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Great restuarant in Croatia on Korcula--long

k
Kmanlove Sep 6, 2006 05:26 PM

My girlfriend and I returned recently from a great trip to Europe that included a 3 night stay on the island of Korcula. This seems to be the 3rd most popular of the main islands after Hvar and Brac, but well worth a visit, especially for this one restaurant we went to two nights in a row. The restaurant, Restaurant Mate, is about 20 minutes outside of Korcula Town. We rode a scooter there, but I am sure taxis wouldn't be too expensive.

The setting is absolutely perfect: on a hillside, sitting on a patio with grapes growing above your head. You can see the matronly chef through a small window and Biba, the genial hostess, makes everyone feel welcome. All the staff is really great. One of my favorite moments was the first night, when the waitress, whose English was very good, though not perfect, was about to tell us the dishes of the night and said, "let me tell you a story." Really, isn't a great meal just the beginning of a story?

The meal starts with a basket of homemade spirits: grappa infused with an amazing array of herbs and spices. Some are delicious, some are, uh, interesting, but all are fun to try.

We then ordered the antipasti plate. A large platter with 3 types of smoked ham, 3 types of goat cheese (fresh, aged, and something I can't remember), an eggplant caponata, marinated zucchini and mushrooms, and I am sure I am forgetting some items. The prsut (prosciutto, a Croatian specialty) was perfect. Smoky, salty, delicious. When I asked Biba if it was made locally, she took a key from her apron and opened a door right next to us to the smokehouse filled with hams and pork bellies. I said it looked and smelled like heaven. Actually, to be totally fair, the pork belly was a little too salty. We also had a small order of their cured seafood. Three types of sardines and/or anchovies (I'm not really sure) were all delicious.

I am going to forget some of the mains, but I'll try: The first night we had mezzalune pasta stuffed with cheese and some herbs in a butter sauce. These were amazing. Simple, great pasta. We also had lamb chops, which were simply grilled. They were great lamb chops. Nothing fancy, but if you like lamb, then yum. The second night we had a braised beef dish over homemade rolled pasta. According to Biba, this was a traditional Croatian celebratory dish. Hopefully I will get invited to some Croatian celebrations so I can have more of it. We also had the same pasta with a "Sicilian pesto" or something like that. It was garlic, tomatoes and walnuts I think. Once again, simple but delicious.

Desserts were also good, but I forget those. I think we had some crème caramel, a chocolate cake and something else.

All the products are locally procured and I think organic. There seems to be a bit of a trend of eco-tourism in Croatia. I highly recommend visiting Mate if you in the Dalmatian coast.

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