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!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The wait is nearly over

I saw a great new festive product on sale this week.

It’s called ‘Bruce Forsyth’s Double-your-Ham’, and it’s brilliant. You just squeeze a couple of drops of the solution onto your Christmas ham using the supplied pipette, and within 30 minutes the ham will increase in size by 100%.

It's Ham-tastic!
Plus, it’s endorsed by the very crown prince of National Treasureland himself – what’s not to like?

For people who don’t like ham, you can also buy Brucie’s ‘Halve your ham’, which basically involves the chinsome octogenarian coming round your house and eating half of your ham.

I admit it, I’m talking rubbish again. He only eats about 40% of it then he gets full and wanders off to present Strictly, so the product is shit. I’m thinking of reporting them to Trading Standards actually.

Although, when you think about it, it does mean that if you keep using the product your ham will technically last forever, albeit in eternally diminishing quantity, because he’ll never take all of it. Hmm. I have some strange dreams. If indeed it was a dream.

Once, as a child I dreamed I was unhappy because I’d spent all my Christmas money on myrrh and didn’t know what to do. 

Chocolate, please

Anyway, I think I can safely ascribe my extraordinary mental state lately to a lack of chocolate. It’s now been over three weeks without, apart from a tiny one each day from my Advent Calendar, obviously, and it’s starting to take its toll.

For a start, I wish the calendar actually contained nice chocolate rather than manky Maltesers – and even then, just the chocolate without the crunchy, malty centre; you don’t even get the mini bag of Maltesers until Christmas Eve!

I had to change my dessert selection at my team’s Christmas Lunch from Yule Log (which looked really nice and rich) to the Christmas Pudding, which was far too light and cakey with a distinct shortage of fruit, nuts and alcohol as set-menu Christmas Puddings very often are.

A large box of Hotel Chocolat chocs – possibly the finest chocolates commercially available at the moment and certainly the most varied and interesting – arrived in the office and I couldn’t have any. Bah humbug! (Humbugs not containing any chocolate and hence permissible, of course)

And there was only one style of biscuit in the selection tin that didn’t have chocolate, and in normal circumstances it would have been my last choice. The plain Viennese sandwich – who chooses that for fucks sake?!?

When it was really cold last week I wasn’t even able to go to Paul and have their excellent hot chocolate – man, it’s been tough, I tells ya. Hopefully Bono will put out a charity single alerting people to plight of those who have voluntarily given up chocolate for Advent.

I even had to pass up the chance to drink a chocolate stout the other night - admittedly in the Market Porter where there were about a dozen other beers to choose from, but my hackles were already rankled by the preponderance of fairweather drinkers whose great numbers have rendered pubs horrendously crowded! Maybe landlords are using some kind of Forsyth-endorsed ‘Double your punters’ product?

OK, I’ll stop complaining now anyway. It’s been a good test of my willpower, and just about challenging enough to feel like an achievement. Go Me! And my wife!

There’s only a few days to go, and when we get back after Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve I’ll be up for an Augustus Gloop-style feast. 

A very chocolatey Christmas to all Ben Viveur readers too, I might add.

I’m determined to make my first Christmas as a married man as chocolatey as possible – after all, we deserve it, and if Brucie brings out a ‘Double your Yule Log’ product I’ll buy it. Twice.

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