Hot Poppy: The Muesli Does Not Need to be Smoked to be Enjoyed

Yes, the title of this post is a warning to any Victorian-era time-travellers or fetishists out there looking for a pipe – Hot Poppy is not a den of ill repute. Rather, it is an earthy cafe on the corner of Errol and Victoria Streets in North Melbourne. Unfortunately I cannot give very much of a comment on the interior of this place as my co-conspirator that warm morning was already seated outside when I arrived. I do have a lingering sense of thick, good-quality timber as the material making up the Hot Poppy facade but you can take that with the grain of wheat it deserves (this is a muesli blog, salt has no place here).

I did, however, have my first documentable out-door breakfast – a sensory smorgasbord. I experienced the feeling of the wind caressing my still-damp hair and kissing my rosy cheeks, still warm from the exertion of the ride up the Errol street hill; the sight of Miss Chic Pea illuminated in the untempered sunlight; the smell of fresh morning rain and finally, the ungodly screeching of the 57 tram as it turns along Victoria Street. My ears are still ringing (but that could be pathological).

After ordering a coffee I turned my attention to the menu, which had a variety of oaty offerings (from memory at least two) which was pretty ground-breaking but also exposed how painfully indecisive I can be at 7:30 in the morning. I managed to choose:

Homemade bircher muesli with yoghurt and strawberry coulis

This was in equal parts to me knowing what bircher muesli is, and not knowing what “coulis” could possibly be but hoping to find out. It so happens that it is a fancy way of saying “sauce”. For your viewing pleasure:

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This is a clearly striking muesli. There is nothing like a bit of visual contrast to excite the tastebuds, and those guys were not disappointed. Contrary to the bold strawberry statement, citrus was the flavour of the day coming across through the orange rind scattered throughout the dish. It was a refreshing difference to the creamy muesli I have endured of late. The Hot Poppy muesli is a dense one, and I would have appreciated a bit of milk to loosen things up. It would have gone nicely with the hazelnuts that, to my delight, made an appearance as the nut of choice in this cereal. Another interesting feature of this muesli was the use of large chunks of dried apple rings, seemingly in place of the standard bircher grated apple. I loved it, not just because the leathery texture is a great thing, but also because I am of the opinion “why have a sliver when you can have a chunk?”. It’s how I live my life.

So I was happily munching my way through breakfast, nattering away safe in the knowledge that I was back on the positive review bandwagon when I was suddenly arrested mid-chew. I had crunched down on something hard. I can only equate it to the feeling you get when you have dropped something tasty and hence precious on the ground, made the decision to ignore what just happened and continue eating, only to then be reminded of your transgression over hygiene by the sensation of chewing on floor-grit. I was initially scared that I was eating my own tooth. I wasn’t. Could it have been a bit of glass? Was it a stone flicked over from the wailing number 57 tram? Was it someone else’s tooth? I will never know because I swallowed it. And as what occurs with guilty floor-food, I continued to eat this muesli because it was delicious.

Final Word: By all means order the muesli at Hot Poppy if you are cereal minded and can ignore my last paragraph. Sit indoors for the sake of your eardrums.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!

MM

Hot Poppy on Urbanspoon

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Dr Dax: An Over-Prescriber of Oats

I was lucky enough to be having breakfast during work hours for this outing to Dr Dax Kitchen, a cafe that proudly protrudes like the frontal lobe of a higher primate from the entrance of the Melbourne Brain Centre on Royal Parade. I have (not that) often traipsed over to Dr Dax for coffee on days where I felt that I should treat myself to something nicer than a 7-Eleven $1 special or Zouki’s, but had not really ventured into their solid consumables for lack of time and opportunity. Here was my chance.

Dr Dax is, fondly, nerd central. At all hours of the day people in suits and glasses can be found doing whatever it is they do when they are not at work; which is often working on a laptop, discussing work or waiting for coffee to take back to work. It is a busy place, but I do enjoy the atmosphere. The large westward-facing windows peer over the bustle of Royal Parade to the Royal Melbourne Hospital and further add to the urgent buzz of a place in constant flux. I am yet to visit Dr Dax in weather that would allow me to take advantage of sitting at the tables outside, but I imagine that might be quite nice so long as there are not too many lit cigarettes about.

At Dr Dax you order at the counter and so I cheerfully asked for:

“Your Bircher muesli, thanks!”

Will that be with fruit?”

Ahh, yes(?)”

Oh boy. The first symptom of a muesli disorder had presented itself. I became slightly apprehensive as to what would arrive and my fears were somewhat realised when I was met with:

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Now I’m not a psychiatrist but I suspect this muesli has an identity disorder. Here we have a case of fruit salad-on-muesli, the first of which I have come across. To its credit, the fruit salad was fresh and I will never hate on watermelon except to say that it and the rest of the fruit were grossly out of place in this meal. Sorry, watermelon. Basically, there was no attempt at fruit-muesli integration and I doubt even an intense course of cognitive behavioural therapy could make this dish coherent (I’m enjoying barely working in these psychological allusions far too much).

