A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that


Saturday, 12 January 2019

Hooptedoodle #321 - Paint Pots and Pies

Today I went into Edinburgh to visit a family member who is in hospital - he's had a long spell in there thus far, and it is likely to continue for a while. I took the train in (which means they were running today, obviously) and, since I was a bit early for 2pm visiting, I decided to go via the Tollcross area, and visit the Wonderland model shop. It was a decent sort of day, if a bit cold, so I walked fairly briskly from Waverley Station to Tollcross. Better and better. Makes it feel a bit less self-indulgent.


I enjoyed my visit to Wonderland, of course, though I didn't buy anything while I was there. I am rather annoyed to admit that I couldn't remember what it was I'd wanted to get! This must be an age thing, I guess - regularly, when I'm painting, I suddenly realise I could do with a pot of such-and-such a colour, and since Wonderland is my only local Vallejo stockist, I add the required shade to my mental shopping list. Well, chaps, the bad news is that mental shopping lists are no longer enough - for the second such visit in the last few months I found myself staring at the Vallejo racks with no recollection of what it was I'd wanted. Yes - agreed - written lists from now on.





On the way up to the hospital (still walking) I decided to get some small offering of biscuits or similar. The relative in question would really not appreciate grapes or anything healthy, in fact he might even throw them at me. So I found myself looking in the window of what I would term a "traditional" baker's shop. There, in the front, they had a tray of individual custard tarts, such as I have neither seen nor thought about in maybe 30 years. I am very partial to all sorts of cakes and buns, I must admit, but my all-time favourites are probably a bit poncey - I'm very fond of religieuses, sachertorte - stuff like that. Custard tarts do not normally feature in my hit parade.



However, there they were. A British Standard custard tart is a pretty solid fellow - egg custard in a soggy shortcrust case - the filling is commonly topped with grated nutmeg (probably to make it taste of something), though this is less popular in Scotland. I must have eaten quite a few in my time, but none of them was great, I think, and they were all a long time ago. Maybe they are still around, and in great demand, but my perception is that cakes from the supermarket these days tend to be packets of individually wrapped brioche buns with chocolate chips, or 5-in-pack "fresh-baked" cookies with embedded white chocolate bits, made with so much cheap sugar and palm oil that your face feels hot and your breathing gets muffled. Something has shifted - the global village does not seem to offer much in the way of a proper custard tart. This must be progress.

I bought a bag of doughnuts and went off for my visit.

It was only on the train later, coming home, that I started thinking about custard tarts. Hmmm....

I never really liked them, and I'm sure I still don't, but I'm going to have to get some just to prove it. You know how these things gnaw at you?




28 comments:

  1. Thats what phone note memo's are for! An absolute life saver!

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    1. You're right, Drew - I've just written now "custard tarts" - that should sort it.

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    2. I felt I must register my support for the humble custard. Being based on shortcrust pastry, there is little or no waste - unlike any confection based on flaky pastry which always involves some level of loss through ..well, flaking. I have a healthy Yorkshire dislike of paying for food which ends up on the floor.

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    3. Of course you have to remember to take the note with you...

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    4. Chris - excellent point - only comment I would add is that the custard tarts from the old St Cuthbert's Co-op in Edinburgh were pretty substandard on the stuctural integrity front. They didn't crumble, but they had a tendency to lose big pieces, so they were a definite saucer job. The worst buns for making a mess seem to be fresh pains au chocolat - there is no way you can be a secret scoffer of these.

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    5. Aly - also an excellent point. I've just found a piece of paper on my painting desk, which says "buy a couple of message pads" - what's that about, then?

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    6. Ah, sounds like a bad example, the jerry-built tart - a disgrace to custard tartdom.
      I'll take your word for the latter though - the very idea of mixing bread and chocolate would put me off investigating further.

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  2. Replies
    1. Wonderland covers a lot of stuff, but their shelf stock is not comprehensive, for various philosophical reasons connected with the limitations of space. So if you are looking for, say, HaT Romans then they will certainly have some, but they probably won't have the boxes you are looking for. As with GW shops, they also have enough staff in the place to allow them to perpetuate the belief that it's everyone else who is weird.

      I was a bit surprised to see that I could have bought a drone for about £200 which would enable me to close down our local airport. Plenty of replica handguns too. Let's not get into all that.

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  3. My gran used to make lovely custard tarts!

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    1. Now that's positive nostalgia! - Good to remember people for their gifts. My Nan couldn't cook to save her life, but that's a common enough fault. I believe King Alfred wasn't up to much either.

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  4. Ah, yes. The mental list. I too have begun noticing that it ain't what it once was. Of course, I rationalize that daily life is sometimes so chaotic that it's no wonder I forget about a few things now and then. Still, being of a certain age... Who knows? The ol' memory might be helped by something along the lines of custard tarts?

    Best Regards,

    Stokes

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    1. It's certainly worth a try. Thanks Stokes.

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  5. Don’t forget to add the Vallejo pots to the lis5 too! As for custard tarts, I never seek them out nor do I recall eating one.

