Signs are going up outside pubs, cafes and restaurants all round the county advertising Diamond Jubilee events. Street parties are being organised and schools will be having picnics to celebrate, organised by The Good School Food team. Lots of people have told me they are going to be celebrating with British food at their event, so we can look forward to a weekend of cucumber sandwiches, Victoria cakes, sausages, Pimms and beer. Delicious!
Wheathamstead has held some fantastic community events in recent years, and on 4th June will be hosting the “Jubilympics” (thanks to twentytwelve I think?). There will be a picnic on East Meads at 2.30 – everyone take your own picnic, and there will be races and games for all ages. Cream teas and bar will be available, and you can work it all off with some welly wanging and the egg and spoon race. Go dressed ready for the 1950s theme, and there will be prizes for the best, including a Queen Look-A-Like, Bonny Baby and Glamorous Granny. There are also plans for a sophisticated Diamond Cabaret in the evening, followed by fireworks and eco-lanterns. It all sounds magical.
Lots of our local pubs will be celebrating with barbecues and local real ales, but I wanted to mention The White Hart Tap in St Albans, for going the extra mile with their Jubilee Weekend Extravaganza. They are planning a four-day celebration all about Great British Food, with their biggest festival to date. It starts with a sausage festival and a Great British Food Night on Saturday. Sunday will feature the Classic Roast Dinner, of course, with a cheese and wine tasting in the evening. On Monday they open at 10am for an All Day English Breakfast, and the finale is on Tuesday with the Jubilee Garden Party with stalls selling homemade British classic foods. They always source local produce so look out for home-grown vegetables and Gloucester Old Spot Pork pies and Scotch Eggs. I tried one of these at the St Albans Food & Drink Festival last Autumn and it was fab – nothing at all like a supermarket one. Take a picnic blanket and enjoy the party atmosphere (also because I guess they will run out of chairs). A beer festival will run all weekend, featuring over 25 ales, ciders and perries. They will be open 12-11 every day (Monday 10am). No-one will go hungry.
And a trip to No10
And for some locals, being the Best of British is taken to a new level. Well-known local restaurateur Andrei Lussmann, owner of Lussmanns Fish & Grill in St Albans and Hertford, was invited to No10 Downing Street for a reception hosted by David Cameron. The idea was to celebrate our fantastic British food. Guests included 150 of the most influential figures in the British restaurant and food industry, including producers, chefs and writers.
Andrei told us: “The roll call was most definitely a who’s who of the great, glorious and infamous of the restaurant world. National treasures and international icons roamed like the last great beasts of Africa but happily there was no locking of horns, just solidarity at the watering hole. Raymond Blanc, Gordon Ramsey, Rick Stein, Angela Hartnett, Fergus Henderson, Prue Leith, Atul Kochhar, Ruth Rogers, Ferran Adrià, Michel Roux, AA Gill, Fay Maschler, Jay Rayner, Henry Dimbleby, Sam Harrison and the list goes on. They were all here to extol the virtues of British food championing all that is local and sustainable today.”
The event was organised by the Sustainable Restaurant Association, VisitBritain and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Andrei was invited as Lussmanns wins awards for their fantastic food and high sustainability credentials. The aim was to celebrate a restaurant scene that is the envy of the world and the creativity and hard work of the chefs and producers who make it possible. And we have a quote from David Cameron: ‘I am hugely proud of Britain’s food industry and we’re launching Food is GREAT Britain to showcase what we have to offer. Our farmers produce some of the best quality food anywhere in the world with high welfare standards and excellent local produce.
‘We’ve produced exceptional British chefs and attracted incredible talent from overseas and as a result you can find outstanding cuisine throughout the country. From sticky toffee pudding from Cartmel to oysters from Whitstable, salt marsh lamb from North Wales, or smoked salmon from Scotland our food is key to our cultural identity. British food showcases our heritage, openness, creativity and diversity.’
And for once I completely agree with him. Enjoy it all during this very British summer.
Photo: Andrei Lussmann and Sam Harrison from Sam’s Brasserie, Chiswick (past winner of Time Out Award for Best Restaurant)