Tall Timber: Felling Breakfast Prejudices

I really should stop ragging on the breakfast institutions South of the Yarra, given the few that I have been to have all pleased my palate. WRONG! What a seductive trap to fall into, that of drawing conclusions from a small sample size. It would be all too easy to relinquish my inborn suspicion of how the other half live, to think that perhaps there is character and heart behind the fripperies of Chapel Street and Toorak Road et al., based on the three or so lovely little South-Side venues I have visited. Yet until I have extensively sampled the offerings over the bridge, I cannot confidently test the hypothesis that perhaps my dismissal of that area as a cultural wasteland is hasty (and bigoted). The selection bias of only going places that my companions know to be “good” isn’t helping with the validity of this study, but who wants to pay for a crummy meal at an inconvenient end of town?

This particular morning I hopped on my bike and cycled a lazy 10km (!!) to meet the industrious Chic Pea before she started work. The effort of this was mitigated by it being a delightful morning for a ride, with the sun prickling my near-translucent skin for the first time in months. We visited Tall Timber, any airy establishment East of the Alfred Hospital on Commercial Road. Communal dining and dogs seemed to be encouraged in the outdoor area, both of which I am a little iffy on. What I have no problems with, however, is going straight for the:

House Bircher Muesli: Vanilla + cinnamon pear, pistacchio crumble + rose syrup

Here is what all of that added up to (because there were a few addition signs in the menu, you see):

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Well, they certainly delivered on the pear part of the equation. In fact, it seems that having a big, throbbing pear centrepiece is a bit trendy at the moment. Anyway, this was an actual feast as well as a visual feast. As I journeyed through this Garden of (about to be) Eaten, I encountered sweet, moist oats balanced by the crunch of savoury pistachio and micro-herbage. I gladly consumed the apple of this garden, not offered whole by a serpent, but Julienned by the equally dangerous South of the Yarra chef. I subsequently cast aside the flowers, placed, no doubt, for my modesty (after eating one, how transgressive) and fully succumbed to this Original Sin, the sin of now considering travelling Southside of my own volition to re-experience this muesli, and of recommending that others do so.

Final Word: Go! Cast aside your prejudice and taste the fruit of Tall Timber, and the muesli while you’re at it.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!

-MM

Tall Timber Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Miss Muesli in the Sticks: Wimmera Round-Up

For the last month or so I have been living the country life in Horsham, Australia’s tidiest town in 2001. Things really are pretty tidy for me here; I’m living next to my place of work and when I’m not working everything I need is a mere brisk walk away – the gym, the cinema, fried pumpkin cakes at the local fish and chip shop. The sky is tidy too, it is so refreshing to look up at night and be greeted by the Milky Way, wave hello to Orion and chuckle at the Moon. Yep, that old Moon is quite the joker; he keeps me from going stir-crazy while I’m away from Baby Chino and the rest of my life. Ahem.

Anyway, to fully experience life out on the frontier, I have endeavoured to visit some cafes and bravely order the muesli. What follows is my account of the state of Wimmera cereal in 2015.

Café Jas – 37 Robert’s Place, Horsham

 Café Jas is convenient because it is right opposite Coles, a locale that I visit almost daily due to not being disciplined enough to plan to have enough food when I need it. It is deceptively large inside, with a clean, simple dining décor and almost no pretensions. I say almost none, because there is a stock of T2 products at one end that looks suspiciously upmarket, and gives the place not quite an air of sophistication. So what I’m saying is by Horsham standards Café Jas is a bit pretentious. It is accordingly expensive, and table service is not included in that bill, which I shouldn’t complain about but it sure makes ordering stressful. Only joking, ordering is never stressful when you know you want:

The muesli, please.

Here is what that was quite literally translated into:

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Simple fare. No, there were not any fruit hiding under those oats unless you count a few tiny sultana afterthoughts. There were more oats hiding under those oats, some bran for good measure and the obligatory raw nut for crunch. The beige-ness of this meal was startling, there is something to be said for a touch of brown cinnamon, a dash of pink strawberry or green kiwi fruit. The yoghurt was a thick, creamy vanilla which suited the plain muesli well. I would recommend this muesli if you are in the days following a bout of gastroenteritis, and are starting to get sick of buttered toast.

