Korculanske Pjatance: Spectacular Showcase of Korcula Cuisine in Autumn

By 24 October 2022
Korculanske Pjatance: Spectacular Showcase of Korcula Cuisine in Autumn
Photo credits Korculanske Pjatance

October 24, 2022 - Celebrating the very best of local quality produce while showcasing the magic of a Dalmatian island in late October - Korculanske Pjatance 2022 was an event that had it all. A blueprint for Croatia's luxury gourmet offer. 

An awful lot is written about the quality of Croatia's gourmet offer, as well as initiatives to prolong the season. Currently, the Croatian National Tourism Board is trumpeting its national campaign, Croatian Tourism Month, which on paper looks like a great idea. A 35% discount off all participating businesses to allow locals and tourists to enjoy the very best of Croatia at a more affordable price. Except very few businesses have signed up, as it is peak season in continental Croatia, and currently there are only 5 restaurants and wineries in the whole country are participating in this pointless initiative. 

Meanwhile, on the island of Korcula, a little-known but rather sensational food and wine event celebrated its fifth anniversary - one of the most enjoyable, tasty - and educational - gourmet festivals I have attended in my time in Croatia. 

It had everything, and Korcula shone, basking in the late autumn sunshine and the considerable richness and diversity of its culinary credentials. 


(The bedroom view, October 22, 2022)

About the festival first of all, from the official website:

The first edition of Korculanske Pjatance, a food and wine festival, was held in the spring of 2017. when the best Korcula restaurants united in the desire to present the local population and visitors with the best of Korcula's wine and gastronomic offer. Motivated by the success of the first edition of the festival and driven by the desire to create a gastronomic event of the highest possible quality, the aforementioned catering establishments founded the association "Korculanske Pjatance" in January 2018. Nurturing a centuries-old gourmet tradition woven into the identity of the city and the island, the main goal of the association is the development of Korcula as a high-quality tourism destination based on top gastronomy, oenology and original hospitality.

Through a variety of food and drink offers, Korcula caterers present Dalmatian cuisine as a combination of traditional and modern, created in harmony with the seasonal benefits of the Adriatic gardens below and above the surface of the sea. Local connoisseurs present their gastronomic achievements at popular prices with creative menus designed especially for this occasion, which will change daily during the week of the festival.

Autumn is a logical season for the event, taking into account the wealth of seasonal foods that ripen or have their qualitative peak precisely at this time of the year.

Autumn thus asserted itself as an inspiration that, in addition to Korcula chefs and chefs, the famous Korcula and Peljesac winemakers could not resist, for whom wine, vines, the sea and the (half) island are inexhaustible inspirations for new stylistic interpretations of Posip, Grk and Plavac mali, many of which will be presented during the week of the festival, and will certainly mark the 2022 harvest and determine wine trends in the coming season.

(Stairway to Heaven, Korcula Old Town, October 22, 2022)

One doesn't have to be long on Korcula to realise that this is an island with a rich heritage and one which is fiercely patriotic to its local produce and traditions. No cheap Chinese souvenir shops here, but ones filled with local arts and crafts, olive oil, and those two magical Korculan whites - Grk and Posip.  

The sheer diversity of local dishes on Korcula makes it (I believe) the only island which has its own book of recipes for its indigenous cakes (Sweet Korcula has no less than 35 local recipes - all of them delicious).

And so to the festival, which was a combination of culinary celebration, discovery and education - something for everyone against a backdrop of social interaction and relaxation after an excellent tourist season.  


Korculanske Pjatance 2022 opened in trademark bright sunshine with a superb presentation of the wares of members of the LAG 5 Fest association. 


Including a very generous selection of local wines. 


An outstanding constant part of this year's festival was the daily marenda (price 60 kuna) hosted by Restaurant Planjak - fabulous local fare with sizable portions at a very affordable price.   


Among the honoured guests and participants was Dalmatia's leading caricaturist, Tisja Kljakovic Braic, whose depiction of daily life in Dalmatia is a true work of art. Tisja had an exhibition of her incredible work in the town park throughout the festival. 


Her latest book, 'Oni' was a Christmas gift a couple of years ago, and it was nice to come face to face with my favourite cartoon - Sarma, Day 5. 

You can take a tour of some of the exhibition in the video above. 


Day 1 came to a VERY strong close, with two outstanding dinners, this after an afternoon masterclass at Konoba Mate in Pupnat from Slovenian Michelin Star chef Igor Jagodic. 

