Bensoir! It's me, Benjamin. I like to eat and drink. And cook. And write.

You may have read stuff I've written elsewhere, but here on my own blog as Ben Viveur I'm liberated from the editorial shackles of others, so pretty much anything goes.

BV is about enjoying real food and drink in the real world. I showcase 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. And as a critic 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!

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Every ABV: 6.5 to 8.4%

So, what are we all going to do now that the footie is over and before the Olympics begins? 

We shall do what every good English patriot does: We shall go to the pub and drink beer. 

And from Monday we'll even be able to walk up to the bar to order, and visit the toilet facilities without wearing a mask - in some places at least. I'm looking forward to doing both of these things.

(If you only watched Euro 2020 because you wanted to see what my 'Final Meal' would be and were disappointed when I didn't post one, the truth is that I forsaw the England-Italy final ten years before it happened and came up with Full English Breakfast Linguine in anticipation of the match!)

Anyway, here's the latest part of my 'Every ABV' series, where I move onto the stronger stuff...

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Every ABV: 4.5 to 6.4%

Having rated the best cask beers between 2.5 and 4.4% ABV a few days ago, I shall now move on to the slightly stronger stuff.

Will there be shocks? Will there be surprises? Will there be the opportunity to win a small cash prize? Let's get cracking and find the fuck out...

(No cash prizes.)

 

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Every ABV: 2.5 to 4.4%

What with me being a sad beer geek since long before it was even slightly cool, I've been keeping records of the cask beers I've been drinking for over 25 years. That's a whole lot of beer, that is. Over 10,000 different ones. At a whole lot of different strengths too.

Which leads me to an arguably pointless but nevertheless interesting question: What is the best cask beer I've had at every different ABV? 

 

Some cask beer yesterday (photo taken years ago)
It turns out that I've had at least one beer at every ABV from 2.5% up to 10.5% (with one rather frustrating exception!) so why not do a series of posts exploring my favourites and - where I can actually remember the beer in question - why they were so fucking good.

Obviously this list is massively subjective, and less common ABVs will have an advantage over beers that are 4.2 or 4.5, of which I've drunk literally thousands. And it's far from an exact science - beers are allowed some variance a few points either way from the advertised strength, so it might be that all hell broke loose and that 6.9% beer I loved was actually only 6.7%. Oh the humanity.

But I don't really care, and it's potentially all part of the fun anyway. So, here we go, kicking off with the weakest end of the spectrum...

Monday, June 14, 2021

Uber EatShitAndDie

Today I'm going to tell you about Uber Eats, why they totally suck donkey dick, how their offering is a colossal fuck-off swindle, and why I'd rather starve than use their shitting hagfish of a delivery service ever again.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Lockdown Lunches #4: How to make a pasta bake

There's a strong chance that that today will turn out to be the first day with zero COVID-19 deaths in this country, even under the rather spurious criteria that counts anyone who dies of anything within 28 days of a positive test as a victim, even if they drop dead from a sudden heart attack or get crushed by a falling anvil.

A Pasta Bake, during Lockdown
The pubs are open - albeit outdoors - and from next Monday we'll even be able to get a pint inside as God intended. We might even start to get a decent choice of cask beer again, despite my ongoing concerns.

So, it looks like things might finally get back to something approaching normality. And not before time.

My 'Lockdown Lunches' series of recipes never really became a thing, mainly because I couldn't be bothered. But while we're still technically living under a Lockdown of sorts, I thought I'd add to the series.

It's only a little guide to pasta bakes. You quite possibly know how to do this already. But hey, you're getting a recipe out of me for the first time in months so be grateful for it! Or don't be. I don't fucking care. Tosser.

Monday, April 12, 2021

#CaskIsBack

Last night was, it's fair to say, a bit of a good 'un. 

Technically it was of course this morning. On the stroke of Midnight the latest lockdown came - sort of - to an end, and we were allowed to drink in a pub for the first time this year. Well, outside of a pub.

That's quite a lot of caveat, but it mattered not to the assembled drinkers and gathered press outside the Kentish Belle in the small hours of the morning. We were there for one thing. A taste of freedom. And beer.

For me it was mostly about getting pints of cask ale inside me. The first - Surrey XPA from the Dorking brewery - went down in one, and by 12:02 I was on my second pint (Crafty's Loxhill Biscuit) which didn't last much longer. It's April 12 and #CaskIsBack. Oh yes.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Back when Thornton's was actually 'essential'

Today I've been eating bits of a Thornton's Easter Egg, which made me ponder that one of the many victims of lockdown has been the company that made it. 

All 61 of their stores will not reopen once restrictions on 'non-essential' retail are lifted next week, bringing an end to what became a fairly ubiquitous presence on the high street. And I don't really care.

In all honesty, I thought there would've been more shops than that - every high street in every town has a Thornton's shop, right? - but apparently they've been reducing the number for years from a peak of over 350 in whatever year my brain is obviously stuck in. Probably a year far longer ago than I think it is.

The brand, now owned by Ferrero, will carry on in some form, and I have to say I probably won't miss their stores. I can't remember the last time I went in one but it was at least 15 years ago and that was just for an ice cream on a hot day.

But I haven't always been indifferent about them.