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!

Friday, December 30, 2011


If you're reading this then you survived Christmas - if not necessarily New Year - and unless you're under three, probably suffered from some degree of nostalgia.

The marketing weasels are very clever these days, and they'd love to think that the plethora of new products available will avert our minds eyes from the wistful memories of all the stuff you can't get any more, but which will never be forgotten.

150 watt lightbulbs, high tar cigarettes, guards on trains, the hard square toffee in Quality Street, Gold Top milk... all gone.

Actually, I was surprised to discover recently that the Gold Top (or 'full cream') milk that my grandmother used to give me as a child is actually still available in large supermarkets. Not liking milk very much - unless it's been made into butter or cheese, obviously - I'm not all that bothered either way, but for a few years now I've been meaning to make Egg Nog, and thought that a bottle of Gold Top might well be a useful ingredient. That and eggs, presumably.

Oh, and some booze. Obviously.

I have to admit, I've never actually tried the stuff, despite a great many trips to the USA which appears to be the only country to consume Egg Nog in any significant quantity, and then only around Christmastide, or as they call it 'the holidays', so my recipe comes to you on a fresh, clean slate with only a small amount of research.

Eggy Noggy Noo...
Needless to say, I was selective in my search for inspiration and glossed over the fact that apparently most Egg Nog made these days is non-alcoholic! I can almost see why though, as it's way stronger than it tastes and is probably the easiest way to drink half a bottle of rum you'll ever encounter.

I'm not a huge rum fan, and my distaste for milk-based drinks is renowned in some circles (isn't it, Mandy?!?) but this was a very successful experiment and I'll be doing it again next Christmas.

If you get it right, it tastes like a liquid custard tart. One of those proper ones you get in artisan bakeries. And if you're the kind of person who gets squeamish about raw eggs, then you probably wouldn't want rum or full-cream milk either, so you can keep quiet and have a glass of semi-skimmed.


Egg Nog

Ingredients - makes four glasses or so:

Gold Top / Full Cream milk, about a pint and a half
Dark Rum, about half a bottle - a bit less than a pint, don't waste the good quality stuff though
Eggs, 2-3, depending on size, whisked
Vanilla sugar, 4 heaped tablespoons or so
Nutmeg, a decent sprinkling


Whisk your eggs thoroughly, ensuring the yolk and white are well mixed, then gradually pour the rum into the mixture.

Add the Vanilla Sugar and some Nutmeg and continue to mix to ensure the sugar dissolves - you can taste the mixture to ensure that everything is good and balanced. Raw egg won't fucking kill you.

Now it's time to get milky. These days, your Gold Top will probably come in a one litre plastic bottle, and this affords us an easy way to make the drink - just remove some of the excess milk, pour in the rum and egg mixture, put the lid on tightly and give it a hearty shake for a minute or two.

Hey presto, a makeshift cocktail shaker for your furious milky endeavours.

The Egg Nog should keep in the fridge for a couple of days - serve chilled with a small sprinkling of nutmeg on top and enjoy the noggy goodness!

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