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 17, 2014

Good news according to Ben

For much of the last few weeks, I've been lain low by the disease of kings. If you want an idea of how excruciating the pain in and around my left ankle has been, I actually went ten whole days without a drink at one point. Seriously. Ten!

It's an insufferable tease too, this gouty fucker. Just when I think it's getting better and I can return to enjoying my usual hearty quantities of ale and meat, the bloody pain strikes again and I'm back spending days on end sat indoors on a diet of low-purine food and Naproxen.

However - and I'm probably setting myself up for another uric fail here - it does finally seem to have subsided somewhat, allowing a pain-free me to focus on some of the really rather good stuff that's been happening lately.

And indeed, to share these good times with my readers.

1. Presenting the Pub of the Year trophy

The Craft Beer Company are worthy winners, and this week I handed over the trophy, with their name on it for a second time.

Here you go, guys. All yours... at least until mid-2015!
I must try that hop-flavoured whisky some time...
 And if you're anywhere near Clapham over the next few days, make sure you get yourself down to the Craft 100 festival which runs from tomorrow until Sunday September 21.

2. Good butcher, good breakfast

Completely by accident, I stumbled upon Ripley's butchers in Cheshunt last Friday (quite literally stumbled, as I was limping at the time) and, apart from being in the middle of North Nowhere, it's rather brilliant.

A big meaty breakfast on Saturday probably wasn't the best idea given my condition, but with black pepper sausages, black pudding, pig's kidneys and possibly the finest bacon I've ever enjoyed, it proved irresistable. 

Believe it or not, Ripley's has been run by the family for over 150 years

This little lot only cost about 8 quid

It made for a memorable and meaty breakfast

3. I got me a new phone

I was very worried about getting a new phone, following the slow death of my beloved Symbian OS.

Turns out I had diddly-piss to worry about. The Nokia Lumia 930 is fucking awesome. It integrates all my stuff together - contacts, calendars, work, play, beer, food, everything. And I can play classic console games on it.

Forget about the overpriced, pretentious i-shite and the way-too-dominant-oh-shit-we've-become-everything-we-claimed-to-hate Android.

This phone is great in so many ways. And these pictures come courtesy of the 20 megapixel camera.

4. The Pork Scratchings Premier League has new champions

I like a good pork scratching with my beer, and for a while now we've sort of accepted the MS brand Black Country scratchings as being the best available, or at least, the best widely available in London.

Scrummy Scratchings
For at least a couple of years now, I've noticed an advert in Viz for 'Mr. Scratchings', and never thought that much about it, other than that it seemed an odd bedfellow for the premium adult chatlines and mildly amusing but predictably left-wing t-shirts.

Having tasted them, I'm blown away. These are scratchings like no others I've tried from a mainstream, widely-distributed brand. I think they're cooked less than most generic scratchings, because the packet contains no burnt ones whatsoever, and all manage to retain the feature of crackling that most scratchings lose - the quality of going slightly gelatinous in the mouth following the initial crunch.

I daresay they won't be to everybody's taste, but if you like your pork scratchings to taste authentically cracklingy, you're in for a treat.

Strangely, the current issue of Viz is the first one in absolutely fucking ages where the 'Mr. Scratchings' ad is nowhere to be seen, so naturally I'm worried that they've gone out of business.

Hopefully it just means that they've finally found their target market. Me.

5. Obscure blog posts inexplicably getting thousands of hits

OK, occasionally I have to do some web analytics stuff as part of my day job, but even as a semi-expert I'm completely at a loss to explain why a recipe I blogged over a year ago continues to be so hugely popular.

The Ultimate Roast Chicken Sandwich was undeniably delicious, but why is it getting 1500+ views a week now? I'm not promoting it all (apart from possibly here, obviously) and there's no good reason why the post should have such enduring popularity. Is it the mildly amusing 1980s pop culture references? The crispy skin? The sausagemeat stuffing and winey glaze?

I can only conclude that Stephen Fry must be tweeting about it on a regular basis.

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