Feel the Burns...

Wasailing in St Albans

Wasailing in St Albans - Credit: Archant

We need lots of reasons to be cheerful in January. If you are fed-up of staying in and drinking less, why not celebrate Burns’ night this year?

We have a large Scottish contingency in Harpenden and St Albans, as we see each year at the Harpenden Highland Gathering, but even if you have no roots in Scotland, why not head out this year for some great food and perhaps a tot of warming whisky.

Award-winning St Albans pub The Portland Arms is holding a Burns’ night supper on Thursday, January 30. For £19.95 you can enjoy homemade cullen skink, haggis with neaps and tatties, and treacle tart and custard. If you cannot manage all three courses, you can opt for one or two (£12.95, £16.50). Jazz band Chris Flegg and Friends will be playing and it promises to be a lively night out.

You will need to book as the pub has a very loyal following. Call to reserve a table on 01727 851463.

Kippings Bistro and Wine Bar in Wheathamstead (54 High Street) have had a very successful 18 months since they opened. Owner Patricia Hilton explained to me that they have regular customers that come from the village and also from St Albans, Harpenden and further afield.

The restaurant is a stylish place in a beautiful setting and well worth trying if you haven’t discovered it yet. As Kippings has a number of regular Scottish customers, they are going to have a true Highland experience of music, whiskey, haggis and story telling to celebrate Burns’ Night on Saturday, January 25. Alongside some of the regular favourites such as Juniper-rubbed venison and Crayfish risotto, you will be able to choose Haggis, neaps and tatties (£13.50).

If you haven’t tried haggis before, having a chef cook it for you is probably a good place to start. You can opt for a “flight” of whiskies and the haggis will be piped in. Mrs Diane Young will read the Robert Burns poem “Tam O Shanter” and music from the Scottish Highlands will be played.

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It sounds a fab way to warm up a chilly January evening.

The Peahen in St Albans will be holding a Burns’ Night celebration on Wednesday, January 22, and haggis, neeps and tatties will be on the menu. Book a table on 01727 853669.

Following the success of his stall at the St Albans Christmas Market, The City Market Company, owned by Simon Blunt, has opened a concession at Chloe James Lifestyle this week. You probably know Chloe James (12 High Street) as a shop to buy special gifts and clothing. You will now also be able to buy delicious foodie gifts and treats too, from local and independent producers.

Simon plans to keep things seasonal so there will be gifts for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Easter (including make your own Easter Egg kits!). You will be able to buy small hampers to fill with chutneys, sauces, pickles, chocolates and biscuits. Simon plans to hold Special evening openings where you can meet the producers and try foods. Perfect for busy commuters. If you would like to be included on his mailing list for special events just pop into the shop to see him.