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|Mrs Sarah Mint-Viscount
Kimberley and Chocolate Kimberley Review
|Dear Nicey (and Wifey, and NCOTAASD YMOS),|
As I listened to Today FM's Ray D'arcy Show this morning, I was getting very engrossed in the debate that raged - a debate on the nomenclature of that delicious little delicacy which is made by mixing Rice Krispies with melted chocolate, and dividing the mixture out into little paper cases to set.
Now, the many NCOTAASD enthusiasts who don't live in Ireland can't have heard the show, so they won't know that the debate in question raged between those who insist that the perennial party favourite made from chocolate and Rice Krispies should be called Rice Krispie Cakes, and those who are adamant that they are, and always must, be called Rice Krispie Buns.
Guest host Jenny Kelly was very calmly handling the situation, as well she might, for she is usually the producer of the Ray D'arcy show, and the show regularly broadcasts very important and controversial debates such as these. But calm as she was, there was no doubt that this debate was getting heated - the emails and texts sent in by listeners were becoming more terse and aggressive by the minute.
Even without hearing this show, your NCOTAASD readers will readily understand how my enjoyment of this debate rose to all new levels, when none other than your good self was suddenly introduced to weigh in with your expert opinion. But I must say I was deeply surprised by the opinion you gave. Stating that you would call them Rice Krispie Cakes was bad enough, but to assert that you had never even heard of them being called Rice Krispie buns? It was almost too much to bear. And then, to my delight and relief, Jenny announced that the result of the poll was in, and that a resounding majority of the voters, well over 70%, agreed with me in calling them Rice Krispie Buns. Phew! I wasn't crazy after all.
Now, the British and the Irish are usually in full agreement on the subject of Tea, Biscuits and Cakes (or Buns, as the case may be). We're both in favour of them. Lots of Them. Lots and lots of them. But as you had never even heard of Rice Krispie Buns being called buns, and as they are buns to the majority of listeners to one of Ireland's most popular radio shows, I can only conclude that here is an issue which divides these two islands more than the Irish Sea divides us, and perhaps even more than the Jacob's Kimberley divides us.
In light of this, I wonder if we on the Emerald Isle deserve our to have our own icon on the NCOTAASD feedback section, as the French, Canadians and Aussies already do? After all we are the only nation to which you have ascribed a national gene allowing enjoyment of a particular biscuit (the aforementioned Kimberley). A little shamrock, perhaps, which would sit so nicely with the other icons, and make my heart swell with pride!
Mrs Sarah Mint-Viscount
|Nicey replies: Well yes I came to much the same conclusions in the news item I posted after the interview. Anyhow you're right the time has come for a proper Ireland icon. I'm normally fairly reticent about dishing out icons based purely on geopolitical boundries but as you all seem to have this weird rice krispie bun thing going on over there in addition to Kimberleys I think you've finally earned it (its a pity you had to mention the others as protocol dictates that they need to go up too (Also the Welsh will be after me again (...oh you left out the Kiwis))).|
||Until now I've been a failure as a parent. Both our kids have avoided any tea or coffee intake, in fact the only hot drink they'll touch is hot chocolate. This is probably due to my tendency to consume huge mugs of industrial strength Assam, with very little milk and certainly no sugar. My own introduction to tea was by my grandfather who served me tiny little bone china cups full of very sweet milky glengettie, and let me drink it from the saucer or teaspoon if it was too hot. (I also shared the saucer with his collie dog, Bob, but that's another story).|
Anyway, while on holiday our youngest (7) took part in a tasting at the Auray branch of the LeClerc supermarket chain (lack of French is no obstacle to a lad who can talk for Wales and doesn't care if anyone's listening). He was much taken with the Lipton Ice Tea Peche
Thankfully we can get a version of this at home, so he's very happy. My questions are:
1. Does this count, in any way, as tea drinking in the 'real' sense?
2. How can I encourage it to evolve into a proper tea habit without resorting to too much sugar?
(Much more cheerful this week, thanks!)
|Nicey replies: Hello Sue,
Glad you have bucked up a bit this week.
I remember my first visit to a LeClerc (indeed the first French Supermarket I went too), must have been about 15 years ago now. Despite only being a small one it still sold cement mixers along with the more obvious groceries. For added rustic charm a small flock of sparrows were coming in through a gap in the roof and making off with some goods placed at the top of the shelves. I'm guessing it was somewhere near Montreuil just south of Boulogne.
Anyhow sorry to bring you down in your hour of triumph but French peach flavoured Iced tea fails on at least three counts. Still the fact that the boy is showing willingness to try other beverages is a good thing in general. We work on the principle here that certain selected items such as special forms of cake (one's that we made a bit of a fuss about baking) can only be consumed with tea. This works some of the time but is in no way fool proof.
Tunnocks Wafer Review
Always been a big fan of the famous Tunnock's product in its distinctive gold and red striped wrapper. A month or so ago I found a plain chocolate variant in a matching gold and blue wrapper. Being a major convert to plain chocolate (digestive debate - you can guess my view - let's not go there!) since mid-twenties (age not decade!) I thought I was onto a winner.
