October 26 – 28, 2015
Korcula, Marco Polo’s birth town, is just a few hours by ferry from Dubrovnik. We arrived in time for an early dinner. Tourist season along the Dalmation coast officially ends with the last day of October but the Korcul-ians seemed eager for the cool and quiet of winter… barely any restaurants were still open. Luckily we stumbled on the, rather fancy, Konoba Nonno. They had intended to close in the next hour but allowed us to extend their evening for another three. As their only customers, we sat at one of the many tables on a large patio along the city wall. Our server was funny and kind and the food was spectacular! My favorite was their homemade goat cheese arugula salad with figs and walnuts. After already being the best evening so far, they still treated us to dessert – four pieces of chocolate cake along with a huge tower of goat cheese soaked in honey, nuts and dates.
In the end we met the local and very shy chef. He was very kind and thankful for our visit.
Architecturally Korcula had much in common to Dubrovnik but it was smaller and much more deserted. The last few tourists of the year were gathered around a local bohemian duet playing acoustic guitar and singing in the old town gate. It was lively acoustic-rock music: starting with Tracy Chapman, to Janis Joplin, later drifting toward jazz with a mix of some traditional Spanish guitar music — the guy was a spectacular guitarist. During a break a french couple came out of the small crowd to sing some songs (in French), as one little boy had fun running in circles while the other slept deeply through it all.
The next day we found Cukarin, a traditional croatian pastry bakery in the middle of old town Korcula. I thought I was in a Christmas gingerbread bakery, the smell of fresh dough was tantalizing! The pastry chef is an older, sturdy woman with short gray hair and narrow thick glasses. She found her passion in keeping her grandmother’s secret recipes alive. We were obliged to sample everything, multiple times; and she convinced us to leave with one of every pastry! If forced to choose just one, I would choose “Harubica” a carob muffin topped with marmalade and sugared orange peels. Two? Then the “Marko Polo Bombíca” – a walnut filled chocolate “bomb” coated in dark chocolate – rich, yet light; so it didn’t overwhelm in that way that makes you feel guilty afterwards 😉.
Those sweets were the perfect snack for our afternoon bike ride to Lumbarda and a swim. For the latter we were pointed to a small beach along the rock-strewn coast. It lay in small bay, past a country chapel at the cross roads and through some vineyards, on the far side of town. That just added to its charm, with shallow limpid waters whose sub-aquatic views reminded me of “Finding Nemo”.
Without much choice for where to go dinner, we decided on Konoba Maslina, just outside the town of Korcula. They had quite exquisite dishes. Instead of baguette and olive oil, we got “Pogacice”: large, deep fried pouches with anis seeds. The appetizer “Pogaca”, our waiter described as being similar to a pizza with a fluffy dough and lots of vegetables on top; sounded great. However, once served it looked somewhat uninviting: smothered in gooey, rubber like cheese and a pitiful amount of vegetables. Next I tasted it and my opinion shifted again – it was sort of addicting, and though not the healthiest dish, their “Pogaca” seemed to be a very homey dish, as if their dearest family recipe. I looked most forward to the multi bean soup. It was quite different, and worth ordering, even if it wasn’t my favorite.
And again, we were treated to a free dessert. An almond-walnut filled fig coated in dark chocolate. Not quite as spectacular as the night before – but I favored it.
Korcula didn’t have much more to offer at this time of year, so the next day we explored the island a bit. We started by walking many steps to the top of St. Anthony’s Hill for a nice view by an old forgotten church. There wasn’t much more after that and the next few hours were more of a trudge through bushes and scrubs, trying to follow a forgotten path. Despite all the mosquitos, it turned out to be a nice little jaunt. Before looping back into town we walked through small streets and spotted many olive trees and cats along the roadside – this gave me the impression of what real life must be like along the Dalmation coast!
Konoba Nonno: Ul. Giunio, 20260, Korčula, Croatia
Konoba Maslina: Lumbarajska ulica 20, 20260, Korčula, Croatia