After a journey home with First Capital Connect you need a reward, so I am delighted that The Pudding Stop are now selling their home-made puddings outside Platform 4. They are in the same spot as Soko, so you can have a coffee in the morning, and a pudding on the way home. You know you deserve it!
Happy birthday to Soko – 3 today! For freshly ground, delicious coffee, those in the know go to the Soko van in the mornings. Charlie Powell, founder and “head bean” told me how much she loves her work. “I really like my customers, and I know lots of the customers and their families by name. We swap plants and some bring me bacon sandwiches!” Soko do go to food festivals and private functions on occasion, but Charlie’s focus is St Albans Station.
An entrepeneur and local, Charlie has a great reputation and many loyal customers. Charlie won the Kate Darcy award for Exceptional Customer Service in the 2010 St Albans Food & Drink Awards and deservedly so; she is at the station at 6am, through the snow and rain, and brings a welcome ray of sunshine.
If like me you don’t commute every week, you can buy a bag of Charlie’s beans or freshly ground coffee to take home. They don’t keep stock on the van as the beans are roasted fresh to order. The flavour is incredible. Each bag is £4.99 and you can ask Charlie a day or two in advance, or email her and collect it from the van.
I noticed that Soko are also selling Prosperity Brownies, made in Brighton by a team of three people. 10% of their profits go to kid’s charities, and they only use “kitchen cupboard” ingredients. Look out for the Chocolate and Raspberry brownies; they contain fresh raspberries. Apricot and sultana are delicious too (all £2.20 each). Recently Charlie was selling bags of British cherries as part of the CherryAid campaign to save the British cherry. I like Charlie’s high standards and gentle but ethical business; she deserves every success.
You might know Johnny Shepherd from The Great British Bake-Off earlier this year. He now sells puddings using local and seasonal ingredients at farmers markets. He has just started selling puds Tues-Fri from 5pm onwards outside the St Albans train station, so look out for him near platform 4.
He is well-known for baked pudding quarters that include lemon tart, egg custard tart, Bakewell tart and chocolate tart (they are large enough for two). You can also buy individual pudding pots including Tiramisu made with Soko espresso, gooseberry fool and rum choc pots. Quick Bites (brownies or lemon cake) are ideal for a train journey into London! Johnny told me that “the train station staff love my brownies and call me the brownie man”.
The Pudding Stop uses organic flour from Redbournbury Mill and bakes in the bakery there. Johnny bakes everything fresh each day, so not everything is available every night. It changes with the seasons too, so look out for steamed jam roly poly and spotted dick in the winter.