Italian regional food: 25 of the best dishes

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(CNN) — It’s not news that Italy is home to some of the best food in the world, but what might not be so well known is that Italian food is highly regional.

That means that every area — and, often, every town — has its own gourmet specialties, so that outside the touristy restaurants, you’ll find a whole different cuisine wherever you go.

Here are some of the highlights of the different regions that you might want to try.

Pasticcio ferrarese

Italy lives its history through food as well as books. Case in point: pasticcio, part of Ferrara’s Renaissance dishes that are still enjoyed today. Pasticcio is, perhaps, the most interesting since it mixes sweet and savory. Effectively a pie filled with macaroni cheese, meat ragu and bechamel sauce, it’s a pretty heavy dish, with the sweet pastry encasing it all taking things up a notch.

Cappon magro

This extraordinary dish was created in Genoa, where it’s had a place in the recipe books since the 1800s. Don’t try and translate the name — you’ll get lost in a whirlwind of references to castrated roosters and fast days. Instead, just sit back and enjoy this unique, unexpected dish. The cappon magro is a seafood salad, piled up in layers like a lasagne. It starts with a kind of biscuit base rubbed in garlic, and then is layered gradually, with white fish plus vegetables like potatoes and green beans (and a green sauce between each layer), then topped with items such as shrimp, anchovies and hard boiled eggs. Forget pesto — this is Liguria’s finest creation.

Penne alla norcina

Penne alla norcina has pasta, cream and sausages, all mixed for a delicious dish.

Penne alla norcina has pasta, cream and sausages, all mixed for a delicious dish.

larionovao/Adobe Stock

Norcia, in Umbria, is so famous for its delis that “norcino” is used as the name for a pork butcher throughout Italy. Its most famous export is this dish, in which pasta is swirled in cream, topped with a classic Norcia sausage (which has been cooked with onion and white wine before being crumbled over the pasta), and has local pecorino dusted on top. It’s more delicate than the description sounds, and totally delicious.

Tagliatelle fritte

You can’t go to Bologna without eating tagliatelle al ragu; but go during carnival time and you’ll find an even sweeter option. Tagliatelle fritte are literally fried tagliatelle — then dusted in sugar, making for a high-carb treat, with orange and lemon peel providing the flavor. This is a seasonal dish, so look out for it on menus if you’re around at Carnevale, or buy some from Atti, which sells excellent pastries and sweets.

Coda alla vaccinara

Coda alla vaccinara is the best oxtail you'll ever taste.

Coda alla vaccinara is the best oxtail you’ll ever taste.

Andrea/Adobe Stock

Stewed oxtail doesn’t sound too good — unless you’re in Rome, where it’s turned into an art form, as part of the capital’s long tradition of cooking with the “quinto quarto” or fifth quarter — in other words, offal. Oxtail isn’t offal, of course, but it’s not a prized cut. Here, chunks of tail (a tough meat) are slowly braised for hours in a tomatoey sauce, with glugs of wine.


One of the typical dishes of Basilicata, in the Italian south, this is a flavorful lamb stew, in which the meat is combined with local vegetables — like spring onion, tomatoes and rosemary — as well as chili pepper, the south’s go-to way to spice things up. Originally this was an Easter dish — people couldn’t afford to eat meat year-round. But now that they can, it has become popular year-round as a secondo, or main course.

Coniglio all’ischitana

They may be islanders, but the people of Ischia — in the Bay of Naples, northwest of Capri — are contadini, or farmers, at heart. That explains why their signature dish is rabbit stew — a dish said to date back 2,500 years to when the island was overrun with the animals. The meat is put in a casserole and stewed with tomato (which arrived in Italy rather later than the dish’s origins), garlic and wild thyme, which grows abundantly on the island.


The seada combines sweet and salty.

The seada combines sweet and salty.

Alessio Orrù/Adobe Stock

When it comes to the healthiest diet around, Sardinia’s comes high up the list. Here, people eat seasonal, fresh food, snack on local cheese, and use lots of honey instead of sugar. This, the island’s classic dessert, brings it all together: a seada is a deep-fried semolina dumpling, filled with soured pecorino and lemon peel, and drizzled in honey. It’s surprisingly delicate.


