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Foodies For Thought : What are you doing when lockdown eases?

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TrendLife talks with local Three Counties foodies about life after lockdown

With a number of our favourite eateries across Beds, Bucks & Herts getting ready to open their doors (and gardens) next week, TrendLife have spoken with six of our favourite foodies to find out where they plan to visit and what they plan to do as lockdown eases across the Three Counties.

In our first of two features, we speak to local foodies Chris of @meat_with_beer, Rachel of @bucksfood and Nadia of @MyRudeFood.

@meat_with_beer

Meet With Beer - Foodies For Thought :: What are you doing when lockdown eases?

How has lockdown been for you?

Honestly I can’t complain. No one has had it easy, but I’ve got a job, I’ve not been furloughed, work’s been pretty busy, and family and friends are all safe and well.

Food and drink are social activities for me though and I love nothing more than going out with friends for drinks or to try somewhere new to eat. It’s my passion and before COVID it is what I would be doing most weekends. Obviously lockdown changed that, so instead I’ve cooked more, used some of the money saved by not commuting to upgrade my BBQ, and tried some of the great meal kits that are around now. Those really helped bring a flavour normality home.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the same but it can be fun. I’ve also tried to check out more local businesses, meaning I have come across some great places across Herts I didn’t know about before. That’s as well as supporting local places I love and want to still be there after lockdown. So generally I’ve tried to make the most of it.

Hertfordshire lockdown highlights for me have included: cheese from the Little Deli (Hitchin), beers from Beer Shop (Hitchin & St Albans), wine from Wee Vinoteca and Hedley Wright (both Hitchin), breakfast baps from The Bull (at Gosmore) and The Groundworks (Hitchin), meat from Chapman’s butchers (Baldock), plant based delights from Chia (Hitchin) and Vutie Beets (Letchworth) and desserts from Pudding Stop (St Albans) and Neighbourhood Bakes (Hitchin).

Hitchin has had some awesome hot food places open during lockdown too, like Cawsburger, Chicken George Jr and Major Crusts.

What is going to be the first drink you order at the bar?

First will be a draft beer at the Kite in April, but I’m also looking forward to sangrias at Los Reyes, wine flights at Wee Vinoteca and some IPAs at Beer Shop in May.

Where have you missed visiting the most during the lockdown?

Los Reyes and Beer Shop in Hitchin both get my top vote.

Where is the first place you plan to visit when the restrictions are lifted?

Not everywhere is opening in April, but if those that are I am looking forward to having a few beers and some food at the Kite at the Red Hart in Hitchin. I’ve got a table booked at Los Reyes in May too.


TrendLife talks with local Three Counties foodies about life after lockdown
myrudefood

How has lockdown been for you?

It’s a weird one for me, I have been living with chronic illness (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome & Adenomyosis) since 2001. Lessons of acceptance and gratitude that had already become part of my tool kit, have helped so much during lockdown. I have also improved my Skype skills, texted more and generally communicated more regularly with friends old and new.

I also attended a few distance learning courses & a couple of online seminars, which on all likely-hood I wouldn’t have done in ‘normal’ circumstances. Like many others home cooks I also grew and nurtured a “Mother” (sour dough starter) I lovingly called Birtha. Using Birtha I mastered sourdough bread making fairly successfully.

I made more banana bread and cookies than was strictly necessary. I don’t want to make light of the situation, but I am aware I was better prepared than a lot of people. The general sense of appreciating the little things, the joys that can be found in nature and music was already part of my general outlook.

Where have you missed visiting the most during the lockdown?

It’s been a mixed bag, obviously I have missed my loved ones enormously. I’ve missed going out to restaurants , pubs, shopping, just the feeling of freedom that we used to take for granted. But truly, I just feel incredibly lucky that I wasn’t directly impacted by Covid-19 and was merely inconvenienced by Lockdown.

Where is the first place you plan to visit when the restrictions are lifted?

Really looking forward to a meal at the Alford Arms in Frithsden and my sister has already got us a table booked at Prime in Chandlers Cross

What is going to be the first drink you order at the bar?

Hoping that I’ll have a fruity Pimms in a pub garden on a sunny spring afternoon.


@bucksfoodie

BucksFoodie : TrendLife talks with local Three Counties foodies about life after lockdown

How has lockdown been for you?

