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, June 27, 2014

It's almost Pub time

If you run a pub, it might be time to start getting excited. Nervous, maybe. Perhaps even a little aroused.

You see, we're into the final few days of June, which means that the epicentre of the year is fast approaching, and the judging of the 2013-14 London Pub of the Year can begin.

Now in it's third year, the competition is likely to be more intense than ever as the number of brilliant pubs in the capital has increased substantially over the past 12 months. (Obviously if your pub is fucking shit you have nothing to worry about. Move along, nothing to see here...)

You'll probably have noticed that we have a bit of a logistical dilemma though, in that last year's winner, the very wonderful Catford Bridge Tavern closed its doors for the last time just a few months after picking up the trophy.

So, I've given things a lot of thought and come to a decision. I think it's a good one because there are literally no losers. Not yet, anyway.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Tuck Off

Nobody believes me when I tell them about five finger KitKats - there's even misinformation on the internet denying their very existence - but in the mid-1980s they were as real as Feargal Sharkey topping the charts and Findus Crispy Pancakes for tea. 

Designed to fit in the old-fashioned mechanical vending machines that my late grandad serviced for a living, the five fingers were shorter than on the normal model, giving the KitKat what we'd call a 'landscape' orientation these days.

They were one of only two sweet items available from my schools very limited tuck shop - the other being little boxes of chocolate-filled discs, sort of like giant Smarties but much bigger. Bigger even than Minstrels. But I can't for the life of me remember what they were called because I always had a five-fingered KitKat.

The vending machines were always out of order (grandad never came to repair them) and the tuck shop was only open for about 20 minutes a day, which probably added to the allure. When, in 1989, I moved to a massive Secondary school with a permanently open canteen that sold all kinds of crisps and chocolates, including normal 'portrait' KitKats, it just wasn't as special.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014


So, England's chances of advancing beyond the group stages in Brazil suffered a predictable setback at the hands of Italy, but nobody seems to be particularly disheartened by the result.

Maybe it's because everyone blithely expects Uruguay and Costa Rica to bend over for us so we can continue the ancient English custom of squeaking through to the quarters and losing on penalties.

But maybe it's just because it was Italy. And people don't really mind losing to Italy. Because they don't mind Italy?

I've long thought that the reason that England struggle in World Cup finals is that while they may be consistently good enough to dispatch the weaker nations, there exists a core of national teams that, for various reasons, are more or less invincible to us, even on their bad days.

And Italy are one of those teams that we're simply incapable of beating. Along with Germany, Brazil, Argentina, France, Spain and Portugal. A somewhat lengthy list, which in itself pretty much explains why we never fucking win anything.

The thing is, if it had been Germany or Argentina or one of those other teams that we never beat no matter how well we play, we'd all be right, royally fucked off about it, but because it's Italy, we just, well, sort of accept it. Così è la vita.