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, October 27, 2015

Half-measure for measure

So, I've just completed the latest Spoons Bingo, which is great timing as Le Gothique's always excellent Halloween beer festival starts tomorrow, and then on Thursday morning we're flying off to the Far East for a week.

(Yeah I know. We've only just come back from Krakow. And Cumbria the weekend before. And Tallinn/Helsinki the week before that. Amazing that I had enough time in the Green and Pleasant land to get all 50 beers really, isn't it?)

Now, for more years than I can remember,  one of the Wetherfest's selling points is that beers are available in smaller measures and you can sample three third-pint measures of different beers for the price of a pint.

Obviously this doesn't apply to me because I drink pints, but most tickers do not, and it's become an all-too familiar sight at the bar - the bedraggled scooper, hunched over his beerly triptych, squintingly scribbling notes into his crumpled festival programme.

Last week I started to find this phenomenon just a little bit irritating, after waiting ages at the bar while countless trios of thirds were served, so I ordered three of the beers I needed all at once, sidled up to Mr. Threethirds and lined up my pints, just as he had his thirds.

He looked at me. I beamed back disconcertingly until he started shuffling on his feet.

I looked down at my pints, glanced over at his thirds and then looked him in the eye again, still smiling.

To be honest, I'm not even entirely sure what point I was trying to make, but I felt better for it, and that's the important thing. I guess I could've gone on to glance at our respective crotches, but that would've just been weird.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The curry of my youth - Lamb Tikka Rogan

Back in the 80s, the longest shadow hanging over the world was the hole in the Ozone layer. Then it was Third World Debt, then the Banking Crisis.

Now it's Shit Takeaways.

I used to be staunchly of the opinion that any curry cooked at home would never be quite as good as the equivalent dish from your local Tandoori restaurant. They had the specialist equipment; The spices you can't buy anywhere without being in the know; The proper Tandoor oven.

Now I'm not so sure - while there are some perfectly good places plying their trade in the 21st century marketplaces of Just Eat and HungryHouse, there are also some right munters, pigstrotters and tugboats out there. (If you accept that these terms can apply as equally to shit takeaways as they might to someone picked up in a shit nightclub before picking up a shit takeaway!)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Expensive 'Spoons, expensive countries and a very expensive poo

One of the most insane weekends of my life involved a stag night in Tallinn, eight years ago.

We set off at stupid'o'clock on a Friday morning, on a minibus from Ipswich, started drinking in the Stansted Wetherspoons, and got to the Estonian capital shortly after midday local time, if I recall correctly.

There then followed a marathon afternoon and evening of spiced beer and shots of pepper vodka, followed by weird, tasty, offally food. I suspect I drank more than anybody else. At least eight pints plus half a dozen shots, I'd imagine.