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, April 26, 2013

Hard and Fast day

Today has probably been the hardest fast day since I started doing the 5:2 diet over seven months ago.

It comes a couple of days after my birthday, so I've been drinking beer and eating cake and doing other things that I'm well entitled to do 'because it's my fucking birthday'.

But for some reason it's been particularly hard fasting today - all I've had is a little tub of flavourless cous-cous and a soup that tasted like watery mushy peas. Ugh.

It's been unsatisfying to the point of starvation, and I literally feel hollow and empty. Bad times.

I feel like beer, burgers and chilli cheese fries that burn my mouth.

Basically, I feel like another visit to Lucky Chip burger now, having belatedly discovered their full gorgeousness on Tuesday night. God, that would really hit the spot right now.

Oh yes, sit down my children, and I shall tell you a tale. A tale of aged beefy goodness. And fries.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Fajita of Contentment

Stop the world, I want to get the fuck off!

Actually, that would result in floating indefinitely through space, but the infinite-voidy stuff would probably be quite peaceful once you got used to it.

Sorta like El Chico's. I'll explain presently.

In a couple of days I shall be 36. That means I'm closer to 50 than to 20! What the aged fuck?!?

El Chico's
Another sobering thought is that a few days ago I lost another grandparent - that's three dead in the space of 18 months - and as that generation rapidly disappears from my life I feel not only a sense of enforced having-to-grow-up, but also of rapid, irreversible, tragic change.

Fortunately in this ever-changing world, there are some things that pretty much stay the same. And sometimes you just need familiar creature comforts like that.

I can cling to the fact that the denouement of the new Scooby-Doo movie will probably involve a janitor or sheriff revealed inside an apparition costume. I can enjoy listening to Queen and the Beatles knowing that I know their entire catalogue and there won't be any unpleasant surprises from here on in.

It's a hot comfortable bath of reassurance.

And on Thursday I'll be going to the Tower of London to witness the Ceremony of the Keys - and while this is a new experience for me, I take comfort from the fact that I'll be witnessing something that has been exactly the same, every single night, for about literally hundreds of years.

I think the last time they changed the format for the ceremony was round about the last time El Chico's  changed their menu!

Ah, the old ones are the oldest...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Milk Purse

I occasionally wonder if my hate affair with milk goes back to my primary school days in the early-mid 1980s.

Every morning, at about 11, right before playtime, we’d line up outside the caretakers office and wait for our milky rations.

It would be brought in in big crates by two middle-aged ladies - I guess you’d call them ‘teaching assistants’ these days – called Mrs Lovett and Mrs Sexton, which was, naturally, a source of great amusement to primary school boys.

1925 - 2013
The milk itself came in little glass bottles – a third of a pint I believe, the dwarven cousins of the bottles delivered by the milkman.

(Yep, in those nostalgic, milky days we still had proper milkmen doing the rounds, my father worked in some capacity or other for the Milk Marketing Board at some point, and there were TV ads for the stuff - 'Gotta Lotta Bottle' and  'Nice Cold Ice Cold Milk'.)

We were also given a weedy little blue straw – two if we were lucky – and we’d puncture the foil cap and drain the milk before heading out into the playground to climb frames and play ‘it’.


 ...Of course, it didn’t actually happen like that at all, though some would have it thus and have predictably been banging on about it this week.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Easter Egg Hunt

The early part of Easter Saturday was a fucking nightmare. (The evening wasn't, because we went to see Steeleye Span and they rocked, but the daytime was a bit of a shitter and no mistake.)

We must've been into 20 shops in various parts of South London, looking for Easter Eggs to give to various family members. Spent about three hours solid, so we did.

There's nothing for you here!
Nothing. Absolutely fuck-all available anywhere. (Except for Cadbury Creme Eggs and bags of mini eggs). From the tiniest local shops to the big Sainsburys and Safeways (I refuse to call them Morrisons for the same reason that I refuse to call a Marathon bar anything other than a Marathon bar!) there was not a single proper egg available to purchase.

The shelves were bare, apart from the occasional solitary badly broken egg in Tesco with the cracked chocolate exposed to the elements that staff had inexplicably failed to remove, perhaps deliberately leaving it there to taunt people like me.

The twats in the shops said things like. 'Ooh, you should've come earlier', which as well as being singularly unhelpful is also indicative of the widespread acquiescence of a flawed culture.