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!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Beer of the Year

So, it's New Years Eve, and given that we're going to be staying in tonight - cooking Boston Baked Beans, drinking champagne and polishing off the last of the Christmas cheese - it would appear that I've supped my last ales of 2013.

Which is possibly for the best, mind. It's certainly been quite a beery year for me, as I managed to tick over 1000 new real ales for the first time ever.

Many of them were passable, many were bland, some were downright unpleasant, and a few were fucking shit. Like liquidised sweaty scrotums and marmoset turds in a glass. Or 'crystal malt', as it's known in the brewing trade.

But what you want to know, I'm sure, is which beers were actually any bloody good. Because, some of them really were rather excellent.

So, these are the cask beers I ticked in 2013, to which I gave my highest possible score of 8/9. (OK, so 9/9 is theoretically achievable but I've only awarded it to two beers in my entire life, so fuck off!)

Monday, December 23, 2013

50% off all naked goose-fat massages - today only

So, it's nearly Christmas then, and I've been feeling like I ought to write some sort of a seasonal bloggette.

You know, festive spirit and snowflakes and goodwill beaming down upon the glans of humankind. That sort of thing.

But the sorry truth is that I haven't really come up with any new Christmassy recipes yet, and I already used the puntastic title 'Yule Blog' a few years back, and can't think of anything anywhere near as clever.

So you'll have to amuse yourselves and just pretend that I said something hilarious about cloves.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Utterly Paphotic

Having an e-Passport is great.

It means you can breeze through immigration at Gatwick in no time, whilst pointing and laughing at the suckers in the lengthy queue with their manual passports.

'So long, losers!' you get to say, as you merrily scan your way across the border and into the Arrivals Wetherspoons.

Of course, as the new e-passports are phased in, the balance will shift. Soon we'll start seeing queues, and then they'll be the same length as the non-e queues. One day the last remaining people with old fashioned documents will be having the last laugh when 99% of us are waiting in line to scan.

But for now, it's the golden age of the electonric passport, and I fully intend to savour the schadenfreude.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Tourism and Chips

If you're in the mood for pity, I have to get up at the crack of sheer unreasonableness tomorrow morning to catch a 7AM flight from Gatwick.

Assuming we get past the initial hurdle of waking the fuck up on time, things should get better as we're off to Cyprus for a couple of days. It should be fairly mild, the food ought to be great, and it's another country to tick off the list - No. 34 for me!

Paphos in December isn't the most mainstream short break, which might be why the flights and hotels were grunt-cheap. And that suits me. I don't want to be a typical tourist if I can possibly help it.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Let's drink to the Wintersmith

I've never been a particularly big fan of Terry Pratchett.

Sorry, Terry. It was just never really my sort of thing. I've never read Harry Potter either.

(And, embarrassingly, I actually assumed the Harry Potter series was written by Pratchett until around about the time that JK Rowling started outselling him...)

Truth be told, I don't read a whole lot of fiction at all, much less elves'n'goblins fantasy-type fiction, and while I've idly skimmed the first few pages of a couple of his novels, I've never actually finished one, and knew almost nothing about Discworld until a couple of months ago.

(And there's about 40 booksworth to know about, so I really am coming from a place of near-total ignorance here!)