Oyster lovers headed to De Canavelis for a Wine and oysters eno-gastro workshop with WSET lecturer Kruno Filipović & EventLab, moderated by Morana Zibar. Meanwhile, at Korcula's own Michelin Star restaurant, LD Palace, Michelin star chefs Kevin Bonello (The Xara Palace, Malta) & Marko Gajski (LD Restaurant) with the support of the winery Korta Katarina & Meneghetti, put on a culinary extravaganza. 


Early risers with a sweet tooth on Day 2 were rewarded with a pastry masterclass by one of Croatia's leading pastry chefs, Tea Mamut. 


This was followed by a superb look at the wonderful world of rare island indigenous varieties, led by Ksenija Matic at Filippi. 


Coming from Hvar, I was amazed at just how many indigenous varieties there were on Hvar alone, before discovering that islands such as Solta, Vis and Korcula all had varieties specific to their own individual island.  


Lunchtime? It must be marenda at Restauant Planjak.  


Education has been a key aspect of the philosophy from the inaugural event in 2017, and this year was no exception.  The City Museum was the venue for two presentations; the first by LAG SKOJ, LAG BRAC, and LAG 5 presenting the 'Collect the island' project, which was followed by a lecture by Ana Marusic Lisac B Sc. on the certification and protection of island goods. 


There were no places available for the star event that evening - a superb 8-course dinner by Slovenian Michelin Star chef Igor Jagodic, more than ably supported by Tea Mamut's dessert.  



Education, activity, and affinity to nature kicked off the third day, as the emphasis shifted to the village of Zrnovo, the host of most of the day's activities. Energetic participants were up early to forage for plants in the forests under the watchful guidance of Sani Sardelic. 


A successful morning's foraging yielded an impressive and varied haul. 


Which was put to very good use in the workshop. 


There then followed what was arguably the best part of the whole event, a VERY relaxed and lazy afternoon of indulgence at the excellent Eko Skoj in Zrnovo.


Where the food just kept on coming, Korculan speciality after Korculan speciality.  


An undoubted highlight was a dish I had never heard of before - skopac, which translates as castrated lamb. Superbly prepared.  


A very encouraging thing I noticed this year was the level of participation and engagement from other islands, and it was great to catch up with leading Jelsa winemaker, Ivo Dubokovic, for example - one of several familiar faces from Hvar.   


The theme of education was never far away, and Ivo Kara Pesic mr.phil gave an extensive adn thought-provoking presentation on the Slow Food Movement. This was followed back in the city museum by a lecture on The science and art of food experience, by Daniela Angelina Jelinčić, Ph.D. from the 
Institute for Development and International Relations, Zagreb. 


Meanwhile, there are certain people one cannot visit Korcula without saying hi. High on that list is Smiljana Matijaca, whose outstanding Cukarin pastry show is internationally acclaimed. And full of dangerous calorie traps. The Marko Polo Chocolate Bomb was a new one to me. Sensational.  


The final day kicked off with an early morning visit (too early for this correspondent) to OPG Komparak and a lesson in ecological beekeeping with Vlaho Komparak. 

But I did make it for the daily marenda at Planjak - lamb shank peka.


And how about this for a trademark Korculan desert display?  


There was swimming, there was walking, there was chilling in the cafe - a very relaxed few days enjoying this magnificent town and all it had to offer with very few tourists.  Idyllic. 

And one final dinner, this time at Hotel Korcula, with a wonderful touch from the Korculan community, as the first public presentation of a rather special wine in honour of a very special man was presented. 

Korcula was rocked 3 years ago by the tragic passing of Drazen Matkovic, the popular sommelier at LD Palace. A pillar of the community who touched the lives of everyone he met, Drazen lives on in the hearts of many on the island, and the wineries of Korta Katarina, Bire and Krajancic came together to produce a stunning cuvee in Drazen's honour called DraMa (using the first parts of his first and last names). 


A fitting end to an extraordinary few days of Korculan culture, hospitality, gastronomy and community. It was a true pleasure to be a small part of it. 

You can follow Korculanske Pjatance on Facebook - see you there for the 2023 edition.  

And whether or not you go to the festival, I do heartily recommend that you get up for sunrise at least once on your next visit. As you can see from the video below, it is truly magical.  

And don't forget to check out the drone view, courtesy of Steve Tsentserensky. 


What is it like to live in Croatia? An expat for 20 years, you can follow my series, 20 Ways Croatia Changed Me in 20 Years, starting at the beginning - Business and Dalmatia.

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