The day I made cheese in Corsica
When I started at Trufflepig, I noticed that all the trip planners within the company come from quite diverse backgrounds, with often very different interests. But while, not surprisingly, we all share the same passion for travelling, somehow we also all have a similar shared interest in food.
Exploring the world on trip research, we often end up coming home with local recipes from people we meet along the way, sometimes with whom we’ve spent time in the kitchen. It would be quite the exercise to put together a cookbook made up of favorite dishes gathered on research trips. What a book that would make! And as one of the company’s Frenchmen, I would happily volunteer to take on the chapter dedicated to cheese.
Travelling for work or for run, I seem somehow fated each time to meet shepherds and cheese makers. I love it. It gives me the chance to learn about the local cheese, get outside, see the animals, discover the cheese-making process often kept secret within families. I’ve found that spending time with a shepherd or a cheese-maker is like travelling back in time.
And this was exactly and joyfully what happened last September while traveling on a Trufflepig research trip to Corsica.
If you’ve ever read the adventures of Astérix in Corsica, Corsican cheese is depicted as being mind-blowingly strong-smelling, even to the point of being explosive. In other words: bad.
But the book’s authors, Uderzo and Goscinny, really don’t do justice to the island’s amazing cheeses, and one in particular called brocciu, made from whey, and only produced on Corsica. (A similar version called brousse, not quite as tasty and delicate, is produced in the village of Le Rove near Marseille). The process to make the brocciu is very timely, and requires dexterity, skills and experience.
While exploring the magnificent Restonica valley above the town of Corte, I ended up, unexpectedly, being invited by Jean Paul, a shepherd and cheese-maker, to spend the day with him making cheese including the famous and excellent brocciu. None of it exploded, and camera in my hand, I managed to record the day in a 5 minute video.
If you ever end up visiting Corsica and find yourself in this magnificent part of the island, make sure to head to the bergeries de Grotelle at the bottom of the Restonica valley near Corte. You will perhaps meet Jean Paul and his goats. Make sure to say hello from me and do not miss out on tasting his fresh brocciu (smothered with local honey). This experience alone is worth the journey all the way to Corsica. And if Jean Paul is feeling effusive, you might even head back home with the brocciu recipe in your pocket.