New farm shop offers a tasty mix of local fare

PUBLISHED: 10:01 16 April 2019 | UPDATED: 10:01 16 April 2019

Sam Cannatella and Joe Colletti from Smallford café and farm shop. Picture: Becky Alexander

Sam Cannatella and Joe Colletti from Smallford café and farm shop. Picture: Becky Alexander

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Find out more about Smallford’s new café and farm shop...

Aranchini and panini from Smallford café and farm shop. Picture: Becky AlexanderAranchini and panini from Smallford café and farm shop. Picture: Becky Alexander

Have you been to the new café and farm shop in Smallford yet? You will spot it as you drive towards Hatfield, next to Glinwell's giant greenhouses.

Stylish and spacious, the farm shop sells a really good range of foods such as bread, cheese, chocolate, wine, beer and much more from local, independent suppliers. The co-owners Sam Cannatella and Joe Colletti have worked hard to find products that you can't find everywhere else, and it's a lovely place to browse.

A must-buy are the tomatoes, aubergines and peppers that Glinwell grow themselves. They also make their own Cannatella & Colletti pasta sauces, which you will find right by the door as you go in. I was pleased to see that Hedges Farm supply the meat, and I spotted Twist Teas from Harpenden, oils from Mrs Middleton's, gin from Campfire and Blackbridge, and Three Brewers and Farr Brew beers. The seeded loaf I bought was very good, and is baked by Seven Seeded in Watford.

There are some wonderful Easter treats in the shop at the moment. I really like the iced easter chick biscuits and pretty bars and boxes of chocolates, which I thought were reasonably priced. If you are quick you can enter the competition to win the giant (2.5kg!) Easter egg that you can't fail to spot in the shop. Just go to the website www.smallfordfarmshop.com to enter by Sunday 14th April. The Jolly Choccy Sticks and Nom Nom bars are really unusual and would make good gifts; bee pollen chocolate sounds amazing!

Sam Cannatella and Joe Colletti from Smallford café and farm shop. Picture: Becky AlexanderSam Cannatella and Joe Colletti from Smallford café and farm shop. Picture: Becky Alexander

The big draw is the café and on the times I have been it is far busier than the shop; we do all love a coffee shop in St Albans! The menu covers breakfasts and lunches as well as teas, coffees and cakes, and there is a nod to the family roots with some interesting Italian options. Breakfast includes full cooked options (£9.95), smashed avocado with eggs, salmon or feta, pancakes with berries or bacon, and porridge and pastries. Lunch has a seasonal soup (£4.50), sandwiches such as fish finger or salt beef served with salad or fries (around £7.50), and salads which are displayed in the counter, although they were almost finished when I went in.

Local suppliers are also used in the cafe, with sausages and burgers from Hedges and Glinwell's own tomatoes feature in the Smallford tomato, burrata and basil salad. My goat cheese, pepper and red onion marmalade panini was good, although the salad needed a dressing of some kind. The arancini were a little oily, but the roasted tomato sauce with them was lovely. Blood orange pannacotta with vanilla biscuits on the specials board sounded amazing; one to try. Neal's Yard supply the cheeses, and you can buy them in the shop or have a cheeseboard in the cafe, perhaps with some of the Italian wine or local beers on sale.

I think the popularity of the café has caught them out as it was a little chaotic when I went in. Customers had to ask for menus while they queued, which meant they didn't know what was on offer before they reached the till; I wonder if a board up somewhere, or menus on the tables would help? There isn't much space between tables either, but I noticed they were putting more tables outside on the terrace area, which will help with demand! It is early days though, and it is a nice problem to have.

The farm shop and café are open every day, and there is plenty of free parking in front of the shop. A welcome new addition to the area! Joe and Sam have tried to introduce themselves to the customers as much as possible to make them feel welcome and understand what we are about, which has been a great hit with customers who didn't know the Glinwell business existed before the farm shop opened.

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