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!

Monday, December 20, 2021

Have a very cheesy Christmas!

You know it, I know it. 

It's been another year consisting primarily of bitter disappointment. 

A year when freedoms were routinely steamrolled by authority. A year when the goalposts were constantly being moved, and the ball of wool dangled constantly just out of reach.

A year when whatever you did was never going to be enough, and the only thing you had to look forward to was getting jabbed in the arm again. And again.

Anyway, here's my rubbishcunt Christmas present to you readers. A recipe for quite possibly the cheesiest pasta ever, not to mention the unhealthiest. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Fot pit nor furpose!

What is the point of the Good Beer Guide?

No, really, what is the point of it now? 

It's not as though folks haven't been asking that question for some years, given that a thick paper volume that might be 18 months or more out of date is a bit of an anachronism in an age when we can all whip out our phones and search for up-to-date pub and beer gen in an instant.

But I myself didn't go out of my way to ask that particular question, partly because it would be labouring an obvious point, but mainly because I've long held the official CAMRA Guide in some esteem, largely based, probably, on the affection of nostalgia.

So I held off. Until now.

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Shut up and float!

Some disappointing news this week, with Brewdog putting off their long-rumoured flotation until 2023.

Hopes had been raised when they appointed a new Chairman last month, reportedly with the very specific intention of getting them listed, but - and they have plenty of previous in this department - the company decided to change tack.

Given that the only other opportunity to trade shares only happens once a year, and gets cancelled most years, the chances of being able to sell Brewdog shares at a fair price any time soon would appear to be low.

Which pisses me off massively as I've been wanting to rid myself of 99% of my 'shares' for some time now. 

Thursday, October 21, 2021

BV on a roll

At any given time, in any given corner of the internet, there will be people having futile arguments, spreading misinformation and expressing points of view that are best described as 'monumentally fucktarded'.

I have no intention to attempt to bring these pointless debates to a conclusion as that in itself would be just as pointless as the 'discussions' themselves. So I'll just say a few words and then leave it be, but in all likelihood I'll speak more sense on the subject than you've ever heard before.  

So, bread rolls...

Yes, I said rolls. I shall be talking about rolls - and all the other names that people indiscriminately use for them. Batches, baps, cobs, barms and whathaveyou.

Monday, September 6, 2021

EO2HO: The sequel

With the various flavours of lockdown now looking like they might just be retreating into history, it's time to get out there and support 'the industry'.

OK, I won't say it again because I fucking hate that term, but it's not rocket surgery: Drink in as many pubs as you can, eat in restaurants, go to cafes and coffee shops and anywhere else you can eat and drink. Revisit old favourites, try new places, and generally enjoy it all while the experience is possible. (Just in case the worst should happen yet again.)

I recently checked out a couple of places that were new to me, and both are well worth visiting if you're ever in the Camden or Tooting areas, or don't mind going to places on the Northern Line!

Eating out to help out - let's do it!

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Every ABV: 8.5 to 10.5%

And so we reach the fourth (and, for now, final) part of the 'Every ABV' series. I know you're all eager to find out my favourite cask beers at higher strengths, so let's crack right on with it.

8.5% -  Big Smoke The Judge

So many breweries have appeared in Greater London over the past decade that some are often overlooked. The Antelope in Surbiton - former home of Big Smoke brewery - won my 2017-2018 London Pub of the Year award which hopefully went some small way to putting them on the map, even if the name 'Big Smoke' is possibly a tad misleading. Surbiton is a long way from the square mile; Esher even further! And as for the beer, well it's a big, juicy DIPA with plenty of Citra and Simcoe hops, just the way I like 'em.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Every ABV: 6.5 to 8.4%

So, what are we all going to do now that the footie is over and before the Olympics begins? 

We shall do what every good English patriot does: We shall go to the pub and drink beer. 

And from Monday we'll even be able to walk up to the bar to order, and visit the toilet facilities without wearing a mask - in some places at least. I'm looking forward to doing both of these things.

(If you only watched Euro 2020 because you wanted to see what my 'Final Meal' would be and were disappointed when I didn't post one, the truth is that I forsaw the England-Italy final ten years before it happened and came up with Full English Breakfast Linguine in anticipation of the match!)

