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Botham's Tea, Shah Ginger and Ginger Choc Chip biscuits Review
|Dear Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down,|
I was delighted to see that you have visited Bothams of Whitby recently. My Mother and I took a very decent lunch there in the recent past (me: Wensleydale mushrooms, her: Ploughmans Lunch), and she was pleased to discover that the decor had not changed since her visit to the cafe with her Brownie pack in 1950 something. Taking a look at their website, I suspect that the cafe has not in fact altered since 1900, a remarkable exercise in 'if it ain't broke don't mend it' philosophy. A finer nice cup of tea and a sit down venue I have yet to come across.
ps: with regard to your cutting edge work on Paleolithic biscuits, I am particularly sad at the loss of the Gypsy Cream. As far as Im aware you could only buy them in the Late Shopper on Ecclesall Road in Sheffield in the early 90's, since when they have vanished from my biscuit world. Your Gypsy Cream was a basic sandwich biscuit construction, of chocolate flavoured biscuit, with a very rich chocolatey cream in the middle. Rectangular in shape, they were in my opinion, superior to the rather common Bourbon biscuit, because the cream was so much nicer and they didn't have all that annoying sugar stuck to the outside.
Kimberley and Chocolate Kimberley Review
|Hello Mr Nicey|
The Kimberley biscuit is today a shadow of its fomer self, that is why you were disappointed.† A kimberley†was a†special treat†in my childhood days. If you knew someone, as we did, †who worked in the old Jacobs factory which was located in central†Dublin, one could buy large bags of broken biscuits for a few pence. These were sold at the factory to the staff in thick off white paper bags for ordinary biscuits and in the case of chocolate the bags were smaller and†dark brown. Being sold at the factory meant that they were factory fresh†- even if they were damaged† - lesser mortals would have to content themselves†with the more uniform but staler variety which could†be found†sitting around in a shop tin for weeks on end. Each factory purchased†bag contained a different mystery variety which we were able to enjoy with an occasional squabble when a battered (in the damaged sense) †Kimberley appeared from the depths of the bag - there were always oodles of crumbs too which mother would on occasion convert into slices of chocolate biscuit cake if any chocolate was available or an occasion such as a bithday demanded such a treat.
Many years ago it was a delicious biscuit with lots of gingery†flavour and a marshmallow filling which was sugared on the outside.† I fear that the ingredients in the 1950;s were of a purer more flavoursome quality than today when we are forced to have artificial colouring† flavourings and sweetners - more and more these†are used instead of the real thing. †
There were also other marshmallow type biscuits made by jacobs with an oblong†single biscuit, these were†covered with a pink coloured coconut sprinked marhmallow with a central furrow which had a†jam filling.† I cannot remember their name but they were tasty.
Sadly biscuits do not taste the same these days. There was also a famous establishment called Bewleys in Dublin who had three branches. This firm survives in a form but again their chocolates, cakes, biscuits and buns were second to none - in particular cherry buns and almond rings were heavenly,† those of today are very poor shadows of those we enjoyed in the 50's and 60's.
|Nicey replies: David,
Thanks for those memories of biscuits past. Actually when I read the Kimberley ingredients they all seemed perfectly in order with no recourse to sweeteners or colouring.
The other biscuit you referred to is the Jacobs Mikado, or Mallow depending on which side of teh Irish sea you are.
Iced Gems Review
|A seasonal remembrance of these is that my Gran always gave us a little tin of these as a Christmas treat. They came in a 2x2x2 tin which mimicked the big shop tins. I still have one of them!|
Also, living on the edge of Reading we had several neighbours who worked at the H & P factory and used to get us penny bags of broken biscuits on a Friday. They often contained stray Iced Gems which certainly didn't appear broken.
|Cesca and Lucy
First of all, congratulations on your informative and compelling web site. Your biscuit tin quiz showed that even in the most dedicated biscuit consumers there's always room for improvement!
We are currently facing a biscuit boffin's worst nightmare and seek your advice to get us through this difficult time. Our much loved and well used†biscuit tin has unfortunately of late become a health and safety hazard. It is with much regret that we must part ways, although we do have the best interests of our biscuits at heart. Our current tin is a family treasure, bought in Dubai circa 1980, it features a photo of three kittens frolicking among foliage. (To illustrate our attachment to this tin may I just say that the family suffered much trauma when a recent visitor commented that the three felines had probably died long ago.)
As we've had this tin for over two decades we are not up to speed with recent trends and developments in the biscuit tin world. With the plethora of choice out there, how best to approach the minefield of the biscuit tin? We would hate to insult our biscuits by storing them in a sub-standard vessel. Can you advise as to colour, shape and size? Any tips would be much appreciated.
Cesca and Lucy, big fans of all biscuits great and small.
|Nicey replies: Oh dear, this must be a very difficult time for you. Unfortunately biscuit barrels are a bit hard to come by nowadays. There are really three viable options as I see it.
1) Get a christmas Selection tins and use the left over tin.
2) Get yourselves into your local pound stretcher type shop, you'll almost certainly get some sort of bargain and if you're lucky it might have tacky pictures on it.
3) Go to a proper shop, and pay over the odds for something.
I would stay clear of the cookie jar school of design, as they tend to be too heavy for carrying around.
Iced Gems Review
Very excited to see Earl Grey and Iced Gems making it on to the site in the same week. But you omitted to mention 2 key features of the Iced Gem:
(1) At least half the biscuits lose their icing in transit. The bad news is that every other Gem you pull out of the bag is thereby reduced to an 1850's original and tastes desperate. The good news is that when you get to the bottom of the bag there is a cluster of loose icing 'crowns' to be devoured: a sweet-toothed dream.
(2) I seem to remember that as a kid there was a definite protocol to eating Iced Gems - which basically consisted of biting the icing off the top, and throwing the biscuit away, or putting them back in the bag before offering them to your 'mate' in the playground. See point 1 really - the biscuit part just doesn't taste nice. But they wouldn't be the same if the biscuit suddenly became desirable in its own right - the whole point of it is to provide a platform for the pure sugar of the icing, and to conceal the teeth-rotting truth about Iced Gems from a nation of health-conscious Mums. You might want to check that the junior staff actually ate the biscuits....... a close look might reveal a stash of icing-denuded Gems under the sofa, or in the pot plant....!
PS - saddened by the total lack of festive content on the site. How about reviewing a few seasonal assortment tins?
|Nicey replies: Excellent points on the Ice Gems, you are quite right, I was unconsciously creating a fluffy utopia where the tops and bottoms of iced gems where always attached.
As for Christmas selection tins, I had to look at 5 or 6 the other week. I liked the McVities 'Baked to Perfection' because it has a superb retro oval tin with pictures of old 1930's tins on it. The biscuits are Boasters, Hobnobs and Shortbread. I've also popped up the yuletide Holly up on the site.