ʽʽHi, I’m Benjamin Nunn – critic, gourmand and author of Ben Viveur. I like to eat and drink. And cook. And write.

You might have read me in an in-flight magazine, or a beer publication, but here on my own blog I'm liberated from the editorial shackles of others so anything goes.

I deal with real food and drink in the real world, aiming to create 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. Likewise, 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!
ʼʼ

Monday, February 19, 2018

Where were you when the Colonel died?

February the 19th, 2018 will forever go down in history as 'the day KFC ran out of chicken'.

Years from now, folks will idly ask 'do you remember that day when KFC ran out of chicken?' and their friend Martha will reply 'Yes, Gerald, it was February the 19th, 2018'. And then they'll reminisce about how the Double Down really wasn't all that, and argue about exactly which 11 herbs and spices made up the Colonel's original recipe.

The Kennedy assassination it may not be, but it's the kind of story that almost defies belief. Chicken isn't just their core product, it's pretty much their only product - and that's why more than half their 900-odd outlets are closed today. How can such a large chain - presumably with robust operations and logistics processes in place - allow something like to ever come close to happening?

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

CAMRA Revitalisation - much ado about nothing?

Last week, CAMRA finally revealed a set of recommendations resulting from their 'Revitalisation' consultation.

I say 'finally', not because there is even a remote sense of finality about this, but because this process has dragged on for absolutely fucking ages, as if swimming against a tide of treacle. I attended one of the very first consultation meetings (in April 2016, which really does seem a hell of a long time ago now) and once the series had concluded, I was invited as a beer writer to a sort of beer media briefing which went into more detail about what they'd learned.

That was about a year ago. They've had a long time to get their shit together following the consultation process, but finally the cat is out of the bag.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Golden Pints: BV's best beers of 2017

Well done you - you made it through another year!

And so, it seems did I, staggering on, from one pint to the next like some sort of thirsty animal. But with better taste in beer, presumably.

As beer-years go, 2017 was a pretty good one (there's scope for a Tori Amos cover there) and the standard of brewing in this country remains at an all time high.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Reindeer Love

OK, something a bit different. Nothing to do with food, nothing to do with restaurants, nothing to do with recipes, nothing, even, to do with pubs and beer, unless you count the several pints I enjoyed at the Radius Arms following a long, hard day in the studio.

You still with me? Good. Now, what I need you to do today is to go and download Reindeer Love by Adam Antler. Yes, it's me. All me. I sing and play all the instruments. And I'd really like to have a Christmas No. 1.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

20 minute recipes - Leek & Stilton Carbonara

Oh, hello there.

How are you? How's your mother? Yes, it's getting a bit nippy out, isn't it? Little bit parky, yes. Getting dark early. Still, soon be Christmas, eh?

Better than going out in the cold
Anyway, someone pointed out to me recently that I haven't actually posted a recipe for absolutelyfuckingages so here's something new I've been working on for the Winter season.


A warming and hearty pasta sauce that's quick and easy to make; sort of Italian with an Anglo-Welsh twist.

Perfect comfort food for an evening in. After all, you don't want to go outside, do you?

And, yes, I'll try to post recipes more often. I know you like them.



Leek & Stilton Carbonara

Ingredients: (makes enough sauce to coat four generous portions of pasta)

Pancetta cubes (or Guanicale if you can get it), about 1/3 lb
Leeks, 2-3, topped and tailed
Stilton, about 1/4 lb, crumbled
Garlic, 2-3 cloves, finely diced
White Wine, about 2 glasses
It's cheesy...
Butter, a very large knob, as it were 
Single cream, about 1/4 pint
Olive oil, a little for frying

To serve:

Tagliatelle, or other fresh pasta of your choice

Black pepper
Fresh Parmesan


Method:

Set a pan on a medium-high heat, and fry off the pancetta and garlic in a little oil for 4-5 minutes while finely slicing the leeks - it's best to use a high-sided saute pan if you're going to be making a decent quantity of sauce.

...and, err, Leeky
Add the leeks and cook for a few more minutes until they soften and start to disintegrate, before turning down the heat a bit. Whack in the crumbled Stilton and a little butter, and stir it about as the cheese melts and begins to coat the meat and leeks.

Pour in the wine a little at a time - if the cheese starts to burn or turn brown, the temperature is too high. It's also perfectly acceptable to add more butter at this point. Because we like butter.

Leave it to simmer for a few minutes while you cook your pasta, but, importantly don't add the cream until a couple of minutes before you're ready to serve.

Almost done!
Once you've added the cream, stir it in, and maybe turn up the heat a notch - you're looking for a consistency that is deliciously creamy but not too thick as it's got to coat the pasta easily.

With plenty of already-salty ingredients in the mix, you shouldn't need to add any further seasoning, but tasting the sauce will do no harm.

Finally add your cooked, drained pasta, ensure it's all well coated and serve right away with a healthy sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper and a little parmesan.

An Italian White will go well with this

Ben Appetit!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Cultural learnings of St Johns Wood for make benefit dubious sense of nostalgia

These days we're all told to 'check our privilege' - I must never lose sight of all the advantages in life I get simply from being a white, middle-class male, some of them so covertly advantageous that I won't even consciously be aware of them.

My gut reaction to this is that there's probably a fair amount of truth in the narrative, but it's far from universal and things are not that straightforward or simplistic.

One of the more nuanced downsides of being a person like me can be the lack of any sense of cultural belonging when it comes to food and drink. We'll never properly know or understand the 'homecoming' that others experience. We don't get to 'feel' aloo gobi deep in our bones.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Lost breweries: H is for Hoskins (and Oldfield)


When I was a very young child, my Godparents had a cat named 'Hoskin'. I can't remember an awful lot about him, assuming he was indeed a 'him'. He was probably a tabby, and must be at least 30 years dead by now. (Or he's still alive and kicking Creme Puff's sorry arse out of the Guinness Book of Records!)

In fact the only thing I actually know for certain is that Hoskin was named after Hoskins brewery, which itself has had a fairly confusing and obfuscated history. Indeed when I drank their beers, there were at least two different Hoskins to choose from, though of course now there are none.