One of my favorite treats in Newburyport.

Blueberry Pancakes @ 17 State St. Cafe

Made from scratch

@KathrynCartini, Multimedia Storyteller

Blueberry Pancakes from 17 State Street Cafe in Newburyport, MassachusettsThere are plenty of advantages to living in downtown Newburyport, MA, some of which backfire on me when I try to stay away from delicious treats like homemade apple pie, gourmet cupcakes and enormous pancakes. But when the aroma from the griddle at 17 State St Cafe caught my attention, there was no stopping me.

Almost hypnotized, I entered the cafe/diner/restaurant/lounge and directed myself to a bar stool. Ever since 17’s recent review by Phantom Gourmet, I’d been struggling with the need for a Black & Bleu Burger, Southern Fried Chicken or their famous Blueberry Pancake.

After placing my order with long-time bartender Keri Fowler (now running Plum Crazy on Plum Island) I sipped my hot coffee and chatted with a couple in town for a Newburyport wedding, until a Giant Blueberry Pancake was placed in front of me, and then I couldn’t concentrate.

The size of the entire plate, these buttermilk pancakes are a 1/2 inch think, made from scratch and served with a scoop of blueberry butter on top.

As I poured the maple syrup over the pancake, the butter melted in all directions perfectly. In that moment, I made the right decision to indulge.

And while my eyes are always bigger than my stomach, I still attempted to clean my plate. Though since I left some pancake behind, I consider this a success re: my diet.


Fresh fish tacos with a tangy slaw.

Mexican Food @ The Grog

Where everyone knows…where to get Mexican?

@KathrynCartini, Multimedia Storyteller

The Grog Restaurant, Newburyport, MABeing a small community, it’s no surprise that there is only one Mexican restaurant in downtown, Newburyport. However, when this restaurant was closed for Labor Day (good for them) I had to think outside of the box to satisfy my craving.

Already a fan of the Sweet Potato Burrito at The Grog for its spicy mashed sweet potatoes, melted jack and black beans wrapped in a thin tomato tortilla,  I headed over to what many consider to be a Draught Beer Destination.

True, The Grog is a craft beer haven, however on the menu below the Bouillabaisse and the Carolina Dry-Rubbed Ribs you’ll find four Mexican dishes.

In addition to the Spicy Mashed Sweet Potato Burrito, The Grog also serves Slow-Coked Shredded Pork Tostado, Fried Haddock Soft Tacos, and a Sautéed Chicken or Pulled Pork Burrito.

Of course the Sweet Potato Burrito was ordered, and by using my VIP Card I received 1/2 off my second entree, the Haddock Tacos.

Fresh, lightly fried haddock, red salsa, jack cheese and this tangy Mexican slaw that provided the perfect crispy bite.

The tacos are also served with Spanish rice and black beans, but I had what I wanted.

The one thing perhaps missing was a side of tortilla chips to dip into all that extra salsa.

The most flavorful ravioli you’ve ever tasted.

Valicenti Organico Fresh Pasta Farm

Sure to leave an impression

@KathrynCartini, Multimedia Storyteller

Valicenti Organico in Hollis, MA - Gourmet RavioliThe Newburyport Farmers’ Market is a commonplace hot spot for sampling homemade eats made from the best farm fresh, local ingredients.

Held every Sunday at the Tannery Marketplace rain or shine, I love meeting all the local vendors who sell everything from produce, meat and cheese to wine, art and other handmade goods.

This time around I spotted VALICENTI ORGANICO, the #Pasta Farm known for “Exceptional Fresh Pasta, Gourmet Ravioli & Farm Sauces.” Ideal for creating a nice Sunday family dinner.

Founded in 2008 by Chefs David and Michelle Valicenti, the business started with Dave’s Superb RED GRAVY: Homegrown Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce. Valicenti Organico now offers this incredible sauce, as well as several ravioli varieties and fresh pasta.

Choices today included Arugula with Sheep’s Feta & Peppadew Peppers, Cheese (Ricotta & Grana Padano), Traditional Spinach, and Truffled Wild Mushroom. I chose the Slow BBQ Lamb with Caramelized Sweet Potato, which is one of their dairy-free options. They also had available Multigrain Rosemary Chicken with Cran-Apple & Brie and Brandied Lobster. Just think of how you could spice up a traditional New England lobster bake or Thanksgiving dinner?

According to the website, Valicenti Ravioli are stuffed with freshly prepared, homegrown and directly sourced local vegetables, meats and cheeses, which are roasted, braised and sautéed in a special way to deliver the most flavorful ravioli ever tasted. Wow, that’s a tall order.

Each container comes frozen and the directions call to keep the ravioli frozen before cooking. Then it’s straight to a pot of boiling water where the pasta cooks for only a few minutes before it’s ready to eat.

Now I served my lamb ravioli with a touch of melted yogurt butter. It was heaven the way each flavor combined with the next to produce such a well balanced pasta that was delicate and at the same time so complex. I’ve been dreaming about eating more all week.

As for Dave’s special Red Gravy? I picked up a jar of that too and served it over some of their fresh spaghetti a few nights later. Besides my grandmother’s and maybe the Spicy  HOT Tomato Oil from Pastabilities’ in Syracuse, NY, it’s the best I’ve ever had.

You can order Valicenti Organico Red Gravy online, or visit Dave and Michelle’s newly renovated Farm Kitchen at 11 Monument Square in Historic downtown Hollis, NH.