I'll be in Corsica for a couple of weeks in early October, and would love to receive any recommendations. I see that an earlier post on this subject remains unanswered, so I understand that this is not a well-known culinary destination.
However, since I will have a car and am not limited like the previous poster, I thought I'd take a chance with my own post.
I love Corsica, and am mostly familiar with rugged Cap Corse, the northern "finger" of the island. October is wonderful there-I think the sanglier (wild boar) season will be open. Sea urchins are great, but I especially love corsica's own charcuterie and cheese. On a warm day have a glass of muscat from Patrimonio for an aperitif with some copa-the sweet wine with salty saucisse is a great pairing. For more serenity visit the south eastern sandy beaches. I remember a restaurant on the beach in Solenzara-nothing too fancy but lovely setting...I envy you!
Do you know where abouts you will be based? Even with a car travelling from one part of the island to another can take ages. We spent three weeks there a few years ago, based inland between Bastia and San Florent, and we only managed to "cover" the northern half.
I've just tried to post all my info in one go, but my computer has jammed in the process - so I'll try it in parts - here's part one:
Places which stand out in my mind include the one I recommended in the earlier post, La Tesa, which is near Ile Rousse and really worth a detour. In fact, because it took so long to get there from where we were, we stayed overnight, which was lovely.
We went to a place called "A Stella di Rustino" in a village called Valle-di-Rustino in the Castagniccia. The prices were very reasonable and it's run by a mad Basque fella, with two huge dogs. He cooks Corsican food and is really enthusiastic about it - but make sure you're hungry, as the portions are huge and the food is heavy mountain fayre!
St Florent has quite a few nice places to eat, and it's great sitting outside one of the bars on the marina people watching. It has a mini Monaco feel to it, but it is not pretentious in anyway. The Ind'e Lucia on the Place Doria just off the marina is great - and does a fab pasta with rabbit sauce. Also, the Marinuccia in the same Place does good seafood and has a fantastic terrace jutting out to sea. I'm not sure what time the sun sets in October, or if it will be warm enough, but it is a lovely place to watch the sun go down over a plate of langoustines.
We passed through Calvi but we didn't like it as much as other towns. There were more purpose built holiday homes and touristy eateries than in other places, although I'm sure good places exist.
One other place worth a trip is the Hotel les Roches Rouge in Piana on the West coast. We stayed there for our wedding aniversary night (rooms are surprisingly cheap) and it was magical. The views of the Calanche are spectacular, especially at sun set. We had drinks on the terrace with the nicest olives I have ever eaten. The food was quite good - but we were a bit disappointed - maybe our expectations were too high having had such good value and high quality food elsewhere. If you're planning on going in that direction, I'd still recommend it as a stop, though.
Erbalunga, North of Bastia on the Cap Corse, is a lovely spot. We enjoyed reading our books sitting outside a bar in the tiny square with a cold beer in the early evening. There are a couple of restaurants there. The only one we ate in was an Italian one in the square, and it served very good food as far as I remember.
We often just drove into the hills and found small family run restaurants which served cheap good quality food.
Some of this info may be out of date - we went a few years ago, and sometimes small mountain places close down, but I hope you find it useful. I think the time we had in Corsica was the best holiday I've ever had - it's stunning, the people were lovely and the walks were a great way to see the island and work up an appetite (get the Marigold guide if you like to walk).
Enjoy it - I'm jealous.
You may have noticed that part two is missing - for some reason it has disappeared or has been deleted.
Anyway, I was recommending a place off the main road between Bastia Airport and Bastia itself. It was one of our best finds, and is a lunch time stop off for truck drivers and policemen. It's very basic, but the food is great. It's very cheap, and you get no written menu and no choice. We went there a couple of times and had things like chickpea salad with smoked duck breast and fillets of red mullet in a saffron sauce - all simple, but expertly cooked.
It's called Flora or Chez Flora, and I think it's on the D82 (if not, it could be the D62) but as far as I remember it is only a few yards off the main Bastia road, so should be easy to find.
Thanks for all the great suggestions. As it happens, we will also be based primarily in the north - between St. Florent and Ajaccio, although we may skip Ajaccio if we find ourselves pressed for time.
we were there in 2003 for our honeymoon, I am going to bug my wife to remember some details, but I do remember this: we tracked down julian rufelli, who is a sausage maker that the nytimes did an article on. he has a herd of wild pigs that feed on chestnuts all through the fall in the chestnut forests. then he makes them into salami. he was very sweet and his salamis were great.
you can buy what is essentially coppa seca, but made from wild boar. super lean cuts cured like salami but with the look of tuna sashimi. man, that was good.
Just back from Corsica and here's a few of my culinary highlights. We were based in St-Florent and only really saw the Northern half of the island, with Calvi being the Southernmost point visited.
