France: Gastronomic delights in Corsica

Corsica village

The first question to ask when eating out in Corsica is “can you taste the terroir?” and while Corsican food may not be flashy or fancy it is definitely good, making it a fascinating foodie travel destination.

At the end of each day during our walking holiday in Corsica we were predictably famished so seeking out that wild boar stew and dark beer was an essential pleasure!

Food production on the ‘Isle of Beauty’ remains relatively small scale, resisting industrial methods and holding to the old ways. The environment in which it is grown influences the tastes and textures of both food and drink here.

One of the best things about being on holiday in Corsica is being able to stop in at a ten-house, one-church village and enjoy a meal at the local restaurant – such as Chez Charlot in Viggianello, near Propriano.

Try the daube a la mode Corse stew and the farine de chataigne (chestnut) tarte for desert. The terrace across the street – outside the church – overlooks the Gulf of Valinco and makes a great place for a coffee or a meal in summer. After the sun set we listened to the frogs singing and enjoyed a strongly individual Corsican beer.

Corsica sunset

Foodie travel in Corsica

In the 16th century the Genoese overlords required Corsicans to plant vines as well as fig, mulberry, olive and chestnut trees and this last proved to be a particularly profitable crop as chestnut flour became an important export for the island.

Everywhere there are opportunities to stop and buy farmgate produce and piles of dark-rinded cheeses and even darker saucisson hanging from the rafters – another well-known “produit de Corse”. Local olive mills offer tastings and the artesinale food shops hung with smoke-coloured lumps of meat are everywhere and wonderful.

Corsican wildflowers

Stop by a local olive mill (there is a good one just up the road from the archaeological site at Filitosa) or honey farm and taste the product of bees feeding from the wildflowers around mountain villages such as Quenza.

Down in the port town of Propriano the seafood restaurants boast an incredibly fresh selection of delicious fruit de la mer.

Seafood in Propriano, Corsica

Corsican wine and beer

Corsican wines are best drunk young and the good rose and dry white wines come from regions around the coastline. In the south there are a number of drop-in vineyards on the road from Sartene to Bonifaccio – near the Lion of Roccapina.

Don’t forget to sample the local brews, which have a strongly individual flavour. Pietre beer features yet more of the famous chestnut flour. Torro is the biere de maquis and includes fragrant myrtle.

By Natasha von Geldern

Have you been to Corsica? What and where do you recommend eating?

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