Elceed: El-Seedy Muesli

Sometimes it feels like all I do is ride my bike down Royal Parade. This leafy portal to anywhere even slightly South or East of me has been a constant ever since my life stopped revolving around High School in Northcote all those years ago. Eeep, it is getting close-ish to a decade now; if riding down Royal Parade was a job, I’d be getting due for some long service leave. I should stop quantifying things in terms of how close to earning long service leave I am in them, it’s not particularly useful especially as I have been in my actual job now for only 9 weeks. This particular outing down Royal Parade to North Melbourne was to be my last in the hustle of Melbourne’s breakfast scene until the end of May, as I am about to be whisked away to Horsham for work. I am excited for some more rural breakfast experiences, perhaps I’ll try and stop in at some towns along the way to eat muesli and turn a 3.5 hour journey into a full day. Worth it? Who am I kidding I’ll probably just end up stopping in somewhere like Beufort for a vanilla slice and a Big M – much more sensible travelling fare.

I arrived at Elceed, an airy cafe just west of Curzon street on Queensberry, and was surprised to be able to walk right in (sit right down) at 10am on a Sunday. I had visions of brunch lines snaking up the road, and having that conversation with my companions that happens when one person (me) is trying to test the waters and see how committed the company is to having brunch at all. Wouldn’t it be nicer if we didn’t have to wait because we all just gave up?  Hmmm, perhaps I catastrophise slightly, I just don’t like waiting for breakfast on top of that waiting time necessitated by the concept of brunch. I digress. Elceed was not made to honour the image of the homophonous Alcide, but still managed to be a nice place to eat by virtue of light, textured walls, open archways and large terrariums.

The menu had many words, but my eyes went no further than:

House Made Granola with Organic Yoghurt and Cranberry Poached Apple

I was not expecting this to come out:

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Everything is so upright! I think I was in shock, and hence could not work out how to photograph this spooned-jar of muesli. Was the spoon placed in the jar just so I would be instantly presented with evidence that it would fit; that yes, it would be possible to get my breakfast out of there using that? I still felt a bit like a bear at the zoo trying desperately to solve a food-puzzle. The reward did have a honey component, which made my bear-self happy but was a trifle overpowering to start with. True to it’s pronunciation, the Elceed granola contained plenty of seeds. Pumpkin seeds were the stars of the show, which created a nice nutritious crunch alongside the toasty oats and flecks of coconut. Cranberries were a thoughtful, red, chewy addition and I think were also used to poach the slices of ?apple (I’ll be honest, I settled on it being a plum before I re-read the menu…please continue to trust my food reviews) if the grammar of the menu was to be believed. Whatever happened to make that fruit how it was when I consumed it, it was tasty.

Final word: The Elceed granola is a bit of a puzzle in terms of the logistics of eating it, and identification of its components. Do try this granola if you have already had a first breakfast and just like the taste of toasted oats and seeds (guilty!). If you are very hungry and insist on granola, Elceed have cakes that looked perfectly suitable for a cheeky dessert portion of your morning meal.

Good-ish Muesli, Melbourne!

-MM

Elceed on Urbanspoon

Code Black: As Promised, Sublime and Ridiculous “Muesli”

I have been neglecting my sworn duty to Melbourne’s cereal scene of late. The ghosts of grains consumed unacknowledged over the past few months wail constantly in my subconscious, manifesting perhaps only as an eye-twitch here, or a long sigh there. What better time to get back on the blog than Labour Day, a day that had mostly been denied to me over the past seven years by Melbourne University? Now as I have graduated into the warm light of gainful employment I can bask in the rays of paid public holidays. It is absurd and wonderful to be lying in bed, reflecting on breakfast being paid by the hour. I had better get to work:

Code Black forms a deceptively unassuming prism that sits opposite the Barkly Square car park on Weston Street. Like any ominous puzzle box, the starting point was obtuse and subtle, with the first test involving sliding a geometric door in a direction that would hopefully gain us entry. The black, moody interior was quite a contrast to the sunny day outside, with naked lightbulbs highlighting the cold lines of the dark tables and dividing walls. Numerous large contraptions loomed out of the dark – probably involved in the mystical process of coffee making, which seems to occur inexplicably in both giant and tiny machines depending on where you are in Melbourne. Overall, the setup at Code Black was strangely science fiction, it certainly seemed bigger on the inside. I must also make special mention that the menu promises the “Sublime and Ridiculous”, which immediately called to mind Romantic and Gothic themes of horror and epiphany; would I be reaching those heights today?

