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, October 24, 2014

Cider-pig, Cider-pig

I'm as guilty as anybody of maintaining cider's second-class citizenship as a poor relation to beer.

Pork belly in cider
Don't get me wrong. I like cider a lot and, as other beer writers have noted, it has a stronger claim to being our national drink than ale.

But how often do I write about the stuff? About as often as I put pen to paper on the subject of vegan wholefoods and legumes. Which isn't often, obviously.

At the pub I'll only even look at the ciders available when I've made absolutely fucking damn sure that there are no beers that I want. Even then, if I'm honest, it's more likely that I've already walked out, leaving a Ben-shaped cloud of dust for the cartoon landlord to gently prod into disintegratatedness.

And while beer recipes have been hot fodder for a while now, cider recipes are still a bit thin on the ground.

So, what with it being Autumn'n'shit, it's probably a good time to share a seasonal, cidery recipe with you good people. This is a simple and relatively inexpensive dish that really highlights the relationship betwixt butchered pig and fermented apple.

Monday, October 13, 2014

All my trials soon be over

'You'll be sitting around for hours', 'you'll get sent home early and told not to come back', 'You'll probably just do a one-day trial and that'll be it'...

Pretty much everything that people told me about jury service turned out not to be true. And that's probably for the best.

I started at Woolwich Crown Court last Monday (an absolute cuntbugger of a place to get to, by the way!) and I'm now well into my third case. It's been more or less non-stop and really rather interesting - both the trials themselves and the fascinating insights into the machinations of our flawed but strangely effective legal system.

Truth is, serving on a jury has been an ambition of mine since I was a child, and it's been at least as fulfilling an experience as I'd hoped for, if not moreso.

(I still want to release a single that makes the lower reaches of the charts, I still want to win a parliamentary seat, and I still want to race an Opel Monza against a Ford Granada coupe while listening to Queen, but at least I can tick jury service off the list now!)

The sad (but philosophically necessary) reality is that the more ambitious ambitions are, the more likely they will go forever unfulfilled, but while I'm on a role and still relatively young, it would be nice to try and fulfil some of my foody, drinky ambitions.

That's got to be easier than the Monza-Granada-Queen race, right?

Friday, October 3, 2014


Like 45% of the people in Scotland I was disappointed with the referendum result, even though it panned out exactly as I predicted.

Not because I'm a Nationalistic Scot or have any kind of Nationalistic Scottish interests, but because I care rather more passionately than most about answering the West Lothian Question and the unfairness that is the Barnett Formula. Independence for Scotland would have provided a clean and fair resolution to these issues and left the Jocks to do their own thing without impacting unreasonably on the rest of us.

For that reason I was staunchly and unashamedly in the 'vote YES and FUCK OFF' camp. I'm surprised there weren't more of us really. (Not that we got a vote.)