St.-Florent - a couple of good eateries in the marina but too many "Menu Corse" type places which churn out the same old 3-course menu for €25. Not worth the detour IMO
Erbalunga - Michelin starred food to be found in Le Pirate (http://www.restaurantlepirate.com/) Superb views. Excellent, inventive local food (go for the menu découverte)...service slightly errant at times and wines a tad overpriced but all in all an excellent 1 starred experience.
Lama - completely off the beaten track but worth a detour through the Ostriconi valley. Restaurant Campu Latinu http://www.lama-campulatinu.com/ Go in the evening in time for sunset, have a Muscat apéritif on the stone terrace outside and then retreat inside for an excellent menu corse.
Murato - another one which requires navigating tiny roads and hairpin bends to get to but also worth the detour (which includes the most beautiful church in Corsica at San Michele di Murato). Ferme Auberge Mare e Monti (no website, will post contact details if required) is an old farmhouse which cooks up the most authentic cuisine Corse you will find on the island. There is no choice of menu, food comes in gigantic portions as a 4 course dinner based on recipes handed down through generations. Service is quirky and charming, with anecdotes about the recipes and background on ingredients thrown in between courses. We were encouraged to go outside at one stage because the view of the mist coming up through the valley was too good to miss according to the waiter. Superb place!
Would also recommend going to Bastia as it has a few good restaurants on the Place du Marché but also plenty of good food shops selling local charcuterie, olive oil, olives etc. There's a shop just off Place du Marché selling divine local olive oil. It is generally a very pleasant place to stroll about and take in the sights of old and new corisca.
I'm that other poster, and we just returned yesterday. Corsica was fabulous and I can't wait to go back as we only had 5 days (we were on a special world music tour of Corsica and Sardinia).
I definitely second the recommendation for Les Roches Rouges above, which was wonderful food in a great setting. I would recommend staying there if possible -- not necessarily because the hotel itself is great (we were only there for lunch) but because the road through Les Calanches can be hazardous and is long and windy. You would not want to enjoy wine with lunch and then try to drive, and besides this is some of the best scenery in Corsica and worth a prolonged stop. We enjoyed the food immensely -- including a lovely foie gras creme brulee amuse. My main for lunch was an incredible fish dish: a flaky white fish sitting on a cabbage leaf stuffed with cabbage and onion confit seasoned with ginger, the fish topped by a delicious brebis cheese crust and with a red wine sauce. Really interesting and good.
I will be posting my complete Corsica report within the next day or so, with more recommendations for Bonafaccio and for Sartene, as well as Pigna's Casa Musicale.
re: Joan Kureczka
I loved reading your thoughs. I am planning a journey and weighing up the Sardinia vs Corsica or Sardinia and Corsica option. Which did you enjoy the most and why?
I have heard that Sardinia is quite industrial? Alothough maybe just more raw? Do you think a week in each would be too crazy? Thanks for your tips. Emily
re: Emily Jane
I don't know Sardinia, so I'm a bit biased, but from the pictures I've seen the scenery is nothing like as spectacular and varied as Corsica's. I'm not certain, but I imagine that the food in Sardinia is probably a bit more mediterranean - Corsica's is too, but it also has a lot of very traditional heavier foods - it has lots of seafood etc on the coast, and mountain food inland (stews, sausages, rabbit etc). I think you'll be doing Corsica (and yourself) a diservice if you only go for a week - even with two weeks you'll hardly be able to cover half the island as there's so much to see and do.
re: Emily Jane
I really liked both. Corsica is perhaps more beautiful and certainly greener and I would really like to go back with more than the few days we had (we were on a music trip, with a small group). Sardinia is not really industrial, although there are regions of industry and an old mining history. We found the interior to remind us of Baja California in terrain, and quite lovely in its own way. But the countryside is varied and the area of Alghero, on the coast is lovely too.
While I would say that Corsica probably wins for dramatic scenery, right now I keep dreaming of the Sardinian agriturismo dinners we had more than any of the food we had in Corsica, as good as it was. And also Su Gologne, the only resort in the interior, which had an incredible open spit with roasted pigs, kids, etc. The roast kid was the special the evening we ate there, and it was delicious.
The photos are all from Sardinia.
It sounds like Les Roches Rouges have upped their game food-wise, it was quite good when we went, but I was a bit disappointed. The location made up for it though.
We went up to Pigna to visit the Casa Musicale and see the Corsican polyphonic mens choir, but they weren't performing because it was out of season. But that night we went to the Auberge de la Tesa, which I recommended above, and they were all there for a birthday meal. They were on the next table and they sang most of the evening whilst we worked our way through five courses! It was amazing - we had been really disappointed that they weren't performing, but this was way better.