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!

Sunday, October 7, 2018

A pot that is hot (6)

Forget Bodyguard or Strictly or Grumbleton Glump, or whatever it is you people are watching these days.

The best programmes on British TV at the moment are 1986 episodes of Top of the Pops on BBC4, and old Coronation Street on ITV3. No arguments, please, this really is as good as it gets.

Yes, it's a Hotpot!
If you haven't caught up with Old Corrie, we're in about mid-1990 now, a few months after Alan Bradley got killed by the tram, and probably a year or so before Alec Gilroy's fit granddaughter shows up and is sullied by Andy McDonald.

But we get two episodes every day from a era when they were broadcast at a rate of two per week, so that 'year' will pass by pretty quickly. And there's still a long, long way to go before it descends into an unwatchable retirement home for actors who can't get any other work.

Be transported back to a simpler time. A better time. A time when people were still with us.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Is cask ale going the way of vinyl?

I have considerable admiration for vinyl collectors.

Obviously it was once the dominant format for releasing music, but when the CD came along it was largely usurped from the marketplace over several years. Sales of CDs themselves then went into decline with the emergence of downloads and subsequently streaming - us audiophiles know that this hasn't necessarily represented progress and are increasingly frustrated that most modern-day music consumers don't really seem to care.

Vinyl lovers stuck with their records against the tide, and, I think, have been proven largely right in their instincts. (Personally I went down the very niche route of super hi-fidelity digital music on DVD-A, a format which never took off and is now considered pretty much dead, despite sounding superb!)

But vinyl is now a specialist niche. It will, in all likelihood, never be truly mainstream ever again. No matter how good it sounds, what if the music you happen to like simply doesn't get released on vinyl? A lot of music isn't. (Yes, I think you can already see where the comparison with real ale is coming from...)