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    1. Yes - that's right - I could keep a note of the paints I need. Good idea. I'll need to make the notes clear, or I may wonder what Parasite Brown means.

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  6. I like to partake of a custard tart from time to time, particularly one from Betty's, the North Yorkshire based baker and patisserie. Your first photo of said tarts looks more like the Portuguese custard tart, the pastel de nata, which has gained much popularity in recent years and is now widely baked and sold in the UK. Will they still be allowed after March 30th?

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    1. Yes - well spotted - the first tart picture shows evidence of flaky pastry, which I think is a feature of the pastel de nata. I think Brexit will have to stanp that out. It's also been suggested to me that a religieuse is just a custard tart for poseurs.

      The gnawing thought now includes the fact that I should travel to Betty's to give the custard tarts a proper chance. Meet me in St Louis.

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    2. I'm beaten to the curve by the excellent Pierre - my local Co-op does pastel de nata that look just like that... two thoughts, one, who'd have thought that the humble Co-op would be selling Pastel de nata one day..what would my old Grandma have made of that while she was in there getting her 20 gold sovereign (with filters) and counting her divvy stamps? Two, they are an order of magnitude more tasty than the ersatz offerings of Mr Kipling... :o))

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    3. I've never understood Mr Kipling - they seem to subscribe to the traditional British approach of "how cheaply can we make something that the punters will eat?". Their Bakewells and just about everything else look far better than they taste.

      I sincerely hope the Co-op sells the Portuguese jobs as "custard tarts"? It would be heresy if they did otherwise, surely.

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  7. Its good to know that model shops other than GW (which I'm always frightened to go into) still exist out there.

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    1. Ah yes - the GW conversation:

      "what are you working on just now?"

      "a 20mm Napoleonic Bavarian army"

      "a WHAT? - right - erm - awesome..."

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    2. Unless of course that conversation is with me... ;-)

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    3. I am, of course, playing out the cartoon version for laughs. My last couple of visits to GW shops have been exemplary - very helpful, courteous, switched-on guys (Edinburgh and Chester) - I have to say that they seemed older than they used to - that certainly bucks a few trends!

      Mind you, they may have felt I seemed older than I used to, as well. The sales script should be revisited - the salesman should approach the customer and say:

      "Hi dude - I bet you're building up a 20mm Bavarian army or something?"

      That would make us silly old tw*ts even more nervous.

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    4. I am of course well aware of that Tony... :-)
      Our retail staff are very well trained... but they are clearly and very obviously trained to sell GW products (which by coming into the shop you are also wanting to purchase)...
      You would probably be surprised at how many of our staff are as much into historical wargaming as they are into Warhammer... but historical wargaming is not their job...
      Until recently you probably could have been served by Baz in the Edinburgh shop ... a good chum and a man well aware of the needs of the historical gamer...

      My preferred scenario would be...
      “Hi what are you painting “
      “20mm Napoleonic Bavarians “
      “ Dude!... that’s not really the right shade of blue for the Napoleonic uniforms... it was more of a cornflower blue as opposed to the really pale blue we now accept as sky blue...but it does look rather nice with yellow facings...doesn’t it”
      “I’ll get my coat”
      Back on track...
      When in Edinburgh I always pop into Wonderland Models... and Harburn Hobbies... I always end up spending money....
      Custard Tarts are one of the joys of life... bought ones are good ... but home made are to die for...

      All the best Aly GW weirdo custard tart loving Morrison

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  8. Some treats are better observed than eaten.

    I 2nd the use of a smart phone for notes, mine gets left behind less often and in some cases I just take a quick picture of whatever it was so I get the right thing on the other end and then have the satisfaction of deleting of the picture as a sort of "job done" tick.

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    1. Agree absolutely - that's a great scheme. As it happens, my phone let me down yesterday by going flat during my day out, but that was just stupidity on my part. I need to put a memo on my phone which says "phone has gone flat - should have charged it". Or I could try to remember to carry my charge bank with me. Then, of course, I'd have to remember to keep that charged as well (haven't we had this conversation just a week or two ago?).

      There was a lady on the radio recently, saying how difficult it was for "millennials", since they had so much to do on their smartphones that they were bound to forget some of it, and it didn't leave them enough time to contact their friends or do any work.

      That was another reason why I'm not listening to the radio so much this year.

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  9. That is a wonderful looking storefront. The custard does look good.

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  10. A ‘British Standard custard tart’… is there really such a thing? (by which I mean are they common in British bakery shops?) I’m asking because to me the custard tart, along with the meringue, are creations that exist only in the worlds of William Brown and Cristopher Robin. Unlike the Iced bun and the Eccles cake, which seem to have survived the transition from baked-in-house to bought-in from a commercial supplier. I note that both the custard tart and the meringue have recently been ‘technical challenges’ on The Great British Bake Off. Could it be that the sole benefit of Brexit is an increased interest in long-dead British pastries? Or simply that their appearance in shops is testament to the influence of TV personalities such as Paul Hollywood? Either way, I’m sorry you didn’t try one…maybe next time?

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