Fingers crossed that the finale of the Food & Drink Festival this Sunday (9th October) will be a hot sunny day. I will be talking at the live demo kitchen at about 11.15 whether rain or shine so come along to say hello. Our best local chefs will be doing live demos all afternoon so grab a coffee, take a seat and enjoy the free entertainment.
The whole of St Peter’s Street will be full of market stalls and the local restaurants will have pop-up kitchens selling festival food. Don’t eat lunch at home: head in to town to try something new.
If the weather is not so perfect, you could retreat inside to one of our excellent city centre pubs. Many of them are taking part in the Festival and if you pick up a brochure from the Tourist Centre you can see many special events and offers.
The Boot is one of our most famous pubs, attracting both regulars and visitors to St Albans. Located in Market Place near the clock tower, it has been a pub since 1420. Walking in under the low ceilings is a step back in history. It serves eight real ales so is popular with the local CAMRA enthusiasts and appears in the Good Beer Guide. On Sunday the Boot team will also be on the food market: the menu will depend on the weather! Sean at the Boot told me, “We have taken part since the Festival began a few years ago and love to show Hertfordshire the quality St Albans has to offer as it becomes the gastronomic capital of the county”.
In the evenings, look out for the cheese board – the idea is you take your favourite cheese and they provide all the nibbles to go with it. I’m very pleased to hear that new Chef Fiona Dulake is planning a seasonal and home-made British menu including organic soups, stews, hotpots and game for the next few months. If you are quick, you can get 50% off your food bill tomorrow (Friday) with a festival brochure.
You can also get two meals for the price of one at The Goat Inn tomorrow lunch time and early evening.
The White Hart Tap is hosting a Sausage and Ale festival until Saturday (6-8.30pm), with a range of locally made sausages with beers to match. The food is always good here, so it is well worth going on a hunt to find this locals’ pub on Keyfield Terrace.
Wetherspoons in the Waterend Barn are holding their own Mini Ale Festival right opposite the main beer festival in the Arena. They will have 50 different real ales and ciders from the UK, USA and Europe.
The Jolly Sailor is holding a Jolly Ocktoberfest starting tonight until Sunday. There will be 16 real ales and lots of sausage-themed dishes! There will be live music over the weekend too.
If you want an alternative to real ales, try the Hare and Hounds for the Bottled Beer Bonanza this Saturday, which will include bottled lagers, ales, ciders and perries. Free snacks will be provided to keep everyone sober.
The Cock Inn at the top of St Peter’s Street is offering a free glass of wine or a bottle of beer when you order the set menu at lunch, so this could be a welcome retreat from the hustle of the market.
After the main festival, don’t worry – you can still go to The Farmers Boy on London Road 15-16th October for their very own beer festival. Home of the Verulam Brewery, it will feature ales specially brewed this autumn as well as guest ales from local Hertfordshire breweries. Brewer Kevin Yelland really knows his stuff, so well worth heading there.