10 Best Places to Eat in London

When you’re in London for a short period of time, choosing the best place to eat at can get overwhelming. There are way too many options out there, and you don’t want to ruin your limited meals in the city by choosing the wrong place. Check out our list of the top 10 best places to eat in London.

1. Hoppers

Named after popular Sri Lankan dish – hopper – this Frith Street outlet doesn’t take reservations. However, no matter what the waiting time, rest assured that the time you invest will be well worth it just for that first bite of a hopper, a dosa or one of their popular karis. Allow yourself to drown in authentic Sri Lankan flavours and feel free to get guidance from their friendly staff about what to order. Open from 12 noon to 10:30 pm, a meal for two will cost you around £40.

2. Lyle’s

This British casual dining restaurant is known for having a new set menu every week – one each for lunch and dinner. There is also a separate vegetarian menu that changes weekly as well. This constant re-invention of the menu will ensure that your repeat visits to the restaurant will be as unique and exciting as your first one. Lyle’s is located in Shoreditch, and a meal for two will average at £55.

3. 40 Maltby Street

Located in Bermondsey, this cosy little place is a lot like a wine bar with European cuisine on offer. Though modest in size, the level of sophistication is high with careful attention given to the ingredients and their prominence on the plate. Bear in mind though, that the establishment is closed on Sundays and Mondays, except for special occasions, so try to go in for a weekday dinner. Cost for two will be around £50.

4. Ledbury

If you’re feeling fancy then perhaps you can opt for Ledbury in Notting Hill which has been awarded 2 Michelin stars. Chef Brett Graham runs the kitchen here, offering iinnovative British and European fare. Ledbury has also been featured in World’s 50 Best Restaurants, and a good part of the credit for this can also be given to their exceptional service. Lunch for two can set you back by £250.

5. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

Run by celebrity Chef Heston Blumenthal, this establishment, too, has been awarded 2 Michelin stars. Located in Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, the cost for two at this casual dining is £130 on the dinner menu which offers enchanting flavour encapsulation through its multi-sensory cooking techniques.

6. Gymkhana

For those seeking good Indian and Pakistani fare, Gymkhana takes the trophy. Located in Mayfair, this local favourite is one that people are willing to empty their wallets for. Their a la carte menu offers a vast variety of choice, so if you’re too fickle minded to choose then opt for their set menu. Dinner for two will cost you about £80.

7. Bao

Take a break from shopping in Soho and head to this Taiwanese street food outlet, named after it’s star dish – Bao – for a quick fix to your hunger pangs. This local favourite usually has queues outside its doors, but their great service will ensure that your wait doesn’t seem too long. Cost for two is about £25.

8. Pidgin

Another Michelin starred name on the list, Pidgin in Hackney started off as a supper club. It offers contemporary British and European fare, with a weekly change in the menu. The place is closed on Mondays, and a meal for two is for about £75.

9. Padella

Padella has a limited menu with only 3 courses listed but it is famously known to serve the best pasta in London. Need we say anymore? Head to London Bridge to enjoy a meal at this Italian eatery and verify this claim for yourself. The cost for two at Padella is £30 on an average.

10. Hakkasan

Hakkasan in Fitzrovia brings to you modern Cantonese cuisine paired with world-class mixology. The kitchen is run by Chef Tong Chee Hwee, who happens to be the only Chinese chef to have been awarded the London Chef of the Year. £120 is the average price for a meal for two.

Milan Food Guide: Top 7 Places for the Pasta Lover

Renowned the world over as comfort food, pasta is easily found in any restaurant that serves continental fare and could just as easily be whipped up at home. With innumerable combinations of pasta shapes and sauces chances are you are not running out of a new pasta dish to try anytime soon. And if you’re in Milan, looking to get your hearts fill of pasta, look no more. We have compiled a handy list of places you can hit up to get your pasta craving fulfilled.

1. Ristorante da Oscar

Visit Ristorante da Oscar for a casual dining experience in Buenos Aires, serving authentic Italian recipes and some of best pasta you can get in Milan. The average cost for two is around €60, and it is recommended to make prior reservations if you want to beat the usually long queues. Do try their famous Carbonara!

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2. Pasta d’Autore

Located in Sant’Ambrogio, this Italian dining experience offers excellent homemade fresh pasta at highly affordable prices – with the average cost for two being just €30. You can choose the type of pasta, the sauce and have it prepared fresh just as per your taste. However, this restaurant is open only till 6 pm in the evening so the best time to enjoy their pasta would be at lunch.

