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!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


‘Tis strange how some recipes find themselves being invented.

Take our national dish, Chicken Tikka Masala for example – apparently devised on the spot after a customer asked where the sauce was for his dry tandoori chicken.

Consider also the enormous impact the Earl of Sandwich has had, just by asking for some meat in between slices of bread when he didn’t have time to eat a full lunch.

And let’s not forget Sugar Puffs, which appeared completely by accident in 1802 when a colony of mad bees swarmed into a field and started trying to impregnate grains of wheat.

Actually one of those isn’t true. But this story is:

Wetherpoon's beer festival
 The other night I was travelling around Wetherspoon pubs in South London, with Mrs Ben Viveur, quaffing a few of their festival ales (Just 16 needed to complete the 50 now!)

After leaving the Ship of Fools by West Croydon station, we ran for a train, which turned out to be the wrong one, went off in the wrong direction, and ended up staying at my mum’s that night, via more Wetherspoons in Balham and Tooting – all of which went that we needed to grab something for breakfast the next day.

So, Mrs B-V pops into a little shop late at night to get some bread, only they don’t have any – the only thing they’ve got is a big pack of mini wholemeal pitas.

We ended up not having them for breakfast, what with them being a bit inappropriate and us not getting up until the afternoon anyway, but at dinner time there was an opportunity to create a nice new recipe, which turned out rather well - and all because we got on the wrong train'n'shit.


Simple, delicious, herby lambiness
Ingredients - makes eight

Minced Lamb, 1/2 pound
Aubergine, one full size or several mini, chopped
Mature cheddar, grated
Wholemeal Pitas, eight
Onions, a couple large or a few small, chopped
Tomatoes, about 4 average size, quartered
Red/Orange Pepper, two, chopped (ideally one of each)
Mushrooms, a few, chopped
Garlic Salt
Herbes de Provence
Black Pepper
Worcestershire Sauce
Natural Yoghurt
Juice of a lemon 
Olive oil  

Heat the oil in a big sautee pan, and fry the lamb, adding a generous pinch of garlic salt and the onion almost immediately
Continue to fry on a high heat, adding the herbs, aubergine, mushrooms, peppers and Worcestershire sauce as you go. Once the lamb is browned, turn the heat down and add in your tomato quarters. Cover and leave to cook for at least an hour - so you can go and put your feet up.
When the time to eat is approaching, take a griddle/frying pan, and set on high, with a little olive oil. Fry your pita breads on both sides, until a little crispy, then plate them up.
Returning to your sautee pan, you now need to add the lemon juice and yoghurt and stir in well - the sauce should be lovely and thick and lamby and auberginey by now.
Generously spoon the lamb onto the fried pitas, covering the entire surface, and then top them all with a little grated cheese. Whack the plates in the oven or under a grill for a minute to melt the cheese, then you're good to go!
Flavoursome and satisfying but not too heavy, one Moussakette would work on it's own as a starter, two served with a green salad or a little rice would do as a light meal, and three would be a rather big meal.