Hello again! (this is only if effectively I do have somebody who genuinely reads my blogs and am not actually saying hello to myself....). I am back from sunny Corsica seriously relaxed (not that I was particularly stressed before going, considering my avarage 3 hours working schedule I had in the past 6 weeks...) but nevertheless! refreshed and super (but super!) tanned - I have turned into Fran and the Chocoloate Factory...looking forward to seeing my skin peeling off at some stage....
Corsica is really a great place - well when I say Corsica I actually mean the very tip south of the island - with plenty of breathtaking beaches! There is seriously no need to go to Maldives or similar as you can swim in turquoise cystal clear waters and lie on white sands!! So where did we go?
We landed in Bonifacio, which is at the very bottom of the island, literally facing Sardina. I must start by saying that there were no public transports whatsoever, not even taxis...the Corses have a strange concepts of moving around. So once arrived at Figari, which is this one gate airport that Ryanair has managed to take possession of (there are two Halls at the departures, Hall A, indoor, and Hall B, outside...hilarious!), we waited reasonably disconcerted for 45 minutes until the only taxi driver of the day had finished his tour and got back...and we were lucky to have found another couple who wanted to share the cost of the taxi with us, as a simple drive of 20 minutes was €40!
Anyway, once we managed to arrive in Bonifacio, we based our temporary home on a 20cmx35cm pitch at the Camping L'Araguina. The camping is really well located as it is only 3 minutes walk to the port, but campers are so packed that you feel you are sleeping with a number of people in the same tent! Also if you look at the website chirping birds move from one idyllic image to another - I think in 4 days I managed to hear the birds once, probably at around 5am! Anyway, besides these not-so-great aspects, you do have the town very close as well as a series of walking trails, which after all is what matters as you are not going on holiday to spend your day at the camping side. Always look at the bright side of life! :-)
Bonifacio is impressive. Perched on tall white chalk cliffs, it is slapped by waves and shaken by the wind day and night. I would suggest to avoid August though as it is full of tourists, so much that you have to look really hard to spot a local. But if you can find a good flight in early July I would highly recommend it. The old town is indeed very small but quite intimate and cozy. There is an almost North Sea atmosphere.
So what did we eat that I think deserves to be posted here? Aubergines in the Bonifacio way, or Aubergines a' la Bonifacienne. I found the recipe and intend to reproduce it at home as it appears pretty easy.
For 6-8 people
> 12 Aubergines; 4 eggs; 6 garlic cloves; a handful of basil leaves; 200g breadcrumb soaked in milk; 50g butter; 50g Corsican tome (this can be replaced with Manchego or Pecorino stagionato); 50g parmesan; salt & pepper; oil for pan frying.
> Cut the aubergines (leaving the skin on) into half (lenghtwise) and cook them for a few minutes in boiling and salted water (or steam them).
> Remove them from the water; once they have cooled down, scoop the flesh out. Mix the flesh with the bread, the finely chopped garlic and roughly torn basil leaves, then the eggs, the butter (soften up) and the cheeses.
> Stuff the aubergines with the mixture and cook them in a pan with a spoon of olive oil.
My suggestion is to cook them first in the pan and then finish them under the grill if you sprinkle a final touch of parmesan on top. They can be a good main course dish and can be served both cold and warm with a thick tomato sauce and a side salad.
Now I forgot to say that Corsican is a language which is essentially like Sardinian mixed with a few Napolitan and Milanese words...but nobody in Corsica will admit this as they firmly claim that it is a language completely on its own and different from any other language...so don't even try to argue as your case won't go very far!
After 4 days in Bonifacio, we decided to move to Porto-Vecchio, one to see something different, and two because we had exausted our trails...
Porto Vecchio is less impressive than Bonifacio as there are no imposing cliffs and Whuthering Heights- style wind but still very pleasant, especially as the millions of tourists only emerge in the evening (I suppose after their day at the beach...). Around it there are some amazing beaches, Santa Giulia and Palombaggia are probably the best ones. And please do not be lazy and do walk to the end of the stretch of the bay so that you avoid screaming children, picnicing families, and groups of shouting Italians! You can take a bus - the only one provided in the entire area! - which for €5 takes you to one of these beaches; of course we thought of saving and only spend the single ticket money and then walk back to Porto Vecchio...we only miscalculated the distances though...between Santa Giulia and Palombaggia it is 8 km in total, and then from Palombaggia to Porto Vecchio is another 12km! So don't adventure yourself on that road at 7pm unless you are happy to stick your thumb up (in the air!) and hope that a kind driver will stop. We were lucky and we got picked up...phew!
Porto Vecchio offers some interesting dishes too. And to my surprise a dish which is called like something that I hated when I was a child but is actually very sweet and testy....Castagnacciu (which of course very differently is called Castagnaccio in Italian!). I asked also for this and will try the recipe as soon as Autumn comes, as it is made with chestnuts.
For 8 people
> 60g chestnut flour; 30g plain flour; 2 eggs; 2 egg yolks (keep the whites separately); 250g chestnut honey; 180g butter; 100g citron jam; 10cl orange juice.
> Melt the butter and mix it with 50g honey, eggs and egg yolks. Add little by little the two flours. Mix well to make a thick paste.
> Beat the egg whites and fold into the mix. Pour everything into separate biscuit baking moulds (buttered) and cook for 5 minutes at 200C.
> Melt the remaining of the honey in the juice and incorporate the rest of the butter to make a syrup. Cover the biscuits with it and leave to cool down on a rack.
The first person who tries the recipes before me should let me know how they turned out! I haven't done that yet so please do not blame me for any sickness, disaster to your kitchen/oven/fridge, break ups with your boyfriend/husband/girldriend/wife, death of your cat who ate any leftovers etc...