Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Korčula, the last three days: Butch Gastronomy and the Pupnat Kid

Korčula, Croatia (Korčula, Hrvatska)
Our remaining three days on the island of Korčula were mainly spent lounging at the beach and feasting at konobas (small family-run eateries). One beach we visited, called Orlandusa, we almost had to ourselves apart from some nude and semi-nude bathers. 
We stayed an extra night at the Zavalatica apartment, as it provided a good base to explore the island, and the harbour looked like this! Stunning. One morning we sat by the water's edge and dipped our feet in under the warm sun. Yannick explains: "Necia beached herself on the pier by the water's edge and didn't move for an hour. Looked like there'd been a murder over there." Couldn't have said it better myself. 
We ate lunch two days in a row at Konoba Mate in the village of Pupnat, which had two charming churches. Any time I referenced the konoba, I did so in an Australian accent because although 'mate' in Croatian is pronounced mah-tay, I couldn't help but put an Aussie twist on it. Put a goat on the barbie, mate! 
And we did eat goat. Kid, to be exact. It was a speciality at the konoba and you had to reserve it one day before. We hadn't known this and tried to order it on the first day, but had to make do with other traditional foods: commencing with an antipasto platter of cured meats, pâtés and cheeses, we then tucked in to ravioli stuffed with homemade goats cheese in a butter sauce and handrolled makaruni pasta in a tomato sauce. It was all delightful, and we decided we had to try the kid. Rocking up the following day with a reservation we were very excited to eat goat for the first time, but found it to be very similar to lamb, and quite bony. It was tasty, but we actually preferred the pasta dishes. 
Our final night was spent at an apartment in Lumbarda, with beautiful views of the town and harbour below. We chatted with the apartment owner who was very friendly and recommended a few nearby beaches. As we had heard that olive oil produced on the island was a specialty and sought-after, we asked where we could find some. He regrettably told us that last year's harvest had not been a good one, and any Korčula olive oil in the shops wouldn't be up to standard. 
A little disheartened by this news, we set about making dinner and discovered at the bottom of one of the casserole dishes "Made in Yugoslavia". I guess they don't make them like they used to! 
By this point we had developed a taste for an aperitif of chips, cheese and Dalmatian ham sprinkled with olive oil. We ate out on our terrace with grape vines growing around us, swaddled in sleeping bags, and as we are the classiest of people we whipped out our portable stove and toasted marshmallows to add to dessert crêpes (there was also both chocolate and caramel sauce - can't have marshmallows on their own). 
That evening we heard music drift up from the town and walked in to investigate. Just as we arrived at the scene (a bar on the waterfront), the catchy brass band ceased to make way for rather a lot of talking followed by children dressed in traditional garb dancing to unappealing violin "music". We hung around for a while and enjoyed the lights reflecting on the water, but eventually couldn't take it any longer and returned to our apartment. Very shortly after settling back down on the terrace, the brass band took up a tune again. Our timing is immaculate!
In the morning we decide to take a look at the Lumbarda waterfront in daylight hours. But as we opened the front door we noticed a note and a gift bag. The apartment owner had left us three little bottles of his own homemade olive oil from the 2013 harvest! It was so nice. He didn't have to do that. We wrote him a long note back about how generous he was and left a Toblerone as that's all we could give as thanks. 
In the town there were sailboats and a pleasant coastal walk which we strolled along for a time. 
But most of that time was actually spent trying to get close enough to a lizard to snap a photo. There were so many! And they are so fast! 
One thing I have to say about Croatia is that it is often a difficult mission to find any new restaurants or apartments as the streets aren't really named most of the time, meaning that the Google Maps for Lumbarda looks like this:
How are you supposed to find anything?! Enlighten me. We would just resort to asking someone at any bar or café we could find and to be fair, it always worked. Croatian postal workers must undergo some insane training in order to do their job and not get lost. 
We lunched at Konoba Meslina, where we were given a big bowl of fried bread things described as "like bread, but better" that were amazing (and free of charge). Fabienne was tossing up between two dishes, and was urged by the waiter/owner to try the traditional meat stew as he argued you could get chicken anywhere in the world. But not chicken like Croatian chicken! I had eaten too many of the bread things to finish my meal, but that chicken is so damn good. I asked him if it was a secret recipe or if he could spill the beans, and he said that the only fact he could divulge is that he adds butter to it at the end of cooking. So tender. So scrumptuous. He also gave us three shots of liquor: limoncello, a cherry sherry, and his homemade grappa (these were also free). 
Before the ferry ride out, we tried to find special Korčula biscuits and wine, but all the shops were closed. Fabienne and I spent the ferry ride lamenting that we were leaving and cooing at how nice the water was. 
Back in Orebić, we went to the beach. It was the best day ever. 

Today's post was almost called: Olive You, Korčula (I'm Beached As, Mate)