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!

Monday, July 27, 2015

BV London Pub of the Year 2014-15 - part two

If you thought part one of the 2014-15 PotY competion was business as usual, you'd be a little bit right. Or a lot bit right.

But what makes the competition fresh and interesting every year - and hopefully injects at least some element of surprise - is the arrival of the new contenders. Five lovely little pubs that weren't in the competition last year but are hoping to take top spot nonetheless.

And, unlike the General Election, there are no desperate retreads amongst our intake - these five are all PotY debutants! And one of them even does the world's best sausage rolls!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

BV London Pub of the Year 2014-15 - part one

What's your favourite thing about the Summer?

For some it's the scalding hot weather; for others, the sensation of sand in their footwear that lingers long after they've left the beach.

But in a recent survey 98.8% of people said that the best thing about Summer was finding out which pub has won the BV Pub of the Year trophy. No, really. That's what 98.8% of people said.

And here we are, it's that time. That special, magical time. 98.8% of peoples favourite time.

As I explained recently, we're playing by some slightly new rules this year, but the principle remains pretty much the same: Last year's top five pubs compete against five new contenders and we'll reveal the winner some time next month.

Today we'll check up on the first batch - the best of the best from the 2013-14 competition...

Friday, July 10, 2015

The Pimm's Lagerita

It was back to school for me this week as I attended a 'How to Judge Beer' day course with fellow British Guild of Beer Writers members at the Institute of Brewing and Distilling.

Now, I know what you're thinking: 'But Ben, you're an expert on all things beer. You don't need to be told how to taste the difference between a Lemon Saison and an Imperial Chocolate Stout. You're fucking amazing, you are.'

Phenolic! Diacetyl! Taste those off-flavours!
Well, quite, but we all have gaps in our knowledge and this course happily focused on a few key things that I've never formally studied, particularly around the detection of off-flavours in beer.

It's not just about telling the difference between good beer, and beer that has gone off either. There are several differents kinds of off-flavours arising from myriad different causes, not all of them are considered universally unpleasant, and some are even tolerated by brewers and drinkers, to the point that they're not necessarily considered off-flavours at all, but a de facto characteristic of the beer!

Plenty of drink for thought, and another set of things to consider next time I'm on a judging panel.