A couple of weeks ago, I headed over to Hemel town centre to check out the Marlowes Summer Food & Drink Festival. For anyone not familiar with Hemel, The Marlowes is the shopping centre in the town and the festival was a two-day event, packed with street traders, artisan stalls, kids entertainment and live music. Never one to pass up the chance to meet local brands, I went over before work to see what was happening.
I arrived just after 11, when the festival had just started. The festival was already relatively busy, considering it had only just started. A large part of the high street had been taken over by a variety of food and drink stalls, all local vendors. Pizza, charcuterie, vodka and waffles were among the range of food and drink on offer. I spent some time talking to the people on the stalls, learning about their brand and what they do. It was really interesting to discover new local brands, as I love to support local people.
The festival was designed to be a fun day out for the whole family – with entertainment and live music throughout the day. I was only there for what feels like a snippet of the 2-day event, but I wanted to share with you a few bits from my time there…
The first thing that caught my eye was this amazing Paella from Papa Paella, a market trader based on St Albans market (there on Wednesdays and Saturdays). Papa Paella offers halal, vegetarian and vegan paella in addition to their classic paella. The huge paella dishes really reminded me of my previous holidays in Spain – and it looked and smelt amazing! Although I’m based in St Albans, I hadn’t heard of Papa Paella before (I haven’t been to market day in a while unfortuately) so I have a new place to introduce my paella-loving local friends to.
Of course, I couldn’t miss the vodka stall. It actually excited me to see a local vodka brand, as I honestly didn’t think vodka would be made in little old Herts – how wrong was I?! Based in Arlesey near Stevenage, Old Vodka is a premium, triple-filtered vodka, handmade using a 200-year-old family recipe and available in a variety of flavours. The stall was offering product tasting, so I tried the passion fruit vodka. It was delicious – really smooth with a fantastic flavour. I’m a big lover of flavoured vodka (they go so nicely with lemonade) and I was really impressed with this vodka – It’s available on Amazon so I may treat myself to a bottle or two!
Ainyahita‘s handmade chocolate looked and tasted incredible – I tried some of the dark chocolate on offer and one of the lovely “brownie balls” – which were absolutely delicious. Ainyahita is based in Buckinghamshire, and makes handmade chocolate. I wish I’d sampled more chocolate now as it really was amazing.
I had a quick look at the Meat, cheese and Charcuterie available from the Cheese Teller
Beautiful loaves from Mccahthy’s Bakery.
This area of the festival was the perfect place to stop and relax – with the deck chairs giving the area a really summery feel.
I was kindly gifted a voucher for a complimentary meal from one of the vendors – I spent a lot of time debating where to go as there was such an amazing range of cuisine on offer, but in the end I opted for a pizza from Rustic’s Woodfired Pizza. The pizza was made infront of my eyes and cooked in a wood fired oven – and tasted incredible too! There were a variety of different toppings available, and I went for chicken, red onion and pesto. A very good choice and a great change from my usual margarita pizza, which I seem to always end up ordering. I don’t normally manage to eat a whole pizza either, but this one was so delicious that I ate it all.
My lasts stop was the Swig & Filly stand, where I treated myself to a glass of prosecco before I left. The Swig & Filly is a mobile bar, with a horse trailer available for events. The trailer wasn’t there in Hemel that day as it was already at another event, but the bar was still well set up – offering a selection of local ales from Tring Brewery, gin and prosecco. I had a lovely chat with the team working on the bar – they’re super friendly.
Just as I had to leave, some live music started. I wish I could of stuck around for longer, but I had to go to work! Live music was going on throughout the day, so I’m guessing this was the start of it. I had a fantastic time at the festival – it was really well organised and set up (one of the events team told me they started setting up at 5am!), and it was amazing to meet some local vendors. I really hope they’ll do another one in the future as I really enjoyed this one.
A massive thank you goes to The Marlowes for inviting me along – I had a fab morning!
Have a great week everyone,