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!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Reasons to be cheerful

  • Greggs' Helen didn't win The Apprentice and can go back to being a PA to a rubbish pie magnate
  • The food at the Lambeth Country Show set new standards for International eclecticness, and
  • The beer list for the American cask ale bar at GBBF has been released and it's fucking awesome. And only two weeks away.  
The GBBF is my favourite event of the beer year, and there will of course be a live(ish) Ben Viveur report comin' atcha from Earl's Court on the opening night, if I'm still standing after drinking 'Palate Wrecker Double IPA' (9.5% ABV!) or 'Brewmaster Flash and the Furious Five Hops' (at a mere 8% a drink suitable only for girls and gays).

Can't. Fucking. Wait.

Mind you, if I'd known the food this weekend at the Country Show was going to be so tasty and interesting, I'd have planned a live blogcast from there too.

Importantly, there's cider!
It just didn't occur to me before the event - walking around a muddy field in the driving rain isn't much fun, and I have to admit that dub music and Socialist Worker tombola stalls don't generally do a whole lot for me either, even if there is plenty of cider to drink.

But if you're hungry for tastes from around the world (or, let's be honest, if you're just hungry) it's a brilliant place to be. 

Eat your way around the world

It was at the Country Show, as a child - years before there were Japanese restaurants in South London, that I first began my love affair with tempura. The crunch, the explosion of flavours, the way the batter softens with the splash of soy sauce... if there's a better way to cook simple vegetables I've yet to taste it.

As usual there was a Japanese foodstall this year doing a very fine version - the batter light and crispy, the onion and courgette and aubergine and carrot a perfect marriage. 

Talking of perfect marriages, despite my Mrs B-V having been born in Guyana, I'd never actually tried Guyanese food until yesterday. As one might possibly expect, given the history and geography of the place, it's a fusion of Asian and Caribbean flavours, but exactly what such a concept would taste like was unclear until I tried it. 

And it was, without doubt, the finest chana and roti dish I've ever tried. Honestly. If my wife came from a country where the food was fucking shit, I'd tell her it was fucking shit, but this amazed me as the traditional currying spices were complimented beautifully by molasses and tamarind, giving the dish a sweetish, barbecue-saucey note.

At the Trinidad & Tobago food place (yes, there was one of them too) I got to try the Trinibagan take on the same dish which was nowhere near as good, but then came a Portugese Hog Roast - an interesting twist on the festival classic, with an aromatic fennel and apple seasoning. And cider, of course.

There were, of course, a million nationalities of food we didn't get to try (including Ghanaian, Eritrean, and plenty of different Jamaicans alongside the usual Indian, Chinese, sausages, traditional hog roasts etc.) but were just too full.

I just hope that some of these guys take their wares to GBBF because I'll be needing plenty of food to soak up all the beer I'm planning to drink there.

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