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, September 28, 2012

Meat Market

One of the perks of working close to Borough Market is that there's no shortage of options when the clock turns lunchtime.

So many eateries, so little time, and fasting two days a week as part of my diet means that it will take me a while to try everywhere - but given my penchant for the market, I was familiar with a fair few places in the area anyway.

I already knew, for example, about the good value lunches at the recently-reopened Brew Wharf, and the stunning Spanish street food at Cafe Brood. And, frankly, an unmanageably huge number of other brilliant places.

What I can't get my head around though is what will happen once the Shard is fully open for business and full of office workers (plus a few residents and hotel guests). How many pubs and restaurants and food stalls will the area need to cope with that lot once they move in?!? 

Who wants pork? Get your hot pork here! £6.50 to you, guv
I guess they'll have to build another, even taller Shard next door to accomodate their eating and drinking requirements...

Talking of big, impressive things, everybody knows that I'm a bit of a sucker for a large hot meat sandwich for my lunch, but it has to be said that I've yet to find somewhere that does this anywhere near as consistently well as Birley Salt Beef in Canary Wharf.
There are a couple of contenders in Borough Market which needed checking out, even if it's hard to stand out with so much competition going on in the area.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Goats Cheese and Cherry Salad - the cure for gout?

It's probably a bit early for an update on how my new diet is going, but the good news is that I'm not finding the fast days too much of a struggle and, dare I say it, I quite like the feeling of getting really hungry and eagerly looking forward to the binge days.

Alright, the non-fasting days.

I never knew this combination worked either
Mrs B-V is now on board as well, and between us we're going to lose over 1000 lbs by the end of the month. Maybe.

Anyway, while the 5:2 diet might - if wild, unproven theories are to be believed - reverse my diabetes, I've not yet read any whimsical speculation that it can do the same for gout.

There is, however, plenty of  'evidence' that cherries are a miracle cure for 'the disease of kings', and that's a good enough excuse for me to come up with a simple cherry-centric recipe.

Dairy products are generally considered to be good for gout too, so the recipe more or less writes itself.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Fast track

It's day 2 of my 5:2 diet today.

Or maybe it's day 4?

Technically, I could argue that it might be day 7.

Confused? Good. But I know perfectly well what the fuck I'm talking about, which makes me feel superior, and being on a diet is all about feelings of superiority, obviously.

Yes, I've succumbed to the latest fad diet doing the rounds. I know - who'd have thought it? But I'm fully bandwagoned-up and ready to go.

Big news, no?

Monday, September 3, 2012

The mystery of the missing cheese

Of all the myriad, diverse parts of London, Hackney is one of the few areas that I really don't know very well.

It's partly because it's somewhat hard to get to, despite being relatively close to the centre, but also because I've never given it much of a chance, dismissing it in my mind as a pointless inner-city shithole swarming with assorted chavs, cunts and Labour voters.

Possibly a tad harsh, I know, but life's too short to be completely unprejudiced!

I am, however, open to evidence that changes my mind. In the last couple of years, the London Borough of Hackney has gained something like five new microbreweries which is rather astonishing.

And I've known for a while that the area also has it's fair share of Turkish restaurants, some of which are pretty good - I went to one somewhere near Dalston a few years ago where the pitta bread was toasted directly below the grill where they barbecued the kebabs, allowing it to absorb the meaty juices. Yum yum, and no namby-pamby warning signs for vegetarians.

(I've no idea where exactly this place is, and I'll probably never know, given that I was taken there on a date by a Turkish girl who I never saw again!)  

Anyway, this weekend we took our niece out for her birthday and she chose a Turkish restaurant in Hackney. Tad, on Mare Street to be precise.

I'm a big fan of this type of grilled, meaty food, and it afforded me the opportunity to check out the Howling Hops brewery's beer at the Cock Tavern beforehand, so it seemed an admirable choice...