Italy is a country of panini — bread rolls that are grilled as sandwiches. This is the take on the theme by the Salento peninsula — the southern tip of the Puglia region. But this isn’t just any bread roll — it’s round, large, slightly flat and super fluffy inside. It’s usually filled to order with local ingredients from capocollo meat to tiny lampascioni onions. The whole thing is then toasted.


Arrosticini are meat skewers with a catch.

Arrosticini are meat skewers with a catch.

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Italians don’t tend to eat in the street but they make an exception for arrosticini, which you’ll find grilling in food trucks at every single event in the central-southern region of Abruzzo. This is a land of shepherds, so these mini kebabs are Abruzzo’s most famous snack: chunks of mutton or lamb put on a stick, interspersed with bits of fat to make them juicy, and then grilled over coals. Don’t throw away the foil they’re wrapped in — they’re so juicy they might otherwise ruin your clothes.


There are sandwiches, and then there’s the panonta: a huge, multi-layered affair that easily subs as a main meal, let alone a main dish. Originating in central-southern Italy — regions like Molise and Abruzzo — it takes multiple layers of bread, dunks them in oil that’s been used to fry bacon (panonta is a contraction of pane unto, or “greased bread”), and is then layered with ingredients. In Molise, these tend to be sausage with cheese, peppers, parsley and even frittata. The town of Miranda is particularly well known for it.

Bagna cauda

Bagna cauda is a warm dip of anchovy and garlic.

Bagna cauda is a warm dip of anchovy and garlic.

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Fondue fan? Take it up a notch when you visit the Piedmont region with a bagna cauda. Translated as a “hot sauce” from dialect, it’s originally from the low-lying parts of this mountainous region — which are close to the border with Liguria, hence the fishy flavor. Anchovies and garlic are the main ingredients in this dip, served warm, over heat — although the vegetables you dip into it are more often than not raw. This is as historical as it is strongly seasoned — it’s thought to date back to the 16th century.

Polenta taragna

Polenta taragna is swirled with cheese.

Polenta taragna is swirled with cheese.

genny/Adobe Stock

Polenta — essentially ground and cooked cornmeal — is a love or hate dish of northern Italy, but polenta taragna is a different story. Originally from Valtellina in the Lombardy Alps, it’s a mixture of corn and buckwheat (the latter makes it a darker color) swirled with molten cheese — including fontina, though it depends exactly where you find it. Super filling, it’s delicious by itself, though is often served with meats to warm you up in winter. Not up for a mountain jaunt? You’ll find it in Brescia and Bergamo, the cities south of Valtellina.

Rigatoni con la pajata

The idea of pajata might not be your cup of tea — it’s the intestines of an unweaned calf, with the semi-digested milk still inside it. They’re then boiled, which turns the milk into a kind of cheesy cream inside the intestines. Romans, however, swear by it — especially in this dish, in which the pajata is stewed in tomato sauce, before being paired with classic Roman thick-tubed pasta, rigatoni.


Zampone is a typical Christmas dish in Italy.

Zampone is a typical Christmas dish in Italy.

barbamauro/Adobe Stock

Enter an Italian supermarket in the run-up to Christmas and you’ll see boxes and boxes of what look like pig trotters. And indeed, they kind of are. This is zampone, a staple of the holiday food menu — a pig trotter filled with pork meat. It’s usually accompanied by cotechino (a similar, highly spiced meat, only stuffed into the pig’s innards) with mashed potatoes and lentils on the side — the lentils are said to bring luck for the new year.

Carpa in porchetta

The residents of Lake Trasimeno tended to be farmers rather than fishermen, which meant that when they were provided with fish, they cooked it as if it was meat. This is perhaps the lake’s most famous dish: a giant carp, rolled in pungent herbs and then oven-roasted, in exactly the same way that porchetta (herb-roasted pork) is produced.

Frittella veneziana

Venice's raisin- and pine nut-stuffed donuts are only available during carnival season.

Venice’s raisin- and pine nut-stuffed donuts are only available during carnival season.

Comugnero Silvana/Adobe Stock

A frittella is a donut; but a frittella veneziana, otherwise known as a fritola, is a whole other thing. This was perhaps the most famous sweet snack of the Venetian republic: fried balls of dough stuffed with pine nuts and raisins and dusted with sugar, made during the Carnevale period for centuries (in the 17th century they were sold by people called fritoleri; now you’ll find them in every bar). They’re sweet but not too much so; if you want something sweeter tasting, try one filled with whipped cream or boozy zabaglione.

