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Chocolate Caramel Review
|After having browsed your website, i noticed many comments suggesting 'we appreciate your comments' i thought this was too good to be true and i therefore decided to write an email. I firstly must thank you whole heartedly for writing your book. As a lover of tea and biscuits, and of course, sit downs, i was immensely thankful to find your book in the most prestigious waterstones in Cork in Ireland whilst on a recent backpacking holiday. In all fairness, during the long travelling and quiet hostels, your book did in fact provide me with just the sort of humour, comfort and general light-heartedness that i needed on my holiday (even if it did return a little more battered than i would have liked after surviving the cross channel journey in my rucksack).|
I would very much like to be able to give an opinion on many of the biscuits you have mentioned, however i do not believe that i have the time to write it, nor you the time to read it. I shall therefore be brief and selective.
Firstly, the Fox's Jam Cream, as reviewed by your excellent selves, i find to be a fantastic accompaniment to any form of tea (herbal not included) as its cream innner draws the eater forwards before surprising him/her with the fruity jam centre that simply begs to be left in the mouth as its flavours work away upon the taste buds.
Also, The McVities Chocolate digestive with caramel. I find to be a rather peculiar biscuit. Its main selling point i believe, is that its caramel centre works as a steel girder allowing it to be left in the tea for any length of time as the biscuit itself will not dop off. However, upon eating, you do find the usual flavours of the digestive biscuit, grown to be a favourite among many, but you do find a rather sweet caramel slice hiding betwen the chocolate and the aforementioned biscuit. I believe perhaps, that the sweetness can be a little too overpowering.
Myself and my College friends in Buxton, Derbyshire have spent many an hour sampling the delights of many biscuits (Unfortunately when this time should be more wisely spent on coursework) and have often suggested that a website should be set up for those in the same opinion as us. However, after finding your site, and also, your book, i find our work is done! and also done to a much better standard than we could have probably done. Thank you again for taking the time to share your interests with the world!
|Nicey replies: Hoorah for Ireland and Cork, or Cork as the locals call it in their own special accent. Actually we met some people from Cork once and their accents were so strong I thought they were Finnish. I was unable to speak to chap directly and he unable to speak to me, his wife had to act as an interpreter.
Also Hoorah for Derbyshire. We had a very nice weekend camping just above Matlock Bath about two weeks ago, and had a lovely cup of tea at the National Tramway Museum in Crich.
Breton Biscuit Super Review Review
I'm French and have just found your site through a google search for Oreo pictures (I wanted to make an userpic out of a pic of an Oreo packet that reads "I believe in the American dream." but actually, your review made me think about it and now I wonder if it's not a bit lame.)
Okay. Whatever. I loved your reviews of Petit Ecolier, Galettes and bretons biscuit as well as Mikado. It was great fun reading them and having a foreign outlook on my everyday biscuits.
I just wanted to tell you that Auchan doesn't mean Robin in French, despite their logo being a Robin. Auchan must simply be the family name of the chain's founder, and the French for Robin actually is "Rouge-gorge" (litterally meaning "Red-throat").
As for La Mère Poulard, I don't think many people in France have ever thought of her name meaning "small chicken" or "bantam". Poulard is only a family name, not a word anybody uses or you'd find in the dictionary, although thinking about it must have been an old term for chicken ("poulet" in nowadays French).
Also, you should give Petit Beurre another try. Unlike what you seem to think according to the Petit Ecolier review, Petit Beurre is still very popular here.
I actually like it more than les galettes bretonnes. It's not too sugary nor buttery. It's dry but not too hard, it's filling but doesn't disgust you easily. For me, it's to biscuits what a plain white tee or a pair of jeans are to clothes: a basic. And I think everyone in France recognizes and appreciates its peculiar and comforting taste.
Well, keep it up. And sorry for the English mistakes I must have made (after all, before reading your reviews I had no clue what "robin" and "bantam" meant in English).
Oh, and if you want some advice about interesting varieties we have here, just drop me a line, I'd be more than happy to contribute.
|Nicey replies: Thanks for sorting us out on Robins. Even now I know they are 'Rouge gorge' I will still think of them as little Auchans hopping around. As for Poulards I bet they taste like chicken.
As for English mistakes, if you are prepared to put up with ours we won't mind about yours (not that I could see any). As for finding interesting French biscuits etc its really more of a matter of us coming to France and systematically working our way through it all. We really tried hard this year, and our local Boulangerier is probably much closer to getting that new car than they had expected to be at this point.
I found your site whilst looking for information on the Chiltonian Biscuit Factory in Hither Green, London. I worked there in the mid 1970's and I can assure (your correspondent) Kevin Sowerby, that I packed many, many garibaldi biscuits while I worked there.
They were just delicious and I have never tasted a garabaldi biscuit as good as them since those days...
