Sunday, 23 February 2020

Dalmatian Gourmet Heaven: Korculanske Pjatance 2020 Spring Festival Announced

February 23, 2020 - One of the great gourmet festivals returns for its third edition. If you are a foodie, don't miss the Korculanske Pjatance Spring Food and Wine Festival. 

I do feel a little guilty having a secret love for Korcula, having lived on Hvar for so many years. 

In my defence, I was initially seduced by the very best, as Korcula's most famous Brit and owner of luxury boutique hotel Lesic Dimitri invited me over for lunch one late August day. Conversation with Michael was as delightful as the Lesic fine dining, a selection of Grk and Posip, and that refreshing terrace breeze. I still remember writing about that first proper Korcula visit - few blogs have been more of a joy to write

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I have visited Korcula many times since, as well as catching up with Michael whenever our paths cross in Zagreb, but my favourite time to visit is early May, for a foodie festival which takes place at a great time of year in pre-season, and is as close to Dalmatian gourmet heaven as I have experienced here in a festival. 

The Korculanske Pjatance Spring Food and Wine Festival is, for me at least, one of the best adverts of the finer things in life in Dalmatia, and a blueprint of how to develop gourmet tourism in the shoulder seasons. 

The weather in early May is usually gorgeous, with many taking their first swim of the season. The focus of the festival is on local products, celebrating the outstanding quality of Korculan food and wine. Several restaurants have come together to offer a rich selection of menus, as well as cooking shows and fascinating workshops. In the first year, the family came too, and my two young daughters really enjoyed the pasta workshop at Filippi, before foraging in the woods to find the herbs necessary for Petra Jelicic's pastry workshop in Pupnat. As well as the beach and desserts at Tara's Lodge, of course.  

This year's event has just been announced - four days from May 7 - 10, and if you are a foodie and in the area, put it in your diary. To get a flavour of the festival, check out the official video teaser above, or the list of articles TCN wrote as part of its coverage here.

More details of this year's Korculanske Pjatance are coming - you can follow the latest on Facebook

Monday, 29 April 2019

Marenda, the Art of Dalmatian Brunch at Radiona on Korcula

April 27, 2019 - The second day of this year's Korculanske Pjatance Korcula Spring Food and Wine Festival took an outstanding look at one of the pillars of Dalmatian society at Bistro Radiona - 'marenda', the Dalmatian brunch.

Korcula in Spring is mesmerising. This is my second visit to the island of Marco Polo at this time of year, both to the excellent Korculanske Pjatance Spring Food and Wine Festival. It is fast becoming one of my essential entries in the calendar, for it has everything Croatia could - and should - be offering in its shoulder months. 

But how to beat the incredible start of the opening day, where Konoba Maha in Zrnova played host to an extraordinary display of local nibbles, washed down with tequila and a copious quantity of Korcula's famed Posip and Grk wines? The wise ones among us kept a little space for the evening spectacle - and arguably the event of the festival - a 5-course special at Lesic Dimitri Palace, paired with Korculan wines and introduced by Master of Wine Jo Ahearne

What could possibly compare to that, I pondered to myself, on an early morning stroll (see video above), taking in the breathtaking gorgeousness of this historic old town jutting out into the Adriatic?

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First up on day 2 was 'Marenda - the Art of Dalmatian Brunch' at Bistro Radiona, a waterfront restaurant a short walk from the old town. 

Marenda is a double-edged word for me, and for many years, it had a really negative connotation for me. 

State institutions have an official break in the middle of the morning, also called Marenda. It is so-called as the hard-working officials who have been pushing paper around for at least a couple of hours, close the office and go for a coffee break and perhaps a snack. Nothing wrong with that, you might think. The only problem for those visiting officials in places like the tax office is that one never knew the time of the marenda, and so a locked office might be your reward for coming at the wrong time. And not only that - the normal marenda time was half an hour, just enough time to enjoy a nice leisurely coffee and gather some strength to push more paper around until lunchtime. So when I saw an advertised marenda time of 10:30 - 11:00, I would make sure I was in position by 10:59. Only to find that half an hour often became 45 minutes or an hour. Ah, life on a Dalmatian island. 

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But then there is the other type of marenda - the actual eating. The so-called Dalmatian brunch. And as I was about to find out, the Art of Brunch at Bistro Radiona on Korcula was a feast indeed. 

I wasn't too sure what to expect, but I liked the warm welcome above. 

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And you can't go wrong with a little prsut to kickstart proceedings.

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We took our places at our table for two, our first mission to do battle with this wonderful plate of oysters. 

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A little marinated anchovies never hurt anyone, and I particularly enjoyed the fragrant rock samphire and caperberries. A really strong dish, which tasted every bit as good as it looked. 

