Thursday, 8 September 2011

[Restaurant - Corsican] Short Take - The Frenchman makes Pizza? Cors-i-can!; Sandy's of Paddington

Location - Marylebone, London [UK]

Barring the transgression of the infeasibly corny title, an explanation is due. In my quest to ever explore the world's culinary scene, starting from the rather skewed outlook of sampling via restaurants, I always strive to seek out the more eclectic of cuisines. Naturally, I thought, the more unique the cuisine on offer, perhaps a truer interpretation can be expected as there would not likely be a dilution of the cuisine. Or similarly without the competition, standards could falter and the eccentric qualities could be sacrificed due to a lack of pressure. Killing my point. Regardless, when I came across a Pizzeria, no less a Corsican Pizzeria, my interest was more than piqued. Especially as despite its inclusion in France, the Italian influence remains obvious. 

I actually happened across this restaurant completely and utterly randomly. Searching for a restaurant to subsist my slight inebriation and subsequent need to quell the alcohol following a Sake tasting event, I casually e-strolled onto Google Maps to figure out walking distances to a predetermined location. In doing so, a nearby restaurant was indicated - Corsiwhat? A Corsican restaurant?! Seriously? Yes, super cereal. I however, had already chosen my dinner plans, making my indecisive streak revel. It was duly short-listed, but its temptation was imminently stronger than I. I certainly was not going to have a pizza, not any time soon at least, as I am still on my "recovery" phase of extinguishing the flame of guilt of gorgings just passed. The desserts however, are rather more enticing than the blank menu displayed on my predetermined dinner plans'  menu. Compromise perhaps?

Intriguing prospect. So, the day before the planned occurrence I visited both establishments, located but within a few footsteps of one another - confirmed for places for one at the one place, and confirmed I can have my "just desserts" at the second. Done. I have thus lined up a new option for a backup dessert location.

And as desserts at the dinner place proved profusely uninteresting, it was time for the backup. 

~ Dessert ~ 
- U Fiadone

I had already decided in advance what I was going to have, and despite being the failsafe choice of a cheesecake, it had the intrigue of being so much more. It was a national cheesecake. With a decidedly rustic sounding name. And there is also no possible detractor from a cheesecake. The rather artfully, almost too much so, displayed dessert comprised of the cheesecake, along with a quenelle of what I presume to have been whipped cream [natural] and a scoop of what I did not know was honey & rosemary ice-cream. 

Struggling to contain myself, I lunged at the dessert, obviously first attacking the cheesecake. Regional cheesecakes are always intriguing, as the permutations vary widely, from the cheese used to the baking technique and so forth. This one was baked, and not overly sweet like the ubiquitous cream cheese -based ones, and also very milky. This would become obvious once a quick Google check revealed that the cheese used is Brocciu', which is similar to Italian Ricotta. French island, pshh. As such, it was incredibly light, with similarly natured pastry, being crumbly and not too heavily buttered. The whipped cream was most certainly of the natural variety, tasting rather creamy, with a hint of greasiness, and it quite naturally worked wonderfully with the Fiadone, throwing back in some richness. The ice-cream, was intriguing though at the time I did not know why. It did not taste of vanilla, but it was similar, though I did not interpret anything as audacious as rosemary, otherwise I would have screamed in delight and amazement. Suffice it to say, again this paired up well with the cake, diffusing its richness and slight sweetness into the cake. 

All this conspired to making the dessert disappear rather quickly. The green tuille was also devoured. Most definitely satisfactorily. 

~ Drinks ~
- Muscat du Cap Corse

Ignoring the suggested dessert wine in the interests of remaining to the traditional products of Corsica - I know, my sense of adventure knows no bounds - I opted for the aforementioned glass of Muscat Dessert wine. And whilst it did not throw any surprises, it did delight. A rather light wine for a muscat, not being overly sweet and honeyed, but instead particularly fresh and fruity in nature. It worked well enough with the cheesecake, its slight sweetness not interfering too much with the lightness of the Fiadone, and the fruitiness adding a lovely hint of freshness to the milkiness of the cheese. Ness pas?


Sandy's most definitely came to the rescue. What would be a trifecta of eclectic experiences of the evening, starting with a sampling of 24 Sake's at the tasting taking place at the Japanese Embassy, through to a Mauritian dinner, culminated with a delightful Corsican dessert. Coming on a whim, I entered a delightfully light natured and very much quaint restaurant for dessert. From the chirpy members of staff, to the rustic decor, beyond the fact that a Corsican restaurant is rather quite diverse, the ambience inside did much to reinforce the fact. The walls covered in shutters, the subtle lighting of the hanging lamps, and the ceiling fans, really did create an atmospheric ambience, dare I say, a slight world removed from the usual hustle and bustle, and the typical tacky additions of some. It almost created a Mediterranean aura, but I hesitate to feel romanced. 

What did woo me however was the simple and delicate dessert, my saving grace from a rather disappointing dinner, and lovely cap the evening. Even the act of paying the bill, usually an occasion of frivolous escape planning, was wrought with quirky details, the receipt being presented within an ornate wooden trinket box. Whilst tempted to leave a note saying "I owe you" and thanking them for the memory, I digressed. As a backup plan, Sandy's more than delivered. It shall no longer be reduced to a backup, for the Fiadone deserves more than that, and back onto the short-list it goes.

However, the evening continued ever so slightly afterwards. Despite my pleasure groaning on the way to the Underground station, and obviously influenced by the still present sake in the light-headed party, I stopped by a shop. And purchased more desserts. Oh willflower, how I loathe thee.
Osmalieh & Qatayef
For the sake of reference, they were bland - due to the, fortunate, omission of simple syrup - with a slight pleasing crunchy toastiness, and much the same, but tasting of orange blossoms respectively. Bah -_-

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