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, August 28, 2013

Ten food trends I suppose I ought to have an opinion on

People occasionally come up to me and ask my opinion on various things.

Usually it's something along the lines of  'where's the best vegan restaurant in North Dakota that's open after midnight on Sundays?' or 'which pubs in London serve a hemp and raspberry stout and do a full breakfast -  as a child's portion?'

I give them the best answers I can, and then try to veer the conversation towards a topic where I have strongly held, staunchly right-wing opinions, in the hope that they'll run away like a simpering jackal.

You already know what I think about some of the big issues. Like tank beer, the horsemeat 'scandal', and why it's a fucking Marathon bar, not a S**ckers.

So, for a change, here's my take on some less important stuff. The trivialities that don't keep me awake at night.

It'll save you having to come up and ask me!

Friday, August 23, 2013

BV London Pub of the Year 2012-13 - the results

And so, here we are. The big one.

It's the Daddy. The Double Rollover. The Granada Coupé.

The big, fuck-off analogy of your choice. Yes, it's the Pub of the Year results!

We've revisited last year's top five. Over and over again in some cases. Good pubs, all of 'em.

And we've scoured fan recommendations, the beer press, the blogosphere and our own little travelogue of adventures to come up with five brand spanking new contenders.

So what it all boils down to now is: Who won? Who the fuck won?!?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Food and beer pairing insights from GBBF 2013

Well, I wasn't completely sure if I'd make it through the week, but I'm pleased to report that I've survived the intensive beer marathon and emerged from the experience a wiser, happier, more accomplished man.

(The 'wiser' assertion is based on the idea that previous studies are wrong and excess alcohol consumption does, in fact, boost brain cell production, obviously.)

Last week, the GBBF at Olympia became my home. It was my living room, my dining room and, yes, my toilet.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Beer, beer and more beer

If I'm ever going to OD on beer, it'll probably happen this week.

Let's face it, I've already had a fairly beery weekend, the GBBF starts today and I'm armed with a season ticket and a hitlist, and last night was the fantastic British Guild of Beer Writers 25th birthday event which meant unlimited free beer.

That's right. Unlimited free beer - almost all of it very rare and much of it very strong (like the 10.7% Fuller's 'Imperial Stout' brewed in collaboration with a Guild member and with 'dry-rosebudded' with, err, rosebuds.)

It was basically a help-yourself beer festival in a room full of celebrities from the beer world, and life doesn't get much better than that. Even Roger Protz's speech wasn't as bad as I feared - I think he only said 'Socialism' twice, and Vegetarianism didn't even get a mention!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

BV London Pub of the Year 2012-13 - part two

After some strong showings from last year's top five, it's now time to get even more excited with the second part of this year's London Pub of the Year contest.

These five pubs are surely the most eagerly-awaited new challengers since T. Hawk, Cammy, Fei Long and Deejay showed up in Super Street Fighter II. (Three games for 50p. Good times.)

And in our first pub, you can actually play Super Street Fighter II. So let's crack the fuck on with the reviews...

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Ultimate Roast Chicken Sandwich

People don't seem to have roast chicken as much as they did when I was a child.

I've no idea why. It's just one of those things that has changed over time. Back in the 1980s people would always be roasting chickens like there was no tomorrow.

Yep, that's a roast chicken alright
'Hey Ben, why don't you come over for dinner, my mum's doing roast chicken then we'll play on the Commodore 64.'

'I'm just going to finish driving my Ford Capri around whilst listening to Saxon, then I'm going to cook a roast chicken'

'That's right, kids, it's roast chicken again. Should be ready after Metal Mickey. Have a can of Quatro in the mean time.'

...and so on.

(Your memories may vary slightly, obviously.)

Friday, August 2, 2013

The law is an ass; The pub is an asset

As mentioned the other day, in the first installment of this year's Pub of the Year competition, the Catford Bridge tavern is once again in danger, following a successful battle to save the place from closure and conversion to a supermarket last year.

Worrying stuff, given the tremendous job the team there have done - I admire the Antic pub company generally but even by their fairly high standards, the Cat Bridge is in a league of it's own. (The final deliberations have yet to take place, but you can see from the scoring that it's got every chance of winning the BV PotY.)

Now, a couple of days on, things have become slightly clearer. Antic were only ever tennants, and despite hoping to buy the pub outright themselves, the building has been sold to another pub company who intend to run it as a pub.

What kind of pub is anybody's guess though, and this, crucially, is where the law spectacularly fails.

It's all very well having legislation that prevents pubs being turned into supermarkets or betting shops because they are 'community assets'. But there's nothing to preserve the very things that make the pub what it is in the first place - the unique combination of the beer, the food, the atmosphere and the people!