Korčula culinary tour
Quality five-star representing the pinnacle of luxury in Korčula, located in a beautifully renovated 18th-century bishop’s palace and five medieval cottages, in the heart of the Old Town. Suites are named after stages on the Silk Road travelled by alleged Korčula native Marco Polo: Venice comes with a Venetian red ceiling and theatrically large chairs that look like something from Alice in Wonderland; Arabia is hung with flowing fabrics to give it the feel of a nomad’s tent in the middle of the desert. A recurring theme throughout the hotel is provided by the cushion-piled divans and geometric-patterned wooden screens evocative of interiors from the Middle East to the Far East. All the suites have sleek modern kitchens, espresso machines, free WiFi and flat-screen TVs, although sensitive restoration has left much of the building’s original stonework and wooden beaming untouched. As well as being home to the swish LD restaurant, the Lešić-Dimitri also features a spa with a team of Thai therapists. This is pure honeymoon material – without the crowds of Dubrovnik. A member of the prestigious Relais and Chateaux association.
One of the first of the Pelješac winemakers to carve out an international reputation, Frano Miloš started straight after the collapse of communism by buying up land from the state wineries, going on to develop his delicious ‘Stagnum’ range of wines. These are mostly dry reds made from the local Plavac mali grape, although Miloš also produces a refreshing rosé. Miloš’s sunlit tasting room, built into a rocky mountainside, is the perfect place to spend a laid-back afternoon.
Winemaker Frano Milina-Bire enjoys a growing reputation for producing some of the best Grk on Korčula, and his visitor-friendly winery, occupying a hillside overlooking the village, is the best place to taste it. Groups and individual tourists are welcome to sample the wine in a rustic stone-clad room before buying some of the bottles stacked like firewood against the cellar’s walls. The household also makes its own goats cheese and pršut to provide visitors with tasty platters to go along with their Grk. In the garden, tomato plants and broad beans sprout up among the kitchen herbs.
A visit here is worth the trouble of heading off the main road that leads from Ston to Orebić and Korčula. Prosciuttos hang from the ceiling as you enter the Antunović tavern, where all food is home-made: pancetta, sausages, lamb grilled or prepared under a cooking bell, peka. You can taste age-old, traditional meals such as tripice (a sort of goulash made with lamb or veal tripe) and pikatić (lamb offal). Liquors and grappas are also products of the house, the wine from surrounding Pelješac – where else? The konoba generally offers prepared menus for a set price, and appreciates advance warning. Besides the tavern, there is a whole family-run farm with sheep, goats and donkeys. There are only 2,000 donkeys in Croatia today, and their milk costs 200kn a litre, not only because of its scarcity but also its medicinal aspects.
Luka Krajančić is one of Korčula's most enterprising contemporary wine makers, producing individually crafted Pošip wines that can hold their own with any of Mediterranean Europe's quality dry whites. A lot of Croatia's top restaurants stock Krajančić's Pošip – it would be foolish not to call in here to pick up a bottle or two.