Have you discovered The Courtyard Cafe (11 Hatfield Road, St Albans next to the Yoga Hall)? Julie and Michael have been running this pretty cafe for a couple of years now, and it has an excellent local reputation for good food. You can often find Michael in the kitchen cooking the food himself, and his food reflects the seasons in a way the chains just can’t. His fresh soups are delicious (served with local Redbournbury Mill bread), as are the hearty breakfasts. Cakes are baked locally, and must be among the best in St Albans – heck they might be the best – go and try and see what you think! They do a fab afternoon tea too, and you can book the pretty backroom for private tea parties.
Situated right next to The St Albans Museum and The Yoga Hall, this is a lovely part of town, just tucked away near St Peter’s Church. You can sit outside on a warm day and enjoy the garden, planted with the help of Transition St Albans.
To celebrate all the acitivites that go on in and around the cafe, they are hosting a mini-festival “Inside Out Day” on Saturday (25th May) from 1-6. You will be able to explore The Yoga Hall and find out about the classes and therapies on offer, and there will be entertainment from buskers and The Ver Players Ukelele Band. The Ver Players often practice in the cafe on a Saturday morning, and you can hear them from time to time, but this is a chance to hear it all put into action! There will be a Story Tent for the children.
Do go and have a look at the painting and artworks inside the cafe – they have some very good work by local artists, which are often excellent value. You can also pick up vintage and upcycled homewares particularly cakestands and teasets, and lovely handmade gifts such a tea cosies. There will be outdoor stalls too, giving all the crafters more space to show their work.
The event will also raise funds for Mind in Mid Herts, an innovative and experienced provider of Mental health services.
EARTHWORKS OPEN GARDEN AND PLANT SALE
Also on Saturday (11-3) is the annual Open Garden and Plant Sale. You can pick up affordable and often unusual varieties of plants including vegetables, herbs and flowers. Earthworks have had a tough year with rebuilding the site and I am sure your support will be very welcome. You can find the site off Hixberry Lane, St Albans. Parking is very limited but it is an easy walk from nearby Highfield Park and the Alban Way.
MY POLISH KITCHEN
Food writer Ren Behan held a delicious pop-up kitchen at the Poggenpohl showroom in St Albans last week, featuring Polish food. Guests enjoyed rye bread canapés with Polish charcuterie and Farmer’s Cheese with chives and dill, Kasza – buckwheat risotto with wild mushrooms, Bigos – Polish Hunter’s Stew with pork, smoked meats, mushrooms and sauerkraut, Kotlety Mielone – mini meatballs, and Mizeria – cucumber and sour cream salad. A light plum and poppy seed bake was pud, and was delicious. Mokoko designed cocktails to go with each course, and took the opportunity to use interesting ingredients such as dill and plum – the Polish Plum Martini was so popular they are going to include it on their specials menu, so do look out for that. Guests also enjoyed a tasting of flavoured vodkas – the honey flavoured Krupnik was a huge hit. Look out for more pop-up kitchens with Ren in the future, and one is planned for the Food & Drink Festival. You can follow Ren on twitter at @renbehan.
HEALTHY EATING WEEK
I had a lovely trip to St Peter’s School this week as part of their Healthy Eating Week. I talked about local, seasonal fruit and vegetables and asked children to identify rhubarb and unusual varieties of tomatoes. I was really pleased to hear that some children are growing radishes and carrots at school, and a few have allotments nearby. We talked about the pick-your-own fruit farm Hawkswick on the Harpenden Road, and I explained that strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and gooseberries should be ready to pick in the summer holidays. The school council asked me to help judge a poster competition for designing a tasty, healthy lunch to go in a lunch box – it will be fun to see what the children come up with!