Celebrating Food and Drink in our amazing city of St Albans

A previous St Albans Food and Drink Festival.

A previous St Albans Food and Drink Festival.

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! 

A previous St Albans Food and Drink Festival. Picture: St Albans District Council

A previous St Albans Food and Drink Festival. Picture: St Albans District Council - Credit: Archant

This year’s festival will not be able to accommodate the usual 15,000 visitors who gather for the big outdoor street festival, so instead events are spread out over the whole month. Week 1 will focus on drinks, Week 2 pizza and street food, Week 3 puddings and desserts, and Week 4 will celebrate world food. Each week will see a combination of live and recorded online events alongside city centre markets. All events and links are on www.enjoystalbans.com/foodanddrink.

Week 1 featured tours of the Farr Brew distillery and the new Alban Gin Distillery. You can watch the tours on the website, and it is fascinating to see these local producers in action. The Alban gin is flavour-inspired by the spices of the famous Alban bun, and the rose from St Albans Cathedral rose window, which you can see on their bottles. One to look out for. There are also cocktail making classes from Tomoka Spirits.

In Week 2 I will be chatting to Antonio from Buongiorno Italia as he shows me how to make pizza using ingredients from his deli. We will be filming in his family kitchen and should be a lot of fun – I have known Tony since we used to live just up the road, and I used to pop in all the time to buy things to make tea. It will be like old times! The film will be on the festival website.

Herts-based TV chef Theo Michaels will be doing an online live cookalong making streetfood Greek Gyros with a chili salsa and flatbreads on September 27. He did online cookalongs during lockdown with his family all joining in, and they were a huge success.

The team from Farr Brewery.

The team from Farr Brewery. - Credit: Archant

He will post up the ingredients beforehand and you then get ready to cook in real time with him – a great way to learn a new recipe, and get the family involved too. Its free – you just pay for your ingredients!

Adam from Peddling Pizza is doing a whistle-stop tour of the lively street food market, introducing you to some of his lovely street-food-trader friends, live on Instagram on Wednesday September 9 from 10am-3pm. You can also watch a recording of this on the website. More events are being added all the time from our indie food suppliers so head over to the website and follow on Facebook for more news.

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There will also be pop-up markets in the city centre, organised by St Albans BID, which will echo the online content in reflecting each week’s theme. Many of the streetfood stallholders will be in St Albans on the usual market days so do go and see them.

This year, instead of the Food and Drink Awards, the public will be suggesting Food Heroes – those who have really gone above and beyond to keep the food and drink flag flying in St Albans, despite the huge challenges and hardships that the pandemic has brought to the industry.

St Albans Food and Drink Festival 2018. Picture: Stephanie Belton

St Albans Food and Drink Festival 2018. Picture: Stephanie Belton - Credit: Archant

Local radio station Radio Verulam are broadcasting a special show, in conjunction with the council, to recognise these people and show the public’s appreciation for them. 

The hugely popular photography event –  24 in 24 – is back too, in association with the St Albans Film Festival. It will take place on Saturday September 19, when keen photographers can scurry off around the district, armed with 24 subjects. They must upload 24 pictures 24 hours later, inspired by the subjects provided!

Loads of the subjects will be themed around food, and the judges will be awarding bragging rights in categories such as best individual shot and best set of 24 photographs. The event is free to access, free to enter, and open to photographers of all ages. One for creative teens too?

Detail for all these events and more can be found at enjoystalbans.com/foodanddrink and at the Facebook page: StAlbansFoodandDrinkFestival.