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A little goat and fava bean stew.  

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While my friend opted for the limpet and sea snail tagliatelle.

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The sea snails were quite chewy and easily prized from their shells. 

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There were more courses available, but I had had more than enough. Until the selection of traditional Korculan desserts came out.

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And who can resist a little light rozada? 

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A truly exceptional presentation of the art of marenda. I will be back!

You can follow Bistro Radiona on Facebook.

To learn more about Korcula, check out the Total Croatia guide, Korcula in a Page

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Korculanke Pjatance Spring Food and Wine Festival Opens in Style on Korcula

April 27, 2019 - The 3rd edition of Korculanske Pjatance, the Korcula Spring Food and Wine Festival, got off to a glorious start at Konoba Maha, in trademark glorious weather. 

Of all the Croatian tourist destinations trying to implement strategies for the future, one of the most interesting and enticing is the island of Korcula. 

Like much of the rest of the coast and islands, Korcula is blessed with so many natural treasures - nature, beaches, heritage, culture and pristine seas. 

And outstanding food and wine. 

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Putting these components together and trying to build a destination with an outstanding gourmet off which will attract higher spending quality guests rather than setting for the mass market is something that Korcula has been implementing for some years now, and with considerable success. 

Korcula Town has several boutique festivals in the shoulder season, including the Korkyra Baroque Music Festival in September but if you are a foodie, there is only one place to be at this time of year. 

Korculanske Pjatance, the Korcula Spring Food and Wine Festival, is now in its third edition, and it has already become an unmissable part of my TCN travels on the second day of this, my second visit. A series of workshops, cooking classes, wine paired meals and other culinary activities highlighting the Spring flavours of this must flavoursome island is one of the best gourmet promotional concepts I have seen in my time in Croatia. Various Korculan restaurants host the events, and with the island's winemakers providing their excellent Grk, Posip and other local varieties, this is a festival to satisfy even the most demanding gourmand. 

This year's festival started at Konoba Maha, near Zrnova, with an opening ceremony with (quite a few) nibbles. for media, partners and participants. The slow-burning fire gave a taster of the meat and tuna tasters, which would follow, but there was plenty to sample before then. 

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And before we could even get to the wine, an obligatory 11 am tequila cocktail, which hit the spot rather well. 

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Many of the island's top chefs had prepared various delicacies, and Lesic Dimitri chef Marko Gajski was busy applying the final touches. It was to be a busy day for young Marko, who would later serve up an astonishing 5-course special at Lesic Dimitri Palace, with wine pairings provided by Master of Wine Jo Ahearne, who had popped over from the neighbouring island of Hvar, where she is the first Master of Wine making wine in Croatia, all from local indigenous grape varieties. 

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It was also my first visit to Konoba Maha, and the setting was superb. There is a trend in Croatia to develop agro-tourism businesses, and while the quality of the end product can leave a little to be desired at times, Konoba Maha is showing what can be achieved. The garden is lush with a rich and aromatic selection of local plant life, with a section which also provides vegetables for the Maha kitchen. It is a divine spot in total isolation. 

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A divine spot, even with the food. But add in a few bites to eat... 

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A selection of the initial offerings while the slow cooking happened a few feet away. 

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Korcula is famous for its white wines of Grk and Posip, and both are regarded as among the best white wines in all Croatia. A number of the island's winemakers turned up to support the event. 

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With a rather an impressive selection of Korculan wines to try. And with a cocktail workshop to come at 15:00, followed by that Lesic dinner, it was necessary to pace oneself a little. 

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From wine to cocktails, and there was plenty of engagement from participants in the workshop, which this correspondent had to leave soon after it started due to a prior commitment. 

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There was so much to look forward to in the next day and a half. That dinner at Lesic Dimitri Palace.

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Learning about 'marenda', a type of Dalmatian brunch the following morning. 

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Before a 6-course dinner with celebrated Croatian chef, Dino Galvagno, back at Konoba Maha. All this before a Galvagno masterclass on the topic of Wild Edibles and Entrails the following morning. For details of more events at Korculanske Pjatance, follow the festival Facebook page

And put it in your diary for next year. 

Friday, 12 April 2019

Korculanske Pjatance 2019, a Spring Food and Wine Festival Not to Miss

April 12, 2019 - Gourmet heaven in Spring, as historic Korcula comes alive with the Korculanske Pjatance Spring Food and Wine Festival.

It was without doubt the nice thing we did as a family last year. 

