Alexandre is a dear friend of ours. He was born on a little Mediterranean island named Corsica, in the capital city of Ajaccio (pronounced: ah-JAK-see-o). Alexandre speaks four languages: Corsican, Italian, French and English. When Alexandre speaks of his home and family it is always with passion and a little intrigue. I decided to look further into this little corner of the world that until recently kept to its own. Now more famously known as the 2010 wedding location of Grammy Award winning singer Alicia Keys to successful rapper Swizz Beats.
There is also a rumor that a prominent filmmaker is doing research there for a possible feature film-
Corsica, an island in the Mediterranean Sea approximately 2/3 the size of the state of Connecticut; roughly 114 miles long by 51 miles wide. Drive-able you say? Hardly, it is the most mountainous land among the Mediterranean region with steep coastline roadways difficult to drive without plunging into the sea if you are not careful. It is the official birthplace of twice Emperor of France and fierce military general Napoleon Buonaparte (b. 1769) where the word "vendetta" is not just a noun but a lifestyle. A French territory with a bit of an identity conflict. The island is more closely located to Italy than France but 87% of the population claim French heritage and mostly speak French. Although the native language is Corsican which is based on the Italian language, their constitution was written in the mid 18th century in Italian however commerce and media is under French control.
The topography is breathtaking. Barren rock landscapes mainly along the coast with an abundance of dark, dense forests as you make your way to the central portion of the island. As an island amazing sandy beaches with the bright blue Mediterranean and Ligurian seas surround it. Total population in 2008 is 302,000, similar to Tampa, Florida.
Much of the cuisine of Corsica is rustic and simply prepared. Wild boar, pigs, lamb, honey, citrus fruits, chestnuts, goat and sheep's milk cheeses, eggs, olives, native wines, sausage, anchovies, lobster, soups, and herbs are the most commonly used ingredients on any menu. Drying, salting, pickling and smoking is a process by which much of their food items undergo to preserve for the winter such as meats to vegetables. One could almost assume charcuterie is their national dish-
Omeletes are quite ubiquitous on the home dinner table so here is Corsica's most popular egg entree: Frittata Incu u Brocciu a Menta, Fresh Cheese and Mint Omelete recipe is thanks to Saveur.com. Why the history lesson? Because food always tastes better when you know where it comes from!
Frittata Incu u Brocciu a Menta
1 cup Brocciu cheese (click), or you may use ricotta
¼ cup roughly chopped fresh mint
1 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tbsp. olive oil
Heat broiler to high. Whisk cheese, mint, chile flakes, eggs, and salt and pepper in a bowl until smooth. Heat oil in a 12″ nonstick skillet over medium–high heat. Add egg mixture; cook until bottom is set but top is still runny, about 5 minutes. Transfer to broiler; broil until lightly browned on top, about 30 seconds.
Before dinner begin with a refreshing Corsican cocktail:
- 1 part chilled limoncello
- 2 parts chilled Lillet Blanc
- 4 parts chilled elderflower pressé
- Lemon twist (optional)
Stir together limoncello and Lillet in a wineglass and top with pressé. Garnish with lemon twist, if using, and serve.