Several years ago, I wrote to the Hairy Bikers, pleading them to come to Corsica, so it was with delight and satisfaction that I watched the “Hairy Bikers’ Mediterranean Adventure”, which you can catch on either BBC2 or BBC iplayer, or failing that, you can see what they’ve been up to here: http://www.hairybikers.com or here: https://www.facebook.com/HairyBikers/
The Hairy Bikers’ Corsican adventure was broadcast on the BBC on the 18th of January and brought a warm glow to anyone watching it in the UK on a cold winter’s day. If you don’t know the Hairy Bikers, then you should get to know them. They are explorers of people, places, cultures, and most of all, of gastronomy. And not only that, they find the very best motorbiking country on earth. Two gentle, curious happy cooks, David Myers and Simon King (Dave and Si) explore the world as two very happy (and funny) motorbikers.
Coming to Corsica was the best decision they ever made. If you watched the programme, you will have seen both Dave and Si waxing lyrical about the Corsican cuisine, paying their respects to the “Holy Trinity” of Corsican produce: Meat, Chestnuts and Cheese.
The Hairy Bikers raved about several types of local charcuterie (such as Lonzu and Figatellu), which are considered some of the best dried meats in the world, thanks to the local production methods and the fact that the pigs (cross-bred with wild boar) are fed on the local chestnuts.
|Figatellu and Lonzu|
Corsica is, truly, the home of chestnuts, whether you taste it in the charcuterie, or you sample the local chestnut beer (which is delicious) or perhaps your wild boar stew comes with a chestnut polenta (Pulenda in Corsican) or maybe you indulge in a warm dessert of chestnut cake with local honey ice-cream.
And lastly, the Corsican cheese, there are many varieties, but perhaps the most famous is the Brocciu. Made from sheep’s milk, it is like a ricotta (without the lactose) and is utterly scrummy. Its fresh flavour can be combined with so many tastes, whether sweet or savoury. The beignets de fromage, are one of my favourites, but so are the Migliaciolli, a Corsican pancake made with Brocciu and mint or other herbs. These can be found in Bastia market every Sunday morning, where I take my little boy for a treat.
|Corsican cheese on the Bastia market|
I could easily carry on about the wonderful Corsican food (not to mention the wine and the new organic beers made from local herbs, that are now on offer by small producers). However, if Dave and Si will allow me to do so, I would like to reinvent the “Holy Trinity” of Corsica to mean: Food, Culture and Landscape.
We’ve done food.
Small local producers, family farms, family life, mountain life, village life, Mediterranean life. Corsican culture is unique. The island, a part of France, stands proud of it’s traditions and cultures. Children are taught Corsican independence songs at school (I caught my son singing “Liberta” whilst picking sun-ripened tomatoes in the garden), we gather chestnuts, we have festivals for cheese and the humble hazelnut, we listen to Polyphonic singing that pulls at your heart strings and echoes of suffering and mountain life.
This is reason enough to come to Corsica and this is what I gave up my London life for, so very many years ago. One of the Hairy Bikers said that the island of Corsica was his top destination in the world for motorbiking, and he couldn’t be more right. In fact, many of our seasoned travellers tell us this. The views couldn’t be any more stunning, the mountain roads, the coastal routes, the forests, the wild pigs and goats that cross your path. It all makes for an unforgettable experience. And not only can Corsica be recommended for motorbikers, but for cyclists, walkers, nature lovers, explorers whether in a car or a camper van or however you wish to travel. There is something for everyone here, whether you want to soak up the sun on a white-sand beach, dive into the crystal cool mountain-river rock pools, walk through ancient hill-top villages, or explore the beauty of these sun-baked Mediterranean towns, such as Bastia and Ajaccio.
I first came to Corsica on a cycling holiday. Every turn of the road left me catching flies with my jaw wide open. I couldn’t believe the beauty of the place. I returned to do some walking and fell even more deeply in love with the island. And now, when we are not creating trips for discerning tourists, we tour the island with our 5 year-old, bikes and camper van, thanking our lucky stars that we get to see this island in all its seasons and in all its guises.
If you haven’t already been to Corsica, then make 2018 the year you thank the Hairy Bikers, not only for their recipes, but for their excellent travel suggestions. Europe Active offers a wide range of holidays on Corsica, as well as bespoke tours.