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, May 29, 2015

Stock Cupboard Essentials - Pancetta and Chorizo Risotto

Somebody asked me the other day about my stock cupboard essentials, with the qualifier 'I suppose you get asked this all the time'. Which was interesting because I can't actually remember ever being asked before.

I suppose it's one of those things that people take for granted. We all have the same sort of shit in our kitchens, and the bigger the kitchen, the more of it we have.

But I'm not wholly convinced that this is true.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mild mannered thoughts

It's perhaps a tad unfortunate that this years Mild Month is coterminous with the announcement of (and scurrilious conclusion-drawing from!) the cessation of Robinson's 1892 Mild, which some are proclaiming as the final death knell of the style.

A quick check of my personal records reveals that I've tried 33 different Robinson's beers, none of which were this particular mild. That in itself says quite a bit.

I'm a ticker. So given that I will always try a beer I haven't had before - subject to limits of capacity, which are probably greater than the average persons - this suggests that I've never been anywhere that Robbies Mild has been available, apart from possibly a beer festival where it would've been lost amongst hundreds of other, largely more exciting brews.

This in turn indicates that Robinson's have been astonishingly crap at distributing their mild and probably had little interest in the product. Compare it to their heavily-promoted Trooper, a fairly bland beer which appears to be available absolutely fucking everywhere.

I've had two other Milds brewed at Robinson's - Young Tom and Hartley's Mild - and I've even been to Stockport once (first game after City were relegated from the Premiership, won 2-0) so if I've never had the opportunity to try the beer, it's a fair bet that your average drinker hasn't either.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Food fit for Commoners

You probably haven't failed to notice that there's an Election coming up this week.

Who are you voting for?
Actually, if you live round here, you might very well have failed to notice. In this ultra-safe Labour seat they could, and often do, stick a red rosette on a steaming dogturd and it would still romp home with a huge majority, so nobody is bothering to make much of an effort.

As far as the wider electoral picture goes I shall, of course, be rooting for the Tories and hoping for the best, but I'm not at all confident now. We're almost certainly heading for abject constitutional carnage for various regrettable reasons that I won't go into here - I'm well aware that the stuff that fascinates politicos like myself is more of a turn-off to most people than the sight and aroma of a steaming dogturd with a red rosette on it.

Anyway, one of the advantages of an Election campaign is that the house isn't sitting, and that means that ordinary folk like you and I get a rare opportunity to see a bit more of the innards of our parliament than we normally would.

Places like the Members' Dining Room, which I visited last week, fulfilling a long-held wish.