Wolf, Stoke Newington

It seems there are more and more reasons to visit Stoke Newington, a hip area of East London which is thriving with stylish neighbourhood hangouts. Wolf Restaurant serves seasonal Italian food in a beautifully designed dining room.

Wolf RestaurantWolf RestaurantWolf Restaurant

As I sat in the moody green room, with its hexagonal-tile floor and live wall of plants, I picked out features I’d like to add in to my flat. The tables, of course, are white marble, to help food instagrammers get the best possible shot.

Wolf RestaurantWolf Restaurant

The menu included all my favourite Italian things: burrata, homemade pasta and rabbit. Wolf have recently introduced their new winter menu which features a range of comforting classics. We sampled the burrata with Puntarelle & Anchovy dressing with croutons, and the Pear & Bra salad. The burrata was a blissfully simple dish, but made with the finest ingredients, the cheese was creamy and oozing with indulgence with a contrasting salty dressing. The Pear salad reminded me of the warmer seasons, a lovely mix of bitter endive leaves, sweet honey mustard vinaigrette and a crunch from the hazelnuts scattered on top.

Wolf RestaurantWolf Restaurant

The Pappardelle with braised rabbit ragu & chestnut has become the IT dish at Wolf, and luckily it did not disappoint. Strands of perfectly cooked homemade pasta were coated in a rich meaty sauce, and chestnuts were an unusual but brilliant addition. Priced at £16 a plate it is an expensive plate of pasta, but was a generous portion. The Gnudi (spinach and ricotta dumplings) was a more elegant plate of food, coated in a a parmesan sauce and decorated with crispy sage and roasted tomatoes… I found this dish less exciting and felt it needed some freshness to balance with the creamy sauce and rich dumplings.

Wolf RestaurantWolf Restaurant

I would pick pasta over meat anyday, but in Italy they eat both so in the name of research we tasted two dishes from the secondi section of the menu too! Slow cooked beef short rib was richly flavoured with Chianti, and the tender meat fell easily away from the bone – it was served with velvety wet polenta and gremolata. The pork fillet was a little dry for my taste, but was served with an assortment of lovely ingredients: Delica Pumpkin puree, chanterelle mushrooms and kale.

Wolf RestaurantWolf Restaurant

Desserts are often an afterthought in Italian restaurants, who fob diners off with gelato. Wolf exhibit true attention to detail in the sweet section of their menu. I was overwhelmed by the two sensational desserts we tried. Panna cotta with poached rhubarb and honeycomb was a beautiful plate of seasonal flavours, the rhubarb was nicely cooked with sugar to add sweetness and the panna cotta was the ideal consistency, flavoured with plenty of specks of real vanilla. Mandarin Flourless polenta cake was also wonderful, a light and textured cake flavoured with mandarin and dripping in chocolate ganache sauce.

I’m not sure there is anything better than delicious Italian food, and Wolf Restaurant is an asset to the Stoke Newington area. I live in South London but would travel for 40 minutes on the overground to eat a plate of that rabbit ragu any day of the week.

More information and book a table at Wolf restaurant here.

Things to do in Bologna and Modena

Any food lover should put a trip to Bologna and Modena at the top of their ‘places to visit’ list. I’d heard from fellow foodies (and Rick Stein) that this central area of Italy was a culinary dream, but had no idea of the intensity of the local food traditions. Every shop exhibits homemade tortellini in the windows and proudly hangs mortadella from the ceiling. The historic arched streets are scented with the sweet smell of balsamic vinegar and Parmigiano Reggiano, I was in heaven. In between mealtimes there are plenty of beautiful buildings and art galleries to explore, and both cities have impressive towers to climb, to help work off those extra pasta calories!

Bologna

Bologna

We stayed at one of the Adriano Residence apartments, which are located all over the central part of the city. Our modern apartment was stylish and comfortable, ideally located just a short walk from all the sights and shops.

Bologna

Archiginnasio of Bologna, once the main building of Europe’s oldest university, is a staggeringly beautiful place to see. While wandering round the city we stumbled across the beautiful ‘Little Venice” a part of Bologna where the roads are replaced with water, like in Venice. Also in the centre of town are the magical whispering walls, where you can stand at diagonal walls and hear your friend whisper. To see the city from up high, test your thighs with a climb up the 498 steps of the Asinelli Tower.

Bologna

Every Bolognese local will recommend a different ‘favourite’ restaurant you should try. I quickly realised there wasn’t one or two restaurants that we HAD to tick off. Instead we chose dependent on their menus, prices and table availability. Scaccomatto was particularly memorable for their wonderfully simple sweet onion and parmesan raviolini. Head to Tamburini for wonderful meats and cheeses, perfect for an early evening aperitivo, and Drogheria della Rosa for an authentic four-course Italian dinner, accompanied with lovely wines.