Couscous alla trapanese

Sicilian cuisine is a gumbo of the different cultures to have ruled over the island across the centuries, and this is one of the dishes to have emerged from its complex history. Originally a north African dish, couscous was brought over to Sicily with the Arab conquest of the island — but the interweaving of the two cultures continued with the fishing communities of Sicily and north Africa. The Sicilian southwest — especially around Mazara del Vallo but also Trapani — have longstanding links with Tunisian fishing communities. Trapani’s couscous is cooked in a cuscuzeira, or pan, rather than a tagine; and it’s paired with fish, rather than meat.


Casoncelli are a delicious filled pasta from Lombardy.

Casoncelli are a delicious filled pasta from Lombardy.

Comugnero Silvana/Adobe Stock

Emilia-Romagna is the region best known for its filled pasta, but these — otherwise known as casonsei — give it a run for its money. They’re from the Lombardy region, which is better known for its rice than its pasta — hailing from the mountains above Bergamo and Brescia. Think of it as a slimmer, almost half moon-shaped ravioli, filled with a mixture of ground meat with breadcrumbs, cheese and egg to bind it. A vegetarian version loses the meat and amps up the filling with nutmeg and broth. Rather than being topped with sauce, they’re usually served plain with butter and sage.

Cotoletta petroniana

Take a wiener schnitzel, amp it up to something rather more decadent, and you have this, Bologna’s signature secondo, or main course (also known as a cotoletta bolognese). A veal cutlet is breaded and fried, but then has prosciutto and parmesan cheese layered on top, before being cooked so the cheese melts and creates the cutlet’s own sauce. It’s also known as a cotoletta alla bolognese — and unlike spaghetti Bolognese, calling it this won’t get you roasted by locals.


Passatelli is a kind of "pasta" made with breadcrumbs and cheese.

Passatelli is a kind of “pasta” made with breadcrumbs and cheese.

FPWing/Adobe Stock

Of all the hundreds of permutations of pasta, this is one of the most intriguing — it’s made with breadcrumbs, rather than flour, along with eggs to bind it and parmesan to give it flavor. The dough is cut into thick, almost worm-like round strips. Because they’re already strongly flavored, passatelli are usually served simply in broth, but you can also find them in a “dry” form with sauces. They hail from southern Emilia-Romagna and the northern Marche region, in the Pesaro and Urbino province — though today they are popular across the wider regions.

Dried sardines

The fishermen of Lake Iseo hang out their sardines to dry in the sun.

The fishermen of Lake Iseo hang out their sardines to dry in the sun.

Artem Markin/Adobe Stock

On Lombardy’s Lake Iseo, sardines are unlike those you’ll find anywhere else. That’s partly because they’re not strictly sardines as we know them — they’re a type of lakefish called agone, though locals call them sardines (and they taste like them too).

They’re netted by the fishermen of Monte Isola, the island in the middle of the lake, and then hung on hooks to dry out in the sun. It’s a tradition that supposedly dates back over 1,000 years ago, to when the Santa Giulia monastery in nearby Brescia demanded a catch of dried sardines every year. Today, you can see the fish drying as you walk along the coastal road outside Monte Isola, and then eat them at the waterside restaurants — the dried ones are traditionally served with polenta.

Bacio pantesco

A “Pantelleria-style kiss,” this dessert is more delicious than racy. Similar to a cannolo siciliano — not surprising, since the island of Pantelleria, where you’ll find this kiss, sits between Sicily and Tunisia — it’s essentially two small, deepfried waffles pressed together, with chocolate chip-filled ricotta stuffed in between. The waffles are usually ‘stamped’ from a mould shaped like a snowflake or a flower.


Moeche are tiny shell-less crabs that are fried during the season in Venice.

Moeche are tiny shell-less crabs that are fried during the season in Venice.

genoapixel/Adobe Stock

Visit Venice in the late spring or early fall and you’re in luck — not only will there be (marginally) fewer tourists, but you’ll be in the right season for moeche. Venetian dialect for “soft,” these are tiny lagoon crabs which shed their shell and are caught in the couple of days between sloughing off the old and having the new one harden. “Moecanti” fishermen harvest them on Burano, Giudecca and Chioggia, at the southern end of the lagoon; they’re usually fried, and eaten whole, often alone, but sometimes with polenta.