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3. Paper Moon

Priced on the higher end, it is advisable to make prior reservations at this popular restaurant. Offering a wide selection of typical Italian fare, Paper Moon is a great place in San Babila to get your pasta fix, with a hearty quantity and a traditional taste.

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4. Trippa

It is said that in order to have an authentic Italian dining experience, you should eat at a local trattoria. Trippa is a modern take on the traditional trattoria dining experience, and it serves the traditional flavour with a twist. Dinner for two will cost you about €50 at this Porta Romana eatery and amongst their other specialities, their pasta will have you coming back for more.

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5. Osteria del Gnocco Fritto

While popularly known for its fried dumplings and an appetizing selection of cheese boards, Osteria del Gnocco Fritto located in Navigli area also serves some excellent fresh pasta, which is totally worth your buck.

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6. Convivium

Located in the hip neighbourhood of Brera, visit Convivium to try pasta served with the luxurious bottarga – also known as the mediterranean caviar! The average cost for two people will be around €60.

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7. A Local’s Home

If you want to beat the tourist crowd, and avoid the commercial flavours offered at these popular restaurants then the best treat you can give yourself is to dine at a local’s home. Sign up for a home-food experience hosted by a local near you, and look out for one offering pasta on its menu. Have your comfort food served to you in the comfort of a home and enjoy authentic Italian pasta made with not just passion and warmth but most likely using a recipe that has been passed down generations. Find a food host near you on food.social!

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Weekend Tour Experience with Santa Giustina

If you are looking to escape the hustle bustle of the city life for your next weekend getaway then Santa Giustina is the place for you. Allow yourself to take this road trip, and embark on a two-day experience that will both be rejuvenating and feed your curiosity. Just over an hours drive from the city of Milan, Santa Giustina is a state of the art winery set in an ancient village.

What is the history of Santa Giustina?

Established over 40 years ago, the Santa Giustina farms used to be an ancient religious settlement surrounded by bountiful natural beauty. The founders, Antonio and Gloria, decided to restore the settlement to its full potential and today, their children Gaia and Nicolo, continue to sustain its glory. The farms have now become a magical place where history, wine and nature come together to welcome anyone who wishes to learn the story of this remarkable place.

What does Santa Giustina offer?

The entire farm covers about 120 hectares of land, of which 30 hectares are dedicated to luscious vineyards. Grapes such as Sauvignon blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Barbera, Pinot Noir, Bonarda, Ortugo and Malvasia are produced in abundance at these vineyards.

Of these grapes, begins the crafting of the unmistakable DOC wines of Piacenza and some of the exceptional international blends. Vinification at Santa Giustina farms employs a skilful mix of historical farming knowledge and modern technology, keeping in mind the sustainability of the final product.

What’s in store for the weekend?

On this one of a kind weekend experience with Santa Giustina, you will enjoy 2 days worth of activities amidst the vast natural beauty that the farms offer. Upon arrival, you will receive a warm welcome. After you have been checked in,  your day 1 activities will follow. The program for the first day includes horseback riding on the Santa Giustina hills for a minimum of 1 hour, with a possibility of extension. You will get plenty of time on your first day to explore the farms and the hotel. You will then be treated to a traditional Piacenza dinner at the Bistrot del Sant’Uberto.

After spending the night at Agrirelais Sant’Uberto in a luxurious double room, and enjoying the breakfast spread in the morning you will commence your tour of the vineyards and the modern cellar. The guided tour will take you through the wine production process at the farms, with a thorough viewing of the facilities and the cellar. At the end of the 3-hour tour, you will be led into a tasting room for a specially curated wine tasting session. The session will include the tasting of three wines paired with locally sourced cold cuts and cheeses.

What should you keep in mind?

The vineyard and cellar tour will be 3 hours long and covered on foot. It is advisable to wear comfortable clothing and walking shoes on this day. This is an overnight experience, so carry your necessary luggage. The booking does not include any arrangements for transportation and you will have to arrive at the location on your own.

Each booking is valid for two people.

Wine Tasting Event with Tenuta Travaglino

This wine tasting experience is held at one of the oldest wine estates in the area of Oltrepò Pavese in the province of Pavia, surrounded by breathtakingly beautiful landscape. The vineyards stretch for 80 hectares and are known as the Italian home for Pinot Noir and Riesling.

Tenuta Travaglino is brimming with history, tradition and passion for viticulture that has been passed down generations. The estate houses the vineyards, the cellars as well as a guest house for those who wish to relish the abounding beauty of Travaglino for more than just a few hours.

