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

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Fifteen Pounds: Lightweight