This latest lockdown has been hard, I think with the cold weather and the shorter days it’s been difficult for a lot of people.

I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to work full-time ( & not just working from home) as it’s meant I’m out and about & can actually finance my #TakeawayTuesday that I started at the beginning of this year! I’ve tried to spend the money that I would’ve done at restaurants on food stalls & takeaways – supporting small, local businesses where I can.

I have enjoyed the odd day working from home – it’s meant I’ve had additional time to create content & experiment. I’ve LOVED the TikTok trends that have hit the foodie community. What better way to get people into cooking! I’ve definitely tried my hand at a few – the baked feta pasta is eaten at least twice a month in our house!

I think I’ve also found a lot more time to talk to fellow bloggers & businesses. I’ve made some truly wonderful friends like the lovely Fliss from @berkshirecollective_ but it’s all been virtual! I can’t wait to meet her & others in person! It’s a funny old thing Instagram, but I’m so grateful for the people it’s brought into my life & the relationships I’ve been able to establish with businesses, even if we’ve not seen each other face to face… yet! I won’t lie though – I’ll be glad to see the end of zoom!

What is going to be the first drink you order at the bar?

Well – definitely a STRONG cosmopolitan! I’ve missed cocktails, I just cannot seem to make good enough one’s at home. Or a G & T, hopefully with a local Gin, Bucks is bursting with amazing Gin distillers!

Where have you missed visiting the most during the lockdown?

I’ve definitely missed bars! Especially places like The Snug & Bar Botanic in High Wycombe. As well as some of my local coffee shops that haven’t been able to open at all for takeaways. That being said, I love a coffee shop in general and it’s been hard to get that ‘experience’ when you’re just picking up a takeaway coffee.

I kept my love for some restaurants alive by ordering takeaways from them – I loved the Lata Lata at Home takeaway, it was a delight to experience the brilliance of their food at home – but I’m very excited to get back to their gorgeous location. I can’t wait to sit in a restaurant, and get that buzz & excitement of reading a menu, placing your order and eagerly waiting for its arrival.

Where is the first place you plan to visit when the restrictions are lifted?

Probably my local pub – The George & Dragon in West Wycombe they’re a fantastic team and they deserve all the support possible. I’m also hoping to go to The Full Moon Pub in Little Kingshill, Lata Lata in High Wycombe and Pluma in Amersham. I’m going to stick to independents as much as I can. Besides actual venues I’d love to go to more food markets, and visit more food stalls.

Foodies For Thought : What are you doing when lockdown eases?

If you are a foodie from Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire or Hertfordshire, get in touch as we would like to hear from you. We will be working with eateries in the Three Counties this summer and have a number of opportunities for foodies and food bloggers.

Never full or satisfied, I am always willing to try new things and visit new places. Lover of food and all things FAST - Not necessarily fast food. If I am not in the office, you can find me near a track or under a car. I also work with great people in TrendLife's Editorial team.

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A brand new Bingo Brunch experience is coming to Watford’s Barrio

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The launch of Barrio Bars in Watford is set to bring a brand new bottomless bingo brunch experience to the High Street

On 5th November, the newly opened Barrio venue will launch its bingo brunch concept, La Isla Bonita 80s Brunch, in Watford. Translating to ‘The beautiful island’, La Isla Bonita Brunch aims to recreate that perfect tropical holiday feeling, with food and cocktails galore, bingo mayhem and 80s music all afternoon-long.

The launch of Barrio Bars in Watford is set to bring a brand new bottomless bingo brunch experience to the High Street

Already a popular party experience at Barrio Shoreditch, the 80s themed musical brunch is scheduled to run every Saturday from 12pm, and will include a two-course brunch, welcome cocktail and a variety of bottomless drinks (prosecco, spiced rum sangria and Sol beer).

Once guests have finished tucking into a menu of delicious burgers, including Queso Libre as a vegetarian option and Saint and Sinner as the vegan burger plus Barrio Churros, the musical bingo commences, brought to life by a captivating host and nostalgic 80s tunes by Barrio’s best DJs. Brunch goers can expect witty bingo calls, group singalongs and impromptu tableside performances. Prizes for winning the brunch also include a very tasty £100 bar tab.

The launch of Barrio Bars in Watford is set to bring a brand new bottomless bingo brunch experience to the High Street

For £35 per person, over-21s can enjoy 90 minutes of bottomless drinks and then eat, bingo and party until 5pm.