And if someone asked me to cherry pick a Croatian gourmet experience, I don't think I could have done better than a 5-course special at arguably Croatia's leading luxury boutique hotel, Lesic Dimitri, whose restaurant is in the Michelin Guide, with wines from Bire, who was coincidentally celebrating 20 years of his iconic Lumbarda winery, most famous for its Grk. A perfect introduction to a fabulous food and wine festival on Korcula, which this year returns from April 26-30. You can read about the opening night here.

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Tara's Lodge in early MayTara's Lodge in early May with such glorious Korcula weather - it was impossible to get the kids to get in the car back to Varazdin. And the workshops! My kids adored the homemade pasta masterclass at Filippi, and foraging for herbs with pastry chef Petra Jelicic before learning how to use them to make some outstanding desserts in another Michelin-rated restaurant - Konoba Mate in Pupnat

Could that outstanding programme be bettered? Impossible! Or so you would think. But this year's programme looks tantilising indeed. Check out the press release and programme below. 

And I know that we Brits are not famous for our food (at least in terms of high quality), but what a fantastic opening night combination to start the festival. British owner of Lesic Dimitri will be the host, and Londoner Jo Ahearne MW, the only Master of Wine in Croatia, will make the short journey from her adopted home on Hvar, to sort the wines. 

This is a truly fabulous event - don't miss it. 

SPRING FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL KORČULANSKE PJATANCE

Dino Galvagno, Hrvoje Zirojević, Jo Ahearne, Marko Gajski, Biljana Milat, Lucija Tomašić, Damir Šarić and others famous names of the Croatian food and wine scene, will be our guests at the third edition of the Spring Food and Wine Festival Korčulanske Pjatance, which will be held from 26th to 30th April, organized by Korčula’s finest restaurants. 

Korčulanske pjatance is already recognized by the profession and the media. Last year we offered creative plates defined within the framework of modern Croatian cuisine, with additional guest appearances from people like the famous chefs David Skoko and Steven Pieters, or pastry chef Petra Jelinić. 

This year, masterclasses will be held by some of the most famous names of Croatian culinary art, chef Dino Galvagno who is in top 10 Croatian chefs, chef Hrvoje Zirojević, recently established as the chef of the year in the Gault&Millau, gourmet guide and successful young pastry chef Lucija Tomašić. The art of making homemade bread will be presented by Damir Šarić, and Jo Ahearne, a British Master of Wine who lives in Croatia will preside over our Wine Night with her personal selection of the best wines from Korčula. 

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All the Festival visitors will enjoy our Chef’s creativity, great seasonal produce and the finest local wines at special prices. 

The Korčulanske Pjatance Association brings together the finest Korčula restaurant: Adio Mare, Aterina, Barić, Filippi, LD Restaurant, Marco's, Nonno, Radiona, Konoba Maha, Konoba Mate as well as OPG Eko Škoj, a producer of organic local olive oils, jams and herbs. They all take their inspiration from locally grown, seasonal food and herbs. 

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This year's Festival will see collaboration with the Petar Šegedin High School in Korčula, which will host masterclasses in their well-equipped demonstration kitchen. 

The value and importance of the Festival and Korčula's gastronomic offer has once again been recognized by the most prestigious global gastronomic guide Michelin which for the second year in a row has assigned three recommendations, for LD Restaurant, Filippi Restaurant and Konoba Mate. Together with our visiting experts local chefs will be presented, primarily chef Marko Gajski, a participant in this year's Chef's Stage in Šibenik, Biljana Milana who recently won the prestigious Gault&Millau award for pastry chef of the year, and the Slow Food Pelješac Association, whose members will hold a workshop for children. Participants will also take part in a cocktail workshop in cooperation with Coca Cola and an education course on local olive oils.

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FESTIVAL PROGRAM

 

Korčula and surrounding places

26 – 30 April 2019

26.04.2019.

11.00

Konoba Maha

Official opening of the festival with presentation of participants, business partners and other associates – for invitees of festival and public media

15.00

Cocktail Workshop – Powered by Coca Cola

19.00

LD Restaurant

Korčula in the Bottle – five-course dinner with wine choices by Jo Ahearne - Master of Wine

27.04.2019.

11.00

Bistro Radiona

The Art of Brunch – traditional brunch of Korčula

14.00

Demonstration Kitchen at the Petar Šegedin High School in Korčula

Pastry shop Mala Truba – healthy desserts and bread made of homemade yeast and whole-wheat flour workshop

19.00

Konoba Maha

Guest chef Dino Galvagno – multi-course dinner with wine

28.04.2019.

9.00

Demonstration Kitchen at the Petar Šegedin High School in Korčula

Masterclass: Wild Edibles & Entrails – chef Dino Galvagno

19.00

Korčulanske pjatance

Lagoon Regata – dinner for regatta participants

29.04.2019.

