Herts Food and drink news

The Pavillion at The Cricketers in Weston

The Pavillion at The Cricketers in Weston - Credit: submitted

Fine food and drink news from around the county

Joe, Jackie and Adam Soper at their popcorn factory (Jeremy Selwyn)

Joe, Jackie and Adam Soper at their popcorn factory (Jeremy Selwyn) - Credit: Archant

Cricketers ‘best in Herts’

The Cricketers at Weston near Baldock, one of four members of the Anglian Country Inns (ACI) group in the county, has been named Best Pub in Hertfordshire at the 2016 National Pub and Bar awards. The newly-refurbished pub-restaurant has a cricketing influence, including a cricket-ball-shaped pizza oven and a new eating area called the Pavilion.

ACI also manages the Fox at Willian, Hermitage Rd Bar and Restaurant in Hitchin and Water Lane, Bishop’s Stortford.

New life for St Albans pub

The team behind the new Prae Wood Arms, St Albans

The team behind the new Prae Wood Arms, St Albans - Credit: submitted

Pub operator Brunning and Price has taken over the Garden House in St Albans, which closed in 2015 after operating as a Crown Carvery. It is being renamed the Prae Wood Arms, with manager Chloe Turner in charge and Peter Knight as head chef.

‘We are looking forward to creating our menu and forming relationships with new suppliers,’ Turner said. ‘I also love the idea of beer festivals and evenings where customers can meet brewers to find out more about their beers and taste what’s on offer.’

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Hemel Mexican Fiesta

Hemel Hempstead’s specialist Tex-Mex restaurant Chiquitos, part of the Jarmans Fields leisure complex, has been celebrating the 500-day anniversary of its opening. Guests at the party were treated to live music, Mexican memorabilia and menu items including tacos, empanadas, patatas bravas and fajitas, plus a choice of signature cocktails.

The outlet is one of four Chiquitos in Herts, with others at Hatfield, Stevenage and Watford. The Hemel branch is part of Jarman Fields’ rapidly-growing ‘restaurant corner’, which also includes Coast to Coast, Nando’s, Bella Italia, the Pommel Horse and Frankie and Benny’s.

Taking curry to India

A Herts chef has won praise after taking coals to Newcastle by successfully showcasing his skills in India at this year’s Taste of Britain Curry Festival in the country.

Abbas Ahmed, executive chef at the Chilli Lounge Restaurant in Baldock, was chosen to join a ‘super curry chef team’ which travelled to New Delhi to showcase the best of British Indian cuisine.

He and his colleagues produced a range of dishes including chicken tikka masala and jalfrezi for Delhi fans to sample which were highly acclaimed. He said, ‘I have cooked in various competitions, but cooking British curry in Delhi was a real challenge.’

The Marmite test

Watford-based popcorn maker Jo and Seph’s has broken new ground again by creating the first Marmite-flavour version of its trademark snack. Launched in 2010, the company rose to fame by infusing its product with exotic flavours including gin and tonic, cheese on toast and Madras curry with black onion seed and lime.

Founder Joseph Sopher, wife Jackie and eldest son Adam began by supplying the popcorn to friends and relatives before putting it in on the market. The family firm now employs 10 chefs making 500 kilos of popcorn a day.