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

Saturday, August 3, 2019

How times change...

Having reached my 40s, and considering myself really quite open-minded about food and drink, Ive been thinking about how little my tastes have changed in adulthood, yet how drastically they were altered in the space of a few years - probably from 14-17 or so.

Happily, there seem to be far more things that I've 'grown into' than those with which I've fallen out of love.



Stuff I liked as a child but now pretty much detest Stuff I hated as a child and still don't really like Stuff I thought I didn't like as a child but now rather enjoy
  • Milk
  • McDonalds
  • Cadbury's Chocolate
  • Margarine
  • Cake Icing (the traditional hard, white kind)
  • The adhesive you lick on the back of stamps.

  • Peas
  • Tuna
  • Quorn (and its laboratorial ilk)
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Broad Beans
  • Liquorice
  • Marzipan - even when I liked the icing that goes with it.
  • Mushrooms
  • Haggis
  • Venison
  • Broccoli 
  • Black Pudding
  • Anchovies
  • Carrots
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Butter Beans 
  • Smoking
  • While we're on the subject, Frankfurters and other smoked sausages
  • Tofu
  • Blue Cheese
  • Pâtés and Terrines
  • Poached Eggs
  • Game Birds
  • Veal
  • Grapefruit
  • Yoghurt

Monday, July 15, 2019

BV London Pub of the Year 2018-19 - part two

Welcome back - it's time to crack on with the 2018-19 Pub of the Year contest, and here we have our five new contenders for this year. Four completely new ones and one re-entry hoping to make a triumphant return. Let's see how they stack up against last year's Final Five.


Monday, July 8, 2019

BV London Pub of the Year 2018-19 - part one


It's time, yet again, for the Ben Viveur London Pub of the Year awards to commence. Woohoo!

Now, don't get upset, but I'm going to have to make a decision as to whether this should be the last year of the competition, or keep it going.

This is the eighth year of the competition and it's always a pleasure. but the truth is that since I moved out of Greater London I've spent a lot less time drinking in eligible pubs. In all honesty, my pub surveying process has therefore become a bit rubbish. It's certainly not as thorough as it could be, and in all likelihood there are numerous very good pubs that aren't getting a fair crack of the whip simply because I haven't been to them.

But that's for me to think about over the next 12 months. There will be a 2018-19 award, and it starts right here, right now.

You know the drill - first I revisit last year's Top Five pubs, then in part two I check out some new contenders and re-entries. We think about it for a bit, talk it over with some fellow beer writers, and then, some time in August, this year's winner is crowned.

Let's get right to it then.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Nothing to see here?

It's perhaps appropriate that during the visit of Sir Donald Trump to our fine native Covfefe, the Morning Advertiser has served up it's latest misleading slice of fake news.

CAMRA yields to allow craft keg beer at GBBF reads the headline, announcing that, for the first time, the flagship beer festival of the Campaign will be serving beer that isn't cask.

Except that it's not news. It's clickbait. As I reported at the time, domestic keg was served two years ago. And again last year. And foreign keg beers have been a part of the action for about the last 30 years.

The main difference this time might be, if I'm reading it correctly, a dedicated keg bar, which social media is predictably hailing as long overdue and 'not before time'.

I'm unconvinced. Broadening the choice of beer on offer at the GBBF is a good thing. Last year's festival was, in my considered view, the best there had been for some time, thanks in no small part to the beer range.

But what if this new policy ultimately ends up reducing choice? What if, for example, it means that they decide to axe the popular USA cask bar and replace them with American keg beer? I daresay some kegophiles would welcome this, but the reality is that there are now plenty of craft beer bars in London where one can drink US beer in keg form. The GBBF is almost completely unique in offering a range of American beer in cask form, indeed with a bigger choice thereof than one is ever likely to find anywhere else, including anywhere in the States!

And what if the 'acceptability' of keg means that they no longer bother ordering certain styles of beer in cask? Or beers above a certain strength? The issues facing the drinker throughout the wider beer scene (having to make a deliberate choice between cask beer and good or interesting beer) would be magnified rather than confounded.

I drink keg beer sometimes. I don't go to GBBF to drink it though.

As I say, given that it's essentially fake news, I'm not worried yet, but maybe I should be?

Monday, May 13, 2019

Lost Breweries: I is for Ind Coope

The lists of quarterly Guest Ales in Wetherspoons don't tend to be particularly interesting these days.

In a world where most of us know where to go for limited-release barrel-aged sour or a Bretted Imperial IPA, it might be comforting to know that there's a Spoons somewhere (or rather, there are Spoons everywhere) serving Kelham Island Pale Rider this month, but it really isn't news.

That said, there is something that caught my eye in the April-June, for which I shall keep an eye out. Burton Bridge brewery's Draught Burton Ale at 4.8%.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Dear Mr. Vernon...

It's been a while since my intrepid search to find the best breakfast around turned up any new savoury evidence. Well, let's be brutally honest, it's been a while since I blogged about absolutely fucking anything, isn't it?

So, let's do a quick Brekkie review. Specifically The Breakfast Club, where I breakfasted last week. On my birthday. 42, since you asked. Getting old.

Anyway, 'The Club' has several locations across the capital, from Battersea to Hoxton as well as Oxford and Brighton, all of which should give you a general idea of where they are coming from and what sort of market they are after. (Possibly not 42 year olds, even if it is their birthday.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Cask 2019: Why it rocked; Why it sucked

I had some fantastic beers at the weekend.

To be more specific, I had some fantastic beers between 6 and 11 PM on Saturday at Testbed1 under railway arches in Bermondsey. Beers that, for the most part, will never be seen again anywhere, at any other time. And, fairly obviously, that is part of the problem.

I absolutely loved the Cask 2019 beer festival, if indeed one can call a one-day event, divided into two sessions a 'festival'. I appreciated the beers immensely, and several of them will go down as some of my favourites of 2019. But we have a problem here. And in attempting to outline some of the underlying issues facing the beer industry in 2019, the organisers have only served to create further problems. In a sense.