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Bahlsen Afrika Review
I have admired your site from afar for around 18 months, but have never been moved to put pen to paper (or whatever it is you do with e-mails) until now.
As the enthusiastic host of the Bristol Guild of Biscuits Appreciation Society (North West and Westbury-on-Trym division), I am constantly on the lookout for new varieties of biscuits for our members to comment upon. We pride ourselves here on being a particularly progressive and modernist society, yet I feel compelled to report certain recent events which have threatened to tear the group asunder.
The wife and I recently returned from the local Tesco's haven taken full advantage of a "2 for 1" offer on Bahlsen's Choco Leibniz. Infused with renewed vigour following your outstanding review, we tabled a motion to the society to fully investigate these chocolate-covered beauties. Mindful of the great unrest of the 1998-9 season (during which some of us formed a breakaway faction to familiarise ourselves more fully with the properties of Hovis Crackers), our motion was, we felt, restrained in it's outlook. We asked merely that the group agree to a tasting of the aforementioned Choco Leibniz, with a view to tasting further Bahlsen products in the medium-to-long term. Nonetheless, certain members of the society were appalled and threatened substantial disquiet.
An extraordinary AGM was called. A full and frank discussion ensued over a box of Family Circle, during which the traditionalists (lead, perhaps unsurprisingly, by the wife's mother) argued vehemently for a renewal of our detailed investigations into the dunking properties of more traditional, british biscuits. The pro-Europeans amongst us, on the other hand, felt that the new age of integration with our european allies should extend into the world of tea drinking and biscuits. My own view was that this was merely a logical extension of last year's groundbreaking decision to allow coffee to be drunk openly during debates, which ended years of tea-only segregation.
After an 8-hour debate, the results of the vote were announced: the motion had been passed by the narrowest of margins. In the final analysis, the small number of abstentions proved critical. Traditionalist arguments that the voting papers had been difficult to understand, and that they had inadvertently thrown their weight behind the wrong biscuit, were quickly discarded by the committee. For a time it appeared that dangerous divisions within the group would take weeks to heal, but after our leader's now-legendary "unite or die" speech we were able to put aside our differences for the good of the society. We finally closed the meeting at around 3am after a late-night bourbon each.
I am pleased to report that peace now reigns again in our wizened and venerable society, and the Choco Leibniz tasting proved an enormous success. We are now discussing the possibility of further Bahlsen-themed tasting sessions later this year- specifically into the Hit biscuit (a long-time favourite of mine since a biscuit related backpacking tour of central europe in my youth- any chance of a review at some point?). Preliminary plans to investigate the recently-reviewed Bahlsen Afrika in early 2004 have unfortunately been put on hold, as they are proving extremely difficult to come by in this remote outpost.
In the meantime, I will continue to access your site on at least a bi-weekly basis and look forward to your biscuit wisdom reaching an ever-expanding audience.
Acting Host-in-Chief (while the wife is pregnant)
Bristol Guild of Biscuits Appreciation Society (North West and Westbury-on-Trym Division)
Founded 1996 (at Dave's house)
|Nicey replies: Dear Mr Cardigan,
Thanks for that, and I'm pleased that all is well in Bristol once more. To give credit where it is due the Choco Liebniz review was a guest one by Mr Alan Bromley, who did a splendid job. Our official review is embarrassingly overdue and we are aiming to correct that in the very near future.
On the subject of Bahlsen; although not a biscuit but a small cake, I would urge you to give the Bahlsen range of Jaffas a go. They are built in a quite different way to the UK sorts, I'm reliably informed. Also they taste quite nice.
I hope its not another 18 months till we converse again. And I'm sure we can do a Hit review given the current level of interest on the subject.
||Just on the remote off-chance that you have not come across these, I recommend Lotus Speculoos Chololate. Can't be beat. Product of Belgium and dunks well. They also make a plain ginger type which goes exceptionally well with coffee, dunking well here too.|
Available from all good supermarkets in Belgium and France in chocolate mode, and was once seen in Tesco's on plain mode.
Keep up the fine work - a true British type of website.
|Nicey replies: I've had a single plain Speculoo not so long ago, and I thought it was very similar to their Caramelised biscuits if not exactly the same. Still thats no bad thing.|
Penguin Splatz Review
|Your recent Biscuit of the week review about Penguin Splats left me with somewhat melancholy feelings. It's not that I care about the splatting of penguins, which are fair game for such activity, but rather because of your sad words about Happy Faces.|
These were one of my favourite biscuits, when I could get them. They have all of the jammy goodness of a jammie dodger, plus a little bit of cream like a custard cream. The mouth shaped cut out even let you peak inside to make sure that you got a biscuit with a good ratio of the two. It's the ideal choice for someone who likes to have a bit of both every now and then. Admittedly the jam was rock hard, and the cream was a bit thin, but combine that with the fact that there were a selection of different faces (not all happy either!), and that means that you have to consume about a third of a packet in one sitting - good going for our house.
