The El Duko destination is one of the most exciting gastro destinations in the Mediterranean. The grape harvest is the high point of the season. The combination of natural beauty, the incomparable cultural heritage and authentic cuisine are the key attributes of this four day experience. Bicycles, horses, off-road vehicles and sailboats are the means of transport that create a very immediate experience of the famed but hidden beauty of Konavle. This wonderful setting will be the location for first-rate culinary experiences such as a light meal on a fishing boat, lunch on the Ljuta River under the stone bridge and grilled food at the pristine Šipan Bay. A part of this up-close culinary experience will be learning how to prepare the specialties, from procuring food at the market to preparing the meal under a baking lid.
The programme begins with a dinner on the terrace under the Racic Mausoleum created by master sculptor Ivan Meštrovic followed by a short stroll along the Cavtat waterfront.
Breakfast will be followed by Dubrovnik Malvasia grape harvesting - learn about the historical grape variety which was under threat during the Homeland War. It is only now that historians and oenologists are slowly unraveling the complex history of the Mediterranean Malvasias. The grape was widely spread across the
entire Mediterranean for thousands of years from their legendary source of the Greek island of Monemvassia. The dramatic story of Dubrovnik Malvasia started during the Homeland War of the 1990s this unique grape variety was likely one of the most threatened oenological species on the planet. Witnesses reported that after the destruction and looting only a few living vines remained. But the defiant spirit of the local vintners and vine growers not only preserved the local Malvasia variety - they also quickly spread it to Konavle and moreover, nurtured a wine like none before it. Today we are witness to a historically significant; the Dubrovnik Malvasia has never been as tasty or as diverse, from young wines to late harvests and the pleasures of the prošek style. After a light meal and a break in the vineyard we’re off for some off-road riding in all terrain vehicles where you’ll have an opportunity to experience Konavle in an entirely different, adventurous fashion. Then the Monkovic family farm provides a late lunch by the Ljuta River under the arch of the old stone bridge. The trip continues to Dubrovnik with a seaside dinner, a stroll through the old town and a small concert on the main street, Stradun, before getting back to the hotel for the night.
The day begins with a visit to the Gruž market to procure the best fresh foods with which we’ll prepare a light meal in the nearby Glorijet restaurant. Croatian markets are the foundation of the superb national cuisine and a heritage that is assiduously nurtured. Small family producers will bring fresh produce to the market, making it possible to offer authentic seasonal cuisine such as omelettes made from free range eggs - a typical and very special Dalmatian marenda (brunch). A Dalmatian omelette normally consists of fresh dairy products complemented with olives, capers, pickled shallots, tomatoes, onion, paprika, pancetta, pršut and hot homemade bread. Followed by herbal rakija - a brandy that is difficult to avoid (although somewhat early in the day by modern European standards). Then we’ll board a sailboat and master the basics of skippering on the way to Šipan, the largest of the Elaphiti islands. A stroll on the island will take us past the many small early Romanesque churches, the summer residences of Dubrovnik’s aristocrats and old olive groves – of which now are experiencing a speedy revitalisation. A late lunch at Vrbova Cove with grilled fish will be followed by Dalmatian karaoke and pantomimes. A light dinner and some smooth live jazz will follow the return trip to Dubrovnik in the evening.
The morning begins with a boat trip to Cavtat, where morning fishing and brunch awaits. Whilst on the fishing boat we will also practice the art of taking morning wine to the sounds of opera arias. When asked by tourists which fish is the best, Dalmatians are ready with an answer - fresh fish, best served fresh out of the net with a quick clean and a short fry in olive oil. They say fish bathes three times: in the sea, in oil and in wine. If it’s too early for wine, try some bevanda (wine cut with water). Considered by many sommeliers to be barbaric, in Dalmatia it is deemed simply practical, especially on board a ship, in the vineyard or in the field, when the sun (Zvizdan) dictates the rules of the game. Then it’s time for goodbyes and the transfer to the airport in Cilipi.