ʽʽHi, I’m Benjamin Nunn – critic, gourmand and author of Ben Viveur. I like to eat and drink. And cook. And write.

You might have read me in an in-flight magazine, or a beer publication, but here on my own blog I'm liberated from the editorial shackles of others so anything goes.

I deal with real food and drink in the real world, aiming to create recipes that taste awesome, but which can be created by mere mortals without the need for tons of specialist equipment and a doctorate in food science. Likewise, I tend to review relaxed establishments that you might visit on a whim without having to sell your first-born, rather than hugely expensive restaurants and style bars in the middle of nowhere with a velvet rope barrier, a stringent dress code and a six-month waiting list!

There's plenty of robust opinion, commentary on the world of food and drink, and lots of swearing, so look away now if you're easily offended.

Otherwise, tuck your bib in, fill your glass and turbo-charge your tastebuds. We're going for a ride... Ben Appetit!
ʼʼ

Thursday, June 25, 2020

What next for the pub?

So, it's official. We have a date.

July 4. Independence Day. The day everything goes back to normal and we can all go to the pub again...

Well, maybe. If your definition of 'back to normal' includes a bunch of rules and conditions that will, at best, make things different from how they used to be, and in a worst case scenario could sap all the enjoyment out of going for a pint.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Lockdown Lunches #3: Chicken & Chorizo Fusilli

Happy May 19 everybody!

Yes, it's still May. Yes, it's still 2020. I know, I know. Time has slowed down to the pace of a snail that has been told by Dr. Limax to take things easy.

C&C Fusilli
But, happily, I've come up with tonnes of new recipes during Lockdown, as well as tweaking and refining a great many more from my extensive back catalogue.

(Well, the pubs aren't open and I've not had all that much else to be getting on with, so where better to spend my time than in the kitchen?)

What with me being the kind of person I am'n'shit, I've no idea if I'll get round to sharing absolutely all these delicious dishes with you chaps, but here's another one to be getting on with.

I hope you like it. I hope you'll try it, and I hope you're keeping safe during these difficult times.



Thursday, April 30, 2020

Lockdown Lunches #2: 24 Hour Carnitas

My birthday last week was the first one for 20 years in which I haven't been to the pub.

And even in 2000 I did manage a quick birthday pint with my Sports coverage colleagues in the BBC Club at Television Centre, where I was working at the time.

I used to commute there every day - imagine that! On buses and tubes! To work in a big, doughnutty building with hundreds of people!


Anyway, as promised, here a few further thoughts on Lockdown and this whole COVID-19 thing. Some of these opinions will be controversial. If you can't handle that, skip straight to the Carnitas recipe, or fuck off back to your videos of kittens or whatever you're doing to pass the time.

So, this rather peculiar, locked-down birthday reminded me of how much I miss going to the pub. Going to the pub to socialise and drink cask beer is one of my things. Like going to church to sing in the choir, going to football matches to support the mighty CCFC, going to gigs to complain that the band isn't as good as they used to be, and so on.

All gone from my life.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Lockdown Lunches #1: Ratatouille

These really are the strangest of times, aren't they?

What have you been up to lately? Been anywhere interesting? I'm guessing not. We're in #LOCKDOWN and it sucks.

The highlight of my day now is updating my COVID-19 spreadsheet, deciding I can't be bothered to Zoom various people, and putting off learning to play the trumpet for a further day.

Again.



Monday, January 27, 2020

Lost Breweries: K is for Kitchen

I was all set to write about King & Barnes of Horsham.

After all, this was one of the biggish names to disappear from the brewing map when, in 2000, it was taken over by Hall & Woodhouse and closed, bringing an end to almost 200 years of brewing there.

Until the 1990s K&B Sussex really was considered one of The classic English bitters, though I could never really see the appeal, having only caught the back end of it, and I've been distinctly underwhelmed by the revived 'WJ King' brewery.

But that's about all I'd ever really have to say on the subject of King & Barnes, and that being the case - and I appreciate that this may be heretical to the ears of traditionalists - it's probably better all round if I use my letter 'K' to honour, instead, the Kitchen brewery.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Platinum Pints: BV's best beers of the 2010s

This year hasn't started well. I've consumed more pints of Lemsip than of beer, and wallowed in so much self pity and so little alcohol that I might as well be doing Dry Fucking January.

But it's not just a new year, it's a whole new decade... or is it?!?

There's a compelling mathematical case that 2020 is actually the last year of the 2010s and therefore the new decade won't commence until January 1, 2021. The problem is that if you accept that logic then you also have to believe that the Millennium didn't begin until 2001.

And that is an argument I had a problem with at the time, because going from 1999 to 2000 felt like an absolutely massive psychological shift, whereas 2000 to 2001 was a teensy little incremental feather that you'd barely notice. And given that time is ultimately an abstract concept, measured against fairly arbitrary starting points, the psychological effect - the way we feel about it - is arguably the only thing that matters.

So, there's my working out in the margins of the page. 2000 was the start of the new millennium, and therefore 2020 is indeed the start of the new decade, like it or not.

Which all means I can now pick my 10 favourite beers of the 2010s. Or, more specifically, of the 6850 new-to-me cask beers, because that's how I do these things. That's a lot of beer records to trawl through. But let's Lemsip up, open the spreadsheet and get the fuck on with it...

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Golden Pints: BV's best beers of 2019

Another year has ended and a new one just begun. Forgive me if I'm unenthusiastic - 2019 was a generalised pigfuck of a year for reasons I shan't bore you with. (And, yes, I know I haven't blogged anywhere near as much, anywhere near as eloquently or anywhere near as entertainingly as I should. Sorry about that.)

Will 2020 be any better? Is there any Hope left in Pandora's old box? Well there's The Hope - my current Pub of the Year, of course, and there will always be beer. I wasn't even particularly positive about beer last year, such was the depths of my mood, but looking at it objectively, it was a good year for beer.

I ticked 736 new cask beers during the year, which has put me within a couple of hundred of reaching the mystical 10,000 figure. This was the most I'd managed in a year since 2014, and 23 of them managed to score 8/9 on the BV Beer scale.

2019 was notably cask-centric. I drank so little kegged, bottled or canned beer during the year to dish out any awards for that this time around, but here, in no particularly order, are my favourite six cask beers of 2019: