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!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Montaguan Bicenquinquagenary

As many people predicted, England’s strategy of playing for penalties coupled with being quite bad at taking penalties means that we’ll have to wait a while longer for national sporting pride to be restored.

Maybe we'll do better in the Tennis? Or maybe we won't. Andy Murray's first round match at Wimbledon is a ridiculously tough one against Davydenko, and if he gets through that, the giant Croat Ivo Karlovic will likely await him in the second round. Two very strong opponents who in previous Championships would have been amongst the seeds.

So prepare for the crushing disappointment of an early Murray exit. Our best hope of getting a player into the second week might be Laura Robson who won the Jailbait singles a few years ago.

Murray's not even English, anyway.

But one thing we true Englishmen, women and children can – nay, must - celebrate this year is the 250th anniversary of our people inventing the sandwich. Go England! Go John Montagu! Hereditary Peerage is the mother of invention!

I've blogged about sandwiches before, of course, as like many people I often eat them for my lunch, but now there's a (relatively) new sandwich shop in town: 

The Earl of Sandwich on Ludgate Hill looks very nice on the outside, with a fairly classy branding that emphasises the heritage and history of stuffing bread with tasty fillings.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The official meal of Euro 2012?

The thing about Euro 2012 - and indeed many other major sporting events - is that you get used to having at least one match to watch every day.

Today is the first day with no game since the tournament started, and I feel at a bit of a loss, even though it's only one day without football and the Quarter-Finals begin tomorrow.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Restaurant staff to be given their cards

We've been upping the proverbial ante here at B-V HQ lately.

Not content with being my little Sous-Chef, Mrs B-V has added online marketing to her role profile and has been actively promoting my little blogette on Facebook and Twitter.

Consequently, recognition has been increasing: I took my father to Troy Barbecue for his birthday at the weekend, and was greeted with something vaguely approaching VIP treatment. Well - the waiters  knew who I was, and commented that they'd read my recent glowing review and were big fans of the blog.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Duke of Pork (and Beef)

I've been having a tough time lately - mostly work-related stuff, though there is an end in sight, but also my ongoing health issues - and so I frequently need cheering up.

Fortunately I'm quite easy to cheer up. Good food. Good beer. Indulgent treats. (Although these probably don't do anything for the health issues, admittedly - the doctors in their infinite medical wisdom have decided now that my calcium channels need blocking, as well as my ACEs inhibiting!)

So the other night we opted for one such indulgent treat. Several pints of excellent beer (including Arbor 'Goo Goo G'Joob' at a hefty 11%) and a few bags of Pitta Chips at the Craft Beer Company, and then on to Duke's Brew & Que.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Spaghetti Bolognese is boring.

It's the most boring type of pasta, coupled with the most boring type of pasta sauce. 

Boring, boring, boring. Fuck off.

Actually, don't. Because I've been having a lot of thoughts on this subject lately. Sort of.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Pitta Patter

I suppose I must have been about nine or ten when I was first introduced to the concept of the ‘acquired taste’.

It was breakfast time. I was staying with my paternal grandmother (‘Other Grandma’) down in Milford-on-Sea during the Summer holidays, and I was tentatively toying with the idea of trying some marmalade on my toast, which is what Other Grandma and Grandad Bob did.

Maybe they’d run out of the peanut butter they got in especially for me. I can’t remember. It was over 9000 breakfasts ago.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Thirsty Work

Banging on about it makes me sound like a grumpy old man, but the truth is that ever since I was a small child, I've generally disliked crowds.

As I've mentioned in the past, give me somewhere half-empty with plenty of space to move about any time, over heaving masses of sweaty bodies any day.

Honestly, I could be watching Cov City winning the Champions League Final amongst a crowd of 95,000, and still not really get this idea of 'atmosphere' that others seem to relish. Unlikely as this prospect is, I reckon I'd still be getting all annoyed at the restrictions on my personal space when I should be celebrating...

Anyway, I'll stop ranting.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Pasty Times

The humble, put-upon pasty has been in the news rather a lot lately and it's almost putting me off eating the damn things. It's second only to fucking Leveson now, and has been rambling on for weeks.

Whereas once, picking up a hot 'tradtional' or 'steak and stilton' at a railway station was just something you did because you were hungry, cold and a long way from home, these days it's more or less a political act.

Mind, in my view, it's definitely the petty, sniping media who are pretty much entirely to blame for this situation rather than those who make the pasties (or indeed those who pass the laws affecting those who make the pasties).

There's no such thing as the 'pasty tax'. Not really.

Anybody smart enough not be duped by media-created memes knows that it's simply a convenient (and salacious) narrative to rouse the rabble.

Unfortunately, but predictably, a significant proportion of people have played their part bang on cue, and seem to genuinely believe that there was actually a special new tax introduced on pasties (probably the same people who believe there is a 'granny tax' specifically introduced to take money from little old ladies purses). Sigh.