Cafe Jas on Urbanspoon

Natimuk Café – Natimuk

I must admit the visit to this dear little shop along the main street of Natimuk, a tiny town about 20 minutes out of Horsham, was a blur as my night-shift addled brain was screaming for sleep on an impossibly bright and cheery morning. I refrained from screaming in person and was thus able to join waking society and sit for a pleasant breakfast with my colleagues, who at that time were also creatures of the night. Natimuk Café is colourful and eclectic. The computer used to take orders is embedded in a large rock, there are postcards and drawing adorning the walls, as well as corrugated iron in parts. Shelves stacked with nick-nacks are seemingly everywhere and are illuminated by light streaming in from the large front windows. It is a homely institution and the staff are warm and friendly.

Although I had been eating dinner at 5am for the past few days, I thought I’d treat myself and still give the muesli a try:

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Like the muesli of Café Jas, this was quite a plain breakfast with little in the way of garnish or spice. However the Natimuk muesli wins over by virtue of a sliced banana and natural yoghurt mixed with honey on the side. I suppose the bar wasn’t set particularly high, but it also had small slivers of desiccated coconut and prisms of dried fruit so that excited me. There wasn’t much to this muesli, but it tasted fresh and contained some actual fruit so it was the best I had had so far. If you do find yourself in Natimuk, bypass the muesli and grab a big slice of one of their cakes and use it as energy to go on to climb Mt Arapilies (or as a reward for doing so).

Natimuk Cafe on Urbanspoon

Chic Pea – Pysnet Street, Horsham 

You can take the strong, independent woman out of Melbourne but you cannot take the expectation for quaint, homely chic out of the said empowered adult. Basically, Chic Pea is as close to home as it gets; light timber furnishings, water in glass vessels of various shapes and sizes, pastel walls and even a wall papered with simulated raw bricks. There are various locally made jams, chutneys and preserves for sale, and the staff wear a uniform of jeans, casual shoes and country-cool. Like Melbourne, men with beards are frequently spotted lining up for coffee; unlike Melbourne this hair alights the ruddy faces of farmers, whose hands are large and calloused, and whose utes are muddy and filled with tools and whatever else people use to run farms – border collies?

I unashamedly love Chic Pea, and have been known to visit twice in one day, and five times one particular week. The problem is that muesli is not a fixture here! They did, for some reason, make it especially for Mother’s Day which I scoped out when I dropped in, motherless, to grab a coffee. Luckily, Lady Grey came to visit the day after and I eagerly asked after the muesli I saw on display the day before. The staff said they had some left over and, no doubt seeing the look of desperation and longing in my eyes, humoured me:

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Serving it in a jar – why, oh why? This level of impracticality, however only endeared Chic Pea to me further as really going for it in terms of trying to create a hip café vibe, in a place where no such vibe previously existed. This breakfast was packed with juice-soaked oats, bran and puffed rice which created a solid cereal vehicle for cranberries, plump sultanas and pepitas. Finally, fruit, glorious fruit! The strawberries and kiwi fruit quickly disappeared to reveal pear nestled cosily amongst the oats. Alongside this was something that Lady Grey told me was candied citrus peel. Maybe it’s a rural thing, but the peel was just too peely so after a few chews I daintily spit it aside. Apart from the inedible faux-pas, the Chic Pea Mother’s Day muesli leftovers were the best I have had in my two months away from home.

Cafe Chick Pea on Urbanspoon

Comfort Inn – Firebrace Street, Horsham

I have spent an inordinate amount of time at the Comfort Inn during my stay in Horsham. I visited there two consecutive weekends, the first with Lady Grey who I suspect booked a room with two beds to enable me to stay with her so she could hear my night-time “snuffling”. That would be cute, however she also remarked I managed to form the shape of a double-decker bus under the covers. Not a single-decker, but a double one. Thanks for the self-esteem boost, mum. The very next weekend Ms Sourdough happened by and decided to also stay at this motel. No second bed this time, so it was an evening of football, knitting and then a sleepy drive back to my own temporary accommodation with the promise of a continental breakfast to entice me to return the next day.

