Stan takes another trip down Memory Lane as he discovers another street food delight. Join him as he samples the wares of Wolf.
I was contemplating the meaning of ‘street food’ again this week as I visited an establishment called Wolf in St Paul’s Street. In the early 1970s I was the manager of a betting shop in East Parade just around the corner from here and a couple of doors away was a large sandwich shop to which I was no stranger.
Although I didn’t open the bookies until 10.00 a.m. my wife at the time worked in St Paul’s Street and started at 8.30 so we drove into town together and I would get the shop ready for opening time in the company of a mug of tea and a toasted teacake from the neighbouring take away. The reason I had this flashback was that the sandwich shop was somewhat innovative for the time in its presentation of the items on sale. There were no ready made sandwiches but stacks of buttered bread and a huge glass chilled counter containing an assortment of meats, cheeses, fish, pickles, salad items and sauces. The idea was that you picked the filling or fillings you wanted and created your own butty.
Walking into Wolf, which describes itself as being a purveyor if Italian street food, I was instantly transported back to 1972. There is a long glass counter along one wall behind which was a mind boggling assortment of foods. The girl who was at the end of the counter explained the procedure, which is a modern variation on the glam rock era sarnie bar. I was offered the choice of focaccia, pizza base, a wrap, a pasta bowl or a salad dish. I opted for the wrap and was informed that I should chose an item from each of the other serving staff at the various stations between her and the checkout. From the first I chose the steak which was cut into small pieces and looked very appetising. I was offered a second item and went for the mushrooms and onion. On reaching the next stage I added some jalapeno chillies and black olives. The final part was the salad section which I skipped except for the parmesan sauce to lubricate my concoction. On being wrapped, my wrap split and so it was taken away for re-wrapping. I’m sure that Eminem doesn’t have this trouble with his wraps. It was presented in a foil tube and I ordered a black coffee to accompany.
Although the idea is to eat on the hoof, there are several tables and chairs if, like me, you prefer to eat in. When I sat down I deconstructed the roll in order to take a photograph but my tip is to keep it in the foil and just peel back enough of it to allow you to consume the wrap whilst it is constrained. I say this because, when I re-re-wrapped the roll it split again. This is all right at a table but not good news if you are walking through the middle of Leeds and chomping away. Plastic knives and forks are provided as are serviettes, thankfully.
This is the part where I normally bang on about the components of my meal and how the ingredients compliment one another, or not, but as I chose them all it would only have been my fault had they been a disaster together. Whilst I had the wrap open and the constituent parts exposed, I tried them each individually, leaving the chillies until last so as not to blow away my tastebuds, which they eventually did, and I can say that they were all excellent. The steak was tender and still hot, as were the mushroom,s despite all of the abuse they had been subjected to over the preceding 5-10 minutes. The parmesan sauce was very creamy which offset the fire of the jalapenos. The price was £5.95 plus an extra £1.00 as I had the large size wrap, or piada, as it is referred to on the menu. The coffee was £1.80. When I had finished the wrap I returned to the counter as I had seen a coconut covered raspberry jam slice which I could not resist as it looked like the type which the sandwich shop used to sell, and so it seemed that it was meant to be. It came in at £1.75 which was about £1.65 dearer than the 1972 version.
Whilst I am sure that this may be an authentic way that street food is served in Italy, although I have never come across it in my travels there, the ingredients are fairly cosmopolitan. They also do a meal deal at lunchtime which includes a drink and a bag of crisps but the steak option is excluded from this.
My mother always used to tell me not to wolf my food but she had never been here.
Photography by Stan Graham