Tag Archives: R. Doug Wicker

Fun Photo Friday — Mediterranean 2022; Corsica Favorites Part 3


Phare des Îles Sanguinaires (Lighthouse of the Sanguinaires Isles)

Today finishes up Corsica, and next week I’ll show you our stop on 18 May 2022 — Ibiza Spain. Until then, here are today’s Fun Photo Friday favorites of Ajaccio, Corsica:

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Mediterranean Cruise 2022 — Napoleon Bonaparte House; Ajaccio, Corsica


Maison Bonaparte — Bonaparte ancestral home

We’ve left behind Ajaccio Cathedral, headed north east along Rue Saint-Charles, and have arrived at Maison Bonaparte, the ancestral home of the Bonaparte family and the place of birth of Napoleon. It may not look like much, but it’s a busy destination. I had to wait out the throngs to get the shot you see above. And that marble plaque above the door? It reads in Corsican “NAPOLEON | EST NE DANS CETTE MAISON | LE XV AOVT M·DCC·LXIX,” which translates to “NAPOLEON | BORN IN THIS HOUSE | THE 15 AUGUST 1769.

“Napoleon born in this house the 15th August 1769”

Check out the fun little boutique to the left of this museum house. It’s a nifty little shop with a lot of Napoleon-related trinkets and souvernirs, and it is affiliated with the Maison Bonaparte museum.

Napoleon themed tourist store

I don’t usually recommend souvenir shops. Indeed, I can’t remember ever having done so. But I’m making an exception today. This place was not only fun, it was cheap! I picked up an engraved, locking Corsican pocketknife with wood grips and a thumb stud for what I thought was a decent price. It turned out later that it was an exceptionally fair price. The same knife was going elsewhere for anywhere from 50% to 200% more. And it even came with a belt-loop sheath. But there’s more here than just souvenirs. Casa Bounaparte itself offers up some fun photographic subjects not found on the museum next door:

Casa Buonaparte is affiliated with the Maison Bonaparte museum

Indeed, it’s worth walking by just for a snapshot of this wonderful sign:

Casa Buonaparte

From Casa Buonaparte Ursula and I started slowly back to Vision of the Seas, but along a very indirect route that would take us well north of Plaza Foch. Here we found a pedestrian street that was fun to walk — Rue Cardinal Fesch. Lots of shops, street vendors, cafés, and restaurants in this area.

An Ajaccio café scene
Walking along Rue Cardinal Fesch

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Bonus Holidays Recipe Article: Roasting Chestnuts


Hot, freshly roasted chestnuts with a little butter

Yep, it’s late fall. Chestnuts are showing up at the local grocers’ or, in our case, the local Whole Foods. And pricy though they may be, roasting these little gems at home is a heck of a lot cheaper than flying to Europe to get a paper sack full of chestnuts from a street vendor. Besides, if you can find good, fresh chestnuts, it’s simply too easy to do these at home, and in very little time. So, let’s get started with this step-by-step recipe beginning with a list of what you’ll need, directions on how to use what you’ll need, and how to serve these delightful morsels of goodness.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Approximately 30 chestnuts for two people; about 1.1 pounds/500 grams
  • An oven heated to 425ºF/220ºC
  • A very sharp serrated knife
  • A cutting board that can handle a very sharp serrated knife
  • Gauze, tape, alcohol, and perhaps an extra finger or two should you slip with that very sharp serrated knife
  • A pot with some water
  • A baking tray
  • A clean kitchen towel
  • Butter, preferably unsalted, for garnish

First off, forget all that stuff you’ve read about cutting an X across the top of the chestnut. That technique doesn’t work very well later when you want to pop out the nut from the shell. I’m going to show you a better way.

Chestnuts, cutting board, and a very sharp serrated knife

Lay the chestnut flat side down, round side up. Take your knife and, along one edge, made a shallow cut through the shell. Don’t worry if you cut slightly into the nut.

Cut along one side of the chestnut

Continue scoring across the top of the chestnut. You may want to rotate the nut and begin from the other side, but that may not be necessary.

Keep going!
Rotate the chestnut and continue cutting all the way across the top (rounded portion) of the chestnut

Now repeat the process with all the chestnuts. When you’re done, place the scored chestnuts into a pot and add just enough water to cover them.

Add water to just cover the scored chestnuts

Put the pot on the stove and turn up the heat. You want to remove those chestnuts just as the water begins to boil. Most will have begun to open along the cut you made earlier.

Bring just to a boil, then immediately remove the chestnuts from the water

Spread the chestnuts, scored side up, onto the baking tray. Leave room around the individual nuts.

Spread the chestnuts out onto a baking tray

Place the chestnuts into your preheated 425ºF/220ºC oven and roast them for twenty minutes (English) or for 20 minutes (metric). In my case, I used my oven’s convection mode, but that’s not necessary.

425ºF/220ºC oven for either twenty minutes (English) or 20 minutes (metric)

Here’s how your chestnuts should look when you remove them from the oven:

Roasted chestnuts, but we’re not yet done!

Don’t get grabby! We’re not yet done. Remember that dish towel from the list above? Now is when that comes into play.

Place the roasted chestnuts onto the kitchen towel

Place the chestnuts onto your kitchen towel, then fold the towel over to trap the heat. Leave those nuts alone for another ten minutes (English) or 10 minutes (metric).

Hot chestnuts resting in a kitchen towel

Time’s UP! Unwrap those chestnuts!

Time to dig in!

Now, plate a few nuts and, while you’re enjoying those, rewrap the remainder to keep warm. On an unrelated note, do you know what one calls leftover lettuce? The romainder.

Freshly roasted chestnuts practically jumping from their shells on their own

Don’t forget to put a little butter on these delicacies. We prefer cold butter, which is easy to dab onto the chestnuts. The butter then warms up and begins to spread as you prepare to pop a nut into your drooling Pavlovian mouth.

YUM!

If you’re wondering why I put this article together and posted it on an irregular day (a Tuesday rather than my usual Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays), that’s because time is of the essence. Chestnuts are just hitting the markets here locally, and they won’t in most likelihood be there a month from now. If they are, they’ll be way past their prime; you’ll wind up throwing out quite a few if you wait that long. So, hurry on out there and stock up. Get a few pounds/kilo or two and store in the refrigerator those chestnuts you won’t be roasting today. I’ve found they stay fresh much longer when kept cold.

Feel free to leave a note on how this recipe worked out for you!

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