Published in The Herts Advertiser 7 December 2017
I love this time of the year, when I can share with you some of the special Christmas foodie treats that are on offer in our local area. We need plenty of things to cheer us up when the weather gets cold, so here are some of my favourites!
I hope you have been to the beautiful Christmas market in the Vintry garden, next to the Cathedral. In a stunning location, you can pop in to buy a cup of mulled wine, cider, Winter Pimms or hot chocolate from Hatch. I like that there are now tables tucked away in corners (two with an amazing view of the Cathedral); it’s a fab place to stop during your Christmas shopping. When I visited a few days ago, you could also buy toasties, roasted chestnuts, noodles, pulled pork and Bratwurst. Stalls were selling chocolate kisses, fudge, preserves and whisky, and I plan to buy stocking fillers from local company I am Cocoa who make beautiful chocolate lollies and trees. The market is open Saturday and Sunday 10-6, Monday to Friday 11-6 with extended opening until 8 on Thursdays. It is free entry.
As you leave the Christmas market wander up Holywell Hill and pop into Rock Pop Candy, which has a fantastic advent calendar window display this year. You will be able to find lots of retro sweets (maybe for a grown-up stocking?), including imports such as Stateside chocolate, Hersheys, Reeses and Brachs.
If you are lucky, the Beer Shop on London Road might still have bottles of Farr Brewery ‘Brewdolph’ beer left. I bought three, and they were selling out! You can also visit the Farr Brewery shop on the 15th, 16th, 17th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd December (11-5).
Sopwell House is serving a really pretty afternoon tea this year (see photograph) until Saturday 30th December (not 24-25 Dec). It is 29.95 (with mulled wine 34.95 and champagne 39.95).
Parker and Vine in Harpenden make delicious Christmas cakes and mince pies, and you can also buy preserves, pickles and chutneys; they sell them in small gift sets and hampers, or individually. I like the look of the Santa Special Rolla Granola, with pecans, walnuts and orange, which would make a lovely Christmas morning breakfast.
For your essential vegetables and fruits, the Charter Market in St Albans is on every day from Saturday 16 December until Christmas Eve. We also have the St Albans Farmers Market on Sunday 10 December and Harpenden Farmers Market on Sunday 17 December, where all our regular favourites will be selling.
The Abbots Kitchen has moved into a marquee while the redevelopment takes place, which now means you get a nice view of the park! If you would like to book for Christmas lunch will be available on weekdays between Monday 4th and Friday 22nd December.
Bookings for Christmas Lunch must be made in advance. For more information or to make a Christmas Lunch reservation, call 07813 343033 or email firstname.lastname@example.org #21 for two courses.
Carols till Closing is a great excuse to go to the pub and join in with some festive singing. Join Father Richard from St Saviours for carols at The Boot (Weds 13th December), The White Lion (Thursday 14th December), The White Hart Tap (Monday 18th December) and Ye Olde Fighting Cocks (Tuesday 19th December) all from 8pm.
Finally: I feel very fortunate to be able to eat delicious food all year round for my job. I am also very lucky to be able to share lovely food on Christmas day with my husband and two children, but not everyone else is so fortunate which is why I have donated to Crisis this year; they offer a Christmas meal to someone in need for #26.08. If you are able to do the same please go to http://www.crisis.org.uk/get-involved/reserve-a-place-at-crisis-at-christmas.