Corsica, Sicily and Sardinia: Speciality Foods
Staples: Olives, seafood, pasta, fresh fruit and vegetables, cheese and speciality breads
Tastes: Fresh, healthy, simple with rich pasta sauces and fresh herbs
Specialities: Goats milk and cheese, ice-cream, shellfish
Top dish: Bottarga – salted mullet roe from Sardinia
The local speciality in Corsica is goats milk. For a couple of dollars you can stop off at the goat herders hut on the way up to milk the goats. Meals to make from the delicious goats milk include Minestra di castagnigna, a traditional Corsican chestnut soup with goats milk.
Goats milk is easier to digest that cow milk. There are less fat globules in the milk and it is great for people who have allergies to the protein in cows milk. It also contains far more Vitamin A & D than cows milk. It’s fantastic for creating yoghurts and distinctively different cheeses.
Goat herding is a traditional pastoral career in Corscia for the mountain dwellers. It has recently undergone a revival in the regions of Venaco, Calenzana and Nioli which accounts for the 12 varieties of Corscian cheeses. The Brucciu, known locally as “the delight of Corsica” is made with either ewe or goat’s milk and reflects the spirit of local gastronomy. Its made with one third of pure milk added to the whey which is heated on a wood fire until flakes called “flower of the milk” appears in the cauldron which is put in cake pans to make the final cheese.
Salted mullet roe was a fisherman’s speciality in Sardinia for centuries and its fame has now spread to delicatessen’s throughout the world. It may look desperately unappetising shaped in its small brown tongue but its flavour is unique. The best Bottarga comes from the small fishing town of Cabras near Oristano. The mullet live in the lagoons near the town, and as they swim out to sea to lay their eggs they are caught in fishermen’s nets.
To prepare Bottarga is a complex process – the fish is sliced which touching the fins in which the eggs develop, and the roe is removed. The sac in which the eggs live must not be damaged. Then the roe is salted, the recipes for this is a closely guarded secret. The salt is left for 7 to 10 days, and its flavour and strength depend on the timing and the type, quantity of salt. The roe is then pressed then hung up to dry in a cool pace for over a month. It is exported out of Sardinia vacuum packed which keeps it clean but delivers an inferior taste. When you buy a packed of Bottarga, you should air the packet for a day or two to regain a natural aroma.
The price of bottarga ranges from $15 an ounce of premium quality to much cheaper bottled grated versions. Serve with hot shaghetti or flaked on warm Italian bread. Locally it is served on a bed of celery or artichoke hearts.
Sicilian ice cream, called gelato, it thought to be the best ice-cream in the world. It is made from real fruit. The most authentic and pleasant way to eat your gelato is whilst watching the passageata, which is evening stroll, where everyone comes goes out and tries to look cool. Ice-cream is often served in a sweet bun, and looks like a burger.
A top icy morning treat is the Sicilian “Breakfast of Champions”, this is a coffee granita (icy shards in coffee with whipped cream, like an iced cappuccino) served with a warm briouche roll dipped in the coffee. Typically, Sicilian gelato is flavoured with locally grown produce like hazelnuts, almonds and lemon.
All the good goss about goats milk
Nutty obsessive site on goats and the goat milk business, including a gallery where you can send a picture of your own goat to.