I took a deep breath and moved past the fruit to the muesli, which might have been in the company of two types of yoghurt but I’m not discerning enough to confidently identify them. In fact now I think of it there just might have been an extra dollop of standard yoghurt on top of that which housed the oats. Anyway, another surprise occurred, this time mainly picked up by cranial nerves IX and X as my tongue and palate came to grips with the sheer density of oats that I had just delivered them. Yes, Dr Dax is guilty of handing out oats as if they were anti-depressants. My mood, however, did not improve – especially when I realised that this so-called Bircher muesli did not contain detectable grated apple or nuts! Unfortunately, my enjoyment of this breakfast was based mainly on the quality of the company I was with. And so I had a lovely meal despite the muesli being sub-par. At least it was cold.

Diagnosis: Schizoid-fruit-and-oats disorder with the main issue of it having a delusion of being Bircher muesli. My management of this poor entity would include the regrettable decision to reserve my money to be spent on cases with more hope. The coffee is good, though!

(Not So) Good Muesli, Melbourne!

MM

Dr. Dax Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Babka: Defying Expectations – Not In A Good Way

I had been meaning to try the Babka muesli for a while because I have a vague memory of going there years ago and really enjoying some muffins. It seems like an odd rationale but really if babka muffins = grains = yummy, and muesli = grains then surely babka muffins = muesli = yummy? Ho ho, how wrong my flawless logic was.

But first, the establishment. Babka is the second institution that I have had the circumstance to review. In this instance the suburb is Fitzroy and the bakery cafe is located on Brunswick Street, just North of Kerr Street. It is compact yet seemingly spacious and as such my lovely friend and I felt quite comfortable sharing all of the lascivious gossip we had for each other, without feeling too self-conscious. The wait staff were for the most part friendly and attentive, but not over-bearing – there are certainly no waitress-mothers around these parts (thank goodness as who needs one more?). I should also add that being a bakery, Babka smells very nice so if you visit with a cold, or are unfortunate enough to be anosmic, you’re missing out on an important part of the experience.

After sipping some water I considered the menu and found:

Swiss muesli – oats, sultanas, freshly grated apple, almonds, yogurt

My first exact account of the menu! And the first black mark against the Babka muesli – Swiss? What is Swiss muesli, some sort of wonderful muesli derivative that we should all try? No. It is naught but our good friend the Bircher Muesli which was developed, AND I QUOTE: “by Swiss physician Maximiilan Bircher-Benner” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muesli#Original_Bircher-Benner_muesli_recipe). I suppose I have made a bit of a meal (hehe) of the pretentiousness of this menu billing, but it is so at odds with what came out that it illustrates completely my disappointment:

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To borrow another quote: What the glob?! (LSP, Adventure Time). Instantly underwhelming. I was however, ready to look past appearances and judge this muesli based on its mouth-hole merit alone. Boy, was my mouth-hole disappointed. To begin with, it was warm. This went further than just being not-cold, it felt close to body temperature. As this is a Miss who likes to know where her tissue ends and muesli begins, instant disdain blossomed. Yes, I enjoyed the grated apple and the odd chunky almond, but these elements were lost within a sea of warm, creamy yogurt. The oats were similarly unable to compete with the dairy deluge. Safe to say, I was not amuselied.

I decided to be fair to Babka and take away a slice of the lemon tart that I have actually heard a lot about to eat over a cup if tea at work. Mind. Blown. I am not even a lemon tart fan, but I was not only given a gigantic slice (tick!), but it turned out to be a gigantic slice of amazing. Babka redemption!

Final Thoughts: If your boat floats in a lake of warm yoghurt, buy this muesli. If not, have toast, eggs or lemon tart for breakfast at Babka.

(Not-So) Good Muesli, Melbourne!

MM

Babka Bakery Café on Urbanspoon

The Old Paper Shop Deli: South of the Yarra (*sniff*) Showing How It’s Done

Last Sunday morning I found myself in South Melbourne. I know how I got there – this isn’t one of those stories – it was in the course of doing a fun-run around Albert Park in aid of ovarian cancer research. And what better way to celebrate running 5km than a high-society bowl of muesli? Yes, I’ll launch right into it: being a Northern suburbs Miss I have an innate wariness of the land over the bridge(s) so get ready for lots of “South-side” this and “snooty” that. That’s how I was brought up, I suppose.

The Old Paper Shop Deli is, according to Ms SourDough who was one of my company on this occasion, a South Melbourne institution. It is located just North of the corner of Clarendon and Dorcas (malorcas) streets and is pretty un-inspriring in terms of its interior. That is, until the hungry eye rests upon the selection of cakes – which almost made me consider breaking my “cereal is breakfast, cake is not” rule. Almost, but I’m occasionally practising self control these days.

