Friday, 22 May 2009

Brighton Foodies

It rained, it shone, it swept and it pulverised. Brighton gave us a little bit of many seasons last weekend. I managed to establish myself as the on-site pain in the butt as I attempted to motivate the Brightonian stewards to action.
'Where's my pitch please?'
'Errrrr, good question..'
'Very funny. Can you radio through to someone who does know?'
'Ok, O-kayyy, chilloutman'.

I was chilled out. Until that crusty said it. And the next one and the next one. Welcome to Brighton! Luckily chocolate was at hand and I reached for it.

Lots of nice customers came by the van, ice cream was scooped, brownies served, hot chocolate frothed, truffles rolled...but I gotta say, the highlight of the weekend for me was buying my herb garden: purple sage, basil, parsley, coriander, tarragon, rosemary, mint, chives, thyme, marjoram, bay and dill. Joy!...oh, and Charlie of course - he was an angel.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Luvley Ludlow

I got to hit the road at the weekend. I'd been doing London based jobs for so long that I'd forgotten what it feels like to buckle up and rev off down big roads and onto smaller, lesser known lanes. Beth from the Ludlow Food Festival called me up a couple of months ago, longing for me to bring Jimmy to their new Spring Event. It was to be beer and bangers based - say the word banger to me and I'm there. I love sausages so much that I once got a job in sausage promotion for a rather unsavoury individual purporting to be the only black farmer in Britain. He turned out to be a omplete charlatan but the bangers were addictive.

I rumbled up the M40, collected some ice cream in Stratford and then headed West from Kidderminster. The Ludlow lot had rallied round and found me a lovely couple to stay with in Hopton Wafers. We got on like a house on fire and I lapped up all the Slow Food ex-HQ news with fascination. It seems that all is not right in the upper echelons of the Movement.

I remember when I first heard about the Slow Food Movement. I was in Tuscany on my old stomping ground about five years ago and I had just had an epiphany that food would be my future. My friends fed me stories about this revolutionary occurence that was rippling through Italy and beyond. Magic, I thought, I want to know more. Since that time it has grown hugely and has become embedded in the language along with those other ambiguous terms; 'sustainable' and 'locally sourced'. The notion of 'Slow' now comes with extra baggage and I regualarly find myself in discussions with hardcore food people about its merits and relevence.

In Ludlow there is outrage because someone has pledged cash to the Movement on certain conditions, one of which was to have the HQ moved from Ludlow to London. Despite a majority voting against this, Mr Petrini sanctioned the move. Outcry! It's all far more convuluted than this but what it has served to bring about is a deep-rooted local scepticism about the values of the Movement.

I smell a revolution...and surely, the whole point of Slow Food is tied up with a localised reclamation of food production and selling. Yes, it's nice to be affiliated with the broader group but it's not about being sheep-like at this stage. Ludlow - I'm intrigued to see what your next move will be.

Anyway, Choc Star was warmly received - perhaps one too many orders for 'vanilla cornets' for my liking but hey, the truffles went down well. By Saturday night I had moved from my position by the castle to the punk gig in the Ludlow Brewery. I loved it. I love the way in the country you get everyone coming out to play together rather than sectioning off into appropriate groups. There were scruffy kids and committee members, middle-aged ex-punks and tweenie cider drinkers.

I left Ludlow on Sunday afternoon, laden with flagons of beer, Welsh perry, marmalades, bangers, chocolate bars and a promise to return in September. I hope to get back there - it rocks. Shropshire is special.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Slow Food May Bank Holiday

The Southbank was awash with gay and lesbian choralists at the weekend. They're a great traveling troop of singers from all over the world and the van turned out to be a bit of a hotspot for them. There were some awesome sights - some of those German dudes had some meaty old calves on them and check this guy out -

I mean, I'd wear that jacket in a heartbeat given half a chance. It really brought me so much joy.

I was also delighted because my Bose soundock was back in my life and so I got to rock out to all my old favourites, including my man Hov. As I scooped ice cream and shook hot chocs Jay-Z would be chanting 'Girls, girls, girls' and I suddenly became aware of the broad smiles on the all female queue and the fact that that song is probably a massive lesbian anthem.

Anyway, the smiles were just as big for the new addition to the menu - the Blondie Butterscotch Sundae...mesmerising indeed.

The next two weekends take us out of town - 9/10 May to Ludlow where Jimmy'll be parked up outside the castle for a beer and bangers event (MMmmmm, sausages) and 16/17 May to Brighton for the Foodies Fair in Jubilee Square.


Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Jimmy gets a touch up

It was time for Jimmy to go and get a rub-down. Ever since the rigors of last year's big road trip, his hull has been crying out for a bit of revival. All slightly new territory for me, I danced around the subject until eventually I felt ready - and in I plunged. Into the world of the bodyshop and its flying sparks and grey watery puddles. Yeahman Body Repairs is just round the corner from me off Coldharbour Lane and right next door to Big Jim's mechanics. They both needed to do stuff to Jimmy to complete the look and feel and making everything crystal clear for them was a hell of a challenge, thankfully lubricated by spare chocolate cakes and lots of bad jokes.

One day during this process I discovered that Jimmy had burst into flames during a routine welding procedure - 'You'da shit yerself if you'd bin in 'ere gel' cackled Big Jim with delight as I surveyed the Mad Max-esque damage to the bonnett (and agreeing with him in no small part). Shards of darkness thrust out from within and I just prayed the rest of the work would pass by without any more trauma.

Apart from the indicator cables getting burnt through and a potential bust up between Yeahman and Big Jim (diffused, once more, with choc), the rest of it went fine and I was able to drive the mid-op Jimmy off to New Cross Gate to Insa's studio for the final cosmetic touches....just in time for the May Bank Holiday Slow Food market.