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!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Gnocchi Bravas - your Final meal

So, it's Spain vs Italy in tonight's Euro 2012 final, and so I'd better deliver on my recent promise to devise a recipe based on the respective cuisines of these nations.

Food of champions!
Both countries are centres of foodie excellence in their own ways, and there were lots of combinations that would have worked, some more obvious than others.

But in the end, I avoided the obvious pizza- and paella-based hybrids and decided to do something based on one of my favourite tapas dishes - Patatas Bravas.

Instead of the usual mini roast potatoes, I brought in the Italian connection by using gnocchi, and then added meaty representatives from both nations by topping it with seared chorizo and some Parma ham.

Eagle-eyed followers will realise that this preperation of the gnocchi also appears in my recipe for Gnocchi-stuffed peppers - and I shan't apologise for that as it's a great way to cook the stuff!

Gnocchi Bravas with Chorizo and Parma Ham

Ingredients - for two

Fresh Gnocchi, as much as you wish to eat
Spain vs Italy (in the cured meats final)
Chorizo, a big long one
Parma Ham, several slices
Vine tomatoes, 3-4, very finely chopped / blitzed
Red Onion, one large or two small, very finely chopped / blitzed
Red Chillis, 1-2, again, choppyblitzybloo 
Garlic, 2-3 cloves, you know the score...
Tomato puree, a decent squeeze
Fresh grated Parmesan
Red wine vinegar
Sea salt 
Olive oil
Fresh Chives


(Note that the Bravas sauce could be prepared in advance and then reheated)

Heat a little olive oil and fry the onion, garlic and chilli (which should all be cut very finely) and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, before adding the tomatoes (fresh and pureed), the wine vinegar and the paprika.

Simmer on a low heat, diluting with water or wine vinegar if necessary, until the sauce is thick, red and tasty. Season with salt to taste.

Looking good. Very good.
This sauce will keep for a couple of days and probably mature and improve. However, everything else should be cooked immediately before eating.

The gnocchi should be fried in butter until soft and fluffy, and once it's done, take it off the heat and stir in some Parmesan, ensure it gets nicely coated and goes all gooey.

Meanwhile, cut your chorizo into pieces about an inch and a half long, and then quarter them length-ways, so you get bits that look like they represent 25% on a very tall three-dimensional pie chart, if that makes sense.

Dry-sear them on both exposed faces in a very hot pan and at the last minute chuck in the parma ham slices, to warm them up a bit.

When everything is ready, plate up the gnocchi, add the hot sauce on top, and then decoratively arrange a few chunks of chorizo and slices of Parma ham on top.

Sprinkle a few chopped chives on, and you're done. 

Spain vs Italy. And with food this tasty, everybody wins.


  1. Yup that looks pretty awesome. Go Italy!

  2. I certainly want to try it! Good recipe.


Comments are always welcomed and encouraged, especially interesting, thought-provoking contributions and outrageous suggestions.