Crescia sfogliata

The region of Emilia-Romagna is famous for its piadina flatbread, but go a little further south, to the city of Urbino in the Marche region, and you’ll find the piadina’s better-tasting sibling. The crescia sfogliata dates back to the medieval period, and is still super popular thanks to Urbino’s status as a university town. It’s a flatbread, similar to the piadina, but more flakey — and it’s something that leaves a little grease on your fingers, since it has lard in the mix. Tasting super buttery, where the piadina can be a little dry, it’s typically filled with a sandwich style mix of deli meats, cheese and/or vegetables.

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Travel Agent’s Tips on Visiting Disney Restaurants With Food Allergies

For travel agent Lizzie Reynolds, Disney is magical. And not just because of Cinderella’s castle or adrenaline-inducing Space Mountain. Rather, for the chefs and their eagerness to create dishes for all visitors, including those with food allergies.

An image of Lizzie Reynolds at Disney.

Lizzie Reynolds at Disney.

Pixie Lizzie: Magical Food Allergy Travel Agent

Over a decade ago, Lizzie Reynolds made her first trip to Disney World on a family vacation with her husband and her 4-year-old daughter.

Reynold’s daughter has severe food allergies to dairy and nuts, and as a result, Reynolds told Insider she found it difficult to plan vacations in the past due to struggles finding restaurants that had dairy-free and nut-free menus. 

Reynolds said a friend urged her family to go to Disney World. Initially, Reynolds “didn’t want to buy into the whole Disney thing,” and essentially didn’t understand the hype around the theme parks.

Then, she took her friend’s advice, planned a trip, and experienced Disney’s magic firsthand.

Reynolds said chefs at Disney’s restaurants were not only willing but excited to create her daughter personalized, allergy-free meals. Meanwhile, every quick-service stand had information on the food it served, and her daughter was able to eat snacks and meals carefree for the first time.

As a mom, Reynolds didn’t have to plan, cook, or pack meals for the trip. “I cried when we were coming home because it was my first real vacation from the kitchen,” she said. 

Reynolds realized that other travelers with food allergies should know how enjoyable it is to vacation at Disney, so, she launched her own travel agency, Pixie Lizzie, eight years ago. Her team caters to all travelers both with and without food allergies, but Reynolds and a couple of select agents work specifically with clients who have food allergies. Reynolds also added that although her team books a majority of Disney trips, Pixie Lizzie is not directly affiliated with Disney. 

Today, Reynolds has visited Disney World and Disneyland dozens of times and helps plan trips for hundreds of travelers with allergies. 

No matter the allergy — whether it’s soy, gluten, nuts, dairy, or something else — Reynolds said Disney is the best place to vacation.

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NYC street food vendor attacked in Times Square with milk crate, traffic cones, video shows

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New York City police have released video of a man who they say attacked a street food vendor in Times Square with a milk crate and traffic cones earlier this month in hopes that the public can help identify the suspect.

The unknown man became involved in a verbal argument with the 57-year-old food vendor around 6:15 p.m. on May 14 on the corner of 7th Avenue and West 40th Street, police said. It was unclear what led to the dispute.

The argument turned physical, according to police, when the suspect began kicking and punching the victim.

Police are searching for a suspect who hurled traffic cones and a milk crate at a street food vendor in New York City's Times Square earlier this month.

Police are searching for a suspect who hurled traffic cones and a milk crate at a street food vendor in New York City’s Times Square earlier this month.
(NYPD CrimeStoppers)

The suspect allegedly picked up a milk crate and struck the food vendor over the head before hurling multiple traffic cones from the street at the victim.


The suspect fled the scene and his current whereabouts are unknown.

The suspect is seen on cell phone video picking up traffic cones from the street and throwing that at the food vendor on a corner in New York City's Times Square earlier this month.

The suspect is seen on cell phone video picking up traffic cones from the street and throwing that at the food vendor on a corner in New York City’s Times Square earlier this month.
(NYPD CrimeStoppers)

The victim suffered a laceration to his head and was taken to NYC Health and Hospitals/Bellevue, where police said he was treated and released.

Police described the suspect as a male with a dark complexion, athletic build and short dark hair. He is believed to be 6 feet, 2 inches tall and weighs 160 pounds. 


He was last seen wearing a black surgical mask, back sweatpants, a black t-shirt, a backpack and gray Crocs, according to police.

Authorities asked anyone with information about the incident to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477).

