Food Focus: Serving up a summer of tasty treats

FOOD always tastes better when you eat outside, so here are some ideas to help you make the most of our gorgeous British summer.

There is so much going on in the next few weeks to appeal to local foodies, from food festivals and beer festivals, to the Highland Gathering and music in the streets, so head outside and have a great time!

Sitting in a pub garden on a warm summer’s evening with a glass of cold beer has to be one of the best things about living in England.

If you are a fan of good real ale, I hope you made it to the Harpenden Beer festival last weekend, but if not, look up the CAMRA website ( and head to one of the many local pubs that sell great beer.

One of the best events to go to is the folk music night held in St Michael’s village, St Albans, on Wednesday, June 30 . You can buy beer from any of the excellent pubs along the main street and walk from one to the next, listening to folk music and watching traditional dancing. There is usually barbecue food available too.

Look out too for small beer festivals going on in your local pub. The Lower Red Lion, Fishpool Street, St Albans, holds regular beer festivals in their beer garden so pop in and ask about the next one.

There really is no need to head into London this summer to go to an expensive food festival. Following from the great success of last year’s St Albans Food and Drink Festival, we now have plenty to choose from!

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This Saturday, June 19, head to the Oaklands College Smallford Campus for ‘World of Food’. This is set to be an excellent event, featuring food and music from many groups in our local community. Some of our best local restaurants will be there, selling picnic and street food. There will be live cooking demonstrations and food stalls, as well as a picnic area so you can take a rug and settle in for the afternoon.

The festival is open 12noon-5pm and is free to enter and park.

The Redbourn 900 Carnival is on Saturday, June 26, and will have a traditional village fete, as well as stalls and lots of activities. This will be an excellent excuse to spend time exploring and picnicing in this very pretty village.

On Sunday, June 27 (12noon-7pm) head into St Albans city centre for ‘St Albans Alive’ for music, street artists, and food. The roads will be closed to traffic and there will be free live music on the large stage, from bands such as Los Pacaminos. There will be food stalls in the streets so you can plan to spend the afternoon there.

You can pick up festival leaflets in the town hall or train stations, so you can plan your picnic and cafe stops around what is on offer.

If you still have energy, then the annual Highland Gathering in Harpenden is on Sunday, July 11. As well as music and dancing there will be traditional Scottish food to try, as well as stalls from local restaurants.

If you are planning a picnic one weekend or are heading out for a walk in some of our lovely countryside, can I suggest you head to one of the Farmer’s Markets before you set off?

The Wheathampstead Farmer’s Market is on Sunday, June 20 (10am-1pm) and the Harpenden Farmer’s Market is on Sunday, June 27 (10am-2pm).

You will be able to find excellent bread, cheese, cooked meats, cakes, apple juices, fresh tomatoes and radishes; you could pull together a fab picnic and know that you are buying the very best of local produce.

If you want a good picnic day out, why not try the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party on Sunday, June 20 (12noon-5pm), which is the theme for this year’s Larks in the Parks. It will take place in five sites; Morris Playing Field, London Colney; Roestock Park, Colney Heath; Fleetville Recreation Ground, Hatfield Road; Trestle Arts Base, Russet Drive; and Victoria Playing Field, Folly Lane.

There will be live music and displays from parkour and bike teams. It’s free to go; just take a picnic and the family and join in.