Could this be one of the UK’s best locations for an autumn food and drink festival?
St Albans is not only the birth place of the hot cross bun, but also lays claim to having the highest density of pubs in the UK, one of which is supposedly the oldest – Ye Olde Fighting Cocks dating back to 793AD (more on this later…).
Right now, the town is hosting its eight annual food and drink festival which makes the most of its ale house heritage. Festival goers can enjoy the pop-up ‘Village Green’ in the heart of the cathedral city’s 9th century market square.
Get in there quick – the festival is on now and runs until this Sunday 4th October (with Ye Olde Fighting Cocks rugby screenings until the end of Oct).
Festival highlights include:
CAMRA St Albans Beer and Cider Festival – until 3rd October
St Albans hosted the UK’s first-ever beer festival back in 1974, and the event has now grown into the city’s very-own mini Oktoberfest and is the must-attend event in the real-ale calendar. There are more than 350 real ales, ciders, perries and foreign beers including new beers and new breweries across the festival’s six bars. Entertainment will be provided by cult singer/songwriter Jon Otway and the UK’s number one Madness Tribute band One Step Beyond.
Real ale, rugby and roosters – until 31st October
The pub has installed a giant screen in its garden so rugby and real-ale fans can enjoy all the tackles and tries of the Rugby World Cup, while soaking up the glorious surroundings of the pub garden, supping a pint or two of real ale and tucking into some tasty barbecue food from the Famous Fighters Barbecue. This pub now boasts 10 real ales on-tap, fine wine and a menu presided over by a former chef of Michelin-starred restaurant Chapter One.
St Albans Street Finale – 4th October
The city will be embracing its thriving pub culture on the finale day with the Everglades Village Green in the same location that the city has held a market since the 9th century. Some of St Albans’ finest hostelries will be setting up their pop-up pub on the city’s first-ever village green. So visitors can lounge around on a hay bale, while enjoying a pint and a tasty bite to eat from one of the 10 pop-up bars on the Everglades Village Green.
The city has also been experiencing a quirky foodie renaissance, with a number of independent restaurants and diners creating a buzz, most of which will be out in force on finale day. There will be a Chef’s Theatre with live cooking demonstrations from Masterchef finalist Theo Michaels, Michelin-starred chef Phil Thompson and Ye Olde Fighting Cocks chef Christo Tofalli. And for kids, there will be a family zone which will feature Children’s Fair-trade Chocolate Factory.
With so much coastline you’re never far away from a great eating and drinking spot with a stunning sea view in Cornwall. Here’s a selection of a few of our favourites…
The Cabin Beach Cafe, Perranuthnoe
This small cafe sits right on the top of the cliffs overlooking the quiet Perran Sands beach in the lovely village of Perranuthnoe. The menu is basic but very nice including filling breakfast baps and paninis, gluten-free homemade cakes, Cornish ice-cream and good teas and coffees. You can sit inside when it’s raining, but go for the unobstructed sea view from a table in the garden.
Fifteen Cornwall, Watergate Bay
Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen has become a well-established part of the Cornish foodie scene since opening a few years ago. Very friendly staff give everyone a warm welcome, particularly those with little ones (as you’d expect a Jamie O eaterie to do!). Top quality, Italian-style food is the order of the day including locally-caught seafood and Cornish ales. The restaurant is a social enterprise so all profits go to the Cornwall Food Foundation and its chef training programme. The floor-to-ceiling glass walls allow you to watch all of the surfing action across the vast Watergate Bay.
The Fire Engine Inn, Marazion
A traditional pub with a friendly landlord and a range of St Austell beers on tap. Food is served, including gluten-free fish and chips and other seafood dishes, but if you don’t happen to be hungry make sure you at least grab a pint of local ale and take a seat in the beer garden – this pub boasts a stunning view across the water to St Michael’s Mount.
The Point at Polzeath, Polzeath
You don’t have to be staying here or using the health club or golf course to eat in The Point’s restaurant (although it is a handy add-on if you are). You can enjoy almost panoramic views from your table (or on the outside terrace) across farmland, the golf course and down into the surfers’ paradise of Polzeath beach and Pentire Point. Look out for Fizz ‘n’ Chips Night (Thursdays) for their choice of three fish with three batters and a glass of fizz (all £15) and Steak Night (Fridays) for their offer of two steaks and a bottle of wine for £30.
Ben Tunnicliffe, Sennen Cove
This informal beachside eaterie and bar is brought to you by Michelin-star chef Ben Tunnicliffe. With wonderful, unspoilt views across Sennen Cove, it does a great job of combining a relaxed and stylish ‘Ibizan beach bar’ vibe without making you feel unwelcome with a little one (they make great efforts to be family-friendly). The restaurant only ever serves ethically sourced seafood with an ever-changing ‘catch of the day’ on the menu. The food is excellent as is the cocktail list, which included a Ben’s G&T made with Cornish gin on our visit.