Those interested can book the first La Isla Bonita 80s Brunch at Barrio Watford for a special launch price of £25 (valid for 5th and 12th Nov brunch dates).

More about Barrio Watford

On 20th October 2022, Barrio Familia opened its first out-of-London venue in Watford, bringing Latin-inspired cocktails, authentic Mexican eats, a killer happy hour offering, live entertainment and DJs, plus an immersive 80s Bingo Bottomless Brunch.

Following the announcement of the group’s flagship site, and world’s largest tequila bar, in Covent Garden which is set to launch in early November, Barrio Familia has opened Watford’s first Tequila bar this month.

Barrio Familia opened its first out-of-London venue in Watford, bringing Latin-inspired cocktails, authentic Mexican eats, a killer happy hour offering, live entertainment and DJs, plus an immersive 80s Bingo Bottomless Brunch.

Bringing the spirit of the Latin Quarter into Watford, the new venue will have space for up to 200 guests to enjoy a brand new, freshly crafted cocktail menu, delicious Mexican inspired food creations, including their signature tacos, and famous Latino party vibes.

The outside terrace is also being turned into Barrio’s popular tropical yard, offering the perfect space for another 80 guests to gather with like-minded ‘amigos’ and sip cocktails, enjoy a meal and experience a fiesta like never before.

Barrio Familia was acquired by Nightcap in November 2021 and has since gone from strength to strength. New venues; Barrio Watford and Barrio Covent Garden will add to their growing portfolio of sites in Shoreditch, Soho, Angel, and Brixton. After opening the first Barrio site in 2007, the group’s vision was to have a Barrio in every big party neighborhood in the UK and Watford will play a huge role in that exciting expansion.

Each of the Barrio Bars sites offer a full-colour, full-flavour experience, and of course, plenty of Tequila. The group plans to open seven days a week and be the perfect new spot in Watford for all occasions, from lunches and daytime drinks to brunches and late night partying.

Jim Robertson, Managing Director of Barrio Familia,

Jim Robertson, Managing Director of Barrio Familia, commented:

“We are incredibly excited to be taking our Latino party outside of London for the first time. This is a fantastic venue and we can’t wait to welcome the residents of Watford into the Barrio familia and bring the party! I believe Barrio will be a fantastic addition to Watford High Street that will suit all types of occasions and bring a feel good bar that welcomes everyone. We have some amazing things planned for Barrio Watford, so watch this space and get ready for the biggest fiesta in town!”

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The Almere Milton Keynes launches Neighbourhood Hero initiative

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The Almere Milton Keynes support local businesses

‘All about the community’, The Almere prides themselves on making living easy for their residents. With residents set to move this month, the exciting new community boasts co-working, communal and event spaces within the building.

The ground floor ‘Gathering Place’ is bookable to the local community and to residents, whilst upstairs on the 11th floor sits an amenity space for residents, where part will be for co-working, roof terraces to hang out, barbeques and yoga classes. Additionally, there will also be a fitted kitchen and dining area which can be closed off for a private dining experience.

The Almere Neighbourhood Hero initiative

With community at its heart, The Almere aims to build relationships and work collaboratively with local businesses to guide residents to the best spots and products in town. The Almere’s new Neighbourhood Hero initiative has handpicked local, and predominantly independent businesses to connect residents with the true value of living in Milton Keynes, highlighting all that there is to offer.

Milton Keynes' DeRoka is part of The Almere Local Hero initiative

With the recent COVID-19 pandemic having had such an impact on small, independent businesses it’s key to get people back out there and supporting locally. The Neighbourhood Hero initiative is a fantastic example of this, helping businesses to thrive and regain their position within the economy. Current Heroes include Bogota Coffee Co; DeRoka; Fuuudgelife; Suds; Sweat Studios; Doorstep Cocktails; Mollys Pantry; Pup Club; Headonist Hair and Beauty; and Moxy Hotel.

