An Evening in Korce

Food and Drink Travel

Yesterday my mother, boyfriend, and I travelled to Korce.

Setting off from Tirana and passing through Elbasan and Pogradec, we made our way south-east towards Korce. The last time I travelled this road was March, and the landscape has gone through something of a transformation since then.

Seven months ago, the sky was grey, the air was thick with fog, and the colours of the world around me was various shades of dark brown with a hint of green here and there. Today, the sky was an icy blue with streaks of white clouds that created a stark and brilliant contrast with the bright yellow, green, and orange, of the autumn foliage.

Every field we passed was either freshly harvested or about to be. Bundles of corn were neatly arranged in rows and haystacks sat, fat and rounded in the corners of recently ravaged plots. Tendrils of smoke rose up from various farms dotted alongside our path, and the air was full of that unmistakeably earthy, smokey, and damp smell of the countryside in the autumn.

We passed stalls at the side of the road selling fat pumpkins and gourds, onions, chestnuts, and tomatoes- a distinct difference from the piles of shega that threatened to buckle the tables of vendors in the north just a few days before. There were also stalls selling handwoven straw baskets and a beautiful selection of red clay jugs, urns, and bowls, the locations of which I have taken mental notes of so I can fill the car with goodies on the way home.

We passed derelict bridges, empty and forgotten factories, and old buildings that had been painted with ladybirds. Farms and orchards, rivers and mountain peak, all punctuated by pines, firs, oaks, other types of tree displaying the most spectacularly coloured autumnal plumage.

Arriving in Korce as the sun was beginning to descend, we checked into Bujtina e Bardhe. Finding the location was quite an adventure as we negotiated narrow, cobbled streets in our bulky rental car. The bujtina is nice but basic; white walls, wooden, creaky floorboards and colourful Albanian rugs, it was comfy and cosy with impossibly comfortable beds.

 

We then decided to visit the Old Bazaar in search of dinner and we stopped at a small restaurant in a traditional building and enjoyed a feast of meat, cheese, salad, and fruity red wine.

After wining and dining, we explored the square before stopping at Komiteti to try out some walnut raki (something I have been hankering after for a while). The raki was delicious- strong and spicy, and the surroundings of the new Komiteti Korce were beautiful.

This is a photograph of my mother after trying her first raki.

The building is delightful with large windows painted with Albanian motifs. Antique furniture fills the room and old musical instruments and artefacts hang from the walls.

Outside in the square, I noticed a number of small fires with groups of people huddled around them. Similar to small portable BBQs, people light these and then sit around them so they can still sit outside, even as the temperature drops. The intoxicating smell of woodburning fires combined with the dampness of the evening and the sound of jazz coming from Komiteti, created the most Autumnal mood you could ever imagine!

 

 

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