There was one thing on my mind, and so although I simply asked for “the muesli mix, please”, the real order was the more grandiose:

Organic gluten free muesli mix, toasted nuts, seeds, grains, dried fruits & raw cacao, house made creamy coconut yoghurt & berries (V) (VE) (GF)

Whew. I hoped this dish was as much of a mouthful in reality as it was in text. I was also intrigued as to what would constitute a gluten free, vegetarian, vegan muesli. Here is what this all-dietary restriction-inclusive breakfast came out as:

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Ah, no milk. Makes sense, I guess, although it would have been nice to have been offered a soy/nut alternative. I was too coyed by the specificity of the muesli to think about asking for anything to dampen this dish. The compote in captivity was an interesting side, I suppose mixed berries are not to everyones’ taste especially if you have not been vaccinated against Hepatitis A (thanks Nanna’s). Now, to cater for the gluten-sensitive this was a barley and seed based breakfast. It was exquisitely crunchy, and so granular in texture I was reminded of the International Soil Classification Scale; instead of silt we had cacao, barley and dried fruit instead of fine and medium gravel respectively, and boy, I could go on. For the most part the smoky, nutty taste was pleasing, but was overwhelmed by the power of the coconut yoghurt. The Code Black “muesli” was inventive, but I found it unsatisfying and non-cohesive, probably because I did’t ask for soy/nut/evil milk. Not even the gloriously useless micro herb garnish would endear me to order this one again, next time I’ll get the crumpets.

Final Word: Code Black is an enigmatic institution that caters thoughtfully for many dietary creeds. The risk of this, unfortunately, is to navigate the good ship Breakfast to culinary shores so alien that one cannot help but keen for the familiar comforts of oats, grated apple, cinnamon and milk. Does that count as an epiphany?

Confusing Muesli, Melbourne!

-MM

Code Black Coffee on Urbanspoon

Miss Muesli Abroad: Japan Tour – Sentido Cafe

It has been all quiet on the writing-about-muesli (but not necessarily on the eating muesli) front over the last few months as I have been busy with significant life events such as finishing my degree and being on proper holidays for the first time in a very long time. There is something about suddenly having heaps of time that really distracts from things that require discipline such as the very serious task of oat bloggery. Now, however, I am overseas and idle time is again a commodity – What better conditions to spur me to write?

Like any budding artist (yes, I’m counting breakfast writing as art – it’s certainly not blasphemy or pornography), I have gone on tour in Japan! The only problem with this, I suppose, is that cafe muesli is a rare beast in this land. In fact, according to my extensive searching (read, I googled “city x cafe muesli”) there has so far been only one place that I have found that caters to my very specific Western breakfast needs. But I’ll get to that. First, I’ll set the scene. Cereal is not the norm here. I have been starting my days with convenience store bought aloe vera yoghurt, which advertises that it is “good for beauty body” so I guess that’s probably the wisest thing to eat in the morning. Just quickly, in Japan 7-11s and their ilk are the best and a far cry from the over priced service stations back home. Let’s just say I’d happily eat an egg and mayo sandwich from a 7-11 in Japan.

Back to breakfast. Probably the beautiful low point for me was having the most ornate, meticulous traditional Japanese breakfast prepared in the room Baby Chino and I were staying in. Eating fish, tofu and pickles for breakfast was too much for my three weetbix and a banana palate to handle. After that the search for cereal intensified, and I found success in Kyoto: Cafe Sentido is a glorious anomaly near the Karasuma Oike subway station. Blackboards cheerily announce the menu which includes the much sought after ‘cereal set’. That’s all I needed. Without further ado, calling on the language skills that Chic Pea tried hard to impart to me I ordered for myself and Baby Chino:

Cereal set oh futatsu onegaishimas

When this was met with a friendly, lengthy reply asking for my preference about something, my Japanese competency reached capacity and I just said a blank-faced yes to everything that followed. This is the result of my confusion:

