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, January 19, 2016

No more paltry poultry

There are few foodstuffs more homogenised in our culture than chicken.

In Britain we eat more than a pound per person per week, but the vast majority is consumed as a staple commodity, without pride or pleasure. It's the 'sliced white' of the meat industry, for sure. 

We're happy eating it in nugget, tikka or Coronation form, but are we maybe doing a disservice to the humble chicken by passing it off as a mere canvas for more interesting things? I like a Chicken Jalfrezi and I'll happily polish off a giant plate of buffalo wings. But, let's be honest, none of these are really about the chicken, are they?

A nicely roasted free-range chicken can be a thing of beauty for sure, but we hardly ever eat it these days. Sadly, we're far more likely to be stopping off at Chicken Cottage at 2AM for cheap battery chicken scraps, where the lack of underlying flavour is concealed by swathes of fat and a secret blend of herbs and spices. It's depressing; probably more so if you're a chicken!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Libertarian rantings

January is undoubtedly the favourite time of year for puritans, killjoys, and illiberal scaremongers, all of them seeking to get inside our heads and extract vengeance for any pleasure we might've gleaned from the festive season.

Top of the list is the lowering of the 'recommended drinking limits', which were already impractically low, to the point where no amount of alcohol is now considered safe, and neither men nor women should regularly consume more than 14 units a week. One glass of wine or a pint of weak beer per day, basically.

Government guidelines.  The very phrase makes me reach for a glass. And as usual, the science backing it up is pretty dubious when you actually scrutinise it.

Monday, January 4, 2016

BV's best beers of 2015

Well, it looks like 2015 is finally over - I don't know about you, but after suffering the seemingly inescapable march of time and life going faster and faster, the year actually went pretty slowly. Maybe time is slowing down? Maybe God slammed on the celestial handbrakes?

Or maybe it's just because it was a year with lots crammed into it, like a bulging Temporal Christmas Stocking. Perhaps with crudely-wrapped action figures all poking out the sides and distorting the very fabric of time?

I got to visit 12 new countries during the 12 months. That was pretty cool. And I finally ate in the House of Commons' Members Dining Room, and invented the Pimms Lagerita.

So, yes, it's been quite a year, but the backdrop to any sort of existence is, of course, beer, and this is the time when I traditionally tell you all what the best ones were. Well, the best new beers I sampled during the year, obviously. I seldom retread.