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I would appreciate your assistance in settling this issue that has rumbled on for some time with my work colleagues. I would classify Cheddars as a biscuit, however work colleagues who view themselves as experts in this field seem to strongly disagree. The only other category that Cheddars could fall into is the cracker category but this feels all wrong to me. I note that comments on your website suggest that you can spot a biscuit if it can be dunked in tea, of course this would be inappropriate in respect of a Cheddar but I don't think categorisation in this case should hinge on this. Personally when talking about Cheddars, I think it reasonable to refer to them as "Cheddar biscuits" but would seek your views in order to settle the issue once and for all. What category do cheddars fall into?
|Nicey replies: Phil,
Thanks for getting us back on to a sensible topic. My personal call would to class the Cheddar as a savoury cracker, and not a biscuit. Given that its a savoury rather than a sweet product I feel happy with that. Also Cheddars would need some form of quarantine from other biscuits if placed in the same biscuit tin confinement to their packet. Other wise you might end up with cheesy custard creams or some other embarrassing problem.
Having said that a school friend of mine went through quite a big Cheddars phase where he would have a fig roll followed by 2 or 3 cheddar chasers. The two went together very well probably a bit like having fruit with your cheese board. So I would acknowledge the Cheddars ability to mix convivially with biscuits, perhaps more than any other cracker. I'm sure it could always hang about with those Hovis Digestives if it were feeling a bit left out, as they both share an interest in cheese.
|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!
||Dear Nicey and the Wife,|
In the interest of experimentation, I baked a fruit cake at the weekend to the full NCOTAASD specification and brought it to work to have at elevenses with a block of Wensleydale cheese.
The idea was to introduce the non Yorkshire members of staff (myself included) to the alleged practice of eating fruitcake with cheese.
The Yorkshire member of staff was disappointed that the cake provided was not Simnel cake, but having been assured that the cheese was indeed Wensleydale, he quickly relented and tucked in.
The initial reaction was that the cake was a bit on the dry side. This was probably due to my temperamental oven cooking at a higher temperature than that indicated by the dial. This will be rectified on my next attempt.
Apart from the dryness of the cake, the consensus was that the cheese added very little (except in calorific terms) to the cake eating experience as the mild flavour of the Wensleydale was completely overpowered by the fruit.
I am intending to try again with a moister cake and a white Stilton, but I don’t really see the practice catching on.
|Nicey replies: Keith,
Thanks for taking up the challenge on this one. Sorry to hear your cake was a bit dry, it will change its texture with keeping which is why we always leave ours a week in the tin before we tuck in. So it will probably improve a good bit by the weekend. Also as you say ovens can be very tricky. Our gas oven changes it behaviour depending on what its in it and how the heat circulates. If I have two things on two shelves then we are into the realms of needing super-computing models like those used to forecast the weather to predict what will happen. I think in our first few dabblings with fruit cake we would sometimes over do it a bit so it does come down to a bit of trail and error to get them just right.
I'm now struggling with the fact that I now seem to aspire to owning an oven thermometer. This seems a bit Heston Blumenthal-esk, and therefore counter to the free spirited and artisanal nature of baking. I can see both sides of the argument so really need to work this one through a bit more.
||Dear Nicey and the Wife,|
I have just read with interest the correspondence from Nick Q relating to the consumption of cheese with fruitcake.
This very topic was discussed in the office recently with one of my colleagues, Nicky, admitting to indulging in this very practice.
This blows the theory that it is a ‘Yorkshire thing’ as she comes from somewhere just north of London and has no connections with Yorkshire.
I was initially slightly perturbed at the concept, but curiosity is beginning to get the better of me and I will probably try some fruitcake with a bit of Wensleydale at the weekend, using your very own recipe.
I might also give the tea loaf recipe from Lois McGrath a go. This sounds a bit like something my mother used to make, but she never weighed or measured anything so getting a recipe from her was virtually impossible.
|Nicey replies: Yes I'm slightly curious to know what it's like too. I think if the atmosphere was relaxed with the right sort of cheese and a cake that I was comfortable with then I might give it a go.
I did make the tea loaf, I think it could have had another five minutes in the oven as its just a tiny bit soggy at the top. I can see that it certainly is the sort of thing that one could fiddle around with bunging in a bit of this and that. We are about to see this little lot off in a minute with the YMOS.
My Grandad was a big fan of a bit of cheese with his Christmas cake. All that side of the family did it. They were Lancastrians. I don’t recall him ever leaving his hometown of Clitheroe in his entire life apart from his jaunt to North Africa in the 1940s to deal with Rommel and catch malaria so I don’t think it was a habit he acquired outside his natural environs. The cheese of choice was a nice bit of Tasty Lancs. which is a crumbly cheese with quite a sharp, tangy flavour.
I am a Yorkshireman so generally don’t like to discuss my part-Lancastrian ancestry but I feel it is important that I make this contribution to the discussion as it suggests the cheese/cake combo. is not limited to the East of the Pennines.
I hope this helps in the debate.