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Travel news roundup: Best fried food, ‘revenge’ travel and other indulgences

Editor’s Note — Sign up for Unlocking the World, CNN Travel’s weekly newsletter. Get news about destinations opening and closing, inspiration for future adventures, plus the latest in aviation, food and drink, where to stay and other travel developments.

(CNN) — This week in travel: an upside-down train, the meaning of “revenge travel” and the world’s greatest fried foods.

Trending travel

“Revenge travel” sounds menacing, but the trendy phrase actually describes people splurging on big vacations now that many Covid restrictions have been dropped. Longer times away, first-class upgrades and bucket list destinations are all excellent cures for FOMO.

While more and more countries open to tourism, a few have remained all but closed during the pandemic.

One of those holdouts was Japan, but there’s hope on the horizon. The country announced this week that it will experiment with a few small tour groups in May as a test to see how a full reopening could go later this year. The government floated the number of around 50 tourists for the trial.

Dollars to doughnuts

Chimichangas or calamari? Why not both?

This roundup of the world’s most delicious fried foods will have you rethinking your weekend menu — or possibly impulse buying an air fryer online at 3 a.m. (Not that we’ve ever done anything like this.)

Prefer meat dishes to fried dough?

Tune in Sunday as Tucci sets out to explore how Italian immigration has transformed the food scene in his adopted hometown of London.

People, pedestrians and personalities

Named after Queen Elizabeth II, Crossrail is set to partially open in 2022 as the Elizabeth line. It will connect East and West London like never before.

London’s long-awaited Elizabeth Line train (a.k.a. Crossrail) got a visit from its namesake this week. Ninety-six-year-old Queen Elizabeth II appeared at Paddington Station to inaugurate the new transit line and wore bright yellow for the big day.
Meanwhile, the Czech Republic unveiled the world’s longest suspension footbridge on May 13. The aptly named SkyBridge 721 is 721 meters long (about 2,365 feet). Austrian blogger Victoria Fellner summed up her experience on the bridge with the word “queasy.”
If you’ve ever dreamed about moving to Italy and buying one of those one-euro houses, Francesco Curione may be able to help. The “007 of lost Italian documents” can help unearth proof of a long-unknown ancestor and help those who qualify secure Italian citizenship. Grazie mille!

Riding the rails

Wuppertal, Germany, is home to the Schwebebahn, a suspended train that looks like it’s upside down. Not only are its glass-and-metal cars great for sightseeing, the train once transported a celebrity elephant.
Transit lovers, take note: Jerusalem will be getting a cable car. Israel’s highest court approved the controversial plan this week, with construction to begin imminently. Once the car is complete, visitors will be able to travel from west Jerusalem to the Old City in just four minutes.

In case you missed it

Most people walk down Rome’s Spanish Steps.

Planning some US domestic travel this summer?

What would happen if a squid and a yacht had a baby?

The best travel beauty bags

It’s hard enough to get all your favorite beauty and skincare products in travel sizes without thinking about the right container to store them in. Luckily, our partners at CNN Underscored, a product reviews and recommendations guide owned by CNN, have a list of fashionable and functional makeup-artist-approved cosmetic bags.

Top image: An aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of the Whitsunday Islands, along the central coast of Queensland, Australia. (Sarah Lai/AFP via Getty Images)

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Spain: What you ‘need’ to know when visiting – tipping, pickpockets, food, shopping | Travel News | Travel

However, paella is the name now given to 200 or so “distinctive rice dishes” from the Valencia region.

The video was popular on TikTok, amassing almost 20,000 likes, and several flocked to the comments to share their own experiences of Spain.

@wicklessinwonderland stated: “Traveled to Barcelona – they were shocked when we tipped! Loved it there. Beautiful!

@silent2hands said: “Thank you! I’m going to Barcelona. I bought pickpocket proof pants!”

In another video, titled ‘Top five things you have to know before travelling to Spain’, Ana said: “Topless bathing at the beach is VERY normal.

