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Thu, 11:38

Sadly, I don't get to go to Luton Hoo Hotel 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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Food writer Becky Alexander checks out one of the town's most popular pubs...

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India Australia London

Festivals, street food, coffee shops, vegan food, disposable plastics, the chef crisis - there has been plenty going on in the food world in 2018. How and where we eat does reflect where we are as a community, so here are a few of my findings over the past year:

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HARPENDEN St Albans London

The cathedral quarter in St Albans goes from strength to strength and has attracted some very good restaurants, bars and food shops recently. It always looks lovely at this time of the year, and I am sure many of you will be heading there for Christmas drinks and food.

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St Albans

It's time for my annual look at all that's delicious and Christmassy! We are very lucky to have so many events and thriving indie retailers, so let's aim to support them and shop local this year.

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meraki St Albans

I was sad when The Bakehouse in St Albans closed as I loved the location and cakes! I have been keeping an eye on the site since then and I am delighted to be able to tell you about its reincarnation as No Moo Moo. The name refers to the fact that everything on the menu, from the milk to the main courses, is plant-based, and I think this is a welcome addition to our city. Plant-based (vegan) cafés are pretty much the norm in Brighton and Bristol so it's about time we caught up!

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St Albans Bristol

Tucked away on Vaughan Road, The Silver Palate is a Harpenden institution. It has seen other indie restaurants and cafés come and go, but it remains a busy favourite with the locals.

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Cancel your plans to visit Grandma at the weekend because THIS SUNDAY is the St Albans Food & Drink Feastival! I can hardly believe it is here already - where has the year gone?

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St Albans
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