Therefore, I thought I'd take this opportunity to showcase some proper biscuits, quality biscuits, biscuits worth celebrating, biscuits that Britain can be proud of. Consider it a Sexy Bics Six, if you like.
A Few Of My Favourite Biscuits
1. Sainsbury's "Taste the Difference" Belgian Chocolate Chunk Shortbread
These are my current favourite biscuits and have occupied that coveted position for some months now. My fridge feels incomplete without a packet on standby. (I always keep biscuits in the fridge, to keep the chocolate hard. Oo-err.) Tesco sell a similar product in their "Finest" range with the addition of toasted coconut: it's very nice but a little fussy, lacking the luxurious simplicity of the Sainsbury's one. Waitrose also do a version but theirs is far inferior: thinner in the body and with weedier chocolate chips. By this stage, you may be thinking that it's possible to pay too much attention to a biscuit, and you may be right. But my feeling is that there are relatively few pleasures in life as it is, so it's my prerogative to seek the best from them. Because, as Eva Longoria would say if she had ever so much as sniffed a biscuit in her skinny life, I'm worth it.
2. McVitie's Boasters
There are two varieties of Boasters: chocolate chip, and choc chip and hazelnut. (They also used to do a raisin one, I think, but it wasn't much cop so I don't miss it.) Despite my chocolate obsession, I actually prefer the ones with hazelnut: the chocolate-only versions are lacking in texture and bite. Anyway, these are excellent and the nuts create the charming illusion that they might even be vaguely healthy. They're not, of course. But a girl can dream.
3. Cadbury's Animals
A rare appearance of milk chocolate in this list, these are the kind of biscuits that cause grown men to bounce like gleeful five-year-olds with anticipation. Once you've opened a box, it is devilishly hard to stop eating them. The chocolate coating is ribbed for your pleasure, so you can lick it off in a satisfying fashion, and they are shaped like animals, so you can bite their heads off and stuff. The good things about them just go on and on, don't they?
4. McVitie's Plain Chocolate Digestives
I am one of those awkward people who prefers dark chocolate to milk chocolate, so while I mourn the passing of the plain chocolate Hob Nob (heigh-ho, alas, and also lackaday), I rejoice that the plain chocolate Digestive remains widely available. I often find it winking at me seductively from the shelves of late-night corner shops as I roll home from another exotic night on the town (hem hem). Oh dear, I'm making it sound like a raddled old slapper among biscuits, aren't I? Well, it's not. It's an oldie but by heck, it's still a goodie.
5. Fox's Golden Crunch Creams
Probably my favourite non-chocolate biscuits, these are like a very superior custard cream, with a lovely buttery taste. Like all cream-filled biscuits, I prefer to eat them in the deconstructionist manner I favoured as a child, biting off the top layer of biscuit first, then licking the cream off. Or alternatively, biting the tops off TWO biscuits, then sandwiching the remaining halves together to create a DOUBLE layer of cream, THEN biting off the new top layer and licking off the cream as before. Yes, it's a complicated science, and I've put years of research into it.
6. Duchy Originals Cheese Nibbles with Rosemary and Thyme
Now, as a staunch socialist, I probably ought to object to Duchy Originals on principle, because they are run by Prince Charles and his royalist lackeys. However, I find it hard to do this, mainly because all their products are so majestically delicious. Their preserves are pleasurable, their sweet biscuits are sensational (especially the Dark Chocolate and Ginger ones), and their savoury biscuits are something else, with these particular herby little mouthfuls being the top of the heap. I am sure they must be part of a covert initiative by the monarchy to win back the hearts of the British people through their stomachs. But if that is the case, I for one welcome our organically farmed and undeniably moreish overlords...
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And while I'm exposing my sweet tooth, let me also plug a café I've recently discovered, The Nordic Bakery in Golden Square (near Piccadilly). Sadly their website does not illustrate their cakes, which is a shame because they are splendid. Not fancy to look at: they tend towards homemade rusticity on a visual level, but slices are generous and they're tasty in the extreme. I had some lovely chocolate and nut cake with a sort of marbled interior, and another day I tried the raspberry and white chocolate cake, which was even scrummier. Their coffee is also very good. Currently the customers seem to be mostly friends of the staff, which is not usually a great sign for café longevity. But it would be a shame if cakes of this high calibre did not survive and prosper, so my recommendation is Londoners: Shun Starbucks and go Nordic instead. (This is a public service announcement on behalf of EMPIRE: Excellently Made Patisserie Is Rather Enticing.)
* That's cookies, for the nationally-challenged amongst you. I'm not talking about those bready scone things with lard in them. Sorry.
** Your mileage may vary, but suffice to say, I'm not a dunker.