11.00

Demonstration Kitchen at the Petar Šegedin High School in Korčula

Slow Food Peljesac Association – Lecture and workshop for children

15.00

Demonstration Kitchen at the Petar Šegedin High School in Korčula

Masterclass: Sea on the Plate – chef Hrvoje Zirojević

19.00

Aterina Restaurant

City museum of Korčula – Culture of nutrition through history of Korčula, lecture powered by Aterina snacks

30.04.2019.

10.00

Demonstration Kitchen at the Petar Šegedin High School in Korčula

Eko Škoj and Sensory analysts of Korčula island – presentation, tasting and education about olive oils of Korčula island

19.00

A joint dinner of all “Pjatance” participants for all gourmets

23.00

Festival After Party

Follow the latest on the official Facebook page.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

From Asparagus to Grk, Why Korcula is a Top Spring Gourmet Destination

February 13, 2019 - Korcula is quietly establishing itself as a luxury gourmet destination, and if you want to see it truly shy, late April is the time to be there.

After the snow and the cold, the sun is beaming through my Varazdin window, and thoughts turn to one of the nicest times of year - Spring in Croatia. 

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One of my highlights of 2018 took place in Spring last year, a rather delightful discovery on Korcula. The weather played fair, and the long May bank holiday weekend was spent at the 2nd Korcula Spring Food and Wine Festival, Korculanske Pjatance. 

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A group of restaurants from the town and surrounding villages put on an outstanding selection of dinners, cooking classes, workshops, wine tastings and live music that really worked well. Included were two of the stars of the Dalmatian dining scene, Michelin-recommended Lesic Dimitri and Konoba Mate in Pupnat. We were fortunate to arrive for one very special occasion, the 20th anniversary of the Bire winery in Lumbarda, famous for its Grk, where the Bire wines were paired with a 5-course classic from Marko Gajski, resident chef at Lesic. 

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With accommodation right on the beach at Tara's Lodge at Zrnovska Banja, the kids took to the Tara motto of Eat, Sleep, Beach, Repeat with gusto. In between, there was foraging for herbs in the woods near Pupnat for a dessert workshop with celebrity pastry chef Petra Jelenic, and a pasta-making masterclass with Filippi, which my daughters enjoyed immensely. A wonderful family event. 

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Korculanske Pjatance returns this year from April 26-30, during the Easter Holidays, so there is even more reason to head down to this lovely Dalmatian island. You can follow the event on Facebook

Stay a few days longer, until May 3, and enjoy yet one more festival, Sparogijada. If you have never tried wild asparagus before, you are truly missing out. Much more bitter and concentrated than traditional asparagus, it is one of the most eagerly-awaited times of year for locals, who disappear into the fields to forage for their own supply. 

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You don't have to do that, as the asparagus comes to you in the form of the Sparogijada festival, which is described as follows by the Korcula Tourist Board:

Taste traditional dishes made with asparagus, a delectable plant found in Korčula's nearby fields.Taste traditional dishes made with asparagus, a delectable plant found in Korčula's nearby fields.

The asparagus is a favourite seasonal ingredient picked during the April-May period.

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Students of Korčula culinary school prepare various dishes with asparagus and other local ingredients. For those with a sweet tooth, they prepare traditional Korčula cakes and pastries.

Keep up with the latest from this lovely island with our Total Korcula section

 

Monday, 28 May 2018

The Scottish Sun Discovers Dubrovnik and Korcula

More positive international column inches for southern Dalmatia, as the Scottish Sun raves about the foodie experience in Dubrovnik and on Korcula on May 27, 2018. 

Monday, 7 May 2018

Rustic Korcula: Foraging for Herbs at Michelin Recommended Restaurants - the Konoba Mate Experience

May 7, 2018 - Continuing TCN's look at the recent Korcula Spring Food and Wine Festival, Korculanske Pjatance - a herb and pastry workshop in a divine off-the-beaten rustic restaurant deservedly in the Michelin guide. 

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Homemade Pasta Heaven: A Korcula Masterclass from Filippi

Continuing our look at the recent Korcula Spring Food and Wine Festival, Korculanske Pjatance, which finished on May 5, 2018 - a pasta masterclass from the family restaurant Filippi. 

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Dalmatian Heaven on Korcula: Bire Celebrates 20 Years of Grk at Lesic Dimitri

May 3, 2018 - A lesson in Dalmatian perfection at the second Korcula Spring Food and Wine Fair, as the Bire winery celebrates 20 years of its Lumbarda winery with a six-course Lesic Dimitri special last Saturday. 

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Korčula Announces Second Spring Food and Wine Festival!

The second spring food and wine festival on the island of Korčula will begin this weekend under the organization of the Korčulanske Pjatance association. 

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