Corsicans take their food and drink very seriously and it is quite common for locals to take a leisurely three-course lunch accompanied by a few glasses of Corsican wine. This also means that standards in restaurants are generally high. The earthy style cooking takes its inspiration from the land, with sun-loving fruits and vegetables, cured meats and cheeses. As for the wine, well, you won't be disappointed.
Wild boar is possibly the island's most celebrated dish - look out for sanglier on the menu. Meat dishes may be served with pasta or polenta. Here are a couple of the most popular dishes.
- Civet de sanglier (Wild boar casserole)
Arguably, the signature dish of Corsica. This is a rich, hearty casserole with the “gamey” flavour of boar, mixed with onions, carrots, garlic, chestnuts, fennel and generous quantities of eau de vie and, of course, red wine forms a fundamental part of the recipe.
- Veau aux olives (Veal with olives)
A popular slow cooked stew, full of flavour with tender veal, olives, tomatoes, onions and herbs from the maquis as well as a generous dash of white or rosé wine
- Agneau Corse (Corsican lamb)
Usually slow roasted with whole garlic cloves, fresh rosemary and potatoes, this traditional dish seldom needs accompaniments!
On the coast you will find a good selection of fish and seafood, although due to reduced fish stocks in the Mediterranean, prices are now fairly high. Look out for red mullet (rouget), sea bream (loup de mer) and crayfish (langoustine). Oysters (huitres) are particularly recommended in the east and trout caught in the unpolluted rivers is a good alternative to meat inland.
Much of the mountain cooking is based around the locally produced dairy products and in particular the ewe's cheese brocciu which is similar to goat's cheese. Brousse is a cow's milk alternative which is often available in the summer but is not nearly as good.
Cured meats are very popular and a wide selection are usually available:
- Prisutu - smoked ham
- Figatellu/fitonu - liver sausage
- Salamu - salami-style sausage
- Valetta - cheek
- Boudin - black pudding
- Fromage de tête - "head cheese" made from seasoned pigs' brains
Most traditional Corsican desserts are milk or egg based:
- Beignets - chestnut flour doughnuts, sometimes stuffed with cheese.
- Fiadone - Essentially a cheesecake, but with a twist! Fiadone is a traditional recipe using Corsican brocciu cheese, eggs and chestnut flour that is then flavoured with lemon zest and eau de vie. Normally served chilled, this is a delightful finish to an evening meal.
- Flan a la farine de chataigne (Chestnut tart) - A very simple, yet tasty dessert combining the staple ingredients of a typical Corsican recipe – chestnuts, eggs and eau de vie.
Corsican Wine & Beers
Corsica produces several very good wines, which are hardly known outside the island. The producers are scattered and tend to be highly individual - Corsican, in other words. The grape harvest is still often cut by hand, and visiting a vineyard for an afternoon is a pleasant expedition.
James Boswell was an aficionado, writing in his Tour of Corsica published in 1782: "The flavours of wines differ all over the island. It is a true marvel that such a slight difference in soil and exposure generates such considerable diversity." Some wines are made with traditional Corsican varieties of grape, such as the delicious white Vermentino, Nielluccio, the basis of the esteemed Patrimonio red, and several excellent rosé wines. As a quick guide, wines from Patrimonio, Ajaccio and from near Sartène are outstanding, and the Domaine Vico wines are notable.
Producers from across the island travel to the Corsican Wine Festival in Luri, Cap Corse, in mid July each year to show off their award-winning wines.
Also worth tasting are the local fortified wines, such as Muscat made from the delicious pale Muscat grape, or the darker, sweetish herb-rich Cap Corse. Both can be drunk as apéritifs - or at any time. Home-produced, dusky coloured, apéritif-strength drinks, with herbs such as myrtle and basil, can be found for sale on some roadside stalls. The island also has its own beers.
For those wishing to dine out, there are some excellent restaurants and numerous informal cafés serving pizzas, mixed salads or delicious stewed mussels.
Fish, as is the case everywhere in the Mediterranean today, is fresh but expensive. Vegetarians can usually find pastas, pizzas, omelettes and vegetable dishes.
In Corsica, as anywhere in the Mediterranean, café life is vibrant and everyone takes part - children are very much welcomed. Most restaurants have high chairs available and some will offer a children's menu although eating out will be later than your children may eat at home with service from 7pm.
We provide a list of local restaurants in our guide book which is sent to customers with their tickets.