There are specialist places to visit if you are after specific foods or ingredients: Le Sfogline for handmade pasta, Paolo Att & Figli for sweet treats, Caffe Terzi for coffee and La Sorbetteria Castiglione for ice-cream.

Modena

Modena

Modena is a quiet town which has become known for it’s long and rich food heritage. Locanda del Feudo is a boutique hotel in the small town of Castelvetro, a short drive from Modena. The property has just six suite rooms, each spacious but cosy and the hotel restaurant is highly recommended.

Osteria Francescana

Many make the pilgrimage to Modena to visit the World’s Best Restaurant, Osteria Francescana. I loved every mouthful of our meal at the restaurant, a truly special experience that was worth the wait. Chef Massimo Bottura reimagines Modenese ingredients and classic dishes to create plates of food that are wildly imaginative and sensational to taste. If you unable to get a table here, do not fear, as Massimo also owns Franceschetta 58 in Modena, a more relaxed restaurant which serves some similar dishes, at much more affordable prices!

Modena

Stop by Mon Cafe or Menonoka for a morning coffee and visit Antica Pasticceria San Biagio for speciality pastries like frappe and tortelli fritti. Mercato Albineli is a lovely fresh food market to pick up any seasonal ingredient you could dream of.

The are plenty of charming shops to buy souvenirs from in Modena. I loved the handmade leather tortellini keyrings from La Vacchetta Grassa and there is a lovely range of Italian scents at Avery Perfume Gallery.

There are a few attractions to entertain yourself during the day. The Ghirlandina tower offers colourful views over the town and car lovers will be in heaven at the Museo Enzo Ferrari.

Parmigiano Reggiano

While staying in Modena venture to the outskirts of town to learn about the heritage of the famous Traditional Balsamic Vinegar di Modena and the process of making Parmigiano Reggiano. Museo dell’Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Spilamberto is a historic museum which holds many balsamic vinegar barrels in its attic. For an education in parmesan head to Hombre, an organic farm which makes some of the best cheese in the area, or 4 Madonne Caseificio dell’Emilia for a more comprehensive tour and tasting.

More information on Modena here.

Foley’s, Fitzrovia

I loved Palomar restaurant so was excited to hear about the Foley’s kitchen team, headed up by ex-Palomar chef Mitz Vora. The restaurant, in Fitzrovia, is set over two floors with an open kitchen downstairs so that guests can get a glimpse of the action.

Foley's

The restaurant is cosy and welcoming, with stylishly designed seating and warm lighting. After a round of fruity cocktails we moved on to the food menu, which is split into various categories: ‘Bits & Bobs’, ‘Veg’, ‘Meat’  and ‘From the Sea’. The menu is eclectic with an intriguing variety of dishes. The chef’s creativity is immediately obvious from reading through the first section of the menu where tacos, potato fritters and ham hock all feature.

Foley'sFoley's

The starters were perhaps my favourite part of the lunch. Korean BBQ charcoal grilled chicken ‘burnt ends’ were addictively good served with a spicy vinegar dipping sauce. Aubergine with pomegranate, dates, chilli lime yoghurt and puffed quinoa was a suped-up version of Ottolenghi’s grilled aubergines, with a lovely sweetness from the dates and a contrasting zing from the lime and chilli. A little taste of Italy came in the form of Truffle potato agnolotti with cauliflower, rocket, hazelnuts and parmesan… a little out of place amongst the fusion menu of Foley’s but very tasty nonetheless.

Foley'sFoley's

The daily lunch menu offers some of Foley’s best dishes at the very reasonable price of £20 for three courses. I recommend the Pork Belly with apple and swede vermicelli, buttermilk and toasted cashews. It was a lovely piece of meat, cooked to perfection so the fat was melting away to give a lovely rich and velvety taste. The Keralan duck with ginger and parsnip puree was also a delicious main course, with accents of coriander and coconut reminding me of the Indian influence.

Foley'sFoley's

Desserts were a mix of unusual flavours and textures. Lemongrass, lychee and thai basil pannacotta was a little too much like solidified Thai curry, but the ‘Fat Boy Elvis’ was a more successful pudding. This decadent dish is made up of chocolate chip banana cake, banana cream, peanut butter nougat and bacon & strawberry jam. I liked the saccarine sweet mix of banana, chocolate and peanuts, though the jam was a little too much for me.

Every Sunday, head chef Mitz Vora hosts ‘off-menu’ tasting sessions for 10 guests at a time. These evenings are priced at £65 per person for which you will be treated to 6 special courses inspired by the flavours of India and the Middle East. If you can’t make it to a weekend feast, Foley’s is equally good for afterwork cocktails and small snacks with friends, or a romantic dinner for two.

More information and book a table here.