Don’t miss the chance to taste fiadone if you’re offered some. It’s in essence a cheesecake, but made in Corsican style with brocciu, chestnut flour and lemon zest. Locals love to serve it with a nip of eau de vie, or drizzled with myrtle liqueur.
A hearty peasant soup made with local olive oil, charcuterie (dried, smoked ham and sausage), white beans, potatoes, chard spinach and other garden vegetables, zuppa corsa is a staple on the menus of Corsican specialty restaurants. Slow cooking and a fistful of basil leaves at the end are de rigeur.
Corsicans are immensely proud of their cured meats, the best of which are made in traditional fashion from pigs fed on chestnuts in the high forests of the interior. The most common cuts are saucisse (sausage), prisuttu (ham), panzetta (bacon), lonzu (cheek fillets), coppa (like lonzu but fattier) and figatellu (a pungent, dry sausage made with liver).
Strozzapreti (Swiss chard and brocciu dumplings baked in a roasted red pepper sauce) is among the few vegetarian dishes commonly served on the island. Once the dumpling mixture is mashed, the quenelles are rolled in semolina and steamed before being baked in a rich sauce flavoured with red wine.
This soft, white ewe’s cheese is made from a combination of milk and whey – similar to Italian ricotta, only with less lactose. It’s used in many traditional Corsican dishes, both savoury and sweet, from omelettes (where mint is added), to delicious chestnut-flour doughnuts, pastries, biscuits and cakes.
Corsican honey is sublime. Made in hives placed deep in broadleaf forests or tracts of pristine maquis, it’s not tainted by pollution or agricultural crops such as rapeseed flowers, which intensifies the heavenly flavours. No two are the same, but as a rule of thumb chestnut honey tends to be dark and treacly, while maquis herbs create a more subtle, floral bouquet. For cooking, rare, bitter arbutus honey is best.
Flan a la farine de châtaigne
Vast forests of chestnut trees were planted by the Genoese during their occupation of Corsica, and the flower produced from the nuts remains a definitive component of Corsican cuisine. A dessert popular with local patissiers and home bakers alike is flan, made by blending eggs, honey, vanilla and milk with chestnut flour.
Civet de sanglier
Wild boar, sanglier in French, are prolific in the forests of Corsica and are hunted for the pot during the autumn shooting season. The meat is lean and flavoursome, and perfect for casseroles such as civet de sanglier, where it’s served in generous chunks that melt in the mouth.
Air Corsica is now operating flights from Stansted to Ajaccio, Bastia and Figari, allowing great flexibility for any itinerary. The service operates from early May to early November, with up to nine flights per week from June to September. Fares start from £49 one way and that price includes a generous 23kg hold luggage allowance, 12kg cabin bag and free seat selection. Car rental is available at each airport and Air Corsica has a preferred arrangement with Hertz so you can book your vehicle at the same time as your flights. aircorsica.com