La canicule Corse or surviving the heatwave in Corsica

There’s an island not too far off mainland France, which I was surprised to learn, many people don’t know much of. Being in Corsica feels a little bit like visiting one of the nearby Italian islands like Sardinia or Sicily, especially as the Corsican language seems to have a lot of words that originate from Italian and its dialects. However, French is most definitely a dominating language and there are many French, who end up going there for their summer holiday. The relationship between mainland French and the Corsicans seems rather interesting. Corsica is a bit like Scotland, wanting independent, however receiving a lot of financial support both from the EU and France. Hence being pretty happy deep down inside to be part of France, it seems. Two thirds of the island is covered in mountains, yet, not to worry, there’s still plenty of space for wonderful beaches. There’s a fantastic scent present everywhere, it’s like one big herbal bouquet. The Corsicans call it maquis, fragrance of peppery blend of rosemary, lavender, cistus, sage, juniper, mastic and myrtle. You can smell it everywhere and it’s wonderful. 

There is a direct flight once a week from London to Bastia, which is in the Northeastern part of Corsica and it only takes two hours. We were staying not too far away from Aleria, which meant that beaches were near and it was also easy to take a  little trip up to the mountains to visit villages like Cervione and Linguizzetta. One can encounter football genius dogs, whose owner grows and sells organic vegetables straight from his garden or visit the restaurant Aux Trois Fourchettes, where it seems that everything has been made by the owner and grown in his garden. May that be wine, bread or eau-de-vie.

  Not to mention of course the magnificent views.


One of my favourite Corsica include Patrimonio, which is a tiny village with not much to see, apart from numerous wineries, which definitely can take up a whole afternoon of exploring. Or even longer, if you really love your wine. To be honest I didn’t have high hopes for the village itself as per the guidebook there was only a church to see. However, the wine quickly compensated. We were lucky to have our wine tasting with Antoine Arena, who many years ago, during the uprising in Corsica quit being a lawyer in France and came back to Corsica to start producing wine. His wines are biodynamic and very well regarded. And indeed, they were wonderful. However, so was Antoine, for giving our small group such thorough introduction to his wines.
  

After the tasting I popped by the local delicatessen shop and bought these lovely canistrelli biscuits, which are very typical for Corsica. These ones are with orange and chocolate, however think my favourite is the one with figs. And so is the fig jam on the island if you’re looking for ideas what to bring back.

Another great spot is Etang de Diane, which is basically a big pond, where long time ago the Romans used to grow oysters and the Corsicans still do. One can either buy some oysters to takeaway or visit the restaurant overlooking the Etang, in fact, its situated above the etang, unsurprisingly called Aux Coquillages de Diana. Perfect for dining there during a heatwave, as a slight breeze and location above the water keeps the atmosphere pleasant. There’s also the possibility to feed the fish with the lovely bread (I did it in secret), who seem to hang around a lot, I wonder why?! I opted for the seafood pasta, which was to die for – nothing better than a really well made pasta. I was surprise to see that I was offered to have parmesan with my pasta. This would not happen in Sicily, no way. Unfortunately it is a seafood restaurant, so some of the happy fish being fed in the Etang do end up on our plate.
  

As do the oysters.To give you an idea where Corsica is, here’s a map to guide you.

Also have to say that the beaches in Corsica are pretty quiet compared to some other places. Suggest you just go and explore..

Heston’s Hinds Head at Bray

It’s been a long time since I’ve wanted to try out Hinds Head, Heston Blumenthal’s pub in Bray. Well so I finally had the occasion, on a sunny July day. As horse racing was on at Ascot, the roads where pretty blocked and as we were already delayed, we were quite concerned for being 30 minutes late for our booking. You know, Heston Blumenthal and all. As we rushed to the pub, a friendly manager greeted us with a smile and said that luckily for us, many others had been delayed, so they had extended their kitchen opening hours slightly.

We got seated at a small table, in what I’d say quite a large seating area. I was told they’d had 80 or so servings that day already.

The pub itself is from the 15th century and as such there are some items on the menu, which have been inspired by the old British cuisine. Before we got on to the food, we discovered the Designated Driver Section, despite being brief, included a fantastic Elderflower Power cocktail, consisting of elderflower cordial, mint, lime, cucumber, kiwi, apple sherbet, popping candy and soda – almost everything I love, all together. Absolutely divine.

FullSizeRenderHappy with the drinks, quick scan across the menu and as starters we decided to go for Beetroot and Goat Curd with Cider Poached Pear, Pumpkin Seeds, as one feel good option.

FullSizeRender-3As another, the Venison Carpaccio with Horseradish, Turnip, Shallot and Caper Dressing.

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Our choices for mains were slightly more adventurous, starting with Oxtail and Kidney Pudding, one of their signature dishes. As the pub itself is from 15th century, the menu is also inspired by the old British cuisine. Have to say that it was truly a lovely and hearty dish, extremely comforting.

FullSizeRender-5Well, and then there was the, Goat Cheese Royale with Butternut Squash, Baby Onions and Pumpkin Veloute. The goat cheese curd was very light, mixing nicely with the sauce. I’d say, again, the healthy option, more of an intro to desserts.

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I’ve recently been putting a lot of focus on desserts, in fact it’s truly something I look forward to when going to a restaurant. So there it was, strawberry trifle, creamy and layered. Top, as the French like to say.

FullSizeRender-7The chocolate wine slush with millionaire shortbread wasn’t as outstanding as the trifle, I must say. However, as far as chocolate goes, the shortbread was covered in very nice chocolate indeed.

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Recommend.

Hinds Head
High St, Bray
West Berkshire
SL6 2AB