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The surprising landscape of Indian Jewish food

The arc in the food story of each of the five communities is a factor of history. In Kolkata, the change in cuisine possibly happened soon after the Iraqi Jewish immigrants arrived and discovered Indian spices. Author Sonal Ved, in her book Whose Samosa Is It Anyway? The Story of Where “Indian” Food Really Came From, says when they arrived in the 1800s, they probably knew only such ingredients as chilli and garlic. When they discovered the rest, it “gave rise to a whole new hybrid Jewish cuisine, which had preparations like arook (meaning “veined” in Hebrew and Arabic), rice balls flavoured with garam masala; pantras, beef-stuffed pancakes sprinkled with turmeric, ginger and garam masala; hanse mukhmura, a duck-based dish where the meat is cooked with almonds, raisins, bay leaf, tamarind paste and ginger root; and aloo-m-kalla murgi, pot-roasted chicken with potatoes.”

At the other end of the country, Mattancherry is a tiny locality south of Kochi on the Kerala coast that’s home to Jew Town, a mishmash of a few streets with shops selling antiques, spices, knickknacks and local handicrafts, interspersed with cafes and eateries. At the end of Synagogue Lane is the 17th-Century Paradesi (foreign) Synagogue, built with sloped tiled roofs, blue and white willow-patterned tiles, Belgian chandeliers, Jewish symbols and four scrolls of the Torah.

Outside, the humid coastal air carries the aromas of spices, something that Kerala has always had in abundance. As a trading community, the Malabar Jews sensed an opportunity and ended up controlling the local spice trade. Unsurprisingly, Malabari Jewish cuisine today is redolent with spices and tempered with coconut milk (an essential part of traditional Kerala cuisine), which works well with Jewish dietary laws. Here you’ll find Malabar Jews eating flavoursome curries made with fish, chicken and vegetables, as well as sambhar (lentil and vegetable gravy), eaten with rice. There are also appam (rice hoppers), meen pollichathu (green fish curry), Jewish fish kofta curry, chicken in coconut curry; and puddings and payasam (a kind of porridge) made coconut milk. An unusual dish is pastel, something similar to an empanada, stuffed with minced chicken.

In western India, home to the Bene Israeli Jews, the local influences are unmistakable. Poha (beaten rice) is a familiar Maharashtrian staple used to make breakfast and snacks, but also finds a strong presence in local Jewish food. The poha is washed and mixed with grated coconut, an array of dry fruits and nuts and chopped seasonal fruit, and forms an integral part of the malida (a local Jewish thanksgiving ceremony). But there are also unusual dishes such as chik-cha-halwa, a signature Bene Israeli sweet made by reducing wheat extract and coconut milk.

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See which delicious Petaluma dishes broke food writer’s diet

After the incredible Passover family meal from Penngrove Market last Friday night, including my favorite matzo ball soup of all time, we planned to take it easy with our eating for the rest of the weekend, in large part because I am in pre-travel diet mode, knowing I usually gain roughly half a pound for each day we visit Europe, which is where we will be shortly.

However, the diet had to be put on hold as soon as we saw the return of Butcher Crown Roadhouse’s famous street corn to its menu, but also the new brisket sandwich and a couple of other additions to the new menu, including several handmade local desserts and possibly best tacos I have ever had.

In backwards order of the meal, BCR has added a couple of new gluten-free desserts from Mad Batter Cakery, a major winner at last year’s Harvest Fair. Both are single-serving size, although, as Bill Murray says, “Every pizza is a personal pizza if you try hard and believe in yourself.” The first is banana cream, which I cannot talk about because I do not believe in or support bananas, and the second being Mississippi mud pie. Admittedly, from afar, through the foggy glass of the cooler door, the mud pie sure did not look like much, but upon closer inspection, we were intrigued. This is in large part because I never quite remember what a mud pie is, but seem to always enjoy them. In fact, I almost passed on it, still trying to keep my caloric intake to a minimum but ended up giddy with our simply excellent choice.

Without getting too technical, for I am an eater not a cooker, the pie consists of a brownie hidden by a crumbled chocolate crust and topped with some sort of chocolate sauce, which is itself topped with some sort of whipped cream, sprinkled with chipped chocolate. And although gluten-free, you would never know it – it is truly divine. But do not take my word for it. Brooklyn, Pete’s daughter, appears in a short video on BCR’s Facebook page and the genuinely surprised look on her face after taking the first bite, and her abandoning of the utensil for a full front face assault on the little pie, says it all.

Newly discovered desserts aside, what brought us out to Butcher Crown was a new sandwich owner/chef Pete Schnell calls the Bourdain, paying homage to one of his favorite chefs, Anthony Bourdain. The Bourdain is a bit of a mix between a Cubano sandwich and a Chivito, which is the national sandwich of Uruguay, but they added Argentinian just to keep things interesting. As with Bourdain himself, there always seems to be something unexpected around each corner of this sandwich, but everything works together robustly, yet elegantly.

