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|Mark and Mandy
Tunnocks Tea Cake Review
We stumbled onto your site today whilst trying to settle an arguement that arose at Morning Tea this morning. Morning Tea is a regular event down here. Not every morning, but little excuse is needed to set one up. Births, retirements, small wins on the lottery, remembering the Queens Birthday etc all qualify as events worthy of a Morning Tea. The formality of Morning Tea can vary considerably but, as a general rule, if people are Standing Up rather than Sitting Down then the event is considered as formal. Indeed, there may even be a "Speech". A short speech appropriate for a Formal retirement Morning Tea might be "Thank you". A longer one might be "Thank you very much". If it is a Sitting Down Morning Tea then any attempt to make a speech would be considered rude. If there is no acceptable reason for having a Morning Tea then colleagues generally have to make their own arrangements to have tea in the morning. But the provision of biscuits and Lamingtons under such circumstances is usually woefully inadequate.
Our arguement was based around trying to establish the identity of a confection consisting of a small circular biscuit base, topped with a dome of marshmallow, the whole being covered in chocolate. Some think there may have been a layer of jam between the biscuit and the marshmallow. I'm not so certain about the jam, but, as we probably had supermarket "own brand" inferior copies (almost certainly from the Co Op), I'm not sure I'm qualified to comment. One colleague who thinks they visited England once, but it may have been Denmark, reckons they were called Twinkies. But that just makes me think it must've been Denmark as no red-braced, stripey shirted son-of-Maggie marketing whizz bang would've come up with anything quite so silly.
Here's hoping you can help.
Mark & Mandy
|Nicey replies: Mark,
Thank you for that lovely description of morning tea and the mention of Lamingtons.
The name you seek is simply 'Teacake'. I admit that's not a terribly accurate or descriptive name given their splendour. Also there are flattish currant laden buns that also lay claim to that name.
Here is a picture of some that I took to reveal their inner workings. Burton's I believe, but Lee's a Scottish bakers perhaps make better ones. These have the gelatine based spongey marshmallow and can be safely injected with jam as seen here. The mighty Tunnocks teacake has egg white based mallow which is basically uncooked meringue, and shirks any mauling around with jam.
Closer to you in Tasmania, I'm sure Kiwi bakers Griffins produce Teacakes.
Tim Tam vs Penguin Review
|G’day Mr Nicey and his wifey,|
I just read the thing about Tim Tams in the land of the yanks, and I thought I ought to let you know also that around valentine’s day Arnott’s also released 3 new types of Tim Tams under the rather seductive name of Tim Tams Love Potions. The promise is of ‘pure chocolate biscuit heaven’ and so I bought some for my beloved for v-day. They were much cheaper than a box of chocs (they were on special for $1.99 and now they’ve gone up to $2.71) and to be honest he preferred them anyway. I’m sure we’ve all experienced the dismay when you run out of biscuits and try and dunk your favourite choccie in your tea instead. Anyway the new Love Potions range includes 3 nice flavours, Double Chocolate and Raspberry, Chocolate Mud, and Sticky Vanilla Toffee. There are pretty swirly hearts on the packaging and you get just enough in a pack to make you sick if you eat them all in one go. Perfection. The advert on the telly reckons it’s love at first bite and my one true love agreed.
I suppose they are only available at the moment here in Oz, should I send you a packet do you think?
Love from Laurel
P.S I actually work about 2 minutes away from the Arnotts factory and whenever I go outside you can smell the sugar in the air! I think it is a marketing ploy to make everyone in the vicinity really fat on biscuits.
|Nicey replies: I think its nice when places like large parts of a City smell of biscuits and the like. When I used to live in Norwich twenty or more years ago the Rowntree Mackintosh factory (subsequently Nestle), used to make the entire city centre smell of chocolate. I don't know if the could help it or not or whether they just did it as a public service. Mind you Cardiff city centre smells a bit odd from time to time due to Brains Brewery making Brains SA Bitter (I've been told SA stands for Strong Ale, Skull Attack or Sick Afterwards).|
Tim Tam vs Penguin Review
I came across your excellent website while searching for somewhere to buy Penguin bikkies in Austin TX where I have lived for 10 years now. While the USA has looked after me well and I enjoy living here, it is not reboun for its abundance of excellent bikkies. In fact most of the US varieties are pretty revolting. You have already, quite rightly, poured scorn on the shocking Oreo cookie elsewhere on your website. Of course here in the USA a biscuit is a scone and a cookie is a biscuit, its all very confusing.
