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, 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.