The Bourdain appears unassuming at first, with its simple ciabatta roll hiding the true genius of its flavors. The bulk of the sandwich is smoked brisket, of which Pete’s is some of the best around. Added to that is griddled ham, pepper jack, arugula, green olive spread and chimichurri sauce. The combination is excellent, with no one flavor overpowering any other. The perfectly smoked flavor of the beef brisket handsomely holds its own. I particularly like the green olive spread, which is rare to find on a sandwich, and reminded me the flavors of one of Bourdain’s favorite food destinations, Spain. It worked so well, that it has me thinking what other sandwiches could benefit from green olives. Just to wrap up on the sandwich, the Bourdain is a true work of culinary art and now ties for our favorite sandwich in the shop, and possible in all of Petaluma, with the Point Reyes Blue cheese and bacon topped Dusty Baker Burger.

Due to the pandemic, we have become more accustomed to ordering take-out, and Butcher Crown’s food certainly has enough great flavor to be able to stand up to a lot of travel, but some dishes simply need to be enjoyed fresh off the grill in order to be their best, and one such item is Pete’s Smoked Brisket Dip Tacos. In fact, this item is normally not available for take-out, so put on your sunscreen and head over to try these out on the BCR’s back patio with a tall cold one. Luckily, I received special permission to take two of the three tacos home because Pete knows the rest of our family loves his brisket so was hesitantly okay with them trying this dish a few hours old. That said, it was very hard not to devour all three and simply order up another set, but I was short on time. These are, without a doubt, the best tacos I have ever had.

There is something extra special about a cheese skirt, and Pete picked a great cheddar and jack combo for this one, which adds some nice saltiness, as well as a crunchy texture to his brisket tacos, but does not overwhelm the rest of the taco’s great flavors. For those who do not know, a cheese skirt is created when the chef lets melted cheese ooze out onto the griddle, forming a thing slightly crispy crust around whatever sandwich the cheese has melted off of, and ends up looking a bit like a skirt. Rumor has it the cheese skirt was invented in Sacramento, which makes me wonder why we do not see more of them locally.

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New protections take effect for New York City’s food delivery workers: “We work just as hard as everybody else”

NEW YORK — New rights took effect Friday for food-app delivery workers in New York City

The people who bring us restaurant meals and other items fought for better working conditions

As CBS2’s Elijah Westbrook reported, Hell’s Kitchen’s popular Empanada Mama opened Friday as it usually does, greeting hungry customers with music and the smell of their city-famous empanadas. But just outside the restaurant, he caught up with Andrew Rivera, a delivery app worker picking up his first order of the day.

“This will be something that will impact my life,” Rivera said.

He said the changes will make his job much easier and, ultimately, safer when taking on orders. 

“Sometimes I get an order that’s two blocks up, and sometimes I’ll get an order that’s for $5 that’s 4 miles away,” he explained. “So what you were saying about the pay does fall in effect. That’s probably the main challenge — distance and weather.”  

As it stands, food delivery workers will be able to set the distance they’re willing to travel for an order. Apps must now give details before a person accepts a job, including the address, distance, pay and tip. They must also pay at least once a week. 

These are considered major steps in the right direction for Rivera. 

“Workers now know how much they get paid, how much is tips, how much did the company get paid, how much hours did they put in,” said Hidalyn Colon, a spokesperson for the union representing many of the workers. “That information didn’t exist.”

These unresolved issues are finally coming to a close for the more than 65,000 food delivery workers in the city, a first of its kind in the country. 

“These are changes that are well needed, because us as a biking community, we work really hard and we work just as hard as everybody else,” Rivera said. 

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Virtual travel and healthy food shopping at Newburyport library | News

NEWBURYPORT — Two virtual library programs are scheduled next week at the Newburyport Public Library.

On Monday, April 25, at 7 p.m., venture forth with Jeff Klapes, “The Traveling Librarian,” for an armchair traveler’s journey to southern England and Wales. Traditional market towns, rural British villages, and rugged coastal scenery are all packed into a small geographic area, making southern Britain an ideal area for the inquisitive traveler.