Once you reach the estate, you will be welcomed by an expert who will take you on a guided visit of the beautiful vineyards and the historical cellars with a thorough explanation of the production process of wines.

At the end of a tour, which will last for about 90 minutes, there will be a guided wine tasting session of 4 of Travaglino’s best labels, accompanied by fresh bread and olive oil. You will be tasting the following wines:

  1. Classic Method DOCG Sparkling Wine Millesimato base Pinot Nero
  2. White DOC
  3. Red Pinot Nero in DOC purity
  4. Red Pinot Nero in purity Riserva DOC

The tour is offered in both English or Italian languages, and you can state your preference once you receive a booking confirmation.

Tenuta Travaglino is located in the province of Pavia, which is about an hour long drive from the city of Milan. The tour tickets do not include any arrangement for transportation.

5 Food Souvenirs to Buy from Italy

We all love taking back home a bit of the place we visit. Travellers often know exactly what souvenir they want to collect from a country even before they land there. Italy offers many a unique items that can be bought as memorabilia besides the usual suspects (magnets, postcards and key chains). There’s Italian porcelain, glass, leather, shoes…and then there’s Italian food items! Here are 5 best food souvenirs you should buy from Italy and the food brands to look out for near you.

1. Pasta

5 food souvenirs to buy from italy 5 Food Souvenirs to Buy from Italy pasta 326865 1920 1024x765Pasta is easily available all around the world, but there’s something special about buying pasta from its birthplace. You’ll find the widest variety of shapes and sizes all under one roof, and these packets not only make for great personal souvenirs but are also a delightful present for your loved ones back home. Do try some of the local brands the store may have to offer, but if you’re looking for safe bets then De Cecco and Barilla are your go-to brands, which are easily available all over Italy.

2. Polenta

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Polenta is perhaps the most underrated comfort food that there is. Thanks to the popularity enjoyed by mashed potatoes, this cornmeal equivalent from Italy has been flying under the radar. Take home a packet of polenta grits to whip up at your next dinner party. Go for any local yellow cornmeal when choosing your polenta.

3. Aceto Balsamico di Modena

5 food souvenirs to buy from italy 5 Food Souvenirs to Buy from Italy balsamic vinegar 3580421 1920 1024x683Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is easily available in global supermarkets. However, most of the commercial grade bottles simply imitate the traditional product by addition of thickeners, coloring and sweeteners. Get your hands on a traditional and original Aceto Balsamico di Modena while in Italy to take home the true flavours of this rich and glossy vinegar. Tip: the colour of the cap indicates the age of the vinegar. White cap means the vinegar has been aged for 12 years, and golden cap indicates that it is extravecchio (extra old) having been aged for 25 years or more.

4. Torrone

5 food souvenirs to buy from italy 5 Food Souvenirs to Buy from Italy nougat 2351215 1920 1024x681Save the typical chocolate souvenir for other European countries, and take this delicious nutty nougats from Italy instead. They are regarded as traditional Christmas dessert, so they make for perfect holiday season souvenir.

5. Limoncello

5 food souvenirs to buy from italy 5 Food Souvenirs to Buy from Italy sorrento 2331766 1920 1024x683Limoncello (also known as limoncino in Northern Italy) is an Italian Lemon Liqueur, the second most popular in the country after Campari. It’s made from the zest of Sorrento lemons with an average alcohol content ranging 25-30%. While it is used to make various cocktails and added to desserts even, limoncello’s primary purpose is to be served as a digestivo at the end of a typical Italian meal. This liqueur can be brewed at home quite easily, so naturally there are a quite a few locally made limoncellos  in the market. If you are looking for some branded liqueur then opt for the classic Italian heritage brand Dolce Cilento.

3 Reasons Why You Should Host a Food Event At Your Place

Ever wanted to share your passion for food with rest of the world? Have you always wanted to open a restaurant to serve that one dish that never fails to impress your guests? Are you looking to make an income doing what you love from the comfort of your home? Then hosting a food event might just be the thing for you. Here are 3 reasons you should sign up as a food host:

1. Show off your culinary talents

Hosting a private food event at your home will allow you to go big with your passion for food and cooking. You will get to share your love for gastronomy with travellers from all around the world, and get an opportunity to show off your culinary talents, one event at a time. As a food host, you’re completely in-charge of the menu, the ingredients, the cooking technique and the plating options. Become a food host and let the Chef in you soar!

