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||Hello again Nicey,|
Sorry to besiege you, but I just remembered something else from my distant childhood in Newark(-on-Trent). Born in 1936, I had hand-me-down clothes and things from my much older brethren and cistern, who were born in the 1920s. One of these things was a Huntley & Palmer penny-in-the-slot biscuit machine.
It was made of pressed tin, as so many toys were. You were supposed to stack biscuits in it, put the lid on, place a penny in the slot, pull the little drawer, and behold, a biscuit! During the War (for young viewers, under 40, that's the Second World War), we couldn't get Huntley & Palmer's biscuits, and no others would fit the machine, so I could never use it.
Aaaah, POOR little lad! No, never mind all that. What I want to know is: Does anyone else remember this intriguing thing? Look, I've drawn a little picture of it for you. The shape is probably about right but the decoration is invented. Well, I CAN'T REMEMBER, can I?
|Bob in Tokyo
Fig Roll Review
|Dear Mr. Nicey, I stumbled across your "site" moments ago when I did a "google" search for Lyons Fig Rolls, and I discovered the "internet" does indeed have a useful function for those inclined to a "modern" lifestyle. That the correspondent from Niigata found said fig rolls in her local supermarket is astounding, as the best I have ever been able to locate in Tokyo (my domicile for the past decade) has been the Jacobs "closed end" variety. I am heartened by the news. My chidhood favourite (and still now, come to think of it) was the open-ended, non-striated-casing type (by Burtons, was it not?) since these lent themselves best to "peeling" or "nibbling" of the casing before plunging into the lushious, fragrant core. Oh my!.....did anyone else get a cerebral rush like I just did? Eleanor might be pleased to know that if there is a branch of the Daimaru "Peacock" supermarket chain in Niigata she should be able to get Waitrose organic "Oaten" biscuits (a classic, fibre-rich, buttery, oat-crunch type - and a damn fine dunker!) along with a few other Waitrose top-end biscuit varieties and other British products (HP sauce, Original and Fruity!) hard to get at a reasonable price in Japan.|
Anyway, I digress. My reason for this contribution is the query from Brian about Grantham gingerbread biscuits, a memory from his childhood in Newark on Trent. I can assure everyone in the biscuit-concerned world that this variety of biscuit is alive and well, and exactly, and delicious, as described. My mum used to make them (God bless her - she sends me Marks 'n' Sparks Extra Strong to keep me functional). Being Manchester folk, I'm not sure where she got the recipe, or even if it's actually an East-Midlands thing, despite the name. If it is, it's surely the best thing ever to come out of Grantham (oops...should I have said that?). I'll post the recipe as soon as I can get it from Mum.
Other matters (1): Taylor's Yorkshire for "a crucial hit" - life affirming on a hungover morning. And, does Co-op "99", an old favourite of mine, still exist?
Other matters (2): It would be useful to have a contribution date for each correspondence or article on the "site". I have qualms, occasionally, about being out of date.
Cheerio, Bob in Tokyo.
P.S. Returning to fig rolls....open-ended, smooth casing is the best. I defy you to disagree.
|Nicey replies: Bob,
It gives me a warm feeling to know that we are helping people across the world to locate proper biscuits. Hoorah, for the wonder of the interweb.
Your point about the contribution date is a good one, I'll see what I can do.
As to fig roll preferences, I think I nailed my colours to the mast in the original review.
|A J Evans
||Thought you might like this for your birthday|
More tea Vicar
Are you particular in the way you take your tea,
In bone china with cream or mug and sugar free,
Make it with a tea bag or properly in a pot,
Pour it in a saucer if it's made to hot,
Instant maybe, iced with lemon, Earl grey too,
There must be one that really suits you,
Have some iced fancy's or dunk in a biscuit,
Down in the potting shed or at Lord's with cricket,
Do you like it in the morning or afternoon at three,
Are you particular in the way you take your tea.
|Nicey replies: Thanks for the poetry,
all about cups of tea,
It was really lovely.
|Alan (Fred) Pipes
When I was in Edinburgh recently, I attended a Farmers Market and discovered a local or regional biscuit called the perkin. The ones I subsequently purchased were oatmeal-based, large, round, crisp yet crumbly, rustic looking and tasting of ginger and treacle, tho strangely no ginger was included on the list of ingredients. They were made by Oatmeal of Alford, and possibly fall into the category of luxury/home-made/vernacular (tho they did come in a sealed cellophane packet with printed label). I believe you can buy them on the internet, tho at a considerably higher price than the 80p I paid the maker/stallholder. Unfortunately I ate them all before finding this website, so no images are available. Try them when North of the Border.
