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Tuesday 13 Nov 2007

Thanks to our friends Gaz and the Lad (he's 31 but that's his designation since 1995) we have managed to come by some interesting and unfortunately named biscuits. It's been a while since we've had a biscuit with a proper full on comedy name and we've never had a biscuit from Balkans so some Serbian Noblice are to good to pass over. In fact the last comedy biscuit being the 'Super DickMann' was only mentioned by assoociation, when we tackled Lidl's version the Choco Softie. It's no coincidence that Gaz had his hands briefly on a pack of these too.

Gaz tells me that he picked these up on a recent trip to Croatia, and had made a gift of them to the Lad who foolishly had neglected to finish them all. Thus they were left wide open to seisure by marauding biscuit enthusiasts invited into your home to help you see off the enormous quantities of fromage acquired on your last trip to France. A few days later the offending biscuit enthusiast brought round some different and equally exciting biscuits to make amends. Given that these are Serbian biscuits sold in Croatia it instantly brings to mind the most pressing question hanging over the entire region in the 21st century. Why do countries who visited so much dreadful violence upon each other in recent history vote so readily for each other in the Eurovision song contest each year? I'm sure there are probably some very long and serious answers to that, however I shall just remain curious and ignorant.

So Noblice no doubt translate to something perfectly lovely in Serbian, my best attempts using the might of some website that purports to translate Serbian to English place it as an 'aristocratic stuffed bun'. Not too helpful there especially given the tricky bun word something that is not universally taken to mean the same thing. Yes Noblice as a quick glance will tell are some type of chocolate cream sandwich biscuit.

The Noblice is not altogether unfamiliar, in fact just across the Adriatic sea in Italy the Ringo which we examined in our Pan European Choc Sandwich has more than a passing resemblance, having its upper biscuit plain and its lower one cocoa flavoured. And Serbian manufacturers Banini even have a Italian sounding name. What I particularly enjoyed in the manner of an ex-smoker having a crafty cigarette due some exceptional circumstance like involvement in a road traffic accident, or hen/stag do, was the fact that they were loaded with good old artery clogging hydrogenated fat (or margarine as it used to known). Given that there were only a dozen small biscuits left and that the rest of team NCOTAASD would need to give them the once over, I plunged into a small handful. Whilst not being a terrifically stimulating cocoa biscuit, in fact they had more of a almond taste, the texture made me quite nostalgic. That heavier more cloying feel in the mouth that we once all took for granted was here. In fact a quick glance at their website confirms that their entire range is loaded with hydogentated fat, including their blatant Oreo clone the Toto (Sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti - as we've mentioned before).

The brown stuff up the middle also bearing quantities of the aforementioned had the assured look of a multi-purpose filler much like something you might acquire from a DIY superstore should you be foolhardy enough to enter such a place. Just as this stuff is capable of patching up holes smoothing over cracks and covering over dangerous amateur electrical wiring, the brown stuff in the biscuit provides the glue whilst the little button of it poking out the central hole has a slightly unreal sheen.

Wifey knows not to let me go into DIY superstores now as the ensuing stress simply doesn't warrant what ever it is that in theory could be purchased there. The simple fact that if you wish to buy anything really heavy such as paving slabs or fence posts they place this in the furthest corner of the store probably nearer to ones house than to the distant tills. Next you have to find a trolly or wheeled thing suitable to carry the half a ton of stuff you have eventually picked out. This is after spending three quarters of an hour compromising on all your plans as you try and to accommodate what their woeful and overpriced selection. Next you have to push the whole lot through the lighting department which amazingly seems always to be between building supplies and the tills. If you don't manage to smash all the reproduction tiffany lamps you'll no doubt flatten some old dear not immediately visible from your vantage point at the back of trolly load of six foot fence panels. If you do make it to the tills, you are presented with a sea of people many who have been there for hours as a distant problem at a data processing centre has rendered all the tills largely in-operable except by one highly trained individual who must visit all twenty of them individually to give master classes to their teenage operators on how to enter in a refund / exchange on packet of curtain rail hooks.

So there we are a dodgy biscuit from virtually every standpoint, but we strangely rather liked them.

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Polish Jaffa Cakes Multireview

Saturday 22 Sep 2007

Yes, I know they are not biscuits and I'm in direct contravention of all that I have spouted upon this vexed matter of "are they aren't they". My defence runs thus. You see Wifey abandoned the YMOS and myself for her annual girls trip away, this year to Krakow Poland. Of course she was expected to bring back the local biscuits, and of course she interpreted this as "Bring back Jaffa Cakes". So we will all just have to smile sweetly and say those will make lovely BOTW, thank you. So don't be trotting this out as some sort of begrudging acceptance of Jaffa cakes as being biscuits because they are not. Besides the last BOTW has been up all summer and we desperately need a change, so these will have to do. And as for my annual boys trip away the last one was in the year 2000.

Locally we have experienced a large influx of Polish folks over the last year to 18 months, so much so that we now have Polish sections in some of our local supermarkets. This is of course fantastically interesting to one who likes to study unreadable grocery items, and having a multifaceted and diverse range of interests can also appreciate huge jars of gherkins in addition to biscuits. Thus on our last trip to ASDA I supplemented Wifey's two packs of Party Jaffas made by Delic-Pol with two Delicje ones made by E.Wedel part of the Danone group, there by creating a broad and informative multireview.

