I’m really excited to tell you about this year’s food and drink festival. The event has grown over the last 10 years and this year’s program of events is the best yet. William Sitwell, the Editor of Waitrose Food magazine is hosting a dinner at St Michael’s Manor; Charlie’s Coffee & Company are hosting a supper club; Dylan’s have invited Nyetimber to St Albans to do exclusive tastings; and we also have farmer’s markets and the huge street food finale in St Albans city centre which is free for all to attend.
I will take you through some of the many events in the next three columns, but here are some key dates to get you started. The festival runs from 25 September to 3 October. Look for the thousands of free brochures that have been distributed to cafes, restaurants, bars and libraries that tell you what is going on. All the info is also on enjoystalbans.com, and that’s where you go to book tickets (though most events are free).
Food Festival Launch Party at Ye Olde Fighting Cocks
Sun 25 Sept
From 4 onwards pop in to the oldest pub in the UK for live music, comedy, local craft beers, barbecue and stone-fired pizza in the garden. You can also pre-order picnic hampers from Christo to take into nearby Verulamium park.
Harpenden French & Farmers’ Market
Fri 23, Sat 24 Sept & Sun 25 Sept
The French market will take place on the common on Friday and Saturday to give everyone space to browse and picnic (9–5). The Farmer’s Market will run in the town centre on Sunday, 10–2.
St Albans Street Food Finale
Sun 2 Oct
A key date for your diary. Last year over 12,000 people came to the city centre and I hope we get that amazing weather again. The new pub area in front of the town hall will be there again, as well as food stalls lining St Peter’s Street. New this year is The Culinary Academy where kids and adults can take classes in the marquee (book ahead). Pattacakes will be teaching children to make a harvest fruit pie to take home. Adults can learn knife skills and do sherry and beer tasting; award-winning beer writer Roger Protz is leading the beer workshop. There is lots more too, and I will cover that in my next columns.
Turkish/Polish Sharing Supper
Tabure, Mon 26th Sept
Tabure is one of the hottest restaurants in the district, and rightly so. Friends Hulya, owner of Tabure, and food writer Ren Behan will host the evening, and plan to welcome guests with an Ottoman-Polish cocktail, followed by sharing plates, Turkish wine and Polish vodka. It should be quite a night. Tickets are 40. Book tables on eventbrite and call the restaurant to confirm. Tables from 7pm.
An introduction to Nyetimber
Dylan’s at the King’s Arms, Mon 26th Sept, 7.30pm
Nyetimber and the team at Dylan’s are hosting a series of Nyetimber events. Join them for an evening trying a flight of England’s finest sparkling wine, with cheese. Tickets 18.
Coffee, Canapes and Conversation
Charlie’s Coffee and Company, Thurs 29 Sept 7pm
I love that we have pop-up supper clubs this year for the festival. I like the sound of canapes and coffee evening hosted by Steve Leighton from Has Been Coffee in collaboration with Chappell and Caldwell of St Albans. The canapes are designed “to explore the unique and complex flavours of coffee”; a must for coffee fans. Tickets 35.
Mykitchensocial Supper Club
Sat 1 Oct, 7pm
Join seven complete strangers for supper with Mykitchensocial. You will have a truly home-made three-course Mexican/Asian-inspired meal, and meet new people in the area. For over 18s. There is only space for eight, so early booking is recommended. Tickets are 25 each, including a cocktail. BYOB. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
An Evening with William Sitwell, Editor of Watrose Food magazine
St Michael’s Manor, Fishpool Street
Thurs 29 Sept 7pm drinks, dinner at 7.30
A really special night in the festival. Over a four-course tasting menu, with welcome drinks, spend the evening with William Sitwell, editor of Waitrose Food and judge on MasterChef, talking about his new book Eggs or Anarchy, about how Minister of Food Lord Woolton fed Britain during the Second World War. The 49.50 ticket also includes a signed copy of the book.
More Food & Drink Festival news to follow in the coming weeks.