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!

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!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Final Meal 2018 - L'Escargot Risotto Noir

It's coming home, it's coming home, it's coming; Football's coming home...

Well, it was until Wednesday evening anyway. But England can take heart from the fact that this time nobody expected them to do a whole lot, and a valiant semi-final exit is a decent achievement. (Indeed their pair of losses to Belgium in the Group stage and 3rd place play-off suggest that, perhaps 'overachievement' might be a better word!)

Black risotto with snails

What it does mean is that this years 'Final Meal' now has to be a fusion of French and Croatian dishes, which is a shame because after Trippier's free kick I was planning for a Bouillabaisse Pie with Roquefort mash. Surely a future classic, no?

But we'll make the best of the situation with a bit of cuttlefish ink and a few snails and, who knows, it might even be vaguely edible.

(If you haven't been keeping up with the tradition, the 2014 World Cup saw the creation of Black Forest Churrasco, while Euro 2016 - Portugal vs France, of course - lent itself to the Peri Peri Croque Monsieur. This lark began back in the 2012 Euro finals when Spain took on Italy and I gave you Gnocchi Bravas.)

So, here we go then.  2018's 'Final Meal'...

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Can't cook; won't cook; can barely raise a glass

Firstly, relatively sincere apologies for the radio silence on the old blogging front recently. And to those expecting to see me out and about in various places and didn't - yes, unfortunately I've been pretty quiet lately.

There is a reason, mind.

For the past six months or so I've been suffering increasingly from a frozen shoulder, complicated with hyper-mobility. I realise that sounds like a piss-poor excuse for inactivity and reclusiveness and being on a bit of a downer.

Until recently I too would have summarily dismissed 'frozen shoulder' as a minor condition, probably unworthy of complaint. But, the truth is, it's extremely life-limiting and bloody painful.

I'm having treatment - physio, acupuncture, painkillers, whatever might alleviate the bloody thing - and I'll try to blog more and be a bit more sociable, but I might be in for another year or two of this crap before it really gets better.

The pain isn't just confined to the shoulder - it radiates down the arm to the elbow, wrist and fingers. Simple food-prep tasks, like getting something down from a shelf, taking a casserole out of the oven or sprinkling herbs have become difficult or even impossible, as the muscles in my arm start to atrophy from lack of use. Even lifting a pint glass to my mouth is a challenge!

Of course, it had to be in my right arm, didn't it? The more important, dominant one. You don't appreciate the full range of movement of your rotator cuff until it's taken away. I've forgotten what it's like to wave my hand in the air, or put it behind my back or use a mouse for an extended period of time. Conveying three pints from bar to table in one movement? A mere dream now.

There's a psychological element too; a couple of months ago a sort of dull, depressed sense of fatigue really set in, after not being able to find a position to sleep in properly. And I have a constant feeling of uncertain restlessness and not knowing what to do - a feeling I usually only get immediately after somebody dies.

OK, that's enough whinging about my suffering. I just wanted to explain my general absence and indeed, why my mood probably hasn't been top-drawer when I have been around.

I'll keep going with my prescribed exercises and try to be back to my creative peak soon, OK?