The Comfort Inn dining room was functional, and had an unnervingly large, well-placed mirror wall that initially succeeded in tricking me into thinking I was in a much larger space. The real space contained an array of pastries, fruits and cereal which included the:

 Home Made Bircher Muesli

Excited to see that the Comfort Inn bother to soak their oats, I bypassed the croissants and eagerly scooped some of the wet breakfast-goop into my bowl, then topped it with pear and the fruit salad that sat nearby.

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So moist! It was refreshing find a wet cereal after weeks of the dry stuff. My compliments go to the Comfort Inn for taking the concept of a continental breakfast seriously and giving their oats the Swiss treatment. Juice-soaked and mixed with yoghurt, my teeth tingled with the excitement of having to do little work to transform this mush into something swallowable. Instead I got to enjoy the soft, grainy texture with the rest of my mouth. A pleasant surprise! This did not, however, prevent me from ordering pancakes and then eating a jam crumpet. It was a buffet breakfast, after all.

Final word: There are many reasons to make a tree-change and live in the country, none of which should rationally include the expectation for better breakfast food. Come to Horsham and the surrounds for the long walks in the bush, the climbs up various large rock formations and the unadulterated (unless you count the atmosphere) view of the stars. If you want a warm cafe experience, my recommendations would be Chic Pea or the Natimuk Cafe – both have tasty coffee and cake; if only Chic Pea did regular muesli!

Room for oaty improvement, Wimmera!

-MM

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 its 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

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

Mixed Business: Muesli Good Enough to Buy Shares In

My return to the Melbourne breakfast scene took me to a part of Clifton Hill that was both familiar and strange to me, depending on which side of Queens Parade we look at. The familiar aspect of this northern arterial road lies to the East in the form of the bizarrely architectural Clifton Hill McDonalds (I do love art deco, and a sneaky caramel sundae). The Clifton Hill Mac drive-thru and car park has served as the setting for at least two firsts for me – my first desperate car-knock for jumper leads to start a flat battery caused by eating sundaes with the headlights and radio on; and my first encounter with a brothel (to eat, we always park out the front of Scarlet Lady or “Scarly”, the other den of iniquity apart from the McDonalds). I had so far overlooked the West side of Queens Parade as it tends to go by in a blur of frantic U-turning across this busy road in order to make it back home. Having the opportunity to actually walk on this side of the road revealed a pleasant strip characterised by many bikes, a quaint little florist and Mixed Business, the cafe where I was meeting the world-beating Madame Macchiato for a final breakfast before she jets off to study disease in a foreign land.

Mixed Business has a clean, raw retro feel. The decor appealed to the obsessive in me with a pervasive neatness in the arrangement of the crockery, baskets and cafe knick-knacks on the simple timber shelving adorning the wall behind the counter. Even the plants had a simple neatness of growth and arrangement that made my brain very pleased to look at (and some people call me highly strung – I don’t see it). Finally, and I don’t often mention this, but the staff were as warm and friendly as a sunflower tablecloth (which was not present here, probably for the best – too much of a good thing etc etc).

Excited by the prospect of breakfast in friendly surrounds I ordered:

House muesli with strawberries in rose water syrup, honey yoghurt and pistachios

My hopes high, and with the promise of a quality dish by Mme Macchiato from past experience, I eagerly received this menu-reality:

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The almost UFO-sighting quality of this image belies the excellence of what my eyes actually registered (though this is less blurry than what my unaided vision would have picked up so let’s just say I was trying to convey “frustration of myopia” with this one). You don’t need 20/20 vision, however, to appreciate the deliciousness of this muesli. Mixed Business have got it right, from the creamy yoghurt used as a medium to convey a subtle hint of rosewater and honey sweetness into the power combination of pistachios, coconut and oats. The strawberries add a refreshing coolness and berry-ness to the mix that complimented the heavier smokiness of the nuts. And as you can see, Mixed Business did not skimp on the nuts which to me conveys a customer-care at a level beyond friendly service. The staff can be as accommodating as can be, but if at the end of the day my mouth has been largely devoid of nuts, I will be going home disappointed (a mentality that surely must be shared by patrons of one of the above-mentioned establishments).  To top it off, having the liberty of tailoring the viscosity of the muesli with a separate milk jug is a thoughtful addition to this breakfast experience.

