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|Richard and Sue Knight
Custard Cream Review
|Hi Nicey & Wifey|
I just wanted to tell you about the 'biscuit club' we hold on a Friday evening in the snug at The Horse & Groom pub in Linby, nr Nottingham. It all started about 9 months ago when my wife accidentally told one of the other snugglers (snug regulars) that I had once created a spoof website dedicated to Custard Creams (my favourite biscuits). Incidentally, it was whilst researching for this website, about 7 years ago, that I first came across your own fabulous website which has gone from strength to strength.
Said snuggler arrived one Friday evening and as he walked in, threw a large packet of Sainsbury's custard creams at me, fortunately the alcohol had sharpened my senses and I was able to catch the packet of biscuits and prevent any major damage from befalling them.
I found myself to be the centre of attention at this point and had to explain to the assembled masses exactly what you could put on a 'custard cream' website. I told them about the fun our group, who became nicknamed "The Biscuit Boys", had at work, trying the huge variety of different makes, and in particular finding out about the 'other' uses for custard creams such as building blocks, dominoes, skittles etc and about how you could make useful articles such as a tea pot stand from said biscuits.
The evening finished with the landlord of the establishment rolling a barrel shaped measure off the bar onto a table below and trying to knock down as many of the biscuit 'skittles' as he could. For some unknown reason it was decided that we should form a biscuit club and somehow I ended up as chairman or "chair biscuit" as I prefer to be known.
Since then we have had over 30 meetings where we bring along assorted packets of biscuits which we all try and then vote on our favourite which is declared biscuit of the week. We have also had a few 'special' evenings including a cheese night, a cold cooked meats night and a sausage night and we are planning a "Puddings you can eat with custard" night in the near future.
One of the highlights of our evenings had been the ongoing saga of the Jaffa Cake which has led to many alcohol fuelled discussions taking place, but for me the absolute crowning glory was when the wife and I walked in one Friday evening to find everyone eagerly awaiting us as the Landlady had a presentation to make. Imagine my delight when I was presented with a copy of your excellent book which they had come across whilst on holiday. This tome has become the club bible and is called upon (usually without any great success) to settle any arguments over the provenance of any particular item brought along as a 'Biscuit'.
Although I had told the other members about your website I had not visited for quite some time but have now renewed my acquaintance with it and as you may see, signed up for the newsletter. I am now wondering if you would like to put a feature about our 'Biscuit Club' on your website to encourage other biscuit aficionados to form similar groups and would be willing to provide any information, pictures etc to facilitate this. Or maybe you could even start a sister site, "A Nice Pint of Beer, a Sit Down and a Biscuit". Maybe CAMRA would be interested in some sort of sponsorship deal.
Keep up the good work.
Richard & Sue Knight
|Nicey replies: Hi Richard & Sue Knight,
I'm very pleased that we have contributed in some way to your very civilised sounding biscuit and booze rituals, even if we haven't sorted out your disputes.
As for News Letters we haven't done one in forever, but since then I have created a new and mighty newsletter engine for the day job and have been toying with the idea of firing it up on NCOTAASD so you never know!
||Hi Nicey and all @ ANCTSD,|
I'm sure you've picked up on, and are currently gathering the fallout from this Cake v biscuit story as we speak / write / er…e-mail
Surely, this has implications for consumers, producers, the tax persons and many birds / pets around the UK - a full on debate in the Commons / Lords should be undertaken to tackle this, the great biscuit / cake debate, once and for all - as it's rumbled on long enough…
How are Tunnock's reacting to the news?
Are there any implications in the Jaffa 'cake' debate?
Will customers be reimbursed for the 'mis-classification' of these biscuits?
Are there any implications in the 'reclassify cannabis' debate?
I hope you can get to the bottom of the possible implications for all of us tea and biscuit (and occasional cake) fans.
Yours (eating a Bahlsen Dip It! - Milk Crispy type)
|Nicey replies: We'll I've just written a bit for the Guardian on this!|
||Dear Nicey,Wifey and YMOS|
On Wednesday afternoon, my husband and I came back to Korea after staying for three nights and four days in our motherland, Japan.
Sad to say, when we arrived at Haneda Airport(Tokyo), there was no lady with a green tea trolley to greet us, but Tokyo was so beautiful because the lovely pink-coloured cherry blossoms were in full bloom.
In Tokyo, my husband seemed to be busy visiting several offices on business.
As for me, I was busy dropping by corner shops enjoying biscuit hunting, as you guess.
And we flew back to Korea with a lot of biscuits I had gained in Tokyo, including a box of twenty "Black Thunder" biscuits, which are one of my favourite Japanese biscuits.
Well, I am a lady who love inexpensive,mass-produced biscuits that are available at corner shops and common supermarkets.
However, in remembrance of our brief retro life in Tokyo, I ventured to try to buy four extravagant biscuits at WEST shop.
The WEST shop is a confectioner well-known for its even finer and high end biscuits in Japan.
Actually, even a single biscuit cost me at 168JPY (about 0.82GBP / 1.64USD).
Interestingly, the confectioner calls its biscuits "Dry Cake", while it calls its fresh cakes (such as cheesecake, sponge cake covered with whipped cream and cream puff) just "Cake".
And it is fact that those 4 "Dry Cake" biscuits I bought were drier than Tunnock teacake and Jaffa Cake.
Anyway, I am very happy that I was able to get such gems of biscuits as well as common biscuits in Japan.
By the way, what lets me down is that I was not able to discover a gem of contemporary literature: Japanese version of NCOTAASD book in Japan. It seemed to me that your Japanese book has not been released in Japan, yet.
I do hope I will get it next time we fly to Japan.
Hiromi Miura (Seoul Korea)
|Nicey replies: Hello Hiromi,
It sounds like you had a lovely time back in Tokyo, even if you didn't get your cup of green tea at the airport..