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2. Enjoy a rich cultural exchange

Food hosting at your home is like having your own little fancy restaurant. When you host a food event at your place, you invite guests hailing from various countries and different cultures into your home. You open up your private space to let in new people and allow them to discover your world the way you want them to. This unique experience creates a platform for learning, sharing and building lifelong friendships.
 
If you’re worried about how safe is it to let complete strangers into your home: don’t fret. Social dining platforms like food.social ensure that the guests are verified account holders, and most importantly, they share the same love of food as you.

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3. Make money for doing what you love!

Last, but most definitely not the least: becoming a food host means that you will get paid to do what you love! Isn’t that the dream? Depending on the intricacy of the experience you’re offering, you can charge anything upward of €60.
 
Cook up your favorite meal, set up your dining table in your own unique style and serve your guests an experience that they’ll never forget. All of this, on your own terms entirely. You decide what gets served, the date of the event and the time. You also decide exactly how many guests you’re willing to host at a time. All you have to do is sign up as a host on food.social and we’ll help you kickstart your culinary journey!

Know Your Food’s Worth in Italy

Budgeting in an important aspect of planning your travels, and an element that usually takes up a prominent space in the budget is food. Exploring the culinary culture is mandatory when in Italy, but exactly how much should you set aside to enjoy all the delicacies this food haven of a country has to offer? Here’s FoodSocial’s handy guide to knowing your food’s worth in Italy.

Breakfast

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The first meal of the day in Italy is no big affair. It is kept simple and to the point with simply a coffee accompanied by mostly a bread or pastry; occasionally a sandwich. An espresso will cost you less than €1 whereas a classic cappuccino is for €1.3 approximately . Add to it a cornetto (Italian rendition of the French croissant) worth €1.5 and you get yourself an Italian breakfast in under €3.

Pro-tip: Most cafes charge you more if you’re sitting down, so be sure to check the menu for ‘standing-up’ and ‘sitting-down’ prices before you order!

Meal #1 = € 3

Lunch

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While lunch is definitely more substantial than breakfast, for most people it isn’t as elaborate as they would like it to be as they may have work to get back to. You too may have activities planned for the day,  so it’s best to keep lunch short and stick to a quick picnic meal such as a sandwich (€4), wholesome soup (5) or maybe even a pizza (€8). Pair it with a beer for €4 and follow it up with a €2 gelato for dessert, and you have your lunch chiming in at 15 max.  

Meal #2 = €15

Dinner

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Ah, the great Italian dinner. Now, this is the meal you really want to account for in your budget. As we know, dinner in Italy is an elaborate and lavish affair.  Use this as an opportunity to unwind and indulge – perhaps even attend a food event near you. Here’s how much a 7 course dinner should will cost you in a mid-range ristorante:

Aperitivo = €8
Antipasti = €6
Primo = 9
Secondo = €14
Contorno e Insalata = €15
Dolci = €6
Digestivo = €4

Meal #3 = €62

Total Food Budget Per Day = Meal #1 + #2 + #3 = €80

Psst!

You most definitely will not be having a 7 course dinner everyday. It’s likely you’ll end up with 3 courses at max for €20; which will lead to a revised Total Food Budget of €38 per day.

Total Food Budget per day = €38

Total Food Budget per day with a 7 course dinner = €80

7 Milanese Specialities You Need to Try Before You Die

Milan, widely recognized as the world’s foremost fashion and design destination, is the capital city of Lombardy region in Italy. Similar to other Italian cities, Milan too has developed its own cuisine and culinary style that is akin in taste to that of the Lombardy region. Italy’s favorite, pasta, takes a bit of a back seat when it comes to ethnic food in Milan where rice is the prefered dish. Here’s our compilation of 7 Milanese specialities that you need to try before you die.

Gorgonzola

Gorgonzola is a blue veined Italian cheese that originated from a small town of the same name, just on the outskirts of Milan. It’s soft and crumbly in texture, made from unskimmed cow or goat milk. Popular ways of consuming this distinctive cheese include melting it in risotto and adding it to shorter pasta such as penne. Gorgonzola is also famously added to the four cheese pizza. In order to maintain authenticity, the production of gorgonzola is controlled to designated origins by the Italian law, and hence, when in Milan, you simply cannot miss getting your hands on this cheese.

Minestrone Milanese

7 milanese specialities you need to try before you die 7 Milanese Specialities You Need to Try Before You Die minestrone 74303 1920 1024x1004Minestrone soup is found all over Italy, yes, but what sets apart the Milanese version from the rest of the country is the addition of rice instead of pasta as is common elsewhere. This extremely filling soup is packed with a bunch of fresh veggies, beans and cheese along with rice. Go check out a local Trattoria for a hearty bowl of the classic Minestrone Milanese.