On dunking: I find the round Rich Tea makes for a pleasant dunking experience -- fill up your mug (of a diameter less than that of the biscuit) with hot tea and make your first dunk. You'll find that only the smallest
sector (or is it segment -- can't remember my basic geometry) gets soggy as obviously the whole biscuit cannot be immersed. This can be nibbled off daintily and the rest of it, now narrow enough to fully immerse, can be
|Nicey replies: Fred,
Thanks for the tip of about Perkins, they sound tasty, perhaps someone North of the Border can get us a picture.
As for the round rich tea progressive dunk, thanks for reminding us all of that important technique. As the tea gets drunk it can sometimes require up to three preliminary dunks before complete dunkage can be achieved.
Rich Tea Review
Just thought I'd take the time to say what a great site! It rocks. I particularly like the scanned in photos of biscuits, they're almost gratiuitous, like biscuit pornography, but I love them. They're great as desktop backgrounds - put them on tile though, not centre, or they look lonely...
Anyway, the reason I'm writing is - I have to protest! I normally regard your reviews of biscuits as the voice of an expert, and something to view with great respect. However, I must comment on your rich tea review. I agree that rich tea were, of course, designed for dunking, and any attempt to sully them with other ingredients such as cream, chocolate, jam etc. should definitely be avoided. However, I must digress over two points.
1.) The classic 'round' rich tea is far superior and always will be to fingers. Fingers, when dunked, risk complete tea saturation along an entire cross section of the biscuit, causing breakage and ultimately, unfortunate collapse into the tea leaf based beverage. The biscuit and the tea then become one sad mess, and it is useless to try to fight this process by attempting to retrieve the biscuit remant from the tea. The best plan of action is to throw the tea/biscuit mixture away and start again, preferably with a new ROUND biscuit. The round version is also, of course, far more aesthetically pleasing, although I realise that this is a matter of taste. There are also those of us who regard the decorations on the sides of the finger variant as 'overly fancy'. Enough said. I think most biscuit lovers would also argue that the ventilation holes in the fingers are unnecessarily dense, and probably put there more for show than function.
2.) The taste of rich tea is fantastic! Try to think of them not as dry, but 'crisp'. Not as bland but 'classic'. I hope you can see my point of view.
I would also like to mention the relationship between rich tea and builders. Builders biscuit of choice is the rich tea. They do seem to particularly enjoy dunking, but I suspect that maybe it goes deeper than that. Maybe the admire the construction of the rich tea? When my parents had their extension built in 1989 the builders would not start work until presented with a daily packet of rich tea and hot tetley. Other biscuits were left on the plate. Even Mrs Locke from no. 48 and a plate of cakes seemed secondary to the option of rich tea. They didn't do that good a job actually, but I'm sure you can't blame the rich tea for that.
I also have a quick question - in your review of wagon wheels you did not mention anything about the size of the biscuit in relation to other points in time. Many people I speak to believe that the size of a wagon wheel is inversely proportional with time (i.e. they used to be bigger) but it is hard for me to judge this myself as I have only just finished growing. This, of course, means that what I believe is a shrinking biscuit may in fact be an optical abboration caused by my relative size to the marshmellow based product. I would be most grateful if you could clear this matter up!
That's it anyway, keep up the good work.
p.s - The point about humility is certainly true.
|Nicey replies: Pete,
Thanks for those Rich Tea thoughts, your point about the builders is a particularly well made. Indeed there are some that think the finger too fancy, however in a side by side tasting we found them to be slightly tastier.
As far as Wagon Wheel size I tackle that classic point in the second paragraph.