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, December 27, 2020

Will it be COVID that finally kills off cask beer?

With Christmas done and dusted, probably with Arsenic, we're rapidly approaching the death throes of 2020 and at this time of the year, I would usually be thinking 'Golden Pints' and telling you all about my favourite beers.

This time around I shan't bother because I've drunk so little beer this year, what with the pubs having been closed for so much of it and my strong preference being for drinking beer on cask while sitting comfortably in a pub.

But this year, visits to the pub have been - shock, horror! - somewhat thin on the ground (and beer festivals absolutely nonexistent). For what little its worth, my favourite cask pints of the year were Arbor's You may say I'm a dreamer and Mallinson's Shift, but there wasn't a whole lot of competition as there wasn't a whole lot of drinking going on.

I know it's not the same for everyone. I know plenty of people are happy enough drinking cans and bottles at home and given the opportunity to spend more time there, might have actually drunk more than in a typical year.

But that's not me.

And so, I come to the question that's been bothering me for a while now: Is this the end, more or less, of cask beer?!?

Monday, December 14, 2020

The Deacon Centre

OK, so this is, if you like, the BV 2020 Christmas Charity Appeal.

I want you to donate to The Deacon Centre. And if you can't do that, please Like, Follow, Share, Forward and all of that other stuff. LocalGiving for donations. Our Facebook page for general support and sharing.

The Deacon Centre, Caterham
Believe. Achieve.
This has been a shit year, right? Very little socialising, very little eating out, hardly any going to the pub and beer festivals have been non-existent. We've all had a terrible time.

One of the few positive things that actually happened this year is that a new charity, The Deacon Centre has been established, and things have worked out in such a way that I find myself Chair of the Board of Trustees.

Named after Joey Deacon, we'll be running creative spaces for Service Users with Physical, Learning and Communication disabilities and those who support them. Creative writing. Music. Art and Crafts. Drama. Giving people opportunities to express themselves creatively; a chance to really 'live' rather than to merely 'exist'. (We might even offer some food-related sessions at some point!)

We have some great ideas and big plans for when the pandemic is finished, and a determination to make a difference. It's very early days so we need all the support we can get.

So, if you do one thing this Christmas, do it for Joey.


Monday, December 7, 2020

Where is the substance?

On Friday I went to the pub - for the first time since Lockdown II 'ended' - for a few pints and, of course, a substantial meal as is now required by law.

These are profitable times for Britain's Scotch Egg industry. Pasty bakers too, I shouldn't wonder. But possibly not such great days for our wet-led pubs and their customers who have suffered more than most from the fucklery that is COVID-management legislation.

The industry is doing its utmost to cope with a frankly ridiculous situation - we've seen ultra-basic pasta-based meals sold for just 1p with no obligation to consume it. 'Meal replacement' protein drinks on sale, and of course, several seasonal ales named 'substantial meal'. Then there is the ingenious trick of telling everyone when they arrive that 'unfortunately the kitchen is very slow today and it might be a long time before your food arrives.' What a wheeze...