Cassoeula

Cassoeula is a wholesome Milanese stew that is savoured best during the cold winter months. The key ingredients of this stew are pork meat (less valuable parts such as ears, nose, feet, rind etc), sausage and cabbage, along with other veggies in smaller quantities. Cassoeula is usually served with polenta on the side. Try it out at Antica Trattoria della Pesa, one of the oldest and the most recommended eatery by food critics in Milan.

Panettone

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This sweet bread loaf made with raisins and candied fruits, is a holiday season favorite – enjoyed particularly during Christmas and New Years. Check out Pasticceria Cucchi in Corso Geneva which sells the classic Panattone cake throughout the year so that we don’t have to wait for Christmas to enjoy this sweet treat.

Cotoletta

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This veal breaded cutlet, is very similar to Wiener Schnitzel, but different only for the fact that it’s cooked bone-in. This classic Lombardian speciality is a favorite amongst locals and can be found at most trattorias and osterias.

Piadina

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A popular street food in Milan, and a quick fix for hunger pangs, Piadina is the name of Italian flatbread that is light on the inside, but slightly crunchy on the outside. It is popularly served stuffed with a variety of cold cuts, cheese and veggies.

Risotto alla Milanese with Osso Buco

As we mentioned above, Milan loves rice way more than it cares for pasta. Risotto, therefore, is a favored dish in the city. The traditionally Milanese version of risotto is perhaps the most simplest yet richest of preparations. Flavoured with luxurious saffron, it takes on a lovely yellow colour and is super creamy in texture. Risotto alla Milanese is generally served as a side to Osso Buco, a casserole consisting of the Veal shanks braised with vegetables, broth and wine. L’immagine Ristorante Bistrot has consistently received rave reviews from customers for its Osso Buco and Risotto alla Milanese, so give it a visit if you want to try this Milanese speciality.

Italian Food Culture: How to Eat Like The Italians Do

A prominent element of Italy’s fame is it’s exquisite culinary tradition. Every traveller who comes to this Mediterranean country comes with a food bucket list, keen to explore the food culture and Italy doesn’t disappoint. While there are some food traditions that are standard throughout the country, each region has its own distinct variation to offer. If you’re travelling to Italy soon, then allow us to help you navigate through the country’s food scene and eat like the Italians do!
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Meals through the day

Do you remember the age old adage – eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper? Well, if you do then forget it when you are in Italy.

Colazione or breakfast for Italians is no big deal, quite literally. It’s meant to be kept light, mostly just a coffee and a croissant.
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Pranzo (lunch) and Cena (dinner) on the other hand are more substantial in terms of quantity and intricacy. While lunch tends to be slightly hurried especially for those who are working, dinner time is regarded as an opportunity to catch up with friends and family over elaborate meals. A typical Italian meal structure is 7 courses – aperitivo, antipasti, primo, secodo, contorno e insalata, dolce and digestivo. This is the perfect time to indulge in ethnic food near you. Additionally, an entire course can be added dedicated to just cheese and fruit – formaggi e frutta.

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Street Food

When in Italy, it is a very real chance that you may be tempted to have pizza for every single meal of the day. It’s going to be difficult to resist this temptation but we urge you to do so for there is a whole gastronomical journey for you to undertake on the streets of Italy. Some of the must try dishes while exploring the streets of Italy are, Sgagliozze (fried polenta), Polpette (meatballs), Cannoli, Olive all’Ascolana (fried stuffed olives), Cuoppo Napoletano or Pesce Fritto Al Cono (paper cones with deep fried meat, veggies and seafood) and Panelle (chickpea and polenta fritters).

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Types of Eateries

While traversing through streets of Italy, you will come across various different types of eateries that are broadly categorized as enotecas, osterias, trattorias and ristorantes.

Enotecas are actually just wine bars, a pit stop for people before they head to an osteria or ristorante. Traditionally, they served no food, but more recently a lot of enotecas have started serving limited antipasti (appetizers) along with drinks.

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Osteria & trattorias are usually family owned casual neighbourhood eateries with rustic settings. Osterias traditionally have no set menu, and their offerings change daily. Tattorias too have a limited menu serving authentic local & ethnic food.
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A Ristorante in Italy is your standard full service restaurant, ideally with a host/hostess. Visit one if you’re looking for maximum choice, and someone who can guide you through your options as most of the wait staff is knowledgeable in food & wine.

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