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, May 4, 2011

The basil paradox

Today I grabbed a crayfish and chilli wrap from one of the seven thousand and two Prets on the Wharf for a hasty lunch on the move - being so busy with real life'n'shit over the past month or so, I haven't been able to do things like eat proper sit-down lunches, or - ahem - write blog posts... well that's my story and I'm sticking to it. 

Anyway, the wrap was fairly indifferent, but upon the packaging, the following snippet of overt worthiness caught my eye:

'Air Miles: We believe air freighting fruit and veg is completely over the top. It's unneccessary and, with the exception of fresh basil leaves, we don't do it.'

Hmm, alrighty-roo then. But what is so special and fresh about their basil that it has to be flown - and I might be using my imagination a little too readily here - half-way around the planet in a Boeing 747 with a colossal carbon footprint dangling between it's legs, when every other ingredient used by the chain can be sourced locally?!?

The irony is that on this very day we've started growing a little basil plant which will sit on our balcony - and that's probably the only thing we're able to grow. And I'm sure it will serve my culinery purposes just fine, thanks.

But for whatever reason, Pret - who apparently use locally-reared and slaughtered cattle in their beef sandwiches, locally-caught crayfish in their wraps and locally-grown and pulped mangoes in their smoothies - feel the need to import their basil from the Solomon Islands or somewhere.

A few hours ago I had no idea that this would be the issue that would relight the Ben Viveur blogfire, but there you go.

If anyone from Pret is listening, I'm happy to supply fresh basil for you from my balcony if you give me a few weeks. You might need to buy me a house with an aeroplane-sized herb garden to meet your requirements though...

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