The Square at Porthleven, Porthleven
Porthleven has become a well-known destination in Cornwall for foodies with several top eateries in the village (including a new Rick Stein). The Square, now run by the previous owners of the renowned Victoria Inn in Perranuthnoe, offers a brasserie-style menu for informal lunch, dinner and coffee and cake in between. Locally-sourced is the order of the day with all fish landed at Porthleven harbour, meats from Primrose Herd and Vivian Olds, and local vegetable suppliers. They can also offer locally-sourced champagne if you’re celebrating! Plenty of seating indoors, or grab a table outside so you can watch the boats coming and going in the harbour.
The Godolphin Arms, Marazion
Sitting outdoors at this newly renovated gastropub is blissful on a warm, sunny day. You can hear the waves lapping a few meters from your table as you gaze across at St Michael’s Mount and its castle. We enjoyed the shared seafood platter plus their guest craft beer.
Pedn Olva, St Ives
We’ll be honest – we haven’t tried the food here, but we did escape the crowds of St Ives harbour and enjoy a drink. And what a view from their large, outdoor terrace! Choose either the side facing the famous St Ives harbour view, or pick the other side which looks down onto the lovely Porthminster beach and all of the paddle boarders gliding across the calm sea.
Fresh From The Sea, Port Isaac
OK, not technically one with a sea view (you’d have to drag your seat closer to the road and perhaps crane your neck a bit) but it had to be included in this list as a sea view is mere seconds away and the seafood is fantastic! The fishing village of Port Isaac is a tourist hotspot, particularly down at the harbour, but make sure you spot at this small café before walking down the hill (or treat yourself on the way back up). It does exactly what it says on the sign serving fish and seafood freshly (and sustainably) caught from its own boat ‘Mary D’ in Port Isaac harbour. Try a delicious lobster or crab salad, then buy a few cakes and Cornish foodie delights from their shop to take home.
No.1 Rock Road Bar & Grill, Rock
Grab a table on the outdoor balcony (beware of cool winds if there’s a northerly!) and enjoy the view of moored boats gently bobbing in the still waters, and the night ferry going back and forth to the more varied foodie destination of Padstow across the bay. There are plenty of cocktails and decent seafood mains to keep you satisfied.
Looking for a special afternoon tea location, but need something vegan-friendly? This yummy website could help you find it…
In 1840 Anne, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, started requesting tea, bread and cake at 4pm to stave off hunger until dinner, and soon after afternoon tea became a much-loved, quintessentially British tradition.
But what if the classic smoked salmon sandwiches and lashings of double cream don’t suit the vegans in your party? (Or in fact anyone who wants an indulgent occasion but something on the healthier side?)
A quick Google search of “Vegan Afternoon Tea London” doesn’t inspire the upmost confidence in someone looking to treat themselves sans animal. Although it generates about 597,000 results, a large majority of these are bemoaning the fact that vegan afternoon tea in the capital is rather hard to come by. But no more!
Afternoontea.co.uk the online home of afternoon tea bookings, is here to help us. Whether you happen to find yourself in Covent Garden or South Bank, Bloomsbury or Knightsbridge, and fancy a big vegan celebration, their website will be able to assist you with making a booking.
Although advance warning is normally required for vegan alternative afternoon teas, wherever you are in the country, there are in fact 65 venues in London alone that will cater for meat and dairy free, with big names such as The Soho Hotel, The Ritz and The Goring all including a vegan afternoon tea alternative on their menus. Outside of London, you’ll find over 50 locations that are suitable for vegans on afternoontea.co.uk.
La Suite West is quite possibly the most renowned vegan-friendly venue in London. Based near Hyde Park, La Suite West is the creation of the famous British designer Anouska Hempel, who is ranked as one of the world’s top 100 interior designers and architects.
This minimalist boutique hotel serves a contemporary vegan alternative to the traditional afternoon tea. Happily, vegans are able to indulge in a selection of finger sandwiches filled with Portobello mushroom with basil pesto and cherry tomatoes, hummus with cucumber, onion and rocket, butternut squash with cream of artichoke, and truffle and spinach with garlic aubergine and cauliflower mousse. Homemade scones are also served with whipped coconut cream and strawberries, and the pastries comes in the form of chocolate and coconut cake and mini sesame halva. All accompanied by a cup of tea or coffee.
Whether you’re looking for a special event, a luxury day out or just a trip to treat yourself or a loved one, afternoontea.co.uk will be there to help you book the ultimate vegan afternoon tea for your occasion. Visit afternoontea.co.uk or find them on Twitter at @AfternoonTeaUK.