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||Dear Nicey and the wife,|
Haven't been in touch for quite some time, new job, family commitments etc, so I thought I'd just take the opportunity to wish all at NCOTAASD HQ a very merry Christmas and a happy & prosperous new year.
I also thought that you might like to know that we had some American visitors at work recently and one of them, Jack, showed a keen interest in the whole British tea tradition.
We tried our best to explain the whole concept, how to make and drink a proper cup of tea etc, but I'm not sure if it really sank in.
I did send him back to Boston with my copy of the NCOTAASD book to read at his leisure so I'm hopeful that the American tea situation will improve in at least one small corner of the union.
|Nicey replies: Seasons greetings to you too Keith,
Nice to hear from you and to know that you are helping out your fellow man at this time of year.
We have just had our Christmas Dinner, which traditionally Wifey and I have on Christmas Eve evening (Its a long story and not terribly interesting, but we do and that's the way we like it). It gives us lots of time to play with our presents on Christmas day. However, I'm having to sit a little bit further away from the keyboard that usual. The younger members of staff have knocked off early for the day, in some rouse to make Santa come along quicker, and I have an important bottle of vintage port that requires my attention.
Once again Merry Christmas
From Nicey, Wifey and the YMOS.
||I think it's a shame that my favourite yuletide tea companion, stollen, came dead-last in your special-report poll, but, on the basis that many worthwhile enterprises feel the need to take on extra temporary staff over the busy Christmas period, here are some remarks on the stollens I've tried so far this year:|
Marks and Spencer: good marzipan, interesting addition of pecans which gave a not unwelcome frisson of the Deep South USA to the otherwise Teutonic experience, but really far too many glace cherries (12%, says the label) and made with vegetable oil, not all-butter. Some other M&S Christmas gear comes in regular, luxury, or connoisseur; I had a look but stollen seems to only come in regular. Quite frankly the version I had could do with connoisseurring up a bit. 3/5 snowflakes.
Tesco Finest: no pecans but plenty of almonds, more proportionate glace cherries (7%), good stickiness from all the butter and brandy. 4/5 snowflakes.
Unfortunately neither gets all 5 snowflakes, as neither one is quite as good as the one some friends got me the other Christmas, which came all the way from Germany in its own wooden box, proudly labelled "Original Erzgebirgischer Butterstollen", and thus joined the select group of foods which take more calories to pronounce than they actually contain.
Next I'm hoping to score a Waitrose one. Or maybe see if the big Sainsburys on the ring-road do a Taste the Difference one, but the little Sainsburys in town didn't have stollen at all when I looked.
|Nicey replies: Good work Hartley the Elder,
I did go through a short phase of making my own Stollens about four years ago but the dough is so rich I found it tricky to get it to rise nicely. I may have another go now I have a mighty food mixer. Logic dictates that Lidls should do a good one and my Dad always used to get one of theirs. A nice bit of rum in a stollen and brushed over is very festive too. We also had a Bahlsen one a while back and that was very Rum laden.
I now have a big stollen head on.
||Hello and thank you for the review of Mince Pies. My husband makes the mince pies in our house every year, and then doles them out to all and sundry. We normally get through 48 in all. This Saturday is baking day. Basically I abandon him in the kitchen and allow him to emerge several hours later, sweating and dredged in flour, bearing a piping hot mince pie for each of us, topped with rapidly-melting brandy butter. It doesn't get much better than that.|
A very merry Christmas and happy New Year to you and yours, and thanks again for yet another entertaining and illuminating year on NCOTAASD.
|Nicey replies: Hoorah for your Old Man!
That sounds top notch. I love all these food based Christmas family traditions, they are the real fabric of Christmas to me.
We watched Nigella last night go through all of hers. Whilst it is was exciting to see the McVities Ginger Cake go into her stuffing I'm not all sure I fancied the result, bacon, onions, apple and ginger cake - hmmm not keen. Then again we couldn't help thinking of Kerry Katona who is going to be shoving stuff straight from the freezer into her oven. Mind you she always seems to have a huge spread in those adverts so perhaps next year she could have Nigella and the rest Saatchis round, and save Nigella going to all that effort.
Seasons greetings to you and yours!
You may not remember but I’m the lady who (I think) nearly has your sister’s name and e-mailed you a while ago about interactive biscuit ‘recommends’ features. I’m getting married soon so thought I’d best e-mail you while I’ve still got my name!
I have had a very hard week at work so thought I deserved to spend a few minutes with a nice cup of tea, reading through past comments on your lovely cosy pages, when I came across a chap who had problems with his colleagues making his tea all wrong, the fools. I believe that I have conquered this difficulty in my workplace, and would like to share my tips with the great tea-drinking public.
I achieved this amazing feat by comprehensively training a few key members of staff in the precise way I like my cup of tea, it took a few weeks but I now enjoy lovely cups of tea without leaving my desk (except when one particular lady makes it, I have decided she is untrainable). First of all I started coming with people when they volunteered to make the tea ‘to help carry the cups back’, whilst we were in the kitchen I would burble on about tea and how too strong tea is very bad for you and too weak tea is pointless, peering over their shoulder the whole time and saying ‘ooh just another squeeze on my teabag please’ and ‘maybe just a touch more milk’.
I work with children, and a very important part of my job is getting the little so-and-so’s to learn how to recognise when they have done the right thing, I applied a similar principle by congratulating people wholeheartedly when they got my tea right, and politely ignoring them when my tea was wrong. I also waxed lyrical about the best cup of tea I ever had – which was approximately the colour of a golden hamster, I looked up golden hamsters on google images in order to demonstrate the colour to them – and promised them that I would tell the first person to make my tea perfectly the secrets of the Cadburys finger straws (as per the tim-tam procedure basically). It worked! Hurrah hurrah! Everyone in my office now thinks I am slightly batty, but then perhaps I am, and anyway who cares what people think as long as you get a lovely cup of tea. Think of it as supernanny for tea heathens.
Hope this information can be of some help to someone,
PS – I don’t know how you feel about these new fangled coffee emporiums that have sprung up everywhere, I know for a fact they don’t understand tea, but I was in one at lunchtime and I had the most perfect mince pie! What a surprise and a joy, however I now feel slightly sick.
|Nicey replies: Julia,
That's funny my sister almost had your name after she re-married. Your names are a bit like some grand celestial alignment that is drawing to an end. Mind you that's as nothing to Wifey's name which changed into my mother's when we married. If that does reveal anything about me, it should be that I was prepared to pursue our blossoming relationship in spite of that potential scenario.
Anyhow well done on the people training, its much more subtle than my technique of just being a bit abrupt and rude to them. It must have required great self discipline on your part. I also heartily approve of a tea colour chart based on rodents. I would probably need to refer to the colour of various school desk tops in my life in-order to gauge tea strength, which is obviously not as immediately handy as a metric built around small furry pets.
Hope you have recovered from your mince pie and that your wedding day isn't clouded by thoughts of your name now not being as similar as it once was to some random blokes sister off the internet.
Yorkshire Tea Review
The first thing I thought of when I saw the picture of the Yorkshire Tea biscuit was the one thing you didn't mention in your review: its perfect dunking shape. Indeed, if you like really soggy biscuits, you could even balance it on the top of your (narrow) mug for a few seconds, with the descender, labelled 'TEA', pointing like a signpost to the said liquid (or, hopefully, dangling in it).
Did you not try this?
|Nicey replies: Yes you're not the only one to take me to task on this. It's Wifey who usually does the dunking at NCOTAASD HQ and given that there was only 12 in the pack I don't think I sent enough her way to make feel like a casual dunk.