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

Home Made Special: Carman’s Muesli

I have to open this post with an apology to Carman’s:

I’m sorry this post is a year late. Basically, after my phone met its demise (with my unwitting help) my reviews were lost and I drowned my sorrows in the many varieties of muesli that you generously sent me. This has weighed heavily on my conscience and so recently, when it was on sale at Coles, I bought your muesli to re-review. Hopefully this can smooth over the awkwardness that I imagine exists between us.

Whew. Now I know why people go to confession – conscience clear! Let’s now turn to the muesli:

Carman’s Fruit and Nut:

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Look at it all, nestling snugly within the cool embrace of my second-favourite bowl. This muesli was generously endowed with nuts (ahem, almonds and hazelnuts) which provided big crunches subtly accompanied by smaller crunches of sesame seeds. This textural fiesta was also attended by sultanas and dried fruit pieces which erupted in a satisfying squish of cinnamon and slight sweetness with each bite – flavours that I think were enhanced by the overnight soaking process. I would recommend adding banana to this muesli as the cinnamon tinged oats complement banana perfectly. A great muesli!

Carman’s Gluten Free: 

Unlike those of  an increasingly visible subset of the population, the immune cells in my small intestine have no problem with the proteins that make up gluten and so I exist mostly in a bubble of my wheat-enriched existence. Sometimes, however, I am enticed to try the offerings of the gluten free world (the little muffins they give you at the blood bank are great!), such as Carman’s gluten free muesli. The best part of this muesli were the chewy bursts of sweetness provided by the sultanas imbued with the vanilla-cinnamon flavour that I feel is a Carman’s hallmark. The rest was a little stodgy to be honest; I’m not sure that the barely or corn puffs hold up well being soaked overnight. It must be difficult making a gluten free cereal and I think there is still a little bit of work to be done here.

Carman’s Fruit Free:

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Why would anyone want to exclude fruit from muesli?! This is a strange concept, however my inquisitive mind would not let me pass this by (also it was initially free). To stay true to the theme I excluded grated apple and the berries or banana that would normally perch atop my yoghurt. The abundance of hazelnuts and sesame seeds gave this muesli an impressive crunchiness, and the cinnamon overtones added an autumnal feel to the breakfast. While I enjoyed the richness of the flavoured oats, in the end I could not get over the lack of fruit – it’s like driving without music, enjoyable but no one is singing and taking it to next-level happiness. What I would like to do instead is use this muesli to make muffins, or stuff some in an apple and bake it. Actually, being fruit-free might make this a very versatile muesli!

Carman’s Bircher:

The bircher offering was surprisingly light on the Carman’s vanilla-cinnamonness, which actually made for a refreshing breakfast. The almonds, sultanas and apricots in particular added the majority of the non-oat component of taste. I enjoyed the raw oatiness of this muesli, however, as it is nice to revel in clean simplicity once in a while. I realised that I was enjoying the fruit that I added more, which could have something to do with me daringly adding both banana and frozen blueberries. Sometimes I surprise myself with how edgy my breakfasts can get. Carman’s bircher is a basic, utility muesli to be eaten on a regular day (or perhaps after a bout of tummy-trouble, as a means to wean off dry toast).

Final word: Carman’s provides a wide range of muesli that aims to suit everyone from fruit-haters to wheat-avoiders. Do not follow my example and wait until you find yourself in a perfect storm of guilt and thriftiness to try the fruit and nut muesli (in particular) as it is a store-muesli marvel.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!

-MM

Home Made Special: RAD Muesli

To finally finish my intrepid dissertation on the oats of Canberra I turn now to home made muesli. Straight after the lacklustre offering of Mocan & Green Grout, my lovely companions and I headed to something called the Old Bus Depot market for some good old fashion money spending. Apart from buying this very thoughtful present for Baby Chino:

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I also set out to taste what was on offer food-wise. I was not disappointed as this market had such an abundance of free samples, I almost didn’t know where to start. Naturally, I went straight for the…sausage. Then, after trying at least 6 different types of sausage and realising that there was no way I was going to get any of them home to Melbourne without generating the accompanying Botulinium toxin, I came across a muesli stall so cheery (and orange) that my spirits were instantly lifted. The vendor here was an honest-faced guy who was so keen about muesli that when I mentioned my modest reviewing endeavours he immediately offered me a jar of his RAD Muesli. I was heartened by his generosity, and it cemented for me how enamoured I feel about Canberra – free muesli will do that to a girl.

So here is a picture of the (now mostly eaten) jar of muesli he gave me:

And here is a few pictures of what I made out of it:

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This muesli looks a bit different than my other home made efforts, because I have discovered that I like eating frozen blueberries and will unapologetically do so at any chance. This was a great, wholesome muesli. What immediately struck me was the nuttiness of it, with macadamias (what a treat!), whole walnuts (no shells, a plus) and a satisfying density of seeds. The puffs of barley in amongst the oats gave a richer, grainy taste. There was a hint of sweetness added by the coconut and dried fruit, but this was in no way overbearing and would allow for the breakfaster to tailor the sugar content to their liking. I like it low (but that depends on how much sugar is in frozen blueberries), and so this felt like a very raw, healthy way to start the day!