Anyway, getting to the point - I read your review of the Tim Tam with interest, so I decided to try and find them here as I wanted to have a go at the Tim Tam Slam. I found out they are available at World Market, which is a chain here in the US that sells food and furniture from all around the globe. They are called Arnotts Originals, Arnotts Double Coated and Arnotts Chewy Caramel. So any British or Australian ex-pats out there who need a Penguin/Tim Tam fix, you know where to go.
According to Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org) Arnotts themselves prefer to call the Tim Tam Slam, the Tim Tam Suck.
|Nicey replies: Jamie,
Thanks for that useful info. Probably most useful to Australians who find them selves not in Australia as they are prone to do. They get a bit animated when the subject of Tim Tams comes up so its best and safest to take a couple of steps back and let them get on with it. Those three varieties are the core of the range. I liked the double-coats.
Still fingers crossed you might come across some Penguins too.
|Dan and Laura
Wagon Wheel Review
I have been a fan of your site (and book) for a long time, and today I took some time to peruse more of the fantastic site - including the 'your views' section, which previously I had avoided (why would I want to read the views of a bunch of amateurs when so much wisdom from a connsumate professional is on offer?). But today I did, and enjoyed the experience so much I was drawn to email you on a couple of topics.
As I drifted into the debate on wagon wheels, I was reminded that my mother hated them. 'They taste stale, with sickly horrible marshmallow and a yukky coating' she used to say, on the few occaisions when we coudl persuade her to buy them for us as children. Re-reading your review, I laughed out loud, becuase that is indeed exactly what they taste like - but then somehow transcend all that to become rather nice. I guess my mum just never got through the individual bits to appreciate the whole. Anyway, I also remembered that she discovered another interesting property of wagon wheels when she was young - and that is that you can't flush them down the toilet. She was given one once at a party as a treat, and being too scared (or polite) to say she didn't want one in case it sounded ungrateful she took it. After one bite she realised that she was going to be unable to finish it, so took it to the bathroom and tried to dispose of it down the toilet. However, it remained floating in full view despite more and more frantic attempts to flush it away. I'm not sure if the more recent model has a similar property; it would seem rather a waste to find out though.
We have recently moved to Australia, and I have used your site a few times to educate Aussie's about the various elements of British tea and biscuits. Luckily Australia is far from a barren land when it comes to biscuits, with Arnotts making some really rather good examples. Good tea is harder to come by; we actually get friends to bring out PG Tips from the UK when they come and visit. Interestingly the Australians I work with really like it too, pronouncing it nicer than their local brands. Perhaps there is a ripe export market there?
Finally, on the topic of Arnotts biscuits, I am always very excited when an Arnotts review appears on your site. Whilst I can understand you want to limit the number of reviews you do of biscuits not widely distributed in the UK, it would be great if you culd include a few more - I'd be happy to send some over to you (and yes, Queensland Ginger Nuts are quite different to NSW ones; we bought some when there on holiday to see if it was true). In fact, I ate an entire packet of Arnotts Lemon Crisps for lunch today - a sensational biscuit featuring a genius touch of salt on the top. The missus thinks they are revolting, and taste like washing-up liquid, but I think they are nice and lemony. I think biscuits that spark such fierce debate are interesting, don't you?
Anyway, keep up the good work, and many thanks for creating such an entertaining site that is refreshingly free of banner ads.
|Nicey replies: Dan,
Thanks for sharing your Mother's difficult and somewhat embarrassing adolescent Wagon Wheel memories with us. Although this has obviously left its mark on her and indeed is now something that the whole family must bare, I feel that such information could be put to good use. Perhaps the plot for a movie in which desperate souls escape a sinking ship by clinging to its buoyant cargo of Wagon Wheels. I hope it's not necessary to unwrap them first as that could be tricky in an unfolding disaster scenario. Then again it could add dramatic tension.
We are always happy to review Arnotts biscuits when we get our hands on them, and yes we like biscuits that get people talking.
Also glad to hear that your supply of PG Tips is being appreciated down under.
|I stumbled across your web site whilst ‘Googling’ Peek Freans.|
It was started by my Great Great Grandfather John Carr with John Peek and Mr Frean and the Carr family ran it right through until the 1970s. I worked there for 10 years but left before the various take overs.
Yes, the Canadian Factory was set up by my Uncle Rupert and there are also factories in India called Britannia Biscuits and a factory in Australia, which my father Richard pioneered.
I still miss the smell of Ginger Nuts as I go passed the factory on the way to London Bridge station….happy memories.
|Nicey replies: Chris,
Thanks very much for getting in touch, you and your family are of course biscuit royalty.