The procedure at the Old Paper Shop Deli is to take a seat and then go up and order when you have considered the menu. How empowering/inconvenient! After taking mere seconds to scan the menu for muesli (I was on an endorphin high so everything was done quickly and with gusto) I went up and ordered:

The muesli, thank you”

I’ll be honest, I’m paraphrasing again because I had to order for my two breakfast companions which was easy due to endorphins and their memory-enhancing properties. In fact, the only thing that was not enhanced that morning was my appearance, which was decidedly dishevelled and a bit damp. Lucky there were no paparazzi about.

After not very long, this arrived (ignore the bacon, Baby Chino doesn’t like muesli for some reason):

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You know you are on the wrong side of town (that’s right, the South side) when your muesli comes with a mint garnish! Despite this, the dish was glorious. Firstly, it was cold which is the sort of refreshment I am after when I eat any sort of dairy product (except tasty cheese, which is best melted). Honey was drizzled on top giving it an initial sweetness that was not overbearing and happily diminished as I made my way through the meal. The real revelations here, however, were the fruit and nuts. Call me old-fashioned, but I love a good prune and this meal had at least three of them which added a soft, waxy texture that was truly lovely. Additionally there was a very high density of freshly-grated, cold granny smith apple throughout the muesli that added a welcome crunch and tartness. Finally, I was surprised to discover that hazelnuts were the nut of choice for this meal, something I have not tasted anywhere else which is a shame because it turns out that hazelnuts are great. To be honest, the only thing that was wrong with the Old Paper Shop Deli muesli was that it seemed served in gourmet (read: small) portions but that could have been a misperception induced by those nefarious endorphins.

Overall: Run to this muesli. I sort of did and it was amazing. I will be coming back here for the cakes also, but you will have to leave my eventual thoughts on those to your imagination as this is a muesli blog.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!

MM

The Old Paper Shop Deli on Urbanspoon

Le Miel Et La Lune: Le Muesli Et…OK

My French is terrible so when I try and recommend this pretty trendy place on the corner of Elgin and Cardigan Streets in Carlton I turn what is probably an elegant five syllables into an embarrassing mush of grimacing awkwardness. I wish the muesli was terrible so I could now go on to say “and you know what else was a grimacing mush…” but it wasn’t that bad so I’ll have to maybe use that analogy somewhere else.

Anyway, why is Le Miel Et La Lune “pretty trendy”? Two words: Ceiling plants. This place has pot plants hanging from the ceiling like light fixtures. Additionally, it’s right near Melbourne Uni so you get the whole students-who-for-some-reason-have-enough-money-to-afford-this-place-oh-wait-Centrelink crowd who I share the pleasure of identifying with but at the same time disdaining (mostly the ones who look younger than me). And finally it has another stupidly unhelpful (but cutesy) website like Milkwood. Infuriating!

I’ll stop being snide, I was told I have to be more mean and it’s not sitting well with me. I actually really like how big this place is – the timber tables with stone (or cement? or it could be more timber?) floors and huge windows give the cafe a really breezy, open feel. It was lovely on the mild Summer morning that I took Mr Scrambled eggs (the pseudonym my brother chose for himself…he ended up having a fried egg, but who cares about non-cereal foodstuffs?) out to breakfast.

To paraphrase the menu, the muesli on offer was some sort of:

Homemade muesli with seasonal fruits

And it looked like this:

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First up, I love that they give you a separate little milk bottle. There is no assumption that just because I have ordered a yoghurt-based muesli I do not also want to loosen things up with a sneaky drop of milk. I definitely wanted to loosen things up with a sneaky drop of milk so this gets major ticks from me.

If the experience of eating something could be expressed as an average I would have to say that for this muesli x̄ = pleasant. A highlight was the fruit; the addition of raspberries as the main berry attraction was a lovely, tart surprise (I always expect strawberries, which I like, but am bored with) and there were chewy chunks of date throughout that I enjoyed. There were also little black seeds involved that I’m not sure I could taste but my eyes liked them being there so that was enough. However, apart from the fruit the yoghurt and muesli itself were not particularly flavoursome. The yoghurt wasn’t too sweet which is a plus, but it also didn’t have a distinctive presence in the meal (excuse me while I finish my wank…). The oats were crunchy but seemed to be present mainly to bulk out the yoghurt and fruit.

I enjoyed my breakfast at La Miel Et La Lune and will return, but I think I’ll try something other than the muesli. Don’t mis(smuesli)understand me, I liked it well enough but that might be due in equal parts not only to the pleasant taste, but also the comfortable atmosphere and good company.

Final Word: You should try this muesli, especially if you do not feel like having your mind blown that morning but still want cereal for breakfast.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!

MM

LE MIEL et la lune on Urbanspoon