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

Sunday, October 7, 2018

A pot that is hot (6)


Forget Bodyguard or Strictly or Grumbleton Glump, or whatever it is you people are watching these days.

The best programmes on British TV at the moment are 1986 episodes of Top of the Pops on BBC4, and old Coronation Street on ITV3. No arguments, please, this really is as good as it gets.

Yes, it's a Hotpot!
If you haven't caught up with Old Corrie, we're in about mid-1990 now, a few months after Alan Bradley got killed by the tram, and probably a year or so before Alec Gilroy's fit granddaughter shows up and is sullied by Andy McDonald.

But we get two episodes every day from a era when they were broadcast at a rate of two per week, so that 'year' will pass by pretty quickly. And there's still a long, long way to go before it descends into an unwatchable retirement home for actors who can't get any other work.

Be transported back to a simpler time. A better time. A time when people were still with us.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Is cask ale going the way of vinyl?

I have considerable admiration for vinyl collectors.

Obviously it was once the dominant format for releasing music, but when the CD came along it was largely usurped from the marketplace over several years. Sales of CDs themselves then went into decline with the emergence of downloads and subsequently streaming - us audiophiles know that this hasn't necessarily represented progress and are increasingly frustrated that most modern-day music consumers don't really seem to care.


Vinyl lovers stuck with their records against the tide, and, I think, have been proven largely right in their instincts. (Personally I went down the very niche route of super hi-fidelity digital music on DVD-A, a format which never took off and is now considered pretty much dead, despite sounding superb!)

But vinyl is now, a specialist niche. It will, in all likelihood, never be mainstream again. What if the music you happen to like simply doesn't get released on vinyl? (Yes, I think you can already see where the comparison with real ale is coming from...)

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

BV London Pub of the Year 2017-18 - the results

When I was a child, records used to rise up the hit parade over several weeks - if you topped the charts it was often the result of a lengthy climb. A song going 'straight in at No. 1' was almost unheard of.

During my teens, the music industry gradually changed, and with better marketing and more aggressive promotion in the first week of sale, it was an increasingly common occurrence. Eventually it became the norm for all No. 1 records to go straight in. A song actually climbing up the charts became the rarity.

This isn't some nostalgic music blog though, it's the much-anticipated Pub of the Year winner announcement. Last years top five vs five new- and re-entries. We've crunched the numbers and reached a final decision.

Mind you, talking of going straight in at No. 1...

Thursday, August 16, 2018

GBBF is officially Great again

This time last year, I begged the question: Has the GBBF lost its G?

CAMRA's flagship beer festival was, I felt, in the doldrums. A victim of both its own success and the younger, more exciting competition. Many agreed with me. Long-time GBBF volunteer Tandleman asked 'How was GBBF for you?', stimulating further debate.

(I like debate. Though possibly not as much as I like good beer.)

Well, we've had another one since then. So how was the Great British Beer Festival 2018?

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

We need to talk about beer temperature

As you probably know from my myriad PotY assessments over the years, or indeed if you've ever been on the same table as me on a tasting panel, I have pretty strong opinions when it comes to beer temperature. Opinions that perhaps get stronger on a boiling hot day.

Specifically, I think that certain beers are best served at certain temperatures - and whether they come from a cask or a keg or a hog's bladder should be far less of a factor than the style of the beer itself. Is that really so unreasonable?


In the past week, I've attended two beer festivals, both in South London. One at my 2016-17 Pub of the Year, the Hope, and the other at Beckenham Rugby Club, the home of Bromley CAMRA's annual festival - both boasting lengthy lists of pale, hoppy beers. Last week, of course, was pretty fucking hot. The hottest day of the hottest year since records began, or something. I believe on Friday, the second circle of Hell was actually a couple of degrees cooler than Beckenham.

Anyway, the beer...

Monday, July 23, 2018

BV London Pub of the Year 2017-18 - part two

So, this is it. Five new Pub of the Year contenders. If you haven't read the first part, it's probably better to check that out first, otherwise you'll have to wear your trousers backwards and go to bed in the morning.

If you're already up to date, then let's go...


Thursday, July 19, 2018

BV London Pub of the Year 2017-18 - part one

Yes, it's that time of year once again. The lazy Summer days of trying to decide which pub has been the best in London over the past 12 months.

Almost unbelievably, this is the seventh year of the competition, and three different pubs have won the accolade - but who will it be this time? Which prestigious pub will attain the additional prestige of having their prestigious name on the most prestigious trophy - the trophy of prestige?

As usual we'll start by returning to last year's top five, and then, in part two, we'll look at five 'New Entries' that weren't in the contest last time. After that's it's as simple as picking out a worthy winner - and by 'simple' I mean 'actually rather painstakingly difficult', obviously...

So, here we go! Prestige!