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, August 31, 2015

Non-alcoholics Anonymous

When they first went mainstream back in the late 1980s, non-alcoholic and low alcohol beers swiftly became the butt of jokes. They were right up there with Eastern Bloc cars and straight-to-video horror films on the International Crapness Scale.
Apparently you can still buy this stuff

Barbican. Kaliber. Possibly a bottle of Clausthaler if you were in an upmarket wine bar and wanted your non-alcohol imported. It was all woeful.

Maybe you're lucky enough to be too young to remember. Unfortunately I'm not. And because they were non-alcoholic I recall them with greater clarity than any other beers I drank as a teenager.

Even then, it wasn't just about the not-getting-drunk either. They tasted so extraordinarily bland that they didn't even qualify as a good soft drink. An afternoon drinking Kaliber and skipping school left one yearning for a can of Quatro. Remember that? Quatro?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

BV London Pub of the Year 2014-15 - the results

Choosing a Pub of the Year is never easy.

It's not, for example, like choosing socks, which is one of the simplest decisions facing mankind. You can't just pick pubs out of the sock drawer and say 'yep, these'll do', or chuck it back in on the basis that a vibrantly-coloured Pac-Man design might not be the most appropriate internal footwear for your grandfather's funeral.

This is the fourth BV Pub of the Year contest, and one thing I learned pretty quickly is that it's difficult. Your brain becomes the battlefield for endless power-struggles over which pubs to exclude, why one pub worth seven points is not quite as good than other with the same score, or why that might be unfair on the first pub. You've never had a bad pint at Pub X, but in your heart of hearts, you know that the atmosphere doesn't live up to Pub Y, but your head of heads can't qualify exactly why not...

It's like having a massive fuck-off draw full of flawless, fragrant-smelling pairs of socks, none of which could possibly cause offence to anybody at any time.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Irresponsible Drinking

So, it's the start of London Beer City.

What a week it's going to be - just look at the schedule. A whole host of fantastic beery events taking place all over the capital.

Brewery open days, one-off brews, beer and food pairings, it all looks lovely, doesn't it?

Trouble is, there's hardly space for any beer in this room, given the massive, trumpeting elephant that's stamping all over common sense and reason as we speak.


The same week. Who in their right mind could possibly think that this insane scheduling is a good idea, hmm?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Don't ASK

Oftentimes, when reviewing places to eat, I have a tendency to ramble on, just a bit.

If the food is good, I'll wax endlessly about the succulence of the crispy fat and the opulent richness of the sauce, and if it's bad you won't be able to stop me banging on about the ropey quality of the beef and how the pastry tasted of margarine and poor peoples kitchens.

This review, however, I should be able to motor through in just a few short paragraphs because the food was so absolutely, utterly unmemorable.