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, December 18, 2015

Force Feeding

Having grown up obsessed with collecting Star Wars figures, it seems strange to reflect on the fact that, until yesterday, I'd only ever seen one of the films in the cinema - Return of the Jedi, on its original release 32 and half years ago. When I was six.

And having pretty much dismissed the concept of the prequel films altogether (I'm not even sure if I ever saw them all entirely through), mostly because of George Lucas's unforgivable tinkering with the original trilogy, I wasn't sure what to expect when we went to see The Force Awakens on its day of release. (Don't worry, there's no spoilers here - unless you're really looking for them!)

Not content with bringing The Force back into my world after a lengthy absence, I also took the opportunity to check out The Lounge at the Odeon Bayswater - where a full table service provides the food and drink, while you watch the film from luxury reclining seats with footrests. A strange combination, which has apparently been around for a few years, so it must be working out for them.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Montezuma's Chocolate Lager - a rare review

OK, so it's fairly uncommon for me to post reviews of a single beer.

Like most beer writers, I sometimes receive samples from breweries for my earnest consideration, but the reality is that I prefer to do most of my drinking at the pub, and these bottles (and more recently cans) can be left lying around for months to the point where they may not be in optimal condition, and any assessment would be coloured by that.

I also feel that if I review one of them, I should probably review them all, which creates a lot of work for me, and ultimately a series of fairly samey reviews about fairly samey beers. I'm not a bottled beer expert and there are plenty of other writers keen to work in this fashion, so I'll leave it to them.

And while I'm grateful for the freebies, if a beer is good enough for me to write about, I'll probably be buying it myself.

(Occasionally, I do make exceptions if a beer is particularly good, bad or just noteworthy - like Brewmeister 'Snake Venom' and Brewdog 'Nanny State', neither of which, incidentally, were free!)

Montezuma's Chocolate Lager is a collaboration between the Hogs Back brewery in Surrey and Montezuma's, a fairly small time chocolatier based in West Sussex. In all honesty, I don't think I've ever tried one of their chocolate bars, and while Hogs Back beers have been around for as long as I've been drinking, they're not a brewer that has made much of an impression, at least until now. The beer was developed last year, but I've only discovered it in the last couple of months.

This is a very good beer, a very different beer, and at 4.5% a very accessible, drinkable beer. And the good news is that it's widely available in supermarkets, at least around here.