Upon her return Wifey really couldn't speak highly enough of the Polish, saying how lovely and helpful they had been through out their stay and how much they had enjoyed eating out whilst on holiday. One restaurant had served them an exceptional Cherry Vodka as a freebe, which she had enthused about having almondy notes amongst it's sharp cherry flavours. This now seems to Wifey's reference point for all things Cherry and even the small bottle of Cherry Vodka she liberarted from the airport shop on leaving does not quite come up to par. Therefore when selecting a another flavour to go with the de-rigour Orange I plumped for Cherry. Wifey had brought back with her wild strawberry and orange of course.

So what makes one Jaffa cake better than another. Personally I would say four things, the sponge, the jam (its not jelly even if the Oxford English Dictionary says it is), the chocolate, then all three in combination. Given that then the Delijce ones wiped the floor with the Party ones, being more generously endowed with all the 3 vital components and being accordingly and simply a bit bigger. However quantity wasn't all, the sponge really was quite a bit nicer. It lay at the Victoria Sponge cake end of the scale whilst the Party was tending towards the other end, Trifle Sponge finger. Both being ends of the dial on the imaginary sponge making machine that would have such a dial. The jam dispensing machine next to it would also have its dial set to thick and fruity for the Delijce and "perfectly fine but not as good as those other ones" for the Partys. Finally the chocolate dial would probably have something written on it about chocolate cohesive force. On the Delijce it was a simple matter to disassemble the Jaffa in any choosen fashion to perform for example jam-ectomies. It broke away in obligingly large pieces, which could be enjoyed in isolation. The Party's put up more of a fight which ended up in bits of them crumbling off in various stages of distress. Also it has to be noted that the Delijce had its swirly name engraved into its underside, complete with little heart shape over the lowercase J, which was very posh. Possibly worth bearing this information in mind come next Feb 14th. Also the cake were slightly flattened on the the edge which reveals the sponge was soft enough to compact slightly.

Taken as a whole the Party's were very pleasant, but I'm very pleased that our local shops stock the other Delijce ones, especially given that their whopping 52% jam content did indeed have a faint waft of that almondy edge on the cherry cakes. We will certainly be making further investigations down the Polish aisle. Wifey for her part also brought me back a bottle of fine Polish Vodka flavoured with Bison grass (yes the grass that Bison eat). Its very nice but does have a pronounced taste of grass.

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Dip It

Thursday 12 Jul 2007

Well its been a shockingly long time since our last BOTW. What's going on? Have we just rolled over and given up? No not at all. The next candidate biscuits where some genuine Havana Alfajors all the way from Argentina, which were very competently reviewed in our guest review section by Neville Reid. They were fine but I felt the weight of history upon me as they landed at NCOTAASD HQ about the time of the 25th anniversary of the Falklands conflict. After much soul searching I decided that enough had been said on both matters. OK what's next? Well Frazer who sent us the North Korean Ponghak butter biscuits said he had yet another interesting biscuit for us. Terrific. When two slightly shell shocked Turkish Oreo clones turned up rattling around in a jiffy bag my interest was peaked until I found out that they had unhelpfully chosen to call them Negro. After a three days racking my brains on how I could traverse this minefield I yet again threw the towel in. So in an unlikely twist of fate the Germans and Richard and Judy have come to the rescue, with the Bahlsen Dip It, a biscuit built from the ground up as mass market dunker.

Phew! Since we last cast our taste buds over a Bahlsen biscuit they have taken to sponsoring Parkies late night talk show now on ITV1. This seems very sensible indeed. The discomfort of Parkies unceasing prying into celebrities unpleasant childhood memories is enough to send anyone off into the kitchen for a late night cuppa and a biccy. If that doesn't do it the five minutes of jazz/swing music before the break should drive you out. Still I'm sure the demographic is spot on and good luck to Bahlsen with this. That said it was Richard and Judy who gave us the heads up on the Bahlsen Dip it after it had drawn a mild bit of press coverage due to its dunking claims.

Bahlsen have always comfortably moved in the luxury biscuit bracket with products such as the iconic Choco Liebniz. With Dip It they are looking to make inroads into the sub 1 a pack biscuit market, with a biscuit designed to be dunked, or dipped as the Germans would have it into coffee. Yes coffee, it is a continental biscuit after all. Shaped like an elongated coffee bean complete with the little fold detail its already stating its case. If there were any doubt even my minimal grasp of German tells me after inspecting the pack that they are ideal for dunking in coffee, hot chocolate and cappuccino. No mention of tea. Well we'll soon fix that.

At a whopping 103mm long the Dip It is possibly the longest unrobed biscuit we have seen, and it still manages a respectable 40mm it the waist. Available in two flavours Milk & Crispies and Chocolate & Choc chip, the biscuits travel in two big stacks laid on their sides in a plastic tray. This unfortunately doesn't keep them entirely out of trouble so expect a few demi-biscuits.

The biscuit is light and sweet tasting but not overly so. The milk and crispies variety had such a dairy taste that I was genuinely surprised not to find butter in the recipe. The vegetable oil gets its assistance in the form of a healthy 5.1% whole milk powder. The 3.7% mini crispies do their work and although I'm not sure what they are or which of the ingredients comprise them, they add a very acceptable crunch. When dunked the biscuits hold up very well indeed. So providing you started off with a fully intact specimen you shouldn't have breakage problems. Bahlsen have also worked on the crumb shedding issues so that the biscuits should keep bottom sludge to a minimum.

The chocolate and choc chip ones provide the bourbon to the milk and crispies custard cream, thereby keeping the universe in balance and the planets in place upon their celestial crystal spheres I expect. They also have orange peel listed as their final ingredient which made me regard them with much more respect than otherwise.

So right now 30 Asda's have taken on Dip It!, but alas I don't know which ones, so if you spot it let us know. Hopefully this interesting new biccy will soon get a wider uptake.

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