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Hooray! This was granola, and like most things in Japan from my height perspective, everything about it was tiny. The oats were in sweetly toasted fragments, combined with similarly obliterated nuts. Together these created a crunch-fest that I had been sorely missing in the morning. The prospect of slurping yoghurt for breakfast every morning is one reason to look after my teeth I suppose. The dollop of yoghurt in this meal cooly contained delicate slivers of banana. Fruit is very expensive here, I have seen cantaloupes from the equivalent of $21 – $70 each, but it is also so richly tasty. These banana slices seemed to have a concentrated flavour, that made my brain sing with the happiness many good breakfast memories. The meal seemed over almost as soon as it began, but it was worth every yen.

Final word: If you are living in Japan or are travelling for any length of time and have a bit of homehungriness for a cafe breakfast, find Sentido in Kyoto. Cereal rejuvenation awaits!

Good muesli, Kyoto!

-MM

Home Made Special: OMG Granola – Oh My Ginger!

This latest homemade special is fulfilling a reader’s request to review the muesli that her very brave mother has made in a life-change involving the decision to dedicate her days to creating food through her Yarra Valley-based company OMG Cereals. I have the utmost respect for people making hard decisions to follow their dreams – especially if those dreams are oat related.

I was sent a packet of normal granola, gluten free granola and in a very touching gesture, a high-energy biscuit. If you are reading this, OMG-mumma, I cycled with vigour after eating that cookie!

OMG Granola:

Granola is such an easy breakfast as it does not require soaking overnight to unlock the awesome texture of oats, rather it promises a crunch-fest with simply the addition of milk and yoghurt. Here is the granola pre-yoghurt and for some reason pre-milk. I suppose I wanted to capture the essence of dry breakfast, and I feel like I succeeded:

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The first thing that struck me about this granola was the aroma – upon opening the packet I was met with a spiciness that suggested that I was in for an exotic experience. There was an impressive density of almonds and dried fruit that, in the presence of the spices, created an almost savoury flavour. I’ll admit I was in intellectual and gustatory shock given that granola tends to have very sweet connotations. What an original take on muesli! After the first bite, there was a lingering taste that I couldn’t quite place and that was reminding me of travelling on the Spirit of Tasmania as a rowdy teenager. This was a feeling the required further analysis as I tend not to have seafaring flashbacks during breakfast. With the next mouthful I realised that this granola contains ginger – which I did use as a remedy for nausea back in the day. This is quite a polarising ingredient and I might recommend to the creator of this muesli to ease back on the ginger as it is not to everyone’s taste in such quantities. Nevertheless, it did add to this being a truly unique, refreshingly savoury take on granola.

Final Word: OMG Cereals have tried hard to create a spicy granola that departs from the traditional honey-soaked variants that permeate the market. Due to the ginger content I would certainly recommend this to people at sea, and women suffering from morning sickness. Also give it a try if you are feeling like a savoury breakfast adventure.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!

-MM

56 Threads: Sewing Wild, Friendly Oats

For reasons known only to herself, the benevolent Lady Grey decided that this particular morning would be one devoted to “girls” – I prefer to identify as a blossoming young woman, but that might be a delusion in itself. Happily, a girls morning means that the similarly age-bracketed and beloved Madame Phở-pas, Ms Mimosa and I are treated to breakfast and an item (or a sneaky three) of second-hand clothing. After we discovered that the pop-up store in Carlton that Lady Grey had her eye on had distressingly popped-down, I swooped in to save the day by suggesting that we dine out West and move on to Footscray Savers, a much less crowded option for a late Saturday morning.

The venue we descended upon was 56 Threads in Derby Street, Kensington. My interest was piqued by their ethos of providing employment and training for new migrants, which is a heartening initiative given the current political clime. The cafe sits on the ground floor of public housing in Derby Street. The main theme seems to be geometry, with interesting dodecahedral light fixtures and clean lines dominating the bench architecture. Of note, as I have been on an accessibility tirade of late, I observed that 56 Threads has an entranceway wide enough for a patron to enter using a motorised scooter, order coffee, then turn around and leave without hitting furniture or being impeded in any way. If this level of functionality existed more uniformly across the city, Melbourne’s cafe-culture would be more inclusive of the oft forgotten population of people with mobility impairment – which is certainly not insignificant!

