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Friday, March 27, 2020

My very first job was in a supermarket, filling shelves and working on the till. That was back in the time when we had sticker price guns and had to price everything by hand!

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Herts’ best-kept secret

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Move over Willy Wonka – did you know that Hertfordshire has its very own chocolate factory? When I tell people about The Secret Truffletier, they are always very keen to visit, so although it is over in Woolmer Green, it isn’t far, and I think it is well worth the trip!

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Southdown ‘village’ on the edge of Harpenden is a rare find these days, with a useful collection of truly independent shops and cafés. Jay’s has been there for almost 10 years, and is a busy coffee shop in the day. The reason I am writing about Jays for this column is that they are now working with a great new chef, Sebastian Harris, who trained at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen and has worked for Marco Pierre White and Tom Aikens. His last job was cooking for Harry and Wills at the royal palaces.

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Tucked away from the hustle and bustle of St Albans city centre is a lovely café I’d like to tell you about. The Cross Street Centre is a light, spacious venue that is an absolute bargain and who doesn’t appreciate that in January?

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Do you still need to find a Secret Santa gift? Something perfect for a favourite teacher? Not sure what to buy your dad? Here are my shopping suggestions for delicious things to eat and drink that will make excellent presents – and you will be supporting local indie businesses at the same time!

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Rothamsted is the reason that Harpenden exists in many ways, with the estate dating back to 1212. Walking through the grounds over the past year, I have noticed that they are doing various events to open it out to the public, including afternoon teas in the beautiful old manor house and film nights with dinner in the main building, and I was intrigued. I’m always interested to find somewhere new to eat for our readers, so I went along to find out more.

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From Italy with love

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Tucked away in Chiswell Green is a delicious little taste of Italy. Have you discovered Valentina’s café yet? Head over there for amazing home-made pasta and gelato, or a coffee and pastry, and meet Valentina and Alberto, who offer a friendly welcome to their own little corner of Italy, here in Hertfordshire!

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Sadly, I don’t get to go to the Luton Hoo Estate very often. You may think being a food writer is all glamour and fancy dinners, but sadly, that is rarely the case! I am far more likely to head out for a quick lunch to escape my desk before returning to deadlines.

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Herts Ad food columnist Becky Alexander takes a look at some of the highlights of this year’s St Albans Food and Drink Festival...

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I have written about the site in Heritage Close next to Lussmanns quite a few times over the years; the latest incarnation is a craft beer bar, and it already looks very popular and busy.

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I hadn’t been to Thompson St Albans for quite a while; I think of it as an expensive, special occasion option, so it had slightly fallen off my radar. But one of my pals was celebrating a birthday so we thought we’d go; I’d seen pics of the outside terrace on instagram so we made a last-minute booking for lunch.

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Food columnist Becky Alexander explores the transformation of one of Harpenden’s oldest pubs

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When you read this the rain lashing against the windows, but I am an optimist, and am pretty sure it won’t be long before the sun will be out! So, here is my round-up of some of the new and exciting places in St Albans to go out and enjoy this summer.

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Films and food – what could be more fabulous? The St Albans Film Festival has just started and I want to tell you about some of the amazing food indies taking part in the festival.

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Vegan food is so popular now, with the stats showing that even people who don’t label themselves as vegan are choosing to eat plant-based food more often. If you think cooking vegan food is a hassle, then buying it ready-made for you is a really easy option. The rainbow-coloured Tara’s Vegan Treats stall in St Albans market is hard to miss, as is the queue that forms each Wednesday and Saturday.

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Harpenden seems to be having a bit of a moment – I wait years for new places to open, and then lots come along at once! I had never been in The Old Cock Inn right on the High Street, even though it’s been there since the 16th century – have you?

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Find out some of what’s on offer at this year’s St Albans Sustainability Festival

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

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Have you found the new Park Café in Harpenden yet? It is in a lovely location overlooking pretty Rothamsted Park, just behind the sports centre. Although part of the new Pegasus retirement development, it is very much open to everyone, and I think as the weather continues to improve, will be very popular – it’s perfect for anyone using the park.

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Are you horrified by the amount of single-use plastic that you bring home from the supermarket (or comes in via Ocado)? Did you watch the Blue Planet documentary that showed how our sealife is being killed by plastic? If you would like to reduce the amount of plastic that you buy (recycling is good, though reducing the amount we use is better), you should check out The Refill Pantry on London Road, up near The Peahen.

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