Anyway, here's the latest part of my 'Every ABV' series, where I move onto the stronger stuff...

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Every ABV: 4.5 to 6.4%

Having rated the best cask beers between 2.5 and 4.4% ABV a few days ago, I shall now move on to the slightly stronger stuff.

Will there be shocks? Will there be surprises? Will there be the opportunity to win a small cash prize? Let's get cracking and find the fuck out...

(No cash prizes.)


Thursday, June 24, 2021

Every ABV: 2.5 to 4.4%

What with me being a sad beer geek since long before it was even slightly cool, I've been keeping records of the cask beers I've been drinking for over 25 years. That's a whole lot of beer, that is. Over 10,000 different ones. At a whole lot of different strengths too.

Which leads me to an arguably pointless but nevertheless interesting question: What is the best cask beer I've had at every different ABV? 


Some cask beer yesterday (photo taken years ago)
It turns out that I've had at least one beer at every ABV from 2.5% up to 10.5% (with one rather frustrating exception!) so why not do a series of posts exploring my favourites and - where I can actually remember the beer in question - why they were so fucking good.

Obviously this list is massively subjective, and less common ABVs will have an advantage over beers that are 4.2 or 4.5, of which I've drunk literally thousands. And it's far from an exact science - beers are allowed some variance a few points either way from the advertised strength, so it might be that all hell broke loose and that 6.9% beer I loved was actually only 6.7%. Oh the humanity.

But I don't really care, and it's potentially all part of the fun anyway. So, here we go, kicking off with the weakest end of the spectrum...

Monday, June 14, 2021

Uber EatShitAndDie

Today I'm going to tell you about Uber Eats, why they totally suck donkey dick, how their offering is a colossal fuck-off swindle, and why I'd rather starve than use their shitting hagfish of a delivery service ever again.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Lockdown Lunches #4: How to make a pasta bake

There's a strong chance that that today will turn out to be the first day with zero COVID-19 deaths in this country, even under the rather spurious criteria that counts anyone who dies of anything within 28 days of a positive test as a victim, even if they drop dead from a sudden heart attack or get crushed by a falling anvil.

A Pasta Bake, during Lockdown
The pubs are open - albeit outdoors - and from next Monday we'll even be able to get a pint inside as God intended. We might even start to get a decent choice of cask beer again, despite my ongoing concerns.

So, it looks like things might finally get back to something approaching normality. And not before time.

My 'Lockdown Lunches' series of recipes never really became a thing, mainly because I couldn't be bothered. But while we're still technically living under a Lockdown of sorts, I thought I'd add to the series.

It's only a little guide to pasta bakes. You quite possibly know how to do this already. But hey, you're getting a recipe out of me for the first time in months so be grateful for it! Or don't be. I don't fucking care. Tosser.

Monday, April 12, 2021


Last night was, it's fair to say, a bit of a good 'un. 

Technically it was of course this morning. On the stroke of Midnight the latest lockdown came - sort of - to an end, and we were allowed to drink in a pub for the first time this year. Well, outside of a pub.

That's quite a lot of caveat, but it mattered not to the assembled drinkers and gathered press outside the Kentish Belle in the small hours of the morning. We were there for one thing. A taste of freedom. And beer.

For me it was mostly about getting pints of cask ale inside me. The first - Surrey XPA from the Dorking brewery - went down in one, and by 12:02 I was on my second pint (Crafty's Loxhill Biscuit) which didn't last much longer. It's April 12 and #CaskIsBack. Oh yes.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Back when Thornton's was actually 'essential'

Today I've been eating bits of a Thornton's Easter Egg, which made me ponder that one of the many victims of lockdown has been the company that made it. 

All 61 of their stores will not reopen once restrictions on 'non-essential' retail are lifted next week, bringing an end to what became a fairly ubiquitous presence on the high street. And I don't really care.

In all honesty, I thought there would've been more shops than that - every high street in every town has a Thornton's shop, right? - but apparently they've been reducing the number for years from a peak of over 350 in whatever year my brain is obviously stuck in. Probably a year far longer ago than I think it is.

The brand, now owned by Ferrero, will carry on in some form, and I have to say I probably won't miss their stores. I can't remember the last time I went in one but it was at least 15 years ago and that was just for an ice cream on a hot day.

But I haven't always been indifferent about them.