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 23, 2014

A Christmas sermon on Food banks

The other day, while buying substantial quantities of cheese, ham and other delicious goodies at Borough Market, I considered how fortunate I am to be able to afford festive food of this quality.

There are many areas where society is becoming increasingly classless, but food and drink isn't really one of them.

At the top of the Tenenbaum, obviously, there are people far richer than I who can afford to enjoy this sort of artisan produce and shop in high-end markets all year round. (And indeed there is a tiny elite layer above them whose household staff buy it in for them!)

Then you've got people like me who, through a combination of economics and convenience are largely supermarket shoppers but who are lucky enough to be able to afford to splash out on Ginger Pig Ham occasionally. (It is fucking great ham even if it works out at about £3 per single slice!)

I know it's a bit of a crass generalisation, but lots of people will have a modest, Tescoey Christmas, with their tubes of Pringles, tins of Stella and industrial British pâté, and then there are those who will struggle to afford even this. Maybe even some who will be going hungry on Christmas Day.

I considered how I fitted somewhere in the middle of this socioeconomic Cheese and Ham sandwich, as I made a donation to the local Food bank, including a pack of Mince Pies (fairly decent ones too - Sainsbury's Taste the Difference, I think they were) to hopefully brighten someone else's Christmas.

They only accept dried/packaged/tinned food, otherwise I'd have gone the whole hog and taken them a bit of ham, maybe some of the gloriously stinky Époisses too.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tiny Tim II - Revenge of the Festive Set Menu

There are lots of annoying things about Christmas, right?

The Godless over-commercialisation, the pubs full of fairweather drinkers, the bandwagon-jumping attempts at seasonal ales made by unimaginatively stuffing a bland, weak, twiggy bitter with nutmeg and cinnamon...

But a greater offence against the senses, possibly than all of these combined, is the shitty £25 Christmas set menu.

You know the one. Three courses. Three options per course. Inoffensive to the point of blandness. Where you have to try really hard not to look like a grumpy old scotal sac in front of co-workers as you wash down dry, overcooked meat with rough-as-fuck house red?

(I know that I had a bit of a whinge on this topic in the very early days of this blog, but it's been four years, so I'm entitled to another one. Consider it an early Christmas present.)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Tapping into Untappd

Generally I'm one of those 'early adopter' types.

I was singing the praises of strong, uncompromisingly-hopped American Pale Ales back in the 1990s when most people simply refused to believe that Yank beer could be anything other than bland pisswater.

I learned how to pronounce 'quinoa' and quickly dismissed it as a viable food option long before it became a staple of the dining table in fucking Highgate.

And this Winter I'm bringing back possets. Trust me, I'm way ahead of the curve on this one. At some point in the next couple of weeks I'll share my Insane Clown Posset recipe which will blow your ballsacks away.

But it's impossible to be bleeding-edge all the time.

For the past few weeks I've been using Untappd to keep track of my beer drinking, and while it's extremely useful and quite addictive, it does feel like I'm very, very late to the party, like some guy that only joined Facebook last month and still hasn't worked out that sending Frontier Crushville Candy Saga requests to everybody every 20 minutes makes him a cunt.