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||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.
I much enjoy your website, devoted as it is to... well the best things in life.
I've just voted in your current biscuit poll (but not currant biscuit poll obviously). I think it's a grand idea to show pictures of what you've just voted for, and the poll leaders.
This, however, leads on to my problem.
My favourite biscuits are from the hobnob family. I find that local supermarkets tend not to stock the
dark chocolate hobnobs, so for reasons of (local) exclusivity they are the worthy recipient of my "best" vote. (Honourable mention must go to the figrolls that some misguided fools have shown as "yuckiest"). I notice that the pictures used for dark chocolate hobnob and dark chocolate digestive appear to be ONE AND THE SAME. Obviously I realise that biscuit production methods might mean the topping is
applied in identical faashion to both biscuits. In which case I will accept your categoric assurance that the pictures are genuine. Might I be so bold as to suggest that side views could be shown in addition, so that no such confusion ensues.
I am pleased to see pink wafers getting the scorn they deserve. Quite how coloured cardboard comes to be sold as a comestible is beyond me. A dishonourable mention to Kimberleys. Not sure why they aren't a clear second place.
Keep up the good work
|Nicey replies: Tim,
You have of course spotted my guilty secret, namely that I didn't have a dark chocolate Hobnob picture so switched in a Dark Digestive. It's also plainly time that I sorted out the votes and told everybody what has been happening. I shall get to it right away.
I can say however in advance that the Top 10s are as follows:
- Dark Chocolate Digestive
- Milk Chocolate Digestive
- Milk Chocolate Hobnob
- Jaffa Cake
- Dark Chocolate Hobnob
- Chocolate Caramel Digestive
- Custard cream
- Milk Chocolate Digestive
- Dark Chocolate Digestive
- Rich Tea
- Jaffa Cake
- Custard cream
- Choc chip cookie
- Pink Wafers
- Fig Roll
- Rich Tea
- Lemon Puff
- Iced Gems
- Jaffa cake
Well done to the Gingernut and Jaffa cake for appearing in all three top 10s. Also we would like to add that the Jaffa cake is of course still a small cake despite its inclusion in the poll. Mind you maybe the VAT man will use this very poll as evidence next time they thrash out the eternal debate.
Fruit Shortcake Review
I though I would share my little problem with just you (and possibly hundreds of others) in case you have any ideas on how to help me. Like most parents, I have children - three of them to be exact - and, like most children, they like biscuits and cake. My problem, in a nutshell, is what do I buy to put in the biscuit tin? Before you suggest anything, bear in mind that I visit Tesco's once a week and I need the biscuits that I buy to be consumed in roughly one week, so that the biscuit tin is almost empty by day 7.
This is not a simple problem to solve. If I buy Jaffa Cakes, then they will all be gone within 30 minutes of putting them in the tin, sometimes even before I have unloaded the shoppping from the car. Likewise Custard Creams and Hob Nobs. However, if I buy Ginger Nuts, it is quite possible for only a few to be eaten during the week, meaning I have a biscuit-tin overflow situation when I come to replenish the tin with the latest buy. I have found Fruit Shortcakes to be an acceptable compromise between speed of consumption and biscuit-tin stock levels, but surely there must be another way? Perhaps once of those things people use for feeding cats and dogs, whereby a flap is released under the control of a timer?
Hope you can help,
PS Currently trying out Arrowroot
|Nicey replies: Paul,
This is a terrible responsibility to bear as young minds are very impressionable, and they will hold you to account over the decisions you make now in later life. Certainly if you have reached the stage of experimenting with Thin Arrowroots then things have gotten quite out of hand. I suggest you try a time honoured traditional system that utilises two tins. The best tin contains the biscuits that you don't give out lightly, and that are to be savoured. Produce the best tin on special occasions or when some great feat has been accomplished, such as a very long walk or joint effort washing the car. The biscuits in this tin will acquire a certain stature and respect.
Secondly you have your everyday tin in which you place shortcake, digestives, oaty biscuits and plain dunkers. I would have thought a fruit biscuit would be as glamourous as you wish to get here, and its important to draw a strict line in the sand. This is fairly much the course of action that you have adopted. Now it becomes a issue of biscuit management which is often aided by a very high shelf in the larder or cupboard, and supervised access to the tin.
The best tin should be smaller than the everyday tin. The two tin approach should instill a sense of values in your children who will then be able to help you choose biscuits to go in each tin, and through this learn true biscuit appreciation.
Its just an idea.
After hearing about nicecupofteaandasitdown a long time ago (through Good Food magazine no less!), I've finally got round to having a look. How clever you are to make a site for the most important tradition of them all. Nothing can beat a good cuppa and a proper biscuit or four (the more buttery the better, as far as I'm concerned).
But, I have a problem......
Being a twenty-something and keen to stay looking beautiful for many a year to come I am only too aware of the huge number of calories in a proper biscuit. What are your views on these 'low fat' biscuits, the 'Go Aheads' of this world?
I can't imagine for a minute that you like them, but what's a girl to do??
Roonie.(a Fox's fan)
|Nicey replies: Well low fat biscuits are a very tricky area, a bit like low alcohol drinks. Biscuits by their very nature have lots of carbohydrates and fat, mess with this basic equation and somethings not right. There are two main approaches, subterfuge and avoid total substitution. Foxs 'Officially Low Fat' cookies use clever recipes to avoid the fat content, small amounts of glycerol are used to keep the biscuit soft, a bit like its use in icing. Strong flavours such as almond and cherry try to steer our taste buds away from the lack of fat. The result through subterfuge is slightly odd but very very low fat cookie.
The second approach seen in much of the McV GoAhead range is to bulk up the biscuit with something that is low fat like fruit. Now, I happen to like that, but you may not.
Sometimes products are of course bulked up with low fat air, so watch out for those.
Interestingly another reason why the Jaffa Cake is a cake and not a biscuit is that is sponge base is much lower fat in than its biscuit shelf mates, and combined with plain chocolate the fat content is impressively low.