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Strawberry Newton Review
|Hello, you lovely Brits. Your wonderfully amusing and informative Web site inspired me and a friend (we're Americans) to hoard biscuits on our recent visit to London. We traipsed from store to store looking for biscuits. It turned out that the best selection was a block from our hotel in the West End. A cubby of a store called Food City on the Strand had about two dozens types of biscuits, which we obligingly purchased. (The storekeeper thought us odd.) Then friend and I ventured from store to store to supplement our purchases. Back home, I've just broken into my cookie, er biscuit, stash. Now I'm tempted to eat them all by myself, instead of sharing them with my lovely co-workers, as I'd planned. Sigh. This just means I will have to return to London for more biscuits. If anyone has suggestions on which London stores have the widest biscuit selections, I would appreciate knowing for my next trip. This go-around, friend and I each left with carry-ons full of biscuits. The bellhop tried to carry my biscuit bag, but I yelped and grabbed it back. I didn't want my stash reduced to crumbs. Now I'm enjoying my biscuits with a nice cuppa. Oh joy.|
Biscuitly yours from the Silicon Valley,
|Nicey replies: Hello Maggie,
Just off off the Strand is a small Sainsburys supermarket, and just across the other side is a small Tesco's Express. Either of these would be a useful biscuit top up spot. The nearest Marks and Spencers is just up above the Strand opposite Covent Garden Tube Station. If you clean out those three you'll need to charter your own plane to get the biscuits back to California.
Last time I was in Silicon Valley I had to eat Strawberry Newtons, purchased in down town San José.
I have just landed my aircraft this morning after a long flight back from Johannesburg. Many hours had to be whiled away as we covered the 5000 miles between South Africa and London... plenty of time for a nice cup of tea and we are always sitting down!
Lo and behold, one of the cabin crew passed me a little individually wrapped biscuit with one of my many cups of tea and, being a dunker, I gave it a go. This was probably the best dunking biscuit I have ever tried and that covers a lot of ground. Quick to take up the moisture but firm enough to keep in one piece the result was a soft and delightful texture. The flavour was a lovely combination of wheat and oats with a strong coconut aftertaste and not spoiled by the altitude.
The biscuit is a Biscotti home baked Italian wonder produced by Biscotti, 21 King St, Duncanville, South Africa. On a rating of 1 to 10 this has to be a 9.7 and I am renown as being a hard marker. If you or anyone in your ken knows where I might get these marvels in the UK I would be forever grateful as it may be weeks before I get back to Jo'burg.
||Dear Nicey and Wifey,|
While returning home from San Francisco last week, boredom forced me to flick through the pages of BA’s in-flight magazine High Life. One of the journalists ( Ed Grenby) had been given the job of reviewing five lesser known Britsh festivals, including the Edinburgh Harp Festival, the Lancashire Food festival and the Bonsai Festival. I must say he seemed more than under-whelmed.
His final quip went “And if undersized undergrowth wasn’t exciting enough, April also sees the return on the (n)ever stimulating North Devon and Exmoor Walking Festival (What next ? A festival of sitting down with a nice cup of tea and a biscuit?)”
Having suffered two tea-less weeks in the states I would have been the first in the queue at such a festival. In fact the more I thought about it the more it seemed like a good idea, (possibly an effect of tannin withdrawal) Perhaps you should call his bluff and organize something.
|Nicey replies: Fiona,
This Mr Grenby seems to be a bit unbalanced, even if he does appear to be aware of our work. Quite apart from all the lovely treats from Lancashire to feast upon, and the glorious walking to be had in Exmoor, the idea of a large organised event celebrating tea, biscuits and sit downs seems perfectly sensible. In fact the Queen has one each summer, although I don't think anybody is allowed to sit down.
