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Graham cracker Review
I stumbled across your website after googling graham crackers (what are they? I asked). It's a lovely website - I never dreamed there'd be an entertaining and informative forum such as this where I can indulge my unhealthy interest in packaged things in the biscuit line.
Having spent a little time doing just that, I have just had the life changing experience of finally finding out what graham crackers are... with actual photos and everything!
I live in Australia, and for at least 30 years (that's about three quarters of my life) I have wondered (quite often, quite regularly) what the hell a graham cracker square could be. I've come across so many recipes calling for GCQs - trying various substitutes, I knew in my heart that none of them were quite it.
I've quizzed American friends, but they're all so complacent about it (and frankly, not interested in cross-cultural biscuit exchange), giving vague answers like, You use them to make cheesecake bases (well, derr...).
I hardly know how to thank you...
|Nicey replies: Glad to promote international biscuit understanding.|
|Hello Nicey, wifey and YMOS|
I thought I would email you and ask you if it was perhaps time that Hiromi Miura had her own little icon?? All she gets is the little globe by the looks of things. It would be nice to be able to search for her under a little icon of her own Ė perhaps a lightening bolt to complement her love of black thunder biscuits and also to represent her dynamism.
Also I have a helpful tip for the fellow Aussie who will be visiting the UK soon Ė I would recommend he try a bourbon biscuit. He would need to look up the proper etiquette of eating one as we donít have them over here (I have searched but to no avail) but they are really ultra yummy. Especially dipped in tea.
Thanks and kind regards
Great site as usual
|Nicey replies: Right that's a new icon for Hiromi then, or any other Korean based Japanese UK biscuit aficionados with a liking for Black Thunders that write to us.
In time honoured NCOTAASD fashion, here is a hearty Hoorah! for the new icon (I had to animate it and everything).
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.
Tim Tam vs Penguin Review
I recently read your review of the Tim Tam, comparing it with the Penguin. A most enlightening read indeed. I am an Englishman who has temporarily moved to Australia for a year, and I have been able to purchase and consume a large number of these delicious Antipodean biscuits, especially making good use of the local custom, the Tim Tam Slam.
I have tried two varieties: Original and Double Coat. The Double Coat has a thicker layer of chocolate covering it, and is available for the same price per packet. Why bother with the Original, then, you ask? Well, the problem is that the Original Tim Tam comes in a pack of eleven biscuits, or a "share pack" of twenty, whereas for the price of the standard original pack, the Double Coat variety comes in a pack of just NINE.
That's 81% of the number of original biscuits. The question, then, is:
Is the Double Coat Tim Tam at least 19% better than the Original? Can its extra choc make up for the difference in biscuit quantity, and crown it The Best Tim Tam?
I leave it up to you to test this.
I remain, Sir, yours sincerely,
|Nicey replies: I thought he Double Coat ones were certainly better as it gave more of an opportunity to study Arnott's unique chocolate coat, which has a slight caramel flavour. They possibly were 19% better actually.
Given that recently we were be told by advertisers about shampoos which could make your hair 81% more shiny or something then I think its fair to measure 'better' in percentage points.
Also talking of adverts last night Wifey and I saw an old video of Heart singing their hit that goes 'How do I get you alone?' which always makes me think of adverts for bank loans. Then I realised that with the credit crunch there are no adverts for loans or credit cards right now, and no credit card junk mail landing on NCOTAASD's HQ door mat. That's got to be saving some trees.
I've digressed haven't I.
|Dr Alice Gorman
My best regards to you, Wifey, and the younger members of staff. I feel like I have been out of contact for too long. Academic life, it must be said, is not always conducive to engaging with the broader world.
Last week, as you know, was a momentous anniversary in the history of space exploration. To celebrate the launch of Sputnik 1 in 1957 my colleague Dr Lynley Wallis spent all night in the kitchen making special sputnik cakes. We offered them to our graduate students in a masterclass on the day itself. The presence of cake brought home to them how significant this day was in the creation of the modern world. I knew you would enjoy seeing the results of our efforts and attach a (only slightly blurry) picture of the special sputnik cakes.
I remain your most humble devotee,
|Nicey replies: Its always good to hear from NCOTAASD's favourite space archaeologist. We too were excited about the 50th anniversary of Sputnik, which for good reason is the artificial satellite that I most often think of. Despite all the hundreds of other ones up there routing our phone calls, guiding our transport and keeping an eye on the weather, Sputnik is the only one with its own vegetable. The Kohl-Rabis that turn up in our weekly delivered veggi-box are the spit of it, and very nice in a stir fry it is.
I'm impressed that each cake seems to be unique in its design and colour scheme and I note that Dr Wallis didn't spare the food colouring. I hope this didn't render all your students hyper-active with attention deficit issues. Granted the latter is always difficult to diagnose in students although working in such a stimulating field I'm sure you don't suffer from such things.