FOOD FESTIVAL FINALE
It’s all looking good for the Festival Finale on Sunday, with a forecast of no rain and the heady heights of 21C! The town centre will be packed with stalls, so head up there for a family-friendly, foodie day out. Stalls will start to open at 10, so you can go for breakfast, and the vicar of St Peters will bless the Festival at 10.45, and you can sing along with the church choir for some classic harvest hymns.
You will be able to try and buy food throughout the day from many of our local producers, cafes, restaurants, pubs, delis, and independent craft bakers. If you would like to try local, look out for Redbournbury Mill, Godfrey’s Fish and Chips for fish finger sandwiches, and afternoon tea from the St Michael’s Manor stall. If classic pub food is more your thing, The Boot stall is promising 15 different kinds of sausages!
If you fancy something more international, head to the Bourngiorno Italia stall for fabulous Italian treats, Himawari Japanese Kitchen for sushi and Japanese curries, Mauritius Delicious, Bar Meze for delicious Cypriot lunches, Bellacinnos for Merguez sausages, and Carmen’s Caribbean Kitchen Crumbs ‘n’ all for Caribbean food and cakes. It’s a great opportunity to try something new.
Carluccios will be hosting their lovely mushroom stalls in Christopher Place by their restaurant, so visit that for some unusual funghi and pasta. Look out also for Sweet Lily, one of the finalists in the Food and Drink Awards and their home-made cakes, jams, marmalades, and chutneys. There will be tables by the AGA demonstration kitchen, so you can eat your purchases there and then, or buy supplies to take home. Get there early as last year many stalls started to sell out min-afternoon.
THE GREAT BRITISH CAKE-OFF
Our very own Paul Hollywood, Matt Adams, will be one of the judges at the Bakehouse competition on Sunday afternoon. There were over 60 entries at the time of going to press, so the competition looks to be fierce! Danny Smith from Radio Verulam will be there to help taste everything, and Hannah Coone, the head baker at Bakehouse will be there to keep quality control over the decision-making. Everyone is welcome to go along for the judging with the results being announced some time after 4pm – it is sure to be very busy, but well worth going to see what our talented St Albans bakers will produce.
YOUNG CHEF OF THE YEAR
Entries have been pouring in for the Young Chef of the Year competition to be held in the professional kitchen at Oaklands College this Saturday. The desserts section has been the most popular, with some amazing ideas, so we are looking forward to seeing how our budding chefs fare on the day, under the watchful eye of André Lussmann and me. We are delighted that so many of our youngsters are interested in cooking (and it will look fantastic on a CV.)
FLAGSHIP WINE FAIR
Set in the beautiful atmosphere of St Albans School, this is a very popular Festival event. You can try a huge variety of wines and talk to knowledgeable producers. The Local Kitchen will be there to serve British snacks, local breads, and cheeses. Tickets are available from the Tourist Information Centre or directly from Flagship Wines on Hatfield Road (865309) and cost £15.
PUMPKIN AND APPLE GALA
If you cannot make it to the Finale in St Albans on Sunday, The Walled Garden at Luton Hoo is holding its excellent Pumpkin and Apple Gala on Saturday 13th October (10-4). You can pick your own pumpkins and check out the fantastic carved pumpkin competition. There are also lots of stalls so you can buy hog roast, honey, apples, cakes and other locally sourced goodies.
I spent Monday night getting kitchen envy and watching two of our most talented local chefs in the smart Poggenpohl showroom on London Road. The Gourmet night is in aid of Iain Rennie Grove House Hospice Care, and the room was packed with supporters and keen foodies, sipping delicious Prosecco courtesy of Flagship Wines.
Ruth Hurren from Darcy’s, and André Lussmann from Lussmann’s did a fantastic job of entertaining us all, and we learned new things (the wonders of microplanes), and tried new ingredients: Artic char and Essex clams were both new to me, and tasted delicious in André’s fish stew (with a huge nod to bouillabaisse). Ruth showed us how to make a lamb tagine, and explained how she likes to use quince too, when in season. Her stand-out dish for me were doughnuts filled with cherry jam – they were every bit as good as they sound!
Both chefs know how to make yummy food, and their loyal following and entries in The Good Food Guide support this. New entry to the guide this year, George Fredenham from The Foragers, was also at the Gourmet night, perhaps finding out what he might have to do next year! Generous raffle prizes including meals at both restaurants helped the event to raise over £800 for one of our most important local charities. As Mayor Eileen Harris said “It has been a lovely light-hearted evening that has also helped local people”. Well done everyone involved.