Final Word: Queens Parade has much more to offer than the late night Maccas run. Wake up, walk to the other side of the road and have the good people at Mixed Business fix you this muesli. Caution: they do not have a drive-thru, so you will have to wear pants.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!

-MM
Mixed Business on Urbanspoon

Baby Chino Guest Review: Vyve Cafe and Restaurant

Note: This is a guest review by Baby Chino, who was left behind while I visited Canberra. The grumpy views posted here are his alone. He wanted the title of the post to be: Café Vyve – A Real Muesli Review as No One Really Likes Miss Muesli (Especially Her Terrible Titles). Rude.

While Miss Muesli is traitorously eating muesli in Canberra, it’s time for a real assessment of the state of Melbourne muesli. Turning a scheduled service of a lemon of a Suzuki car named Coco into a family affair, Madam Marmalade (?), Lady Sourdough (??) and I decided to eat breakfast in a café named Vyve in Heidelberg somewhere (possibly…I think…it was near the Austin Hospital at least). The café was pretty nice and we were able to sit in the back that looks up over a green tree-y area and see the trains on the Hurstbridge line go past, so pretty nice. The servers were nice and inoffensive (as they should be), however a family with small screaming children arrived (a chronic problem in Melbourne cafes), scowling I ordered:

Vyve Bircher Platter: Bircher muesli, seasonal fruit salad, organic handmade crumpets with your choice of spread

This is what I got:

David muesli

First off, as no one really like fruit, I palmed off the salad as quick as I could, I mean who wants to eat a fruit salad for breakfast? Secondly, not being asked what spread I wanted (tut tut), I was given honey for my crumpets, which looked a bit pale compared to the lovely orange of Golden’s Crumpets we all prefer (that’s ‘organic handmade’ stuff for you). The muesli was presented in a little salsa jar, which I have to admit was pretty novel (however as I think back on it, what audacity they have for making me open the jar lid myself). Smearing the on honey and eating the crumpets, I found them to be pretty good, if a little dry. As for the muesli itself, it was wet with some sultanas and almonds mixed in, which to be honest, was a little bland, so for better or worse I poured my remaining honey into the muesli. The honey added a sweetness to the sour lemony taste of the muesli, which I finished eating as the others ate whatever it was they had ordered. All in all, I guess the muesli was alright but I, like everyone under the age of 60, don’t really like muesli anyway.

– BC

Vyve Cafe & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

The Elk and Pea: Muesli Worth Enduring the Current Government For

This weekend I found myself driving to Canberra with Madam Macchiato to visit the beautiful (but deadly) Kommandant Kale, who has left Melbourne to answer the noble call of public service. Initially, while I was very happy for my dear friend, I not-so-secretly thought that she was in for a boring and depressing year in our nation’s capital. This was based on nothing but the general disdain that Melbournians tend to have for anywhere more than 15km out from the CBD (unless we are talking about “the beach”, which we just loooove with a self-righteous air of ownership). My view changed on Saturday morning, however, as seeing the capital for the first time in the light (the drive was awfully long – we arrived in the dark) I realised that it is a gorgeous garden city! With the impending upheaval of Royal Park to make way for the East-West link, this was a revelation as I have now found a city that is a essentially giant park with buildings scattered amongst it all to escape to. I could live in Canberra! Whew, I said it.