Tunnocks Tea Cake Review
I have been intending to e mail for some time so my thoughts on a number of topics:
I agree with Madam Arnold that a nice cup (or mug) of tea, toast and a sit down all go together rather well and toast eating as previous stated on this site is a wonderful recreation either on its own or when coupled with a mug of tea. I feel it important to add that the best way of eating toast is with butter and not with any form of imitation as this only disappoints. White bread thickly sliced adds to the enjoyment but other breads are acceptable when the recreation has not been well planned in advanced.
Airline tea can be the most disgusting drink in the world and only UK based airlines should be trusted with making a cup of tea. My own favourite BMI know how to make a lovely cup of tea at 36,000 feet and when coming home from the US is one of the things I look forward to on the flight. An added bonus is it is served in china. I have to say that that well known coffee shop chain Starbucks is the only hope of a good drink of tea in America as you can make it yourself, but should be avoided at all costs in the UK and the visits in the US are only in an emergency when I start to pine for home comfort.
I have so enjoyed reading about Tunnocks Tea Cakes. I do believe that the only way to eat a TTC is with reverence, calm and a cup of tea.My mother always taught me not to play with my food so I still have not attempted to blow the inside out mainly as I hate the thought of wasting any of the inside mixture . I do remember from childhood a Snowball which is not a drink made with Advocat but the inside mixture of a Tunnocks Tea cake covered with coconut which to my delight is a Tunnocks product and still available having checked the Tunnocks web site so I am going to hunt a Snowball down now.
With all good wishes
|Nicey replies: An aeroplane icon we do have. |
||Dear Nicey and the Wife,|
Just recently stumbled across your inspirational website (where have I been for the last 3 years?)
I have a long affiliation with tea - originally being from Yorkshire it has been a staple part of my diet since I were knee-high to a grasshopper! I also briefly worked at Twinings tea shop in London (no PG Tips there though)
Although the subject of dunking is covered in magnificent depth on your site, I can find absolutely no refernce to the actual biscuits named "Dunkers" (I have no idea if they are still in production and can't remember which company manufactured them)
They were almond-shaped, roughly 10cm long and and 5cm at their widest mid-point. Obviously some research types decided that these are the ideal dunking dimensions and indeed, they fitted neatly into one's mug. They also managed to retain an unsurpassable amount of tea without crumbling.
I vaguely remember a rather dodgy TV ad for them involving a car with steamed up windows...
However, their fundamental flaw was that they tasted minging. The dominating flavour was malt - in fact it was basically Horlicks disguised as a biscuit and who in their right mind would pollute their cuppa with a hefty teaspoon of Horlicks? I'm sure even the custard cream-in-port lady dunker would have difficulty in stomaching aforementioned.
However, on the subject of bizarre dunking, the strangest by far - and not altogether unpleasant - that I have sampled is cheese.
Let me explain - as there are extenuating circumstances. It was many years ago before my tastebuds developed the refinement they now posess. I was on an aeroplane, so not a particularly nice sit down and also an environment not wholly familiar with the nuances of tea preparation. In fact, let's face it, aeroplane tea is absolutely diabolical (Although not quite as appalling as that which I encountered on a GNER train last summer - in First Class no less!).
Anyhow, we encountered a spot of turbulence during which I was unfortunate enough to drop a piece of cheese in my cuppa. Now I forget why, but instead of quickly retrieving said solid dairy mass, I let it lie. Then, (once again, inexplicably - although in my defence I was very young) I continued to sup my beverage. And then - yes, you guessed it folks - I ate the cheese (I was quite a piggy-jack porker of a kid). And you know what - it was surprisingly palatable.
Can I blame altitude sickness?
|Nicey replies: Fiona,
First congratulations on getting the dunking, cheese and airplane icons altogether, well done. Yes, those Dunkers have been mentioned to me once before, I never had them and as you elude to it doesn't appear that they are sorely missed. As for melting cheese in your tea, that is something that you have obviously come to terms with, and if by sharing it with the world it helps you work through it then we are glad to help.
As we are now officially in book plugging mode, I would like to point out that I discuss trains and planes in our sitdown section.