Upon perusal of the menu I was excited to order:

56 Threads almond and cranberry muesli: made in house served with strawberries and yoghurt 

In a refreshing twist given my last cafe experience which I will neither forgive nor forget, we did not have to wait even 20 minutes before our breakfast arrived. Here it is:

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This was a simple, hearty muesli that felt like it was prepared by a well-meaning dad: The portion was generous, the oats were plain with nicely-toasted almonds, crunchy hazelnuts, sunflower seeds and cranberries mixed in to provide extra taste and a sensible amount of nutrition. Fresh strawberries and cool, creamy yoghurt combined for a light, Springtime taste. While nothing fancy – not a micro herb, chia seed or labne to be seen – the 56 Threads muesli was homely without pretension and a meal that kept me going until lunch. What more could a “girl” on a girls morning want?

Final word: Regardless of your mobility requirements, take yourself out to 56 Threads and enjoy a friendly, inclusive breakfast. While you will not find super specialised on-trend ingredients that will blow your mind and confuse your tastebuds, you will find plenty of community spirit – super food for the soul.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!

-MM

Fifty-Six Threads Cafe on Urbanspoon

Cafe Lua Revisited: A Disappointing Sequel

After having such a positive experience at Cafe Lua more than a year ago, I had no hesitation recommending this cafe/art space as somewhere relatively central to meet some old and new breakfast companions. Yes, it might be slightly pricey, but I this was a special occasion – I was showing off to Short Stack and Madame Bacon.

My hopes were high as I flipped through the menu, and then sunk lower when I found that Cafe Lua was still in Winter mode and I would not be eating a cool, creamy muesli but rather a:

Porridge of some description

I do like porridge as it is the warm, mushy cousin of muesli; however on a sunny Spring morning being greeted with the prospect of porridge when muesli was expected is kind of like being given work clothes for your birthday – useful, potentially tasty, but a bit disappointing.

Normally I would move straight on to a photo of said porridge, but I will delay. This is because (and I’m not usually one to comment on service as I’m here for the oats) we had to wait for almost 40 minutes before being told that there had been a “printing error” – which I guess I understand, printers are notoriously fickle, but how does this relate to my situation? – and we would have to wait a further 15 minutes for our breakfasts. My God, we were being pushed into brunch territory. We were offered a free drink each as compensation, which I and my similarly-minded friends jumped right on and ordered smoothies – which we received mini versions of. The wait did give us plenty of time to chat, but honestly, who wants to do that on an empty stomach? Here is what finally arrived:

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Firstly, porridge should not occupy the bottom quarter of a wide, shallow bowl. Secondly, regardless of what amazing ingredients might have been used to create this dish, the first overwhelming mouth impression that I got was that it was tepid. My next course of action was to find solace in the rhubarb…and it was cold. The horror. THE HORROR! Yes, I suppose I could have asked for them to warm it up but honestly, at this stage I was wallowing in self-righteous indigence at the travesty of having to wait almost an hour for cool porridge and have to eat it at a time that can only be described as brunch. Brunch! Not even creamy, coconutty oats are going to save a lukewarm porridge from being one of the worst things ever. It is like whoever made it did not care one bit – and apathy is something I cannot abide. I do not enjoy being disappointed and this one stung badly.

Final Word: If you are out to breakfast and are feeling masochistic, go to Cafe Lua and try their porridge.

(Not So) Good Muesli, Melbourne!

-MM

Cafe Lua on Urbanspoon

John Gorilla: Rolled his oats up and threw them at me…and I liked it.

Spring has sprung and I emerged today from my blog-hibernation squinting warily into the sunlight as Baby Chino and I rode through residential Brunswick at earlier-than-8am for our breakfast appointment. What a time to be able to ride a bike;  the roads are deserted, the air is crisp and the best meal of the day is the reward for our exertion (although I’m not sure  leisurely riding for less than 2km really counts). Also, there is a smug self-satisfaction that comes from watching the less disciplined breakfast crowd that arrives around 9am waiting to be seated, while I sit back in post-muesli bliss chatting happily to my companions. I’m all for a Sunday sleep in, but will trade that for unimpeded access to breakfast in a heart beat.  Anything to avoid brunch territory and the subsequent meal confusion that always follows –  what time should lunch be?! I shudder to think.

