A festival of food

St Albans Food and Drink Festival 2012 Finale

St Albans Food and Drink Festival 2012 Finale - Credit: Archant

The 2013 St Albans Food and Drink Festival has started and I have some dates for your diary. You can pick up a Festival brochure in the Town Hall Information Centre as well as in many local cafés, bars and restaurants.

The main event is the Festival Finale Day on Sunday, October 6, from 10am-6pm, when St Peter’s Street will host the largest farmers’ market of the year. Local producers, cafés, restaurants and pubs set up pop-up stalls too, so you can buy breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea and stock up on delicious food. The last few years have seen perfect warm autumn days, with a packed city centre so fingers crossed for another fantastic day, showcasing the best of our local food.

Camra Beer Festival is on until Sunday from 11am-11pm This hugely popular homage to real ale takes place over the weekend at the Alban Arena. You will be able to try up to 350 British real ales (count ’em!), including festival specials. Admission varies but is a max of £4 over the weekend and there is a packed program of live music and a quiz for true beer experts.

Herts Advertiser columnist Roger Protz will give a beer talk and tasting on Friday at 7.30pm in the Council Chamber – access only from the festival in the Alban Arena. Tickets on sale at products stand at the festival for £10.

Gourmet Night takes place on September 30 and you will need to be quick to get the last tickets for this fab evening. Held at the very smart Poggenpohl showroom on London Road, this is a fantastic opportunity to see the owners and chefs from some of our leading restaurants in action.

Ruth Hurren (Darcy’s), Andrei Lussmann (Lussmann’s) and George Fredenham (The Foragers at The Verulam Arms) will each be cooking part of a three-course dinner that guests will be able to try. Each of these restaurants is at the top of their game and are in the latest edition of the Waitrose Good Food Guide.

Tommy Forrester is the amazingly talented chef from The Foragers and he will be cooking the main course alongside George. What they cook will be completely dependent on what they forage or catch that day, which sounds intriguing! Award-winning Flagship Wines will provide welcome drinks. There will also be an auction with proceeds going to the Mayor’s charity The Living Room. Tickets are £20 and are available from the Tourist Info Centre. The evening starts at 7pm with drinks for a 7.30pm start – you won’t want to miss any courses!

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Do you grow your own vegetables and fruit, or would love to know more about how? Allotments in St Albans are hot property, so I know there are devoted growers out there! Food Smiles takes place at Lower Hall, Dagnall Street Baptist Church on Saturday, September 28, from 1.30-5.30pm and is a chance to meet local producers, allotment keepers, farmers and like-minded people and find out more about the national Food Smiles scheme, and how to take part locally.

Last year’s Local Gem award-winner Heaven is a Cupcake will be hosting a one-off Cupcake Class at the Jubilee Centre on Catherine Street from 7-9pm on October 2. You will learn how to make gorgeous cupcakes, and take them home with you. The cost is £30 and to book email mail@heavenisacupcake.net.

New for this year, I am hosting a workshop on food writing at Lussmann’s St Albans on Tuesday, October 1, from 7.30-9.30pm. We will cover food book publishing, writing for newspapers and magazines, blogging, and food writing clichés. Email becky.alexander@lycos.com for more info and tickets (£25 including a glass of wine).

The free Highfield Park Apple Day takes place on October 6 from 2-4pm. Highfield Park has a small but well-established orchard with some unusual varieties of apples, and at this event you can buy apples and apple juice, pressed from their own apples. Last year the apple juice sold out on the day, but I hope this year’s bumper harvests mean there is more to go round. There will be music from St Albans City Band, artisan food stalls, craft and gift stalls and games for children.