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, November 30, 2012

Feeding Tube

Maybe one of the reasons I've been so slack at this blogposting lark lately is that I have an imperial tonne of interests besides food and drink.

Folk music, for example. And philosophy. And cartography and comedy and travel and psephology and poker and football and building my own computers.

Oh, and railway systems. Particularly the London Underground. When I was 13 I visited every station in one day in an attempt to get into the Guinness Book of Records, don't you know.

Planning my route took a fair bit of poring over the iconic diagrammatic map, and since my childhood it's been one of my single favourite visual things.

As colleagues of mine well know, sometimes in meetings I doodle incessantly. And quite often I'm doodling railway maps, with ticks for stations and circles for interchanges. I don't even know I'm doing it half the time!

There have been a raft of 'alternative' tube maps over the last few years, some interesting, some stupid, and some that would make Harry Beck turn in his grave. At a perfect 45 degree angle.

But back on the subject of food, I'm rather tickled by this recent effort from the Cheese and Biscuits blog - a tube map that purportedly shows the best places to eat in London. Well, in Zones 1 and 2 anyway.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Battle of the blands

In the 1936 German parlimentary 'election', the National Socialist German Workers Party polled 98.8%.

A similarly skewfucked democracy was evident across the internet this week as over 98% of the views on the US Presidential election were pro-Obama (or anti-Romney). That's quite a staggering statistic and the deep, institutionalised conformity saddens me a little.

Admittedly this is based on my own Facebook friends and Twitter feeds, but you'd think that there might be a little more balance, wouldn't you? Especially given that I'm not instinctively sympathetic to the Democratic Party.

The actual result was - as I predicted - a routine Obama win with only a couple of States changing colour but some of the shit people were coming out with was quite baffling.

'If you don't vote for Obama you shouldn't be allowed to vote!11one1'

'Don't let that dangerous nutter get his finger on the nuclear button!11republicanseatbabies11'...

'Well done America, you made the right decision!11fourmoreyears1'... 

And so on.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Spoonsfest hit for six!

I was expecting to spend this evening travelling around London pubs, often walking in and then coming straight out again in a state of increasing exasperation.

Instead I've been able to stay in and relax while listening to coverage of Coventry's victory over Crawley Town, and I'll probably tune in to the US Election Coverage in a minute (prediction: as I've been saying for many months now, an uneventful Obama win with the GOP only gaining one or two states they didn't win in 2008).

The reason I've been able to take things easy is mainly thanks to Tim Martin and his pubs not being frustrating for once.

I criticised Mr. Wetherspoon the other day for the quality of his burgers - quite rightly, because they are substandard shite - but probably the best thing about our glorious nation's favourite pub chain is the bi-annual 'beer festivals'.

For a couple of weeks every Spring and Autumn, beer tickers of the UK play 'Spoons Bingo' and try to get through the 50 different beers available, some of which are always very elusive, and some of which appear all the time, all over the place. Believe me, you grow to despise some of these beers...

But this year, something very special happened, for last night, I scooped the last six beers I required in a single evening!