This morning’s breakfast took us to John Gorilla, a quaint cafe just North of Hunter Street on Pearson. Upon entering I was transported back to early childhood and this was my playroom; perhaps it was that the main counter was so high that I immediately had the strange experience of actually having to look up to address someone; maybe it was the brightly coloured plastic fruit and trinkets that adorned the main table at the entrance, or perhaps it was the whimsical seaside feel of the section we sat in. Most likely it was the old Snellen chart that adorned the wall opposite me so that whenever I looked up I was reminded of my early optometrist and a time when my prescription did not require super-thin lens technology to avoid the coke-bottle look. What a great place!

With no trepidation I ordered:

Bircher muesli: golden raisin and hazelnut with seasonal fresh fruit

I was then surprised to hear Mr Scrambled Eggs actually order his namesake, even more surprised when Baby Chino ordered porridge (considering how he feels about oats), and not surprised at all when Ms Mimosa ordered B.L.A.T. Back to me:

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It looks like a fantastical landscape at dawn. My inner child sat there imagining the strange beasts that might traverse those strawberry peaks and seek shelter under the grape-boulders. My outer adult quickly stuffed a spoonful of it into my mouth. Citrus-surprise! There were slices of fresh orange buried under the apple and yoghurt-soaked oats, buried so completely that I had no idea what I was tasting, initially cursed Mr Gorilla for overdoing it and started wondering if I would still be able to put off going to the dentist until I can afford health insurance. I found that there was actually no need for that level of catastrophising as the rest of the dish was delightfully creamy and oaty, with the only bursts of sweetness being from the obvious and not-so-obvious fruit within. A quick comment on golden raisins – delicious and translucent – but how are they different from sultanas? Wikipedia says: they’re not. But who can you trust?

Final Word: Set your alarm for early and venture out to John Gorilla for a whimsical breakfast, if you’re in to that sort of thing.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!

-MM

John Gorilla on Urbanspoon

Home Made Special: Lord Marmalade’s (thankfully) Marmalade-Free Muesli

One of the best things about being a muesli-blogger is that family and friends alike suddenly come out of the woodwork as being  muesli-makers. It warms my heart to receive portions of their creations, and so I have acquired a small collection of different muesli packaged in ways that causes me to fondly reflect on some of the donor’s idiosyncrasies: tiny jars (meticulous hoarder), old yoghurt containers (pragmatist) and tupperware (trusting, perhaps too much so as they might not ever see this container again). I feel quite privileged!

This morning’s home-made special comes from Lord Marmalade who, despite being my inspiration for ordering “The Works” at Shepparton Pizza Hut the other week, has become a real health food and exercise guru these days. I was very excited to try his muesli which contains things like:

Oats, bran, almond, pepitas, sultanas and pistachios

I soaked it overnight in milk and here is what I was greeted with in the morning:

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This was a very raw, earthy muesli which was elevated to gourmet status by a smoky savouriness imparted by the pistachios. The addition of salt is surprisingly pleasing in breakfast dishes, and while I won’t be adding salt to my weetbix any time soon (or will I? Maybe that is what will make weetbix take off as a cafe food!), salt in porridge and muesli (in the form of pistachio) is genius. Despite being soaked overnight, Lord Marmalade’s muesli was resilient to mushiness and instead was densely crunchy, adding a jaw workout to the health benefits of his dish. The only thing I might include in this breakfast next time would be a sprinkle of cinnamon (though would this blend with pistachio?) which would complement the almonds and any added banana.

Final word: If I was giving out stars, this would get 5 gold ones. As I am a star-witholder (anyone who has played Super Mario 64 knows you don’t just hand them out once you find them), I’ll say for those at home: pistachios in your muesli are worth the investment.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!

-MM

Two Short Men: Reaching New Muesli Heights

On this chilly Winter morning I decided to begin my exploration of the breakfast offerings of High Street, Northcote. It lies obscenely close to my temporary ‘hood, an airy family home of which I am the sole human occupant and where I am completely enslaved by the whims of a very persistent cat. Despite living alone for the past fortnight or so, I have not graduated to dining solo and so jumped at the chance to escape my hermitage and meet Captain Cappuccino, who has triumphantly returned from his linguistic secondment to China as a true Scholar of Asian tongues.