Final Word: RAD muesli is pretty special, and not just because I got it for free (thanks, Protia-man!). If you live in Canberra and are feeling like a Sunday market trip, visit the orange stall at the Old Bus Depot (you can’t miss it) and treat yourself to a jar of this muesli. If you live elsewhere and earn enough money to not care about shipping costs – give it a try.

Good Muesli, Canberra!

-MM

Wide Open Road: Muesli Revisited

Firstly, it has been way too long between muesli.

Secondly, this is due to the double-whammy of being busy doing things that do not involve me eating oats (if only I were a horse, that would go a ways to solving that problem), and the fact that I destroyed my phone a couple of weeks ago. After being annoyed that all my contacts and text messages were gone, my heart sunk as I realised that recent muesli-related notes and pictures were also lost!

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My reaction to all of this was to mope. Oh how satisfying it is to balefully stare at the non-smart (dumb) backup phone that was kindly given to me by Lady Grey, while trying to tap the non-touch screen to make a call. I revelled in the martyrdom of techno-poverty that had been thrust upon me (by my clumsiness). Boy, I am the worst. Safe to say I got over it once Chic Pea took pity on me and lent me a phone without too many buttons.

Anyway, I returned to Wide Open Road with two wise-men; Monsieur Croque and The Burgermeister, for a cheeky Friday morning breakfast. Happily there was a new muesli on offer:

Date and coconut Bircher muesli with strawberry banana jam and almond clusters

What a mouthful. Let’s see what it looked like before I scooped it up:

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Wide Open Road definitely makes muesli with a rugged, woodsy look. It is with utmost affection that I compare the aesthetic of the jam and toasted almond topping with tanbark in its earthy familiarity – you could almost imagine furnishing a children’s playground with it. Most importantly, this was a delicious muesli. The crunchy almond crumble perfectly complemented the creamy texture of the oats and yoghurt, and chewiness of the dates. The soft chunks of banana in the jam were a nice surprise (although the menu did strongly suggest their presence) in that banana is sadly not often used in cafe muesli. Despite my having it every morning on weetbix, I cannot get enough of breakfast banana. The jam added a sweetness that, even on top of the coconut strewn through this dish, was not overpowering – which is quite a feat. Unlike the previous Wide Open Road muesli, however, I was not particularly full after this meal as I noticed my beady eyes resting on the breakfast-dessert options at the counter. In a rare display of self restraint (directly proportional to having only $15 on me) I refrained, but will certainly return for a coffee and crumble.

Final word: Regardless of the season, Wide Open Road does great muesli. Go there and order it, but bring enough money for a post-brekky treat.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!

-MM

Wide Open Road on Urbanspoon

Small Block: Geometric Muesli

On a semi-recent cold Winter morning, Baby Chino and myself set out for a brisk (but shamefully short) bike ride to Small Block, an unassuming cafe-front at the cool end (my end) of Lygon Street, where we were meeting the indomitable Ms Sourdough and the ever-elusive Doctor Dessert for breakfast.

Small Block plays heavily on a simple maths theme. For those of you who quiver at the site of the quadratic equation, or simply get angry with algebra – this is a safe place. There is a number wall with single digits pleasingly arranged in a tetris-like collage; there is a giant happy-coloured abacus adorning another wall and there are games aplenty for those so inclined to play as they eat. As there would be nothing like a good board-tipping followed by a huffy walkout to spoil a morning out, I refrain from playing games in public so this feature is lost on me. The decor was very sparse and basic, with concrete floors and functional ugly-but-comfy chairs – just what you would expect from a left-brained establishment.

The menu is found on a blackboard on one of the walls, and so I was able to make full use of my updated glasses prescription to ask for:

The bircher muesli, please

The answer to this equation was worked out as follows:

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What a neat pile of muesli. I enjoyed the rays of cinnamon framing the meal like a halo, an appropriate presentation for the glory that is cereal. Speaking of wonderful things, I would have to say the best thing about Winter is rhubarb. I will never stop being pleased to see it and today was no exception – such volume of chunks! The praise, however, does not continue much beyond this superficial level. The Small Block muesli was very light on the oats and heavy on the coconut, resulting in the dish tasting very much like a rhubarb crumble. Now, I am all for breakfast-dessert, but here I was expecting a breakfast-breakfast and so was not loving this dessert-dessert masquerading as muesli. It was all very sweet and crumbly, with sultanas and possibly dates providing some enjoyable chewiness – which is all well and good except I would soon have no teeth to chew with if I continued to eat breakfast with the sort of sugar content that the Small Block muesli seemed to have.

Final Word: If you are not a diabetic (or prepared to increase your insulin dose if you are) and feeling like some yoghurty rhubarb-crumble for breakfast, try the Small Block Muesli. If you value your teeth and pancreas perhaps stick to the eggs.

(Not So) Good Muesli, Melbourne!

-MM

Small Block on Urbanspoon

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