I was saddened therefore to read how unpopular Happy Faces have been in the UK, and especially saddened to hear the news that this may be due to passing resemblance to scary clowns. Personally, I can't see it myself, but that is probably because I was looking through the eye holes to make sure that there was enough filling in there rather than studying the features. Perhaps some pictures on your web site of the Happy Faces that bear less resemblance to clowns would help rekindle their popularity. I suggest that for added safety these are shot in a non-clown location, e.g. Burger King.
|Mrs Joyce Hoover
||Dear Mr Nicey|
I'm writing to thank you for your refreshing website, which has been pointed out to me by my neighbour, Martyn Ford. He owns a computer and knows about these things, so he is helping me to send this little e-mail communication to you (my first!). He knows very little about biscuits, but
is an apt and eager pupil; so with my experience and your impressive repository of biscuit data and biscuit lore, I'm sure he will come on in leaps and bounds.
I am a landlady in Brighton on the south coast of England. These days, with the decline of the traditional British seaside holiday and the availability of cheap flights to hot, insanitary lands in the south, I have come to rely on overseas visitors to make up the great majority of my
paying guests. My terms being half board, naturally I always try to give these guests an
authentic taste of Britain. And this includes BISCUITS.
Many of these visitors do not enjoy our natural advantages - I mean, for example, they are not native-born speakers of English and have to struggle to express even rudimentary ideas in our language. It's difficult to imagine, but there you are. We have to do our best to help them cope. And here I come to MY POINT: you will have noticed that a number of varieties of biscuit commonly offered in "assortments" these days carry the NAME of the biscuit impressed or embossed (by stamp or mould) on the baked sugary surface of that biscuit. Hence NICE, and CUSTARD CREAM, to name but two. My lodgers find this kind of linguistic support enormously helpful. Whenever they are taking tea in England and are offered a biscuit they can quickly
(and discreetly) glance at the name and look it up in the little bilingual dictionaries they always carry with them. Thus they know what they're getting, and a little more is added to the great fund of cultural knowledge they acquire by staying with a real English family. Moreover, some of these
English language learners have to take examinations and it is reassuring to know that should biscuits come up in the Cambridge First Certificate Paper Three: Use of English (for example), they will be well-prepared.
For some years I have been conducting a quiet, 'behind-the-scenes' campaign to get biscuit manufacturers to do more of this 'integral signing'. Why shouldn't overseas consumers also be advised that the round biscuit with the host of little bumps on it that they are about to eat is a LINCOLN CREAM? And surely they could find room between the elegant furrows on a fig
roll for the helpful legend: FIG ROLL....
I would be pleased to think that the many visitors to your website would support me in my efforts to put pressure on the biscuit consortia to name (but certainly not shame) their products!
I worry that young Britons today are losing contact with their biscuit heritage (I have heard teenagers say, when asked to identify a biscuit from amongst a teatime assortment, "Dunno. Is it a cookie?") If nothing else, more integral signing would help keep alive an awareness amongst our own people of their rich biscuit heritage.
"Rich Tea". There's another one, you see.
Joyce Hoover (Mrs)
P.S. Martyn has also very kindly fixed me up with a website of my own. You might even like to take a look if you have the time.
|Nicey replies: Dear Mrs Hoover,
We are always interested in the biscuit selection made available to residents and guests when staying in the UKs fine selection of hotels and guest houses. Indeed I believe that in most hotel rating systems the in-room biscuits counts as an extra star.
Only last week whilst staying in Burton upon Trent(famed as the home of Marmite production in the UK), I was disappointed not to see biscuits accompanying the complementary in room tea and coffee. Despite our lodgings being themed on Arthurian legend and the Holy Grail, the round table in the Avalon room where we took breakfast, had merely a limited selection of cereals to accompany the tea and coffee.
||I think you are just the kind of person to solve a problem that has been bugging me for ages.|
I keep buying teapots and none of them pour properly. Next time I buy one I am going to insist that I can try it out in the shop.
I only ask one thing of a tea pot and that is that it should pour out tea without dribbling all over the table cloth and without the handle burning my hand. (I suppose that's two things).
Since you are clearly the experts in this field do you have any suggestions or solutions?
Mrs "slightly annoyed" from Paris
PS I love your website which I found recommended as website of the week on Which Online
|Nicey replies: That is an excellent idea, and deserves an icon. The only guide I can offer is that there appears to be inverse relationship between a teapots cost and its pouring excellence. Our quite pricey Denby Pullman pot dumps tea almost anywhere except in the cup, whilst a really cheap and cheerful pot I bought in a value shop works well.
We will all take your good word that we are Which's website of the week, given that only members can see the site contents. Presumably they tried out all the other websites about tea and sitting down and we came out tops. Hoorah!