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, March 25, 2014

Shooting practice with Spiced Applescotch

You might find it difficult to believe, perhaps even a little upsetting by proxy, but occasionally my blog comes in for some... how can I put this... criticism?!?

It's alright. I can take it.

Sometimes readers disagree with my view - which is their privilege and right - and there will always be irritable brewers and or restauranteurs who decide that I've been overly critical of their restaurant or their beer and get all touchy about it. I guess it's easier to go on the defensive than looking at the reasons why somebody might have found their product to be a bit shit.

Then there are those who, despite my incontravertible loveliness, just don't appreciate my particular writing style, or who are offended by the prevalence of swearing. Fair enough. You go and read summat else then, wankycunt. I'll stay here and make cheap profanity gags.

One common criticism that I think has been entirely resonable and just though, has been about the quality of the photography. I think it's fair to say that often the snapshots taken on a 3 year old phone perhaps don't quite do justice to the food I've prepared.

So... I done got me a new camera.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Pornographic Joy

Over the past week I've had to firmly bite my tongue and reign in some of my more controversially heartfelt opinions, following the passing of certain individuals with whom I probably would not have got along.

But I face no such moral dilemma today.

Cards on the dining table, I'm genuinely saddened to hear about the death of Clarissa Dickson-Wright, one of my favourite 'celebrity chefs' - if such a tawdry description isn't doing her a disservice - and a truly great English eccentric.

The finest foodie television of the late 1990s saw Clarissa infamously paired up with Jennifer Paterson, an equally outspoken lady of similar girth and uncompromising good taste.

It's been nearly 15 years since Paterson's death brought Two Fat Ladies to a premature end - Christ, time flies, doesn't it? - and it's strange to think that, at 66, Dickson-Wright is actually younger than Paterson was when they started making the series. Both taken too soon.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Can canned beer ever be any good?

Before we were old enough to get served in pubs, my friends and I used to buy cans of beer from the corner shop. We thought it was all very grown up - particularly because we eschewed the usual Fosters and Stella in favour of tinned John Smiths, McEwans Export, and my favourite at the time, Royal Oak.

There was even a 'draught' bitter from Guinness with one of those plastic 'widgets' in the can, which were all the rage in the early 90s. It was probably discontinued years ago, but back in the day it was massive, and even had its own bizarre TV ad, where some guy travelled to an unspecified hot country and chose to keep his supply of Guinness bitter in a river!

Remember this?
I thought it was a nice beer at the time, but I ate Big Macs and Dairy Milk back then as well. Didn't know any better (which was ironic as I thought I knew it all).

Once the pubs started letting us in and we got to drink real beer on a regular basis, it soon dawned on me that the metallic fizz we'd been supping was inherently inferior, and that was that, really. For the best part of 20 years, I've only ever drunk canned beers very, very occasionally, and then usually only out of politeness.

That changed a couple of days ago.