We chose The Elk and Pea on the safely-named Lonsdale Street in somewhere called Braddon for our first venture – which was, I’m ashamed to say, a brunch. The intermediary meal of brunch throws me off-kilter for the day, punishment for waking up after 9am I suppose. We arrived and were shocked to be asked if we had a booking. Booking for brunch? What did they think they were, the Langham Hotel? The wait staff apologetically asked us to share a table with others outside, which was an unnecessary sentiment as there was an abundance of space on said table – if this was Melbourne there would have been four tables crammed into the space allocated for this one. Refreshing. In terms of decor, I can only comment on the table cloth, which made me quite happy as it carried a cheery sunflower pattern. Otherwise, it was nice to have a quiet, unhurried meal in the middle of a capital city.

Without further ado I will get to the main event which involved me ordering:

Bircher Muesli: Coconut and cinnamon infused muesli, poached pear compote, toasted nuts

Wondering in error how one solid (oats) could be physically be infused with another (coconut), I eagerly received this dish as an answer:

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The pear is arranged like Parliament! Sort of – they probably realised that they couldn’t get away with only having four slices of pear as a garnish. And by probably realised, I mean that I have concocted that story about this muesli with a tourist’s excitement. The first mouthful of this dish revealed a deliciously tart puree that tasted more like passionfruit than pear, but I’m not picky as it was excellent. The cinnamon was generously present here, complimenting the stately, crisp pear perfectly and giving the plump, moist oats a comfort kick. The crunchy toasted almonds and coconut contrasted nicely with the oats and chewy sultanas strewn throughout this dish. This is a powerful breakfast, one that could win elections, pass bills and do other confident political acts. Basically, I enjoyed this muesli so much that I would let it brainwash me – how dangerously alluring and absurd!

Final word: The Elk and Pea have defied all expectations and delivered one of the best muesli that I have eaten so far. For those that live in Canberra, make a booking (weird) and demand this dish. For those in Melbourne, don’t drive up to Canberra, fly, then brave your disdain for all places ‘other’ and just order the muesli.

Good Muesli, Canberra!

-MM

The Elk & Pea on Urbanspoon

Two on Rathdowne: One Solid Muesli

It is time to rouse Miss Muesli from her end of year, stress-induced coma and stop talking about her in the third person. The first step on this journey toward muesli rejuvenation was to accept a surprising and uncharacteristic breakfast offer from Mr Tea, on the proviso that he would not have to choose the location and that he be picked up and driven there. Dads are great.

So on a clear Summer morning, we visited Rathdowne Street. This would have to be one of my favourite streets in Melbourne, with its terrace houses and small shop-fronts bathed in dappled sunlight filtered through the giant trees – no urban heat islands to be found here. Our destination was a cafe called Two on Rathdowne, adjacent to Macpherson Street. Inside were tables displaying bits-and-bobs for sale, things that would make a place feel homely (which succeeded for the cafe) but are likely to be otherwise useless (which would not deter me). Also of note are the quaint hanging birdcage lights, which emit somewhat of a harsh glow so I would advise not to stare at them for too long.

Cutting to the chase, I stayed true to form and ordered the:

Muesli, please

Of course the menu described it in more detail, but this was my first review for a long time and I forgot to make a note. I hoped the muesli would not be as rusty as I am:

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Nothing excites me more than a brown-tinged breakfast. To me, that signals that spices are afoot and although I do not have the palate to confidently distinguish between them, I always have a taste-tester on hand to tell me what exactly it is that I’m enjoying. I guess in that way I’m sort of the opposite of a paranoid Queen, in that I earnestly hoe in to whatever I’m presented with and only later do I try and work out what any peculiar (but rarely poisonous) taste may be. In this case the spice that could be identified was ‘juice’. Yes, these were sweet, juice-soaked oats offset nicely by the tartness of the poached raspberries and blueberries. The addition of sesame seeds, poppy seeds and sultanas gave this muesli a pleasing chewy texture and an earthiness that is a welcome addition to any oat dish. With this, Two on Rathdowne have created a solid, but not particularly remarkable muesli.

Final Word: Have this muesli for breakfast if you would like a cool sweet treat to escape from the (ridiculously) warm Summer-morning sun.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!

-MM

Two on Rathdowne on Urbanspoon