On Wednesday, April 27, at 7 p.m., learn ways to shop smart for health and the wallet or purse with the “Wellness Series: Save at the Supermarket!” Everyone is noticing and talking about skyrocketing grocery prices. Join us for this informative and engaging workshop where we will learn strategies to slash our grocery bill while eating nutritiously.

Get ready to feel energized with healthy nutrient rich foods and saving money!Led by registered dietitian and nutrition expert, Jill Patterson RD. This series is a collaboration between Newburyport Public Library, Rockport Public Library and Georgetown Public Library. This is a three-part series. The other programs are “Solutions for Better Heart Health” on May 25 and “Eat This, Not That” on June 8.

These programs will be held on Zoom. Register on the website or by calling 978-465-4428, ext. 242.

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Tips to save money amid high gas, food prices


After working remotely for the past year, Rahul Iyer, 45, says he’s back in the office three days a week, just as grocery prices are on the rise and gas is as high as $5 a gallon.

But Iyer, an engineer who lives in Mesa, Arizona, says he learned to be frugal in the wake of the Great Recession more than a decade ago. And those lessons are coming in handy as he resumes commuting amid the highest inflation in four decades. 

“I was laid off five times in a year during the recession,” Iyer says. “We’ve always been trying to find … how can we save a nickel, save a buck, save a penny.”

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He’s not alone. After many offices closed during the COVID-19 pandemic, employers are increasingly demanding that their staffs be back on site at least part of the time, and some workers are concerned about the costs of commuting amid rising inflation and gas hitting a record high last month. 

A Harris Poll conducted for USA TODAY found that 78% of employees were concerned about being able to afford gas for their commutes, while 72% fretted about the price of food and 38% were concerned about paying the fare to travel on public transportation.

“After two years without many of these costs, get ready to see a chunk of your paycheck disappear each month,” Sara Rathner, personal finance expert at NerdWallet, said in an email.

In addition to gas, “commuting also puts wear and tear on your car, so there are maintenance costs to consider,” Rathner says. Parking can cost commuters a few hundred dollars a month in some cities, and fares for public transportation can add up to more than $100 a month, she adds.

Going back to the office brings other expenses. “The cost of dining out was up 7% in February 2022 compared to one year before,” Rathner says. “Refreshing and maintaining a professional wardrobe can also be pricey.”

How can we fight inflation?

But there are ways to save.

On Friday evenings, Iyer and his wife map out what they’ll take for lunch for the next week, then head to the supermarket over the weekend with their shopping list.

“Usually on a Saturday or Sunday we’re helping each other cook and prepackage lunch for the coming Monday through Friday,” he says. He says he probably saves about $13 a day bringing lunch from home.  

Iyer also has decided to skip the company gym. “I ran the numbers,” he says, adding that it would cost him $25 a month to exercise there, compared with the $11 he pays at another gym. “I told them point blank I’m not going to join.”

Additionally, instead of hitting the vending machine at the office for drinks, Iyer chooses to sip flavored water from his own reusable container. And there’s no need to spend money at Starbucks, because he prefers to make his own chai at home. 

But there’s one big expense he’s willing to absorb.

Iyer could pay $4 a day to commute on the bus. But that would require him making two transfers, and spending 90 minutes traveling to his office in Chandler, Arizona.

While a gallon of gas is $3.50 to nearly $5 depending on where he fills up, Iyer says, he’d rather pay at the pump and drive 20 minutes to work than lose time trekking on public transportation.

“Your time is worth more,” he says.  

How do you beat gas prices?

Here are some other tips from Rathner at Nerd Wallet. 

If you drive, you should shop around. “Use an app like GasBuddy or map your route on Google Maps or Waze to see gas prices at nearby stations.” 

Tap into loyalty programs. Fuel programs might trim your bill by a few cents a gallon. And check with the loyalty program at your grocery store to see if you can earn points when you shop that ultimately pare the price of gas at the chain’s gas stations. 

Consider your credit card: A cash-back card may allow commuters to get 2% or more cash back when you buy gas. 

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Drive less: “If it’s realistic for you to carpool, take public transportation, bike or walk, or even work from home a day or two per week. That can save you quite a bit of money over time,” Rathner says.

If you’re on public transit, check if your company will help: Some employers offer monthly subsidies to workers taking public transportation or allow staffers to cover those costs with pre-tax income.

Purchase a weekly or monthly transit pass: “If you rely on transit for both work and going out, this can lower the cost per trip,” she says.

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