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My wife Rachel and I are Londoners in exile in Tignes, a ski resort high in the French Alps. The French Alps, in common with much of mainland Europe, is not the kind of place where one can easily get one's sticky paws on one's favourite mass produced biscuits. A decent cuppa is pretty much out of the question as well, and we've taken to importing tea bags rather than put up with Lipton day in, day out.
The biscuit issue was more of a problem, but my wife's entrepreneurial streak encouraged her to bake brownies. This in turn led to a 'Tignes brownie off', resulting in said brownies becoming available in a local cafe, Le Lavachet Lounge. Walnut brownies are a favourite, but 'orange and white chocolate chip' have been spotted, as have 'cherry and kirsch', and the flavour changes every week.
I occasionally report on the brownies in my blog and a recent post was entitled "Nice cup of tea and a sit down" after your good selves. A reader posted a link to your site and commented that if Rachel's brownies were ever to get a mention there, she'd know they'd truly hit the big time.
It's my wife's birthday in April (the 12th) and I'm sure it would make her day for her baking to be recognised in such an internationally renowned place.
Obviously I'm biased, but I'm sure I could find vaguely independent verification of aforementioned brownie quality.
Great site - keep up the good work.
|Nicey replies: As I too have endured many a cup of Liptons tea a mere mountain away from you I have some empathy for your wretched plight. Mind you living in the middle of Espace Killy and looking like the season could make it through to the start of May this year tempers my anguish somewhat.
Still well done to Mrs Cowbells for her resourceful baking. I have to say I do like the whole high altitude baking thing in ski resorts even if much of it is enforced on chalet maids.
Ginger Nut Review
|Dear Nicey & Wifey,|
I have to admit to having dropped out of the biscuit game for a number of years due mainly to an expanding waistline and the paucy of decent produce now I'm resident in Australia. I do however seem to remember the ginger nut as THE dunking biscuit of all time, in fact it was the only safe way to eat it when I was growing up. We had a family receipe that involved soaking a packet of ginger nuts in an orange juice and alcohol mixture and covering in a kind of thick creamy icing that caused the biscuits to soften and it was served as a dessert. Unfortunately this has long been lost and I'd love to re-acquainted with it if any of your readers are familiar with something similar.
I have to say I really enjoyed your comments on the Abbey Crunch as they were one of my favourites and although we can get imported Hobnobs over here they just not the as good as I remember the Abbey Crunch to be. My all time favourite was the Bourbon.
One very good thing discovered over here is a brew by the name of Dilmah which makes an excellent cuppa. I hope it has made it over to Blighty as it really is top stuff. Perhaps you could add a section of favourite teas to the tea page and include it.
|Nicey replies: Long time NCOTAASD contributor Brian Barrett has long championed that Dilmah tea, which I think is available in the UK too.
||Dear Nicey and Wifey,|
Allow me first to congratulate you on your excellent book and indeed this entertaining and informative website. The subject of a nice cup of tea and the associated matter of a sit down have been long overdue for such careful consideration. However, such a national icon as tea drinking can hardly be mentioned without courting controversy, and it is with regard to the matter of tea-making that I right. Don't worry though - I am writing not in seethign indignation, but rather my e-mail is intended to promote scientific debate.
You mention in your splendid tome that it is is better to use pre-boiled water to make tea, rather than re-boiling already boiled water (a process which drives out dissolved oxygen). Now I had always understood that it was essential for the water to be at boiling point in order to activate the flaveroids, or whatever they are called, in the tea, thus ensuring a good tastey cuppa. My question to Nicey therefore (knowing you to be of a scientific bent) is which of these factors (boiling vs. dissolved oxygen) ahs the greater influence on the tastiness of the brew? I must confess that I tend towards the boiling water persuasion - after all, oxygen dissolves in water only with some difficulty, and how much will be present in the water after the first boil?
By the way, I never succeeded in making a good brew when I lived in Cumbria - the water was all wrong.
Keep up the good work!
C. Whiteley, E. Yorks.
|Nicey replies: Well I would switch quickly from a footing of raked together semi-scientific gossip to pure speculation, and say that the state of the water being boiled and re-boiled affects its taste, and therefore that of the tea.
I just checked with the tea council's website (which seems to have had a recent facelift) and they too go on about the oxygen being important, but don't say how it works.
||As a recruitment consultant, I think Alexa Didcott & Kerrie-Anne Wright's idea is a fabulous one. We ought to make it part of a rigourous selection process, maybe including a practical. Can't have any weirdos in the company!|
|Nicey replies: Gareth,
That's quite a dangerous line your taking there. Rather than selecting out the weirdoes surely we should embrace them into a tolerant and equal opportunity workplace. Filling in the form would simply mean that nobody would make tea for them, and any normal people starting there would be told about them too.
|Alexa Didcott Kerrie-Anne Wright
We loooooooooooove your website. Alexa received your book for Christmas, she had tears rolling down her face when she read about the non sugar users trying to convert the sugar users!
Anyway, we are all back at work after the break and the usual tea and coffee discussions have ensued. So to clear up matters, we have created a "How do you like it tea proforma"!
We thought you would like to take a look at a sample of the completed tea questionnaires.....ENJOY!
Alexa Didcott & Kerrie-Anne Wright
|Nicey replies: Morning Ladies,
Thats some great initiative there. Presumably you have these all filed next to the kettle for reference. Also you should make sure that it becomes company policy that all new starters have to fill in one of these and browse all the other ones before they are even allowed to use the kettle.
I just pulled out the first one from the fifteen you sent, Wifey and I enjoyed them all however.