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Thank you for your most informative site. I am not sure how I first found it, but it has re-kindled a long dormant passion for the biscuit makerís art.
I am writing to ask for some guidance. I will be visiting the UK (mostly Scotland) from Australia early in the New Year, and my dilemma is this: Where do I start? I mean, itís one thing to find the biscuit isle in the supermarket, but it is another thing to navigate it intelligently. I fear that I will become overwhelmed by the occasion and not choose wisely.
Do you have any suggestions for a systematic study of the biscuitry of the British Isles? Luckily McVities Digestives and Hob Nobs are available here and I have become quite familiar with them. But where to start on the rest?
I also plan to embark on a study of the state of the art in marmalade. While we are quite well served with biscuits here in Australia, the same cannot be said for marmalade. While I appreciate that this is a huge subject in itself and not part of your area of specialisation, any suggestions would be greatly received.
|Nicey replies: Neil,
First may I take a moment to compliment you on your forward planning and foresight. If only more people would seriously consider what biscuits they were going to eat in a foreign country some 3 to 4 months before visiting it then I'm sure their trips would be that much more successful as a result.
As you are going to Scotland I would think it none too bad to focus on the local stuff. Absolutely anything by Tunnocks will prove a source a great learning. Simmers Abernethy biscuits are also very Scottish and well worth investigating. You'll probably quickly tire of the all too predictable shortbread which will follow you everywhere you go, until probably in mild desperation you'll succumb and by some in duty free on the way home. Other than that I would say try the Penguin which inspired your own Tim Tam, this could be seen as a very academic exercise, so I suggest you work up a good appetite and pop away a couple of them before coming to any conclusions.
As for Marmalade, there is much to choose from as you say. Steer clear of all those jars of "With Whisky" nonsense that will be keeping the tins of shortbread company stalking you around Scotland. Much better just to drink the whisky and eat the marmalade toast at the appropriate times. I find that there is much to be said for the small producers of preserves who make something with a bit of character. Other than that I always like a bit of Frank Coopers whilst Nanny Nicey likes Roses Lime Marmalade as do the YMOS.
Finally if you find yourself in Annan in Dumfriesshire as we did earlier this year be sure and visit Scotland's third best fish and chip shop, The Cafe Royal, where the great poet Rabbie Burns wrote the immortal, "The Deil's Awa Wi' Th' Exciseman ", but steer clear of the deep fried Haggis in batter.
Lovely site you've got there. Wondered if you could help me? A friend and I were reminiscing about a biscuit today that lots of people seem to remember but no-one can remember the name of, or even if they can still be bought anywhere. We have produced a mockup of the biscuit which is attached to this e-mail - it had frilled edges and two colour (or sometimes three) icing on the top.
Please help us!
|Nicey replies: Michael,
We now believe this biscuit to be the 'Iced shortie'.
Splendid graphics, I like the dropshadow. I wish we had more biscuit mockups sent to us of this quality.
||Hello there Nicey,|
In last Friday's metro, Kerry Shaw writes in, asking fellow readers if anyone knew what had happened to a biscuit she remembered fondly from her childhood. She described it as a slightly wider malted milk but decorated with pink, brown and yellow icing in stripes (or something like that, I no longer have the paper and can't find a letters section online). In yesterday's metro, three readers reply, one saying they are iced gems (not sure he read her description), another saying party rings (him too!) and the
third correctly identifying it as an ICED SHORTIE!
I think the iced shortie needs to go on the missing list. After Kerry's memory prompt, I remember being very fond of them, and now I'm aware that I've been deprived of them, I miss them!
P.S. Also, I don't think they make Sports Biscuits any more...they were good too!
|Nicey replies: Chris,
Thanks for this. First of all Foxs are still making Sports biscuits, I saw some yesterday so no problems there. In fact I was waiting for the controversy surrounding their new graphics to die down before we formally reviewed them in our informal manner. As this happened about four years back now we should probably get to it.
Right secondly a big thanks for the iced shortie stuff. There are many people out there who have been trying to put a name to this biscuit many of which have produced nice pictures. I shall put them up in the missing in action section now. As for those other two letters from people who thought she was going on about iced gems or party rings, it scares me that such people could in theory be charge of a motor vehicle.
||Palets Breton were on sale at Aldi earlier this year masquerading under an Aldi own-brand name, but still jolly tasty I'll have you know.|
|Nicey replies: Thanks Nick,
There is much to said for trying to track down Continental food in Continental supermarkets.
||I have occasionally found Breton palettes and galettes in posh tins in the food section of TKMaxx. I suppose they must be available elsewhere in shops in the UK, but maybe only at places the go bankrupt and pass on their stock to clearance outlets.|
Also keep a look out for the 'French Markets" that travel the country. You can sometimes find them being sold loose there.
I have a similar problem the lovely lavender and olive oil soap you get from Marseilles. Personally I find that the need for bickies and smellies is a great excuse for a trip to raid a Breton street market and stock up!
|Nicey replies: Sue,
This TKMaxx information is new to me. I will challenge Nanny Nicey as to why this has evaded us till now as she can often be found rummaging in there.