High Street is the place to eat, drink and buy over-priced (probably, maybe not for real adults with jobs) but socially conscious wares in Northcote, and it knows it. Shop after trendy shop seem to pop up, ready to siphon off some of the quietly enthusiastic local patronage, and add to the much-more-family-friendly-than-Brunswick-Street vibe of the area. I will always be fond of this street, with its memories of trivia, first date nervousness, and beef with sizzling Mongolian sauce. I am yet, however, to make many breakfast memories and that is where Two Short Men, just off High Street on Mitchell Street (it still counts), comes in. Unfortunately I was too wrapped up in the tales of adventure and debauchery that the Captain was regaling me with as he sipped his chocolatey namesake to take notice of the interior, but I do remember it being deceptively spacious with plenty of natural light. I managed to order:

Home Made Bircher Muesli: with labne and seasonal compote

Here is what I was presented with:

 

Happily, unlike my recent meal-companion, Capt. Cappuccino did not sit on my lap and try to eat my breakfast and so this outing could already be considered a success. The muesli was, in a word,  juicy. It was as if I was eating creamy, crunchy juice – which it turns out is delicious! There were plenty of little poppy seeds and pepitas to get suck in my teeth, but it’s a small price to pay for texture and whatever health benefits these things contain. The labne was cool, dense, and smooth in lovely contrast to the mushy oats. My only criticism would be that there could have been more of a stewed fruit presence, with the bit of pear – while very welcome – left me wanting more. Overall, Two Short Men has delivered a generously portioned muesli that I was very happy to start my day with.

Final Word: If  you have so far measured the merit of an establishment by the height of the owners, now is the time to stop bizarrely discriminating and order the Bircher muesli from Two Short Men.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!

-MM

Two Short Men on Urbanspoon

Baby Chino Guest Review: Glam Café – Sun, Sea, Croatian Muesli and Having Fun Without Miss Muesli

Suddenly finding myself outside of Melbourne in small side street of Dubrovnik, a town famous for being the capital of Westeros, I decided to duck into what I can only assume was ironically named Glam Café for the bad taste of muesli to remind myself of Miss Muesli who it seems loves Melbourne too much to quickly pop out. Sitting under the awning of “Glam” Café, in a thin cobbled alley with Mrs Vaguely-Witty-Name-But-Lets-Face-It-Not-Really, Mr Who-Really-Cares and Miss Self-Indulgent-Inside-Joke-With-Friend’s-Name-But-Means-Nothing-To-Everyone-Else. A quick glance at the temperature here, it’s at a boring 27° C in this shaded seaside area, while Melbourne is currently enjoying 13° C with rain at this very moment. Haha, quite the contrast. How do you them apples, Miss Muesli?

Anyway, the difference between Balkan cafes and Melbourne cafes are that here amongst the peasantry breakfast is ruled with an iron fist, you get what you are given and you smile and take it, no matter what IT is. Very refreshing compared to the *****, whining, ********** found in Melbourne with the “customer is always right” garbage. Seeking refuge from the dozens of buses disgorging American tourists from their floating cesspit of a cruise ship, I find myself enjoying the fragrant aroma of smokers inside and out of every establishment, and so I ordered the elaborately named:

Müssli with jogurt

My first non-meat or non-cabbage meal in weeks, which was this:

Manmuesli

…excuse me? I didn’t order müssli with fruit, I ordered müssli with freaking jogurt, what are you doing here fruit? I thought all this inside of course, smiling I thanked the waiter: hvala, hvala.

So I got bloody fruit all up in this business. Too much fruit. Banana: you’re ok. Pineapple: what are you doing buddy? People only sort of tolerate you on pizza. Orange thing: lucky you have no taste. Grape/round thing/whatever you are: get out of here. All that with watered down jogurt and too small an amount of muesli. All in all, it was alright. But this is Hrvatska, not Melbourne, it’s wonderful! Dobra Hrana! Hvala Vam!

Good Muesli? Bad Muesli? Who Cares Muesli? King’s Landing.

-BC