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!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Shooting practice with Spiced Applescotch

You might find it difficult to believe, perhaps even a little upsetting by proxy, but occasionally my blog comes in for some... how can I put this... criticism?!?

It's alright. I can take it.

Sometimes readers disagree with my view - which is their privilege and right - and there will always be irritable brewers and or restauranteurs who decide that I've been overly critical of their restaurant or their beer and get all touchy about it. I guess it's easier to go on the defensive than looking at the reasons why somebody might have found their product to be a bit shit.

Then there are those who, despite my incontravertible loveliness, just don't appreciate my particular writing style, or who are offended by the prevalence of swearing. Fair enough. You go and read summat else then, wankycunt. I'll stay here and make cheap profanity gags.

One common criticism that I think has been entirely resonable and just though, has been about the quality of the photography. I think it's fair to say that often the snapshots taken on a 3 year old phone perhaps don't quite do justice to the food I've prepared.

So... I done got me a new camera.

Ben's Lens

It's one of these new 'compact system' fuckers - my knowledge of camera technology is scant at best, but I did a bit of research before shelling out, and these bad boys are a recent innovation that aims to combine the quality of a DSLR with the compactness and ease of use of more basic cameras. Which sounded good enough for me.

Ironically a photo of my new camera can't have been taken with it!
I think this basically means I can swap the lens out for one of those huge long cock ones if I need to, or upgrade the flashbulb or add on various bits and bobs. But I probably won't do any of those things, and in it's normal form it's small enough to carry around without looking like a huge long lens cock.

Once I learn how to adjust the settings'n'shit it should, in theory, mean that the quality of photography ceases to be a valid reason for criticising the blog, and that will probably give me some sort of glow smug satisfaction for a time.

And as for the first food photo I took with it - well, that has the honour of being a pancake filled with delicious Spiced Applescotch.

What's that? You want to know what that is and how to make it yourself? Oh, alright then...

Spiced Applescotch

This is a warm filling rather than a chutney to be cooled down and kept in jars, though that might possibly work - I've never tried it.

Ingredients - two generous servings:

Every pancake needs a fruity, sweet and spicy filling like this
Apples, two, overripe (ideally a semi-sweet variety like Braeburn or Granny Smith), finely chopped
Butter, good quality, just over 2oz
Demerara sugar, just under 2oz
Raisins/Sultanas, a handful, chopped
Almonds, a few, chopped


Melt about half the butter in a pan over a medium heat, making sure it doesn't burn, and add your apple, frying it for several minutes until it begins to soften.

Now slowly add the sugar and the rest of the butter, a little at a time, and up the heat if necessary to ensure that it melts. After a few minutes of gentle stirring you should have a thick, butterscotch sauce with chunks of apple floating in it.

Add the dried fruit and nuts, and finally the spices - in agreeably robust quantities, obviously - then stir these all into the mix, ensuring everything gets a sweet buttery carress. A few more minutes on the heat and it's ready to serve.

It goes nicely as a pancake filling, a porridge topping, or served as a desert with cream.

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