Published January 24, 2019
What does Pittsburgh have in common with Matera, a town perched on a rocky hilltop in southern Italy?
According to BBC Good Food, both are Top 10 foodie destinations for 2019.
Matera ranked No. 1 on the list compiled by the global food media brand that has a monthly magazine, website, app, live events and series of books. Pittsburgh came in at No. 7 and was the only American — make that North American — city to earn a spot.
Although BBC Good Food calls Pittsburgh an “East Coast city,” it gets it right when it comes to cuisine: “(A)n arty vibe defines its burgeoning food scene, where cheap rents (by American city standards) have seen young chefs pursuing ambitious, creative cuisine catering to Pittsburgh’s demographic of young upwardly mobile urban migrants.”
Matera scores accolades for its “cucina povera” — or “poor kitchen” — a cuisine developed out of necessity, using whatever is available, homegrown or locally sourced.
“Matera’s historically remote location means distinct food: soups with local pulses such as black chickpeas, local Senise peppers, and fennel-flavoured Lucanian sausage, plus roast lamb and game dishes flavoured with floral mountain herbs – all available in restaurants set in the atmospheric former cave dwellings that make this entire city an UNESCO landmark,” BBC Good Food says.
The rest of the Top 10 includes:
2. Amsterdam, Netherlands — The city’s “food scene is increasingly irresistible. This is where vegan and vegetarian food, for one, gets inventive.”
3. Ljubljana, Slovenia —The country’s culture is “a little bit Eastern European, a little bit Alpine, a little bit Med, but very much its own thing, too. The tiny capital, Ljubljana, has hipster coffee spots and killer burger joints but also cosy old country restaurants where rustic cuisine reigns supreme.”
4. South Aegean, Greece — “This is where Hellenic cuisine shines, from just-landed octopus and sesame-crusted sardines to herb-fragrant lamb, salty sheep’s cheese and all manner of sunny vegetables and locally-grown pulses, plus Aegean wine, which is increasingly putting Greece on the viticultural map.”
5. Yorkshire, United Kingdom —Trek the moors and dales and you’ll find “newly revamped foodie hotels like Brownber Hall, and The Black Bull Inn, with kitchens both led by fabulously creative female chefs, plus a blossoming indie food scene in Hebden Bridge and the Calder Valley.”
6. Corsica, France — Mixing French and Italian food cultures, signature dishes include “civet de sanglier (wild boar stew), figatelli sausages, lamb roasted with whole garlic cloves, plus delicate river trout, and oysters from the island’s less-visited east coast.”
8. Japan — Hotels and dining have become more affordable and, with specialty food purveyors moving into new rural areas, “combining cookery classes, market visits and the chance to try plenty of natural onsen (hot springs), this is much more than a Kobe beef and sushi sightseeing tour.”
9. Peru — Andean cuisine is trending worldwide, and local chefs “are making the most of the country’s incredible biodiversity, and including unique ingredients like sundried indigenous root vegetables, edible tropical flowering plants, and more types of corn and ceviche than there are English names for.”
10. Ethiopia — With longtime famine a thing of the past, the Horn of Africa country offers local coffee and cuisine anchored by injera, a sour, spongy flatbread used to scoop “crunchy cruciferous salads, stews and mild dahl-like curries, stir-fries, chicken and lamb richly spiced with local herbs … (and) wonderful casserole of pulses including ground split peas and chickpeas cooked in seasoned clarified butter.”
Photo courtesy of Mallorca Pittsburgh