St Albans Market

Best Part: The base!

A slightly different approach this week, we decided to try out the food stalls at the Wednesday market and see the best they could offer. There was some initial scepticism, especially given the temperature on the day (it was July, so of course it was grey and miserable). But we persevered, and were greeted by a small but encouraging selection of stalls of street food. There was a stall specialising in healthy organic food, offering you a chance to make your own smoothie. There was a lady offering unspecified ethnic cuisine advertised on paper plates. There was a chutney stall. There was a Chinese mini-buffet and a pizza stall with it’s own portable wood-fired oven. Needless to say we did not go with the health food stall.

As it is school holidays we had the children with us (as we will for the next few weeks), which allowed us to extend our range a bit, so large people went with pizza and smaller ones with noodles.

To tackle the noodles first, there were 5 different types of luridly fried meat to accompany them, and you could choose whichever ones you wanted, with £4 buying you enough to fill a reasonable sized carton. If you are a gluttonous fool you could pay an extra pound and get the next sized container up, basically more food than any human should attempt to consume in a 24 hour period. One of those bad boys would have been enough for both the kids to share, and I would have gone for that if they hadn’t both loudly proclaimed that they could not share because they wanted different things. Before then ordering identical meals.

And it is lucky they did, as there was plenty of leftovers, enough to allow we to proclaim on the quality of the food. And, it was pretty good. The stand out was salt and pepper chicken, but for all of it the balance of salt, grease and stickiness was enormously satisfying. I did not have to deal with the afternoon’s aftermath of that level of artificial colouring consumption, but everything and everyone was still standing by the time I got back from work so it can’t have been that bad.

The chicken was almost enough to make me regret my choice of stall, but not for very long. The pizzas came from Mozzarellanation, a very jolly man who travels the world with his oven, making pizza to order. Apparently he had been in Royal Windsor the previous day, charging an extra £1 per pizza. For once it seems that St Albans isn’t over priced after all. Watching our pizzas being made meant a little more of a wait than the slopping of noodles out, but it is very definitely worth it. The menu is not extensive, there were four options on the day we visited, but the quality is so good you would be more than happy with a Margarita. The mozzarella was creamy, the tomato sauce slightly salty, but the standout is the base. It was crisp but doughy, almost melty. I have never ordered pizza from a street-vendor in Naples, none the less I am going to proclaim this as the most authentically Neapolitan street pizza in St Albans. So There.

I went for Chorizo and Chili as a topping, which through a nice bit of spice to the mix, but to be honest with the core ingredients that good I almost wished I’d kept it simple. My wife had the vegetarian pizza, as is her wont, and found it to be extremely tasty. She isn’t fond of American style pizzas with their thick stodgy bases so this lovely Italian style crisp base made her very happy. She and the children very much enjoyed watching and smelling it cook. In fact it almost felt like we had made it ourselves, so involved we were in watching its creation. The pizza man was very affable, admiring the noodle cartons I was rudely holding as I awaited my own meal.

Finally, we bought some Skips, because clearly we did not have enough food by this point. I may be wrong, but I think the kids enjoyed this part the most.

So, we got a cheap and varied meal (about twenty quid for four, not including the Skips), then had a short stroll down the hill to the Vintry Gardens where we could picnic in beautiful surroundings. It is moments like that, that make me enormously grateful that I live in St Albans.


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