I was sadly disappointed! The chocolate quality was not good and for some reason the wafer/caramel internals seemed dry and lacking in the usual chewy consistency. Maybe it was just a poor batch - but I've not been back for a second try. Back to the standard product then and continuing contribution to the millions consumed daily!
all the best,
|Nicey replies: That's surprising, most plain chocolate zealots have taken to the blue and gold wafers like ducks to water. Perhaps you were just disorientated by the switch, a bit like approaching a French round-about for the first time. After a day or two it seems natural.|
My wife Rachel and I are Londoners in exile in Tignes, a ski resort high in the French Alps. The French Alps, in common with much of mainland Europe, is not the kind of place where one can easily get one's sticky paws on one's favourite mass produced biscuits. A decent cuppa is pretty much out of the question as well, and we've taken to importing tea bags rather than put up with Lipton day in, day out.
The biscuit issue was more of a problem, but my wife's entrepreneurial streak encouraged her to bake brownies. This in turn led to a 'Tignes brownie off', resulting in said brownies becoming available in a local cafe, Le Lavachet Lounge. Walnut brownies are a favourite, but 'orange and white chocolate chip' have been spotted, as have 'cherry and kirsch', and the flavour changes every week.
I occasionally report on the brownies in my blog and a recent post was entitled "Nice cup of tea and a sit down" after your good selves. A reader posted a link to your site and commented that if Rachel's brownies were ever to get a mention there, she'd know they'd truly hit the big time.
It's my wife's birthday in April (the 12th) and I'm sure it would make her day for her baking to be recognised in such an internationally renowned place.
Obviously I'm biased, but I'm sure I could find vaguely independent verification of aforementioned brownie quality.
Great site - keep up the good work.
|Nicey replies: As I too have endured many a cup of Liptons tea a mere mountain away from you I have some empathy for your wretched plight. Mind you living in the middle of Espace Killy and looking like the season could make it through to the start of May this year tempers my anguish somewhat.
Still well done to Mrs Cowbells for her resourceful baking. I have to say I do like the whole high altitude baking thing in ski resorts even if much of it is enforced on chalet maids.
|Hi there Nicey|
I've just returned from a cellar stocking and retail therapy trip to the Auchan hypermarket in Calais, and was looking forward to trying the Bastogne biscuits you reviewed a few weeks ago. But could I find them? Non, I could not.
I confess that I spent a good cinq minutes perusing le section des biscuits, (as a former McVities' biscuit salesman - albeit nearly 40 years ago - it's a habit that's hard to break), and it struck me that it could really do with a good "merchandising". This, as I was informed on my first day with McVits, was "the bringing together of psychology and salesmanship". The idea was that if the shelves were arranged with each of the manufacturers' products grouped together, and shelf space allocated in line with market share, the average British housewife (who in those days was 5 feet 3 and a half inches tall and spent 2s 9d (14p) a week on biscuits), would a) be able to find what she was looking for more easily, and b) buy more of the wares of McVitie and Price than she consciously intended. I was never convinced by this, but Marketing said it worked, and their word was law.
So, despite being a foodie's paradise, nul points to Auchan in that department, mais je also have to dire that le packaging of French biscuits en general est tres uninspiring. So all I ended up buying (apart from cheeses, salamis, jams, monster lettuces, etc etc), were the usual Spekuloos, some Bon Maman Galettes, and the quintessential Gateau do Bretagne, which admits to a 25 per cent butter content, and a heart attack in every mouthful. In fact a lot of the French biscuits had "beurre" in their noms, so les French sont obviously pas so worried about le chloresterol as nous Brits. But then butter is quelque chose they do seriously better than us.
After denying Gordon Brown the excise duty on les vins et bierres, we decided to faire le pique nique. (A very nice place for one, or a sit down in your car, is cap Gris Nez, just past Sangatte. On a clear day you get a magnificent view of the white cliffs of Dover). Whilst munching my baguette I got to thinking that the biscuit sections in our local Asda and Tesco also leave something to be desired - perhaps biscuit shelves are not so attractive because there are fewer manufacturers these days. What do you think?
Mind you, Waitrose does do the merchandising thing better, and they also stock Mc Vities' Lyle's Syrup Creams and Fruit Shortcake. Shame the aisle in our local one isn't too wide, making browsing difficult.
Does this sound like a moan? It's not meant to.
|Nicey replies: Ahh I'm only familiar with the Auchan biscuit aisle at Boulogne. As soon as the tyres touch down in Calais I am filled with the urge to leave the place and head south, even if it is only for twenty minutes. We too like a spot of the old pic-nic when in France. There is also good sport to be had worrying the French by eating at times that are out of sync with them due to the hour time difference and being through a casual British approach to lunch time based on feeling peckish rather than some national time signal. Often as we have sat on a camp chair in some French lay by at quarter past two in the afternoon chewing on a bit of sauciseson whilst disembowelling an over ripe melon with spoon, we have received shocked glances from the occupants of a passing Renault or Citreon.
Once when camping in deepest darkest France we began about lunch at almost 1:30 and finished at around 3:00. One of the other French campers who we had gotten to know quite well came across to see if we were all right. He had been fretting that one of us had been taken ill, or that we had been involved in a road accident. He had to employ some very seldom used French expression that may have been "Vous mangez en decolarge?" or something like that. Despite two of our party being fluent French speakers and both having lived in France for at least a year each neither had heard this, which they best translated as "eating out of time". We were all quietly pleased with ourselves for creating such an air of tension just through shear applied Britishness.