here’s a video of some of our adventures in Corsica:
If you’re still asking yourself “where the hell is Corsica?”
For the first time in our 9 months of travel, I’ve put meal planning aside to optimize on our days outdoors and see how the days unfold. This avoids needing to run back from a hike to get a 1 pm lunch reservation or cutting the day in half in order to make it to a special market that sells my desired ingredient.What makes this laissez-faire attitude possible [for someone like me] is that fact that we stumble upon beach bar and restaurants treasures without even trying. It’s as if we’ve gained some super power that has made us invincible to bad food. Even the produce, meats and cheeses in the super markets are often local and fresh. What makes Corsica special, to other hyped sandy beach locations in the world (that I’ve been to), is that it has its own autonomous agriculture, fishing and get this… wine industry.Here’s a run down of what to expect:
Corsica is famous for its brèbis (sheep) and chèvre (goat) cheeses whose quality rivals the traditional cheeses on mainland France; several receiving the AOC (Appellation d’origine Contrôlée) certification. The vast mountainous region in central Corsica provides the ideal environment for sheep and goats that graze on herbs throughout the Spring and Summer. The ricotta-like Brocciu and the cylindrical shaped Tomme are what to seek out.
The cheese pairs well with a local fig compote.
Corsican charcuterie has become revered as a cult product; the marbled texture and unique flavors has caught the attention of many European connoisseurs. Wild boars and free-range pigs are the protein of choice prepared with century old techniques of airing, salting and curing the meats. The four most common charcuterie you’ll find are: coppa, lonzu, figetellu, and prisuttu.
Main Dishes and Entrées
If you didn’t get enough of the wild boar (sanglier) on your meat platter then you’ll be delighted to order the Civet de Sanglier- wild boar stew, which I’d compare the texture and cooking techniques to those of a Beef Bourguignon.
Anything with chestnuts (marron or chatigne)! I was surprised to learn that there is an abundance of chestnuts on the island, which are incorporated in desserts, soups, main dishes and even flavor the charcuterie.
Ministra is a bean soup with cabbage and…more ham!
Seafood– You’ll most often see the following:
Seabass (bar) and seabream (loup or daurade)
Red mullet (rouget)
Rock lobster or crawfish (langouste)
John Dory (Saint Pierre)
Beignets (doughnuts) are typically made with ground chestnut flour, fried and served with powdered sugar or fruit compote.
Restaurants in Corsica- a run down with some of my *favorites (marked with an “*”)
Cantina Doria (27 Rue Doria, Bonifacio)- This potential lunch option serves casual Corsican food. It isn’t mind blowing but it is a good value if you are looking to experiment with the local delicacies. It’s located in the center of the old town which provides a bustling ambiance. The high ratings on TripAdvisor over exaggerate the quality.
*Le P’tit Café Resto– was a lucky find near the cemetery on the upper part of Bonifacio. It served various small plates that all seemed to pop with flavor. Tartines, salads, capriccios, cheese plates, etc. It’s an ideal spot to sit on the terrace and watch the sunset.
Lan’K (5 Rue Archivolto)- This restaurant is also extremely hyped on TripAdvisor. The food was delicious until we got to the dessert where they placed a microwaved heated chocolate blob with sliced banana on top. If we could have scored seating on the terrace outside I may have been able to overlook this pitiful sight of a dessert but instead, despite our reservation, we were sat inside on a warm evening with less than ideal lighting.
Cantina Grill– (Quai Banda Del Fero) If you find yourself with the check list item to have dinner in the port of Bonifacio we had a decent meal at this restaurant. Excellent service and tried a few of the local treats. We didn’t make it to Kissing Pigs which is highly rated online and also located on the port.
B52– Bar in the port of Bonifacio. Avoid the sushi but the cocktails are decent though expensive. It’s more for the “scene”
*Sorba– A bakery ( Rue St Erasme) that has the best lemon tart (tarte au citron) ever! It’s down by the port in Bonifacio as you begin to ascend to the upper part of the city.
*Au Jardin D’A Cheda (Cavallo Morto in Hotel D’A Cheda)- This is outside of the city center of Bonifacio but worth the short car ride. The outdoor terrace is beautifully designed to make for a comfortable dinning experience. The cuisine is traditional French with Coriscian specialties also on the menu. Everything was perfectly cooked, flavors popped and my chocolate cake with the melty center had the perfect consistency. The thoughtfulness on the dishes and quality of products used in the dishes go beyond the status quo. Dinner for two runs between 150-200 Euros.
*Cala Di Lume– Beach bar at Palombaggia near Porto Vecchio- We had the 15 Euro burger and fries but they were worth every penny as we sat with our feet in the sand. We even made the 25 min drive from Bonifacio to go back just for that burger for lunch later in the week. Note, I can only vouch for the burger.
Le Bistrot D’Emile (6 Rue de l’assomption, Ajaccio Corsica)- One of my favorite meals of the year. Everything was delicious from a simple green salad to the decadent entremet (chocolate mouse cake). Dinner for two ~100-125 Euros.
The variety of Corsican flavors stems from a fascinating history that this island has endured over the years having been conquered by the Romans, Spanish, Italians then finally the French. The people of the island are reputable for their exotic beauty and passion that has lured many settlers over the centuries who have brought with them various culinary techniques, recipes and even plant life. I highly recommend adding this to your list of beautiful places to visit!