Have yourself a very foodie Christmas and a tasty New Year in St Albans this season

The Inn on the Park, St Albans.

The Inn on the Park, St Albans. - Credit: Archant

Herts Ad food writer Becky Alexander has some tips for Christmas and the New Year.

Just a couple of days to go until Christmas! I hope you are feeling organised and ready to enjoy some delicious festive food. It has been a busy year for our local food businesses, with a very successful Food and Drink Festival and Sustainable St Albans week, and thriving farmers markets.

If you still need to buy Christmas food, Carpenters in Sandridge is open on Christmas Eve (8.30am-4pm) and has an excellent range of their own-grown vegetables for essential red cabbage, brussels sprouts etc. You can also buy lovely last-minute gifts and treats. The Charter Market is open today, Friday and Saturday (until 3pm) in the town centre, and opens again on Wednesday 28.

If you want to get out for a walk, Inn on the Park is open on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day (10am-4pm) so you can enjoy a walk around the lake then pop in for hot chocolate, mulled wine, spiced apple juice and mince pies. Redbournbury Mill is open on Christmas Eve 8.30am-1pm for fresh bread. If you still need a special gift, or want to learn something new in the new year, Steven the master baker offers very good baking workshops, and you can buy vouchers.

Charlie’s coffee van by St Albans train station has been so busy this year, keeping our frazzled commuters going. For a really fab gift, you can now buy vouchers for coffee! I love the idea of the coffee and cake for two voucher (£10), which the lucky recipients can enjoy at the cafe. You can also buy vouchers for £15 that your commuter can use at the van or shop. Charlie also has some quirky gifts in the café, including logs made from coffee grounds and coffee-roasted nuts. Charlie closes today for Christmas so rush there now for a last-minute cool gift.

In other news: some of our local foodies have been raising their profiles nationally this year. You may have noticed that Jon’s Streatfood disappeared for a while from St Albans town centre. Jon was working at X-Factor for 12 weeks, based at the house with the contestants, where he cooked lunch and dinner for whoever was there, including the crew and vocal coaches. Sharon, Nicole and Louis all came for lunch (but not Simon...). Jon cooked everything from pulled meats to Thai food, including plenty of veggie food, so it was a huge challenge. The trailer will be back in the town centre in the new year.

Theo Michaels, the MasterChef finalist from Harpenden, has been very busy and his latest book Mug Meals came out earlier this year. The book was picked up by This Morning and Theo has done a few appearances for them, including one where he cooked a whole Christmas dinner in a mug. It actually looks delicious! Dylan’s on George Street are featured in the latest edition of BBC Good Food magazine and Craft and Cleaver were recommended in The Sunday Times.

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Looking into next year, the Mayor of St Albans Cllr Frances Leonard is hosting a lovely event at St Michael’s Manor, Fishpool Street, for Twelfth Night (January 6). This is the traditional end of Christmas, and it will be a delightful way to brighten up a January evening, as well as raising funds for Herts Young Homeless. Tickets are great value at £30 and include a welcome drink, four course meal and entertainment. Call 01727 819544 or email mayoralty@stalbans.gov.uk.

Also, your long-serving food writer (me!) has a book coming out next year. Packed is about delicious, easy packed lunch ideas for busy adults, and I’ve written it with well-known local nutritionist Michelle Lake. It is out in early February, so more about that then.

It has been a pleasure to bring you all the foodie news this year, and 2017 already looks like an interesting year with plenty going on. Do email me at the Herts Advertiser or via Twitter @thelocalfoodie if you have a new venture opening in 2017.