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||Dear Nicey and Co.,|
Glad to see your wonderful website going from strength to strength and getting the public recognition it deserves. Tea, biscuits and sit-downs are the backbone of this country and it was high time someone came along to cast a critical and informed eye over the whole arena. Respect due! You're like the Harry Knowles of the biscuit world (that's to be taken as a compliment, by the way, not an insult). When is the 'Nice Cup of Tea and a Sit Down Guide to Biscuits' coming out? Come on folks, it's only a matter of time!
Anyhow, my reason for writing is to point out to those whose appetites have been whetted by Pete Biggs's review of the Dare Maple Leaf Cream that they are actually available in a few of the big chain supermarkets, so no need to make the long haul to Canada or adopt a Winnipeg penpal to get your chompers around one. I myself picked up a packet from my local Safeway, along with a box of Dare Blueberry Cheesecake Creams. I agree with Mr Biggs's verdict that the Maple Leaf is a delicious biscuit, especially when dunked, but I felt the lack of pecan as I ate. Maple and pecan are like a veteran double-act (like Canon and Ball) - they go together so well you're a bit non-plussed when you find them apart, and as a result the Maple Leaf felt somehow incomplete. Pecan pieces cooked into the biscuit itself or added to the cream would have been the perfect finishing touch to an otherwise flawless effort. As the Wife (yours that is) might say - Dare bakery people: take heed!
The Dare Blueberry Cheesecakes are noteworthy. They make very interesting eating, as they combine the sweet, sharp flavour of blueberries with the savoury warmth of cream cheese. I'm put in mind of a warm, snuggly duvet placed over a bed of very pointy needles - blueberries can be very sharp and wince-inducing, cream cheese can very sickly and cloying, but when combined they bring out the best qualities in each other. So just as the duvet-covered bed of needles is restful and yet bracing, the Cheesecake Cream is smoothy sweet and yet piquant. Couple all that with tea, if you're a dunker, and the effect in the mouth is quite distinctive. All in all, these biscuits are an interesting variation on the cream sandwich motif, and well worth a try in my opinion.
Wishing you all the best,
P.S. I think maybe I should stay away from metaphors for a while.
P.P.S. On the personal mug awareness front, I drink my tea out of a Starbucks mug. I like to think of this as my ironic protest against globalisation and the tyranny of cafe latte culture. Every time I sip my tea I chuckle knowingly to myself. Down with the Oreo cookie!!
|Nicey replies: Yes very insightful stuff there about the Pecan nuts. I have still to open my pack of Dare Maple creams, hand couriered from Canada by Biscuit Enthusiast Mandy (now to occasionally known as Mrs B), but I've had a few before, and I think you are on to something there.
Here's hoping that I can eat them without a gnawing sense of incompleteness.
||As a relative newcomer to your site, I have yet to find any reference to the most fundamental debate in the tea drinking world which is the cup vs mug divide. If all has been resolved, then I apologise for opening old wounds but there is a serious shortage of cup and saucer information on a site dominated by mug-gers.|
Speaking as one who would have to be really desperate for tea and a sit down before I would even entertain the idea of a mug, (yuk!) I feel I ought to point out the top ten advantages of cups and saucers.
1 Most cups are wider at the top than mugs and accommodate a greater range of dunking biscuits without breaking them in two - which is a really upsetting thing to have to do
2 The narrowing shape of cups stops you dunking the biscuit too far and risking total collapse - the ultimate nightmare
3 Saucers are really handy if your nice cup of tea and a sit down is even better with a cigarette. As you have to wash the saucer anyway, it saves finding an ashtray
4 If you don't smoke, you can balance your biscuits on the saucer (don't try it with chocolate ones)
5 When you break the cup, you can save the saucer, (because it might come in useful one day) until you have about 20 odd ones in the cupboard and then you have always got something to give to the jumble sale
6 Bone china cups are thin and keep the tea hot.
7 Cups can be seriously tarty in a way mugs just can't. My favourite is a 50's pearlised, swirly, peach creation with a gold rim bought for £2 in Ponty market.
8 You get noticeably less tea in a cup which means you can justify having two nice cups of tea and a sit down and two cups equal more than a mug
9 Cups and saucers often come with teapots which are wondrous things and make a cup of tea and a sit down into an occasion. (Watch this space - there will be a follow up outburst on teapots vs teabags-in-a-mug)
10 Cups and saucers get mega brownie points from your Nain (Nan to those outside Wales) and other elderly relatives when they come visiting so that they don't notice the rest of the house is like a tip
11 (Sorry, getting carried away) Quite simply, coffee comes in mugs (and also in jam jars, buckets, plastic beakers and who the hell cares anyway) NOT tea.