Benefits of the Almere led scheme include:

  • Feature on The Almere website, with regular spotlights and tags on social media channels
  • Exposure to over 600+ residents, and the ability to send offers and deals to them, without incurring any marketing costs
  • Welcomed as a core part of the community, allowing the businesses to use the communal spaces to hold pop-up events for residents and the local community
  • Include collateral in the ‘move in packs’ for new residents, for free
  • Invited to all community events at The Almere, and work together on collaborative event activations

Community Manager, Holly Birmingham explains, “Community is so important to us at The Almere – it is all about  meaningful connections both within our own four walls and the wider neighbourhood. At The Almere, we aren’t just a building,  we are a new community in the heart of Milton Keynes. We want to support the brilliant local businesses around us, create lasting relationships and of course, show our residents the best our town has to offer.”

The Almere Local Hero initiative

The new scheme offers an exciting experience for local businesses to work on an exclusive basis with the upcoming, Milton Keynes hotspot, offer discounts to residents and in turn help show the rest of the UK what Milton Keynes has to offer!

About The Almere

A pioneering new rental community for Milton Keynes, The Almere, is a collection of 294 rental apartments built across two buildings with neighbourhood and outstanding service experience at its core.

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St Albans Comedy Extravaganza returns to Verulamium Park in July

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St Albans Comedy Garden presented by heycar is set to light up Verulamium Park this summer with a magnificent series of open-air shows from 27-31st July!

St Albans Comedy Garden presented by heycar is set to light up Verulamium Park this summer with a magnificent series of open-air shows from 27-31st July!

Starring legendary BAFTA and Perrier Award winner DYLAN MORAN, the guv’nor himself AL MURRAY, multi-award winning SARA PASCOE, the Last Leg’s ROSIE JONES, Father Ted star ARDAL O’HANLON, lo-fi hero DAVID O’DOHERTY and many more huge names performing at this year’s astounding set of open-air shows.

St Albans Comedy Garden line-up

Stand-up favourites are out in force too with cult poet / comic TIM KEY, German Comedy Ambassador HENNING WEHN, observational master ED BYRNE, Afterlife star KERRY GODLIMAN, Taskmaster champ LOU SANDERS, Edinburgh Comedy Award winner JOHN ROBINS, Netflix star JOEL DOMMETT, the inimitable REGINALD D HUNTER to name a few.

Alongside established names sit some of the brightest breakthrough talent such as the acclaimed CELYA AB, stand-up phenomenon FATIHA EL-GHORRI and the award-winning ESTHER MANITO, fast rising TADIWA MAHLUNGE all making their St Albans debut.

What to expect at St Albans Comedy Garden

Following last summer’s huge sell-out first edition St Albans Comedy Garden returns with another astounding programme of stand-up comedy presented in a fully-seated open-air theatre in the Park’s beautiful Water Meadow.

St Albans Comedy Garden presented by heycar is set to light up Verulamium Park this summer with a magnificent series of open-air shows from 27-31st July!

This year’s comedy extravaganza will once again be brimful with bars serving up a tastemaker selection of craft beers, cocktails and more, plus an array of street-food stalls from the leading lights of the local street food scene.

Tickets are expected to fly as comedy-lovers from St Albans and beyond grab the chance to see these masterfully curated shows, each featuring a host of critically-acclaimed stars guaranteeing a hit of absolute entertainment in the heart of the summer.

St Albans Comedy Garden - Sara Pascoe

The sibling team behind the Comedy Garden, Cass Randolph and Will Briggs of 57 Festivals, can’t wait to return to St Albans. Cass said “We’re thrilled with this year’s line-up and to be back in Verulamium Park, we had such a great first year last summer, the audiences were an absolute riot, far livelier than we had expected! The acts really feed off that kind of energy and in turn give incredible performances.”

Will added “We have some outstanding acts joining us this year, i’m especially looking forward to seeing Dylan Moran headline our opening night and can’t wait to watch stand-out newcomers CELYA AB and FATIHA EL-GHORRI on the big stage.”

St Albans Comedy Garden - Joel Dommett

This year’s event is partnered with heycar, Chief Commercial Officer Karen Hilton said: “With this year’s Comedy Garden returning to St Albans, it’s shaping up to be an incredible, feel-good summer. We have so much laughter to catch up on after the last few years and I can’t think of a better way to do it. The line-up is truly world-class, and we’re particularly looking forward to seeing the incredible Joel Dommett in action. heycar is honoured to be sponsoring this incredible event and we can’t wait to see everyone in St Albans this July!”

St Albans Comedy Garden tickets

Get your tickets now and be part of this year’s magnificent St Albans Comedy Garden! Visit the website to find out more www.stalbanscomedygarden.co.uk

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