Eat out, drink up
Taking the biscuit
Barry Shelby convenes a panel of The List’s finest biscuit experts to see how a selection of cookies crumbles.
ditorial tnectings (regardless of the magazine) can be dry affairs. But on occasion a topic really strikes a cord. In List-land. biscuits is one. Never before has such
enthusiasm on a food subject been seen.
So forgive us for indulging. bill it is a local passion: Scots eat 4()‘.~it more biscuits than the UK average. For starters (as well no doubt return to the subject) we‘ve set our tasters loose on a variety that could be loosely categorised as ‘traditional' (such as custard
creams). ‘chocolate' (cg. Jaffa Cakes) and ‘Scottish‘ favourites' (like shortbread).'
Jaffa Cakes «00
Style: chocolate Maker: McVitie's Best for: any time
It‘s said that the late Donald Dewar could never start a pack of Jaffa (‘akes without finishing it in one go. Now we know why anyone can eat so many: there's only one grain of fat in each. While the cynic of the panel says there‘s something ‘inherently wrong' with the combination of chocolate and orange llavouring. the rest of the panel vehemently dispute this view. ‘l)ark chocolate and orange are the perfect combination.‘ say they.
Bourbon Creams 0
Style: traditional Maker: Tesco Best for: crap family camping holidays We‘re tough on this old war—horse. ‘As depressing as the theme tune to Coronation Street.‘ says one taster: ‘You‘d
eat them if they were the last thing in your
cupboard.‘ a comment that prompts another to say (sotto voce): ‘I don‘t think they‘re that bad.‘ Yes. they are.
Custard Creams oo
Style: traditional Maker: Tesco Best for: management training courses This one doesn‘t fare much better. although the softie among its gets in lirst with ‘they‘re great‘ before the rest of panel rather destroys it. Note. offers one. that they contain neither custard nor cream: it's a ‘fallacy and a lie‘. ()uch.
Chocolate Caramel Digestives .0.
Style: chocolate Maker: McVitie's Best for: parents' evenings
The only real debate is over the caramel layer. Does it bring anything to the party'.’ No. most agree. ()r at least not in the frugal amount slathered on these digestives. But after initial carping. the group warms tip to this biscuit. A ‘bit of a treat'. says one. A ‘grown-up version of a toffee pop‘. (Yeah. a ‘scaffy shop toffee pop‘. mutters one dissenter.)
Dark Chocolate Gingers oooo Style: chocolate/Scottish Maker: Border Biscuits Best for: after dinner with coffee
‘l.ovely.‘ ‘Uniquc.’ ‘Spicyf So far so good for this dark-horse candidate from a
114 THE LIST 18 Mar l Apr 700/.
Lanark-based baker. Yet wait: ‘pretty rank‘ is the comment from the man with lamb-chop ‘burns. But the strength of this biscuit is its complexity and snappy texture. Before long the hirsute one is converted. too: '(ireat crunchy snap. A proper dark chocolate. very posh biscuit.‘
Caramel Wafers 0
Style: chocolate/Scottish Maker: Tunnocks Best for: Grease cast reunions?
A bit too nostalgic for this bttnch. which even objected to the packaging that has never changed. (Some might feel that's a strength.) ‘()ver-rated.‘ ‘Any sentimental attachment is outweighed by the reality.‘ Apparently. if 'l‘unnocks tea cakes were being satnpled. however. the views would have been diametrically different.
Jammy Dodgers oo
Style: (pseudo) Scottish Maker: Burton's Best for: primary school lunch boxes
()n presentation. the panel offers a sympathetic ‘ahhh‘. But this is sentiment based on fond memories. ‘(‘ute bttt not nice‘ rather sums up the group‘s verdict. .lam filling is too chewy and sticky.
Oat Flips ooo
Style: traditional Maker: Farmhouse Biscuits Best for: real hunger
(iood. hand-made appearance and yet . . . "l’liey taste too healthy.‘ Indeed. what's the point of a biscuit that seems good for you‘.’ Plus. there was that sensation of wallpaper paste in the mouth at the end of mastication. Still. filling wee buggers A- if art acquired taste.
Style: Scottish Maker: Dean‘s
Best for: impressing guests
'()hli.‘ Make that a long sustained ‘ohhhhh’ as a package of Dean‘s Shortbread Assortment is opened. This is the sign of sincere and deep affection. ‘lust the right balance of texture and taste.‘ How so'.’ '(‘rumbly. bttttery and sweet.~ Right. 'You can really taste the butter but in a good way.‘ ()K. ‘liat one bit and you want to eat loads more.‘ linough. already. And this Abcrdecnshire brand is the one we recommend.
NSWS. l0. .U’bb’e 0.." ' r _.
The 61 empire has fully refurbished the old Puppet Theatre restaurant on Ruthven Lane in Glasgow’s West End and opened the Bothy restaurant (pictured). Gone is the old conservatory. Instead, there is one smart dining space, with bare wood floors, and some exposed stone - all rather understated by G1 standards. The fare is unapologetically Scottish and comfort food: dishes range from macaroni cheese (with Orkney cheddar) to a Bothy steak pie (using braised Scottish beef) and half a west coast lobster. Food is served from Monday to Saturday, noon to late, while Sunday features brunch (til 4pm) and a traditional evening carvery (until 8pm).
For bookings call 0141
In Edinburgh, Poprokit bar in Picardy Place has been put on the market. Opened with a fair bit of fanfare - as it was run by Honeycomb club impresario Warren Deighton and offered food Created by the kitchen at the Dial — a few years ago. the venture is now going for 53100000 (to asswne the existing lease with another 13 years to run). Interested? Call the Edinburgh office of Creevy LLH.
Wine lovers looking for bargains should visit the website of Glasgow wine expert Tom Cannavan. He has used his connections within the trade to create cases that offer real value for money. For details log on to www.wine-pages- shop.com. Also, on the wine tip: Oloroso restaurant has a new schedule of wine dinners: four-course meals with wine from Australia, South African and France. Call Oloroso on 0131 226 7614 for full details.