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Saturday, September 12, 2020

September is traditionally a time when we come together to celebrate the amazing food and drink in our city, and this year is the same – although a little different! For this year’s St Albans Food and Drink Festival the plan is to have not one, but four festivals! 

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With delivery and takeaway more popular than ever before, it has been interesting to see the rise in new ideas to get delicious food and drink to hungry customers. Graze boxes are the latest thing, and are popping up all over Instagram – the idea is you get a box of delicious snacks, beautifully arranged, delivered to your door – perfect for a special occasion or gift.

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The Local Foodie checks out a new business created during the coronavirus lockdown...

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I have some positive, exciting news after this strange few months – at last, the amazing food scene in Hertfordshire is on the map. Anyone who lives here knows we have farms, farm shops, markets, distilleries, breweries, bakeries, indie cafes, restaurants and, of course, the best pubs in the UK, and now the rest of the UK can find out too.

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Local Foodie columnist Becky Alexander goes out-out to discover how some of her favourite venues have changed post-lockdown...

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I have been writing this column for over 10 years, and this has been the most challenging time ever for our food and hospitality industry, but I feel we are edging back towards

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Local Foodie writer Becky Alexander welcomes back some old favourites as lockdown is eased...

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It all feels little more positive now, doesn’t it? More places are starting to reopen, although it still seems like sitting in pub gardens and in restaurants is a little way off. Here is my round-up of some of the latest places to ‘re-open’ for takeaway and deliveries.

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There’s plenty going on in the food scene locally, as ever! More places are opening up, albeit with social distancing in place, and I am very pleased that we are now allowed to go out and meet a friend. I had a lovely coffee out with a friend in a park; we sat a few metres apart with our flasks of coffee! Not quite the same as being in a cosy coffee shop, but it was a welcome boost!

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After the shock of the lockdown, many of our local indies took time out to think, make plans and deal with the immediate issues facing them, such as income, wages and suppliers. I am very heartened this week to see that a few more places feel able to open again, although in a reduced capacity, while they trial safe distancing, delivery and collection.

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Have you made a sourdough loaf yet? Taught your kids how to cook a gourmet meal from scratch? Or, do you, like me, really fancy a break from the kitchen? In just a few weeks, our local indies have shown their amazing entrepreneurial spirit and are working incredibly hard to get delicious food and drinks out to you, so this is a great time to order a takeaway!

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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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