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Come out of Stoke Newington station on to Stamford Hill – heartland of London’s orthodox Jewish community. Although the main shopping area is further up, you’ll pass a Kosher butchers on your way down the hill and as you cross Northwold Road, a salt beef and bagel shop. To your right, opposite the Jolly Butchers pub (a worthwhile, if early, stopping point for cider and ale fans) is Stoke Newington Church Street, which hides a brilliant new butchers, Meat 16, the Spence Bakery and some decent bars and restaurants amongst the toyshops and hipster emporia.
Carry on down Stoke Newington High Street however, and you’ll cross from yuppie to Turkish territory (although the 24-hour bagel shop, on the corner of Evering Road, and now catering for late night party animals as well as hard-working Jewish folk, is a reminder of how quickly London neighbourhoods can change). Stoke Newington Farmers’ Market takes place on Saturday mornings in the churchyard to your left, while on your right is Gallo Nero 2, a small but well-stocked outpost of the Newington Green Italian deli.
This is the last you’ll see of cosmopolitanism for a while however, because from here to Dalston it’s all Anatolian. Vegetarians may not enjoy the all-pervasive smell of grilled meats, but may well find solace in the fascinating sight of women turning out piles of flatbreads in the restaurant windows; although you’re unlikely to be disappointed anywhere, one of the best, Mangal Ocackbasi, is off the main drag on Arcola Street. Look out for the bakeries too, with their sticky trays of baklava; throw in a thick Turkish coffee and you’re back in business.
Opposite Dalston Kingsland Station is Ridley Road Market – again, not an ideal place for a vegetarian, it caters largely for the local West Indian community with displays of goat meat and cows’ feet, as well as a variety of unfamiliar (and often rather aromatic) seafood, spices and fresh produce – and the biggest cooking pots you’ve ever seen. There’s always good deals to be had on fruit and veg here, and the Turkish Food Centre, or TFC, on the corner does a nice line in baklava if you haven’t already gorged yourself silly up the road.
Carry on down Kingsland Road until you hit the canal, and then turn left and walk along the towpath for about 10 minutes until you spot the steps up to Broadway Market. On Saturdays it’s Hipster Central, with a thriving street market offering all manner of gluten-free goodness, vintage clothes and fixie bikes – but also a hint of old Hackney in F Cooke‘s beautifully tiled pie and mash shop. (For those who don’t fancy eel, Fin & Flounder, a sustainable fishmongers is just down the road.) Climpson’s serve decent coffee, and makes a good spot to enjoy the fashion parade outside. Head on to London Fields with a picnic, or rejoin the canal and walk east to Victoria Park.
Once you’ve reached the park (which should take about 15 minutes), head towards the Royal Gate East, and you’ll find yourself on Lauriston Road, where the hipsters go when they grow up. As a result, it’s east London’s undisputed foodie hotspot, with the Ginger Pig butchers, Bottle Apostle wine merchants and Jonathan Norris’ fishmongers jostling for space with Bill Hall’s greengrocers The Deli Downstairs. To whet your whistle, there’s The Lauriston, a child-friendly freehouse which serves good pizza, Spit Jacks, a highly-recommended tapas joint, and Loafing, a café serving Monmouth coffee and enormous, Ottolenghi-style meringues.
If you’re feeling energetic, you can walk to our final destination, Hackney’s City Farm in Haggerston Park (closed Mondays): it should take around half an hour, but if you’re flagging, walk up Lauriston Road to the junction with Well Street and leap on the 26 bus towards Waterloo, getting off at Warner Place.
From here, it’s an easy stroll into the park, and the farm itself, which boasts all manner of livestock, from pigs to guinea pigs, as well as a rather good Italian café, Frizzante, which has a focus on simple, seasonal food. From here it’s a 15 minute walk west along Hackney Road to Hoxton station where you can leap on to the London overground and home to put your feet up.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010