“Like A Whirlwind in the Thorn tree…”
23rd March 2017
I went to a Catholic school back in Hull where R.E was compulsory. I never paid much attention – there were football stickers to be swapped at the back of class and chewing gum to be stuck under tables. How could the Gospel of St Mark compete?
However, several old testament phrases stuck with me and remain part of my vocabulary today. They are utterly dramatic and have a certain Jonny Cash vibe to them. My favourite by a country mile is “Like A Whirlwind in the Thorn tree” (Book of Job)
Sounds cool doesnt it? Sounds like something Robert Duvall’s Captain Kilgore from Apocalypse Now may scream down a field radio as jets light up a jungle tree line with napalm.
It kind of means a hectic, frenetic, crazy period. Whirlwinds are by their nature erratic, unpredictable and all over the shop. That’s been the last few months for me.
We hit the ground running in January with lots of local radio appearances back up in Hull for BBC Radio Humberside, curious to find out what makes Joe Hurd tick. In case you didnt hear it, I can summarise: Rushed kitchens, football, cold beers and hot pizza.
In addition to this, I have been working on a little side project that is likely to rile the Cornish when they get wind. Without saying too much, I have been making a lot of pasties and pretty much turned my tiny kitchen into a full scale bakery just like the good old days.
In February I was shooting off all around the UK, interviewing ring master of L’amour, Fred Sirieix at Sheffield University. A great show in front of a big crowd, Fred was a total gentleman and gave me some great dating advice…
After this I was on the main cooking stage at the NEC for the Caravan Camping and Motorhome show alongside some of the Bake Off finalists. We did a three day run with about 6 shows a day to pretty big crowds. For someone who never goes camping, it was fun to make all my dishes on a Barbecue stood amongst fleets of giant leisure vehicles. Who knows, I may give it a go if my schedule permits it.
I have worked with Action Against Hunger for a number of years; they are a great charity looking to end world poverty. February saw their joint campaign with The Collective (tasty yoghurt folk) which raises awareness for the charity by getting celebrity chefs to submit recipes you can make and pop in a yoghurt pot. I decided to do a cannoli bun as I love cannoli, but its shape isn’t conducive to a pot. Either way, its proved to be a hit, so check out The Collectives website.
March started with my favourite music festival Country 2 Country. I am a country boy and was raised on Hank, Jonny and Waylon, so my dad came down for the 2 days show at the O2. Gets pretty loud and rowdy as most of the North of England descends on South East London ready for some good old honky tonk. Line dancing, good ol’boys, boots and buckles.
It’s also been a busy time with work. I started to miss the restaurant rush over the last few months and began to miss a full on service (sadist right?) You see, the supper clubs and pop ups are great but a bit more relaxed, so I decided to thrown myself into the front lines of London’s restaurant scene again for a couple of days a week. I can’t tell you where I am, but it’s possibly one of London’s best known and most treasured restaurants.
The first two 19 hour shifts left me feeling like a torn, ragged old battle flag. Victorious but ruined. Thankfully its got better with time and I am now on the pass commanding the larder (hot starters section). My knees still feel numb after service and the right hand side of my back goes numb after 8 hours of solid standing, but these are familiar ailments I have kind of missed.
I have just got back from filming in Edinburgh which was a lot of fun. Edinburgh is my favourite city in the UK after Hull. I studied Scottish history so crews really love the detailed history tours they get, whether they want it or not, on the bus between locations.
I’m due to fly back to Edinburgh for a guest chef night at my good friend Paolo Crolla’s restaurant in Galashiels next week. It’s sold out already which is a little daunting, but the menu is going to be awesome with lots of fresh scottish seafood and Italian summer tomatoes.
Paolo’s mum also makes her own salami in March, so hopefully will smuggle a little back. We are pairing all the food up with wine from Italy’s central region of the Marche, supplied by my long time supplier and pal, Mr Martino from DeliItalia. Martino is awesome, he looks after all my food needs, from spicy soft N’duja, sweet Torpedino tomatoes to saffron cookies and bottles of booze.
A bit of a break is in sight, as in April my mum and I go back to Italy for Easter. Easter is bigger than Christmas for Southern Italians, so it’s time prepare myself and get ready for the 12 course sunday dinner.
A nice little light at the end of the tunnel (and maybe one of them huge Italian easter eggs too.)