Of course the main reason for our book being published in Japanese is so that you can read it. I've pointed this out at length to all concerned. Fingers crossed that you'll find it next time.
We have cherry trees all along our road, which have just began to blossom too. Each year they produce masses of black cherries most of which are eaten by birds or fall on to the road. This year Wifey plans to ask permission to grab a few pounds of them and turn them into her new found best drink ever, Cherry flavoured Vodka. NCOTAASD ISP Dr Borrill did this with his cherries and worked very well indeed.
||I'm writing to you as an American who has recently begun a love affair with tea and biscuits, to inform you that you are much to blame.|
Although I was born and raised in the American Midwest, I've always been a bit of an Anglophile - eschewing action movies and MTV in favor of staying up late watching old BBC shows on public television.
If you have any American readers ask you where they can buy proper biscuits in the states, you should tell them to see if they have a store called "World Market" in their area. It's a chain of about 300 stores, and really the only part of the country they haven't spread to yet is the Northeast. (http://www.worldmarket.com/) They carry furniture and goods from all over the world, plus lots of tasty imported foods. I became a regular at our local World Market a year or so ago, when I discovered that they had an amazing selection of tasty European chocolate bars. I confess to being a complete Ritter Sport addict, especially the "butter cookie" and "milk chocolate hazelnut" varieties.
Then, this summer I moved into an apartment across the street from the store, and I began visiting much more frequently and trying a lot of new things. Well, really I only got as far as the biscuit aisle and have gotten hooked. I started with the Jaffa Cakes and Jammie Dodgers, but was still skeptical of the Digestive. Then I somehow stumbled upon an article about Custard Creams online a few months back, and ended up at your website.
I have always liked tea, although it is a bit sacreligious in the coffee-obsessed Pacific Northwest part of the country, where I live now. I have to confess though, that until recently I mostly drank herbal "tea", not realizing how good proper tea could be. Everyone I had ever known brewed their tea the same way - by plopping a couple tea bags into a pot and just letting it sit there forever, resulting in bitter, stewed tea. I have since learned the error of my ways (thanks to encouragement from your website and book) and now drink loads of proper tea (with milk and one sugar). I have even procured some PG Tips, which certainly is better than any American brands of tea I've tried. I've become such a tea fanatic I've even bought myself an electric kettle (brilliant! why doesn't everyone else have these?) and my friends and family think I'm crazy.
I've learned to love the digestive, of course. It's the perfect companion to tea! The selection at World Market is varied and unpredictable, but they always have plain and milk chocolate McVitie's digestives, as well as Crawford's Bourbons and Custard Creams (yummy), plus usually Penguins and Cadbury Fingers. Occasionally they will have Gingernuts, Fruit Shortcake, Garibaldis, McVitie's Chocolate Caramel, etc. I recently picked up a packet of Plain Chocolate digestives, which only make occasional appearances on the shelves. My favorite biscuit though has to be the Hob Nob. Until recently I had only tried the Milk Chocolate, but I spied the plain ones on the shelf the other day, and my are they delicious. I prefer to eat the less chocolatey-sweet biscuits at work, as too much sugar makes it hard to type straight.
I have to say that as much of a fan of Cadbury's chocolate I am, I don't like their biscuits. Too sugary for me, and not in a good way. Don't get me wrong, I like my sweets, but Cadbury's biscuits make me feel like I'm just eating spoonfuls of sugar.
This is turning into quite a long message, but I just have one more thing to add:
Regarding fruitcake in the States - I saw an expat reader of yours mention that she had noticed a certain negative attitute towards fruitcake over here. That is certainly true. Fruitcake is legendary for being an horrifically dense, overly sweet dessert that little old ladies bake and give away as Christmas gifts. The story goes that when you receive a fruitcake as a gift, you should not eat it, but rather try to pawn it off as a gift to someone else - or failing that, stick it in the back of the cupboard until next year, when you dust it off and try to give it away again. I don't know anyone that actually eats fruitcake, except for possibly some little old ladies. I may have tried some at my grandmother's house as a child, but I don't really remember. However, I did try some at a fancy tea party that I attended at a fancy hotel last Christmas, and found that it had a very strong brandy flavor, which does not appeal to me at all, and decided to avoid it in the future. Your rhapsodizing about the perfect fruitcake might make me reconsider, though, and attempt to bake my own this Christmas. Maybe.
That's all for now. Keep up the good work!
|Nicey replies: You seem to making very good progress towards a completely well balanced tea and biscuits outlook. The fruit cake will come in time. Ours is a very tasty and relatively light recipe not like those dark tarry masses that appear to have given it such a bad reputation in the US. I would have tough the Pacific North West is probably ideal fruit cake territory, providing it doesn't attract bears.
Polish Jaffa Cakes Multireview Review
Not too sure what we're doing discussing Jaffa cakes really but if you're looking for a cheap but terrific option when it comes to purchasing these tasty treats then try Lidl.
Yes, dare I say it. LIDL. Nicer than the 'real' thing and about half the price. Brilliant.
Thanks for the lovely website by the way.
|Nicey replies: Hi Ian,
Yes we often sing the praises of Lidl's Mr Choc Jaffa Cakes. A comparative pack of Mr Choc Cherry Cakes almost made it into the Polish review but were eaten before I had a chance to take their photo.
I get quietly annoyed at Lidls snobs, who really just don't get it. Lidls is a fantastic way of getting some pan-European supermarket stuff, without having to cross the channel, even their bread flour is distinctly continental, and like the Jaffa Cakes delightfully different for it. Apart from their biscuits if people don't want to buy a good Spanish Olive oil for £2 a litre or Bavarian Pilsner Larger for next to nothing then that's their business.