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||Dear Nicey and Wifey,|
Although I find myself agreeing absolutely with most of your biscatorial reviews, I do think you are a tad unfair to the Nice biscuit. I find that a simple test of the popularity of a biscuit is to see which ones are left until last in the average "fancy assortment" tin. We all know:
- that the chocolate covered ones are the first to go
- that you might well have to resort to feeding the pinkie wafers to the nearest dog so that you can dispose of them (to avoid breaching the rules that requires you to finish the first layer before proceeding to the second layer)
However....my inclination would be to favour the Nice biscuits over the Bourbons (always a disappointment) or anything with icing on it.
If I find a packet of 3 Nice biscuits on a hotel bedroom's hospitality table, I think it implies that it is a respectable establishment, with no pretentions. It's not the sort of place that would have frilly-knocker blinds instead of proper curtains and there would be a bath as well as a shower.
There is a certain classiness to the pattern, convenient dunking shape, sugar distirbution and general svelteness of the Nice biscuit - not to mention that slight "coconut hit" afterwards. Also, it has stood the test of time, so it must have got something going for it. Unusually, it's one of those biscuits that I prefer without the addition of a layer of chocolate. That implies a pretty sound biscuit to me.
If you are not having a similar experience with this fine piece of confectionery, then perhaps there's some biscuit-related trauma behind your prejudice that we should know about?
PS My mother-in-law has made a pint of custard every day for my father-in-law for the past 56 years. Allowing for holidays and the odd leap year - I reckon that's at least 45 gallons a year - a staggering 2,520+ gallons over the course of their marriage. That must make her a custard expert. Although the usual brand she uses is Bird's - she confesses a partiality to custard powder purchased in Ireland. Whenever I visit Ireland i come back with a huge stash of custard powder for her. Now I know of Wifey's connection to Ireland, would you agree that this is a superior product?
|Nicey replies: Kate,
I'm not sure why I have got it in for the Nice biscuit (apart from the coconut which I don't like and its daft name), but I think its healthy to have a nemesis or two.
As for all that Custard that deserves the erecting of some sort permeant commemorative monument and possibly a small visitor centre with a coach park. We haven't bagged any Irish Custard but I've been told about it. I once did an interview on Irish radio's Ray D'arcy show whilst somebody in the studio made some which was exciting. Apparently Irish Custard Powder is made by the same people who make Birds, so maybe they make it a bit differently for Ireland or it is exactly the same and its wishful thinking. Given your Mum-in-law's experience I wouldn't like to push that last point too far.
|Mrs Sarah Mint-Viscount
||Dear Nicey, Wifey & YMOS,|
While looking through the feedback section of NCOTAASD, I noticed various postings on the subject of kettles, and all the talk of kettles reminded me of the time I spent in County Kerry, and the strange kettle-y activity that went on while I was there.
I was there for about a year doing a course, and it turned out to be a place of real significance to me in tea-related terms. First of all, I had foolishly neglected to develop a taste for tea previous to doing that course, but while there, I finally discovered the love for a nice brew. This probably happened because of the canteen’s policy of charging (a lot) for all non-tea beverages e.g. orange juice, but not charging anything for the tea. It’s the old story: student meets free food/drink, student falls in love with the free food/drink - textbook stuff really
Second of all, it was in Kerry that I encountered an exciting new sport: Kettle Racing. A fellow student from Galway had played this unusual sport on a previous stint at student life, and he showed us the way. Basically what it involved was the following: whenever there was a house party, everyone was encouraged to bring the kettles from their own houses. Then, at some point during the evening, we would all congregate with them in the kitchen, and an adjudicator would be appointed (a neutral, who hadn’t brought a kettle). The kettles were emptied, lined up, and plugged in. The adjudicator would then take out a measuring jug and put a precise 1 litre of water into each kettle, ensuring that everybody’s water was equally cold…. and it was “On your buttons, set, GO”.
Naturally, we all got feverish with excitement as we waited to see whose kettle would get to clicking-off point first - well you can imagine the sort of emotion it would stir up. When your trusty kettle – the water boiler extraordinaire, and source of so many a good cuppa - is pitted against other kettles, you badly, badly want it to win. No-one wants some upstart kettle from down the road to be considered superior. So there were shreaks and roars as each person urged on their kettle, the representive of their house: “Come on 27 Millroad Crescent”… “Go on 15 Killeen Drive”. Unfortunately it did get nasty occasionally as people couldn’t come to terms with their kettle being beaten. So there would be accusations thrown around, about elements being pre-warmed with a boiling immediately prior to the race preparations, or overfilling by an allegedly impartial adjudicator. These unpleasantries aside, it was, all-in-all, a good giggle.
I know some people will immediately disapprove, thinking of the environmental impact of all those kettles being boiled unnecessarily, but I would point out in our defence that the kettle races held us all in such thrall that pretty much every other electrical device was abandoned while the race went on – every playstation, DVD player, television, CD player or radio was switched off as we focused on the exciting events in the kitchen.
Anyway, I just wondered if anyone else has played this outside of Co. Kerry, or indeed Ireland. I have a suspicion that, if at all, the sport will only be found amongst other students (Kings and Queens of too-much-time-on-your-hands activities).
|Nicey replies: I think we could only condone such a environmentally dubious sport if all the boiled water was used to make tea for the needy.|
Custard Cream Review
|When I was treasurer of my union branch way back in the 1970s, one of my duties was to buy the tea and biscuits for the meetings. It was then that I discovered orange creams. These are very much like custard creams but with orange filling not vanilla. They are divine. Are they still for sale? It's a long time since I've seen them on a supermarket shelf. Perhaps an orange cream spotting competition with my grateful thanks as a reward?|
|Nicey replies: Every so often we get a mail from somebody trying to track down some Orange Creams. The last ones I saw in the wild were in the biscuit aisle of an Iceland as part of a three pack of custard, orange and coconut creams. The Iceland in question has since been demolished and a whole new set of of shops built, so it was a while back.
I have seen various flavoured cream biscuits originating from Ireland, such as raspberry creams and these were made I think under the Bolands brand which was used by Jacobs. These could occasionally turn up in the UK in small grocers and the like. Since the acquisition of Jacobs in Ireland by Fruitfield in 2004 I'm not sure what has been happening with the Bolands brand, or products. However we have heard that the Irish have fixed their Club Milk back from the rubbish raft format adopted in 2001 to the proper sandwich format we all know and love, so they certainly seem like a force for good.
Yes I am aware that I have completely wandered off the point now.
|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))).|