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, February 17, 2015

The brewery where everything turns sour

So, this year I've got a bit of a travel bug biting me squarely on the ballsack, and as a consequence I'm metamorphosing into sort of a less amiable version of Michael Palin. One who has to pay his own way to go to places and doesn't have a TV crew in tow.

Essentially, the plan is to try and tick off 12 whole new countries in 2015, and given that I've already visited 30-odd, including most (though not all) of the closer ones, it could be a bit of a challenge, so I'm trying to get off to a flying start. Except that I don't like flying all that much.

Sampling beer at the Cantillon brewery
Last month we had a short break to Marrakech (and I'll blog a Moroccan tagine recipe once I've perfected it) and the other day we had an even shorter trip to the closest country I hadn't done yet - Luxembourg.

A really, really fucking short trip, actually. About 80 minutes. There's not an awful lot to do in Lux.

However, the upside of this is that we got to use Brussels as a base for a couple of nights to break up the 13 hour train journey, and there is plenty to do there. Especially if you like drinking Belgian beer.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Insane Clown Posset

These days, if you see a 'posset', particularly a lemon posset, on a menu, chances are it'll be a soft, fluffy and inoffensive chilled dessert, probably served with some sort of minute shortbread biscuit.

Fairly wussy stuff, I'm sure you'll agree.

You can see why they used earthenware vessels..
Back in the day, the posset was a bit more hardcore though; The bedtime drink of brutal medieval barons who didn't faff around with a mug of Horlicks and a box set of 'My Family'.

Looking through the history books, you'll find several variants on the posset theme - the only real constant seems to be eggs, milk or cream and some sort of alcohol.

Some versions use strong ale, while others called for sack, a forerunner of sherry. Sometimes they were consumed hot but often they were allowed to cool and set, forming a hard crust on top and a custardy layer between the crust and the liquid, almost like a sort of alcoholic pie.

It's not the prettiest drink ever, but probably quite unlike anything you've ever tasted.
With this 'ancient and modern' take on the posset, I hedge my bets with a mix of Barley Wine and Oloroso Sherry, with the addition of a shot of Absinthe for extra fortification.

There are no lemons involved.