We packed biscuits for Sainsburys, Peak Frean and many others at Chiltonian - there was also a broken biscuit shop where customers and staff could buy a huge bag of broken biscuits for 10p!...
I am sad to learn that the Chiltonian factory is to be converted into housing development.....
God bless all,
|Nicey replies: That's great to have the location of Sainsbury's wonderful 1970s Garibaldis tracked down. Presumably the much missed Chocolate version was made there too. I certainly remember a time when Garibaldis were a softer and the raisins a bit plumper, perhaps they were Chiltonian ones. Still it would be good to see if they could whack a bit of chocolate on a modern Gariabldi just to see what they came out like.|
Being an ex-pat living in New Jersey, I can offer some perspective on the kettle situation here - there are options - just not what you're used to.
I have purchased or received no less than 4 distinct types of kettle since I've been here.
- Aluminum (sorry for the spelling, when in Rome and all that) kettle that sits on the stove top (Dirt cheap at around $5) in just about any supermarket, in a variety of inoffensive painted colours. It has black plastic handle and whistle. This is on the stubby spout, and is spring loaded to be retracted with the thumb as you pour. Simultaneous blowing and pouring is required to avoid a scalded thumb - a skill that is soon mastered. Boils in < 9 minutes (that's how long it takes me to have a shower in the morning). All in all this is the workhorse of american kettles, and not bad for what you pay.
- Chrome plated steel behemoth - with olde worlde spout and wooden handle - given to us as a house warming gift (by a very nice american lady, of the southern variety). A number of innovations were present here. First the whistle appears to be some sort of ball-like device housed inside the spout, that moves out of the way as the kettle is tipped. While this appears to be a rather clever idea in principle, the whistle itself is much more of a whisper, and may not be heard at all during a rerun of Seinfeld. Unfortunately just a little too clever. The second innovation seems a somewhat curious at first. There's a mass of horizontal wire coils on which the body of the kettle rests. It is tempting to ridicule the poor object. However this tangled mass of wire happens to do a marvellous job of extracting every last bit of heat from your gas flame, so that the water boils before you know it. This manages to compensate for the deficiency of the whistle somewhat, since the water is usually boiling by the time you've got your teacup and biscuits prepared, and are thus still in earshot.
- A very nasty, flimsy looking chrome plated, kettle-like object that was probably the progeny of an electric water heater. Purchased in Macy's for $20. Hopeless thing. I never used it - probably gave it away to someone who would never use it (fortunately no shortage here)
- Krups automatic upright jug - a nice white plastic jobbie. Cost me a FORTUNE ($90, 10 yrs ago - at the time 30 quid was as much as I had paid - I'm sure inflation makes this sum seem small now). I could only find this in a specialty kitchen appliance store in Princeton - a University town with a real english tea shop, indicating a ready supply of suckers to be ripped off in such outrageous fashion (myself included). Essential office equipment, owing to the complete absence of water boiling equipment at the coffee stations, and the lack of understanding that would be shown should a non-automatic (see Item 3) be employed and inevitably left to fill an empty room with clouds of steam. Because, of course, it's never happened to anyone here before, so no sympathy, plus there's no doubt that the only Briton in the building who blathers on about the lack of boiling water is the one responsible. The only problem with this (and any) electric kettle, is that on 120 V it takes forever to boil. None of this spur-of-the moment, "I just fancy a cuppa" - advance planning required.
The only other comment I can make on the local infrastructure as it relates to tea preparation, is the totally unreasonable water pressure here. Taps (or "faucets") are generally of the "one nudge and they're full on" variety - this apparently is of particular benefit for the disabled. While this might be fine if the most your plumbing was designed for water trickling into the bath - only to be full in 20 minutes, here the plumbing serves the needs of hearty, chest pummelling showers - which is all well and good as a morning stimulant BUT it requires your full (I repeat FULL) attention and considerable skill when filling a kettle (or anything else). I suffer water splatter in some form on a daily basis. The danger lurks at every sink, and is particularly embarassing when visiting some new establishment, where the taps are unfamiliar. Emerging from the bathroom with wet splashes down the front of my trousers, in front of strange company - well enough said, except that if an able bodied person such as myself can't dodge the jet in time, what about the poor disabled chaps ? My sympathy is with them - having struggled long and hard for fair treatment, it must rankle.
Rob in America
Glad to hear others are as keen on jam making as me. This year I have put up a couple of pots of greengage plus six of cranberry jam, made using bags of fruit frozen at Christmas. Needless to say this will propel me into a frenzy of jam tart making which is always a good thing. I still have a stash of last year's jams, including victoria plum, damson and mirabelle so I need to get baking sharpish.
|Nicey replies: The younger members of staff tell me that 'Big cook little cook' just made some Jam tarts so I have tart making tension now. We took the end of the last batch round to Biscuit Enthusiast Mandy, who managed to have a couple of them before the younger members of staff saw them off.|