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!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Horses for Main courses?

The big news this morning, apart from my helicopter lesson going badly wrong, obviously, was the revelation that some frozen beefburgers made and sold in the UK and Ireland actually contained traces of horsemeat. In some cases 25% 'traces'.

Now, I don't buy frozen value burgers from Tescos, and I've not been to Iceland since about the time it stopped being called Bejams, so I'm not worried that I might have inadvertantly eaten the stuff.

My immediate reaction was: Never mind the horse, the quality of the beef in those things was probably highly dubious!

I know, little predictable ol' me.

But, horse or no horse, cheap beefburgers generally contain the worst cuts of 'meat' from the worst cattle, padded out with additives and fillers and mechanically-recovered anus tissue. I bang on about this sort of stuff because I'm a fan of really good quality beef and really good quality burgers.

The initial media reaction was equally predictable - shock, horror, outrage! How dare they put this in our beefburgers?!? and so on.

And then, continuing the predictability, came the 'but why is it outrageous?!?' backlash with the good old unbiased BBC asking why Britain doesn't eat horses when we eat cows, pigs and other farmyard creatures.

I wasn't asked for my view for some reason, but one or two 'experts' had some, frankly, strange opinions and these rather bizzare arguments for why we don't eat it triggered a bit of friendly office debate.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Break Fast

One thing my diet of intermittent fasting has taught me - along with the satietal importance of soup, obviously - is the value of breakfast.

Yeah, I know the etymology; the whole thing about breaking ones fast'n'shit, but this is the first time that's really made sense on any kind of practical level.

See, for many years I've generally only partaken of a big cooked breakfast in the morning when either getting up early to travel somewhere (typically having a full English in an Airport Wetherspoons) or while staying in a hotel (on the morning of New Years Eve I had a fairly decent plateful at the Mortimer Arms near Romsey - first time I've had fried bread for many years, which in itself probably isn't a bad thing!)

A bad breakfast is an unpleasant thing, whether you're hungry in the mornings or not. During in the early-Naughties I lived for some time above a pub in Ipswich where a greasy and unpleasant full breakfast was served every morning. Sometimes the fried egg even had cigarette ash in it. After a few months of this I told them I'd go without. None of the other guests seemed to mind much, but then they consisted almost exclusively of builders from Teeside.
Anyway, I have been known to fry up a fry-up at home occasionally, but this would be our main meal of the day and probably eaten sometime well North of midday. During normal, everyday, stay-at-home life, I'd never think 'ooh, let's get up early and go out for breakfast!'

But this might be the year where that all changes.

On the mornings following fasting days I'm often ready for something substantial and assuming I stick to the diet for a while, 2013 could well end up being the year I seek out the best breakfast in London.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Souper New Year

I'm sure it's been woefully remiss of me not to have wished everybody a Merry Christmas or indeed a Happy New Year, but here we are already in 2013, and to be honest, this year I'm just glad to have got through it.

It was never going to be a hugely enjoyable Christmas, and being somewhat chronophobic I've never much cared for all this 'New Year' nonsense (although these days it has an altogether different celebratory tone, what with New Years Day being Mrs B-V's birthday).

On the food side, the cheese, rare breed ham and game pie from Borough Market was, as expected, totally fucking awesome, and the excellent Glenmorangie Sauternes cask a very pleasant discovery.
But it was a challenge was sticking to the 5:2 diet throughout the festive season, but we managed to average two fasting days each week by making the pattern just slightly less regular than the usual 'every Monday and Thursday'. We've avoided having to do consecutive days too, though there have been a few 'one-gaps' to counterbalance the 'five-gaps' - we're fasting today (Wednesday) and there's another one coming up on Friday.

If anybody has been wondering what we've been eating on the days when we've been restricted to just 600 calories (500 for Mrs B-V) the answer is... mostly soup.