12 This site is clearly not called nicemugofteaandasitdown, so you could probably get done under the Trades Descriptions Act unless you provide serious air space for cup-pers as well as mug-gers
Jen from Pontypridd
|Nicey replies: Jenny,
OK, ok, I'll post your cup rant. We really don't care what people drink their tea out of just so long as they are happy.
Be careful now we know where you live we might come round and get a picture of your tarty mug on our next visit to Ponty. We make special trips there once or twice a year for sit down Faggots and Peas.
I shall now brace myself for a torent of mug-counter-rants.
Just thought I would let you know that the tea money story is alive and well in South London.
When I was little my nan used to let me make tea for her and her friends (well she used to let me pour it out of the teapot after she had done all the other bits) She always used to say that I made the best cup of tea in the world which used to make me swell with pride. She used to praise highly the amount of 'money' I could get in each cup of tea. I think this is because the teapot was heavy and I was very small and so used to pour slowly and irregularly causing maximum money!
My Nan was the biggest tea and biscuit lover, she used to keep a kettle on the stove on a low heat all day and just turn up the gas a bit when she wanted a cuppa. She always had a well stocked biscuit barrel and used to favour the shortcake type varieties. Sadly my Nan died when I was in my 20's and I inherited her biscuit barrel, which always brings back fond memories sitting in the kitchen with her.
Anyway what about 'Happy Faces' like jammie dodger but with cream and a face on them...not sure if they sell them anymore?
|Nicey replies: Yay for your Nan's biscuit barrel. We love stuff like that. Of course my Nan introduced me to Abbey Crunch, but she also insisted on buying Safeway Petit Beurre biscuits which sort of passed me by a bit.
BN Happy Faces are still around, check out their modern incarnation as Penguin Splatz, not jam but cream instead.
We are from an exhibition launch company in Kent. Whilst currently launching shows into several markets, it has not escaped our attention that currently no events exist for the more discerning biscuit enthusiast. Would you perhaps consider becoming our media partner and launching BISCEX – the event connecting biscuit manufacturers and suppliers with a whole plethora of middle-aged and elderly biscuit fanatics?
Alternatively, if the prospect of being assaulted by millions of irate pensioners at Earls Court exhibition centre doesn’t appeal to you, perhaps you could at least review the classic ’ Morning Coffee’. Unless we are mistaken, this prison ration type biccy of very humble origins, seems to be absent from your, otherwise, extremely comprehensive site.
We look forward to hearing from you but just in case, we won’t register BISCEX as an exhibition brand just yet!
|Nicey replies: Tim,
That would be splendid but surely you would want to take up most of the NEC like the motorshow. It would be ace to have McVities, Burtons and Foxs et al with huge pavilion stands all with theaters pumping out dry ice and lasers unveiling their latest biscuits and little old ladies wheeling around complementary tea trollies. The BBC of course would devote 3 30 minute programs to it running on consecutive nights.
We would of course require an airship with our logo on to cruise around the venue at a height of about 800m.
As for the 'morning coffee' that's in a week or two as part of some stuff we will be doing with our local branch of Macmillian Cancer Relief. They asked me what would be a good biscuit to focus on for their nationwide coffee morning appeal. Not too tricky that, except that the lady I was talking to was Canadian and after ten minutes it became apparent she had never heard of them. Every time I mentioned them she thought I was talking about her Coffee Morning gig in some kind of odd syntax.
The white filled bourbons used in the Civil service have now apparently been replaced!
I have just left a meeting here at the MOD and - without wanting to give away too many top secret biscuit security issues - the white filled 'Bourbons' were replaced with bog standard Finger Creams. Indeed the only redeeming feature of the cling film wrapped plate was the couple of hidden Abbey Crunch!!
This missing speciality biscuit then meant that our important meeting was dominated by speculation that the albino 'Bourbon' had been upgraded to the VIP plate of biscuits! Now, these VIP biscuit open a whole new can of worms in that some of the VIP 'biscuits' are in fact individually wrapped chocolate snacks! Surely not a place for white cream 'Bourbons'.
Your policy on VIP biscuits and white cream filled sandwich biscuits would be appreciated.
|Nicey replies: Yes this all clearly quite confusing. Finger creams and Abbey Crunch together on the same plate points to biscuits being acquired from number of sources, and this perhaps accounts for what may be a temporary cessation in White Cream Bourbon activity. It may merely be a supply chain issue rather than a re-assignment of roles.
As for VIP biscuits I shouldn't get to upset I'm sure they are jealous of your Abbey Crunches.