The Best Thing I Ate in Corsica

12 06 2013

You might expect me to wax rhapsodic about the array of sheep’s and goat’s milk cheeses, or gush about the intensely flavorful charcuterie, or rave about the freshness of the just-caught fish, but no. I’m here to extol a pastry. (And if you think about it, is that really so surprising after all?)

Almond " matchsticks"

Upon entering Ajaccio’s Boulangerie Galéani (for no discernible reason the only bakery there mentioned in any of the guide books I read) on the first morning of my weekend there in late May, I was met with the sight of these tempting allumettes aux amandes. Sure, we picked up some of the supposedly great canistrelli (like a smallish scone or thick shortbread cookie, but barely sweet and extremely dry), and some awesome cheese tarts made with the local brocciu (fresh sheep’s cheese, similar in texture to ricotta), but the allumette was the star of the show.

Imagine a thick twist of  puff pastry, probably made with salted butter, dunked in sweet meringue and sprinkled with salted almonds, then baked until crisp and caramelized. Alternately flaky, tender, crunchy, sweet and salty, it was truly one of the most surprising things I’ve eaten in quite a while. We visited other bakeries during our stay, and sampled many delicious things – mostly on the savory end of the spectrum, now that I think about it: turnovers filled with cheese, onions, and Swiss chard, sausages wrapped in croissant dough – but never saw another allumette aux amandes. So my recommendation, if you’re ever in Ajaccio, is to visit the Boulangerie Galéani, skip the canistrelli (which were pretty unimpressive) and the bread (I didn’t see a single good baguette the whole time I was there), and load up on these sweet-and-salty delights.

Of course, the setting in which we ate this pastry could have something to do with it. After hiking up and around a gorgeous peninsula…


…we sat down to a picnic lunch high on a cliff overlooking the Iles Sanguinaires…

sunshine and sea air...


…which probably made everything taste better.

On this day in 2008: Nick’s Provençal Eggplant – a delicious ragoût, which I’m excited to make once eggplant comes back into season…hopefully only a few more weeks now.

Originally published on Croque-Camille.




13 responses

12 06 2013

Corsica is high on my list of places I want to visit as soon as possible. I have heard such great things from my cousins who go there most summers. I will put your post into my file so I don’t forget to stop by Boulangerie Galéani for an allumette aux amandes.

12 06 2013
hungry dog

Those do look delish and the setting is gorgeous. Sigh. Lucky you!

12 06 2013

The best thing I ate in corsica 2 years ago was a pizza covered with figatellu from a roadside truck. And people keep saying Camion qui Fume is the first food truck in France. pfft. But ok, I might go back just to get one of these allumette aux amandes thingies. Hmmm.

14 06 2013

wow beautiful! hope to get to visit Corsica one day.
This puff pastry thing sounds really delicious. would love to try it!

14 06 2013
Esme (@cococroissants)

what guide books did you read? any suggestions for Corsica-I am thinking of going there next year.

14 06 2013

Corsica is definitely on my list of places to visit. My cousins go for a month every summer. Your pictures confirm that we need to go. I will put your post in my file for future trips so I make sure not to miss the allumette aux amandes. Have a great weekend.

15 06 2013

Oh my god yes yes yes yes. I would gladly trade every eclair in the world for one of these.

15 06 2013

Michel – Yes, do visit Corsica, and do be sure to eat an allumette aux amandes or two while you’re there.

hungry dog – Yep! 🙂

Caroline – Oh, I do love me some figatellu. That pizza sounds excellent.

jothetartqueen – It is a truly beautiful place, and full of good food, too! 🙂

Esme – The two books I had were Le Guide Routard (a French guidebook series aimed at traveling on a budget) and the French version of the Lonely Planet. We were only in Ajaccio, but we had some great meals at Le Cabanon and 20123. If you go there, be sure to visit the market for picnic foods!

Hannah – I do like a little cream filling in my life from time to time, but this was glorious. 🙂

16 06 2013

Ohhhh, gorgeous pastry, gorgeous scenery! Your photos took me right there with you. I can’t believe I missed Ajaccio on my only trip to Corscia! I must plan another visit.

16 06 2013
Inger Wilkerson

THe pastry sounds amazing! The sights aren’t bad either 😉 !

18 06 2013

Ann – I feel the same way. L’Ile de la Beauté has so much to offer!

Inger – Two of my favorite reasons to visit a place! 😉

4 07 2013
The Mistress of Spices

Those allumettes look amazing! I wish we had gone to Corsica while living in France…

8 07 2013

Mistress – I guess you’ll just have to come back. 🙂

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