“My grandfather told me never to sell the land,” says Paul Canarelli, of the 6,000 acres he inherited on Corsica where sea, maquis (shrublands) and mountains meet, and where he now runs villa resort La Domaine de Murtoli with his wife Valérie. This summer, new traditions are being forged on the family land as Canarelli has invited the young and talented Mathieu Pacaud to take over the kitchens of Murtoli’s La Table de la Ferme restaurant and create candlelit dining experiences in the lovely rustic-chic setting – running from Monday July 4 to Friday September 2 and for which booking is now open.
Chef Pacaud has two Michelin stars at his Paris address Histoires, and one star at Hexagone, and will on this occasion be working with his father, Bernard Pacaud, of three-Michelin-star restaurant L’Ambroisie. Two tasting menus (€150 for five courses, €280 for nine) are comprised of dishes showcasing the island’s bounty, including savoury blancmange with nepita (a Corsican herb), coulis of petit pois and house wild-rosemary honey; contemporary pastilla of Murtoli veal with coriander flowers and Cervione hazelnuts; and fish of the day, sardines and sea urchins (dived for from the beach).Add local cheeses, home-baked breads and the Pacauds’ modern twists on traditional local desserts such as fiadone (light cheesecake) and clémentine feuilleté.
Many of the very drinkable red, white and rosé wines come from Paul’s cousin Yves Canarelli’s biodynamic/organic vineyards, Clos Canarelli. And there’s plenty of choice from Murtoli’s spectacular glass-walled wine cellars.Since taking over the family vineyards in 1993, Yves Canarelli has championed the restoration of native Corsican varietals. The appellation Corse Figari lies along a plateau just inland from the coast, where grapes have been farmed since the 5th century BC.
Nineteen authentic 16th- and 17th-century stone shepherds’ huts have been transformed into villas that house between two and 16 guests (from €170 to €4,800 per night), some with their own pools and all decorated with “matérial de récupération” sourced by Canarelli. “I wanted it to be the same as in my grandfather’s time, but with modern comforts. It’s essential to keep the soul of the place, n’est ce pas?” A clutch of beachside villas means some guests can breakfast on their own stretch of private beach before a swim, snorkel or massage.
Lastly, from experience, I can tell you that it’s worth meeting local herb maven Stéphane Rogliano, who will take you by the hand and lead you through the maquis and introduce you to species indigenous to the island, such as piquant immortelle, the curry-scented plant. “Napoleonnever forgot the perfume of his island of birth,” says Rogliano.