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Thank you for your most informative site. I am not sure how I first found it, but it has re-kindled a long dormant passion for the biscuit makerís art.
I am writing to ask for some guidance. I will be visiting the UK (mostly Scotland) from Australia early in the New Year, and my dilemma is this: Where do I start? I mean, itís one thing to find the biscuit isle in the supermarket, but it is another thing to navigate it intelligently. I fear that I will become overwhelmed by the occasion and not choose wisely.
Do you have any suggestions for a systematic study of the biscuitry of the British Isles? Luckily McVities Digestives and Hob Nobs are available here and I have become quite familiar with them. But where to start on the rest?
I also plan to embark on a study of the state of the art in marmalade. While we are quite well served with biscuits here in Australia, the same cannot be said for marmalade. While I appreciate that this is a huge subject in itself and not part of your area of specialisation, any suggestions would be greatly received.
|Nicey replies: Neil,
First may I take a moment to compliment you on your forward planning and foresight. If only more people would seriously consider what biscuits they were going to eat in a foreign country some 3 to 4 months before visiting it then I'm sure their trips would be that much more successful as a result.
As you are going to Scotland I would think it none too bad to focus on the local stuff. Absolutely anything by Tunnocks will prove a source a great learning. Simmers Abernethy biscuits are also very Scottish and well worth investigating. You'll probably quickly tire of the all too predictable shortbread which will follow you everywhere you go, until probably in mild desperation you'll succumb and by some in duty free on the way home. Other than that I would say try the Penguin which inspired your own Tim Tam, this could be seen as a very academic exercise, so I suggest you work up a good appetite and pop away a couple of them before coming to any conclusions.
As for Marmalade, there is much to choose from as you say. Steer clear of all those jars of "With Whisky" nonsense that will be keeping the tins of shortbread company stalking you around Scotland. Much better just to drink the whisky and eat the marmalade toast at the appropriate times. I find that there is much to be said for the small producers of preserves who make something with a bit of character. Other than that I always like a bit of Frank Coopers whilst Nanny Nicey likes Roses Lime Marmalade as do the YMOS.
Finally if you find yourself in Annan in Dumfriesshire as we did earlier this year be sure and visit Scotland's third best fish and chip shop, The Cafe Royal, where the great poet Rabbie Burns wrote the immortal, "The Deil's Awa Wi' Th' Exciseman ", but steer clear of the deep fried Haggis in batter.
Breton Biscuit Super Review Review
|Hello, a friend of mine went to france and brought some biscuits, and they were lovely, is there any chance you happen to know where to find them, its in french so not sure whats it called "palets de fouesnant palets bretons pur beurre TANGUY", please help cheers p.s lovely with tea|
|Nicey replies: Yes its that time of year when people drag packets of biscuits back from their holidays to pass round at work. Mostly it turns out that they are foul and just underline our position at the top of the league table proper biscuit producing nations. However, occasionally you get a half way decent one.
You seem have Palets Breton, which are a style of biscuit so you can broaden your quest out from just the Tanguy ones. You'll need to go to France to get anymore as we've not seen them anywhere in the UK.
WIfey who has just got back from her end of summer girls trip away to Italy, dragged back a box of 'Suncrocks'. She bought them for sustenance whilst she climbed Mount Vesuvius. As she was concentrating on collecting geological samples for the younger members of staff it entirely escaped her attention that these Italian Suncrocks were made in London by McVities and were simply rebadged rebranded Hobnobs. Which poses the question why couldn't they call them that in Italy? Is it unpronounceable, or obscene, or perhaps they already have something called hobnobs?
||Dear Nicey, |
I was forced to stop drinking tea for a few months and switch to instant coffee, not through choice, but because of a drop in tea quality. I am able to drink any kind of vile coffee but I am very particular about my tea. It has to be strong, with a dash of milk, no sugar. Builder's brew if you like.
I have noticed that bog standard teabags such as Tetley, PG tips and Red Label have got weaker, so weak that I have not been able to brew a satisfactory cuppa. I suspect they are mixing the tea in the bags with dark coloured sawdust. Either that or I have become more impatient.
Fortunately I have found a solution to my problem. I have switched to Assam tea which always seems to come out strong enough and satisfies my craving for tea. I wonder if anyone else has noticed tea becoming weaker? If so may I suggest a switch to assam or kenyan.
PS the milk chocolate Hob Nob is the King of Biscuits IMO. Chocolate digestive a close second.
|Nicey replies: I wonder if it's your water? We noticed that our trick of using one tea bag for two mugs which works well enough here for Wifey and I failed when on holiday in Ireland with softer water. This could also explain why the local blends over there were very much stronger.
Have you moved house to one with a water softening system, new kettle or something?
Personally, I've never been a fan of the Lincoln. A bit bland for my tastes. Yet I've often wondered why I have such an aversion to the dotty one.
Only yesterday I was talking to my sister about them and she revealed a dark secret that may well account for my dislike. When we were kids, the family used to travel every year to the west country for our summer holidays. En route we'd stopover at our aunties, as you do. Unfortunately, Iíve now discovered that my sister told auntie on the quiet that she loved Lincoln biscuits. As a result, for the next decade or more, we always arrived to a biscuit tin heaving with Lincoln's and absolutely nothing else. What kind of biccie tin is that?! There wasn't even a rogue Rich Tea lurking at the bottom Ė although that would have been much consolation.
I am now mentally scarred and wonder if any other people have stories about how biscuits have been the cause of family rifts.
Your report on the Holiday Inn survey gives support to your eminently useful suggestion in your NCOTAASD book that hotel guide books should introduce a symbol (to go alongside the ones denoting swimming pool, dog sitting, cable tv etc) to denote the type of biscuit that they provide along with the miniature kettle and sachet of Nescafe. Clearly business men and women are heavily influenced by biscuits and your idea could spark a revolution in the hospitality industry.
Have you patented the idea?
With very best wishes
|Nicey replies: I used to work with online hotel booking systems where the hoteliers had to fill in all the features and benefits of their accommodation. I did manage to get the company to let me put in a tick box for biscuits in the room although obviously I was pitching for a full breakdown of exactly what types and quality quantity etc. As far as I know only one hotel every ticked the box.
I still think a little plastic facsimile of the in-room biscuits on their sign next to the stars, diamonds, crowns or whatever would be good.