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…

Up

…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.





Clafoutis aux Cerises

16 06 2008

Hooray!  It\'s cherry season!

You may be wondering what I did with the rest of the cherries after only using a quarter pound in last week’s stone fruit tart.  Well, obviously some went to the noble cause of snacking (fruits are free snacks, as Nick is prone to saying).  But when I noticed that they were starting to go South I decided to make a cherry clafoutis.  This classic French dessert is often described as a thick, eggy pancake, but I’ve always considered it more of a custard.  The beauty of it, though, is in the simplicity.

Clafoutis batter

A batter of eggs, milk, sugar, flour, and almond meal is poured over fruit and baked.  Traditionally, the cherries aren’t even pitted, but seeing as I don’t care to break my teeth on my dessert, I chose to pit the cherries for my clafoutis, despite the fact that I don’t own a cherry pitter.  Let me tell you, halving and pitting 400 grams of cherries by hand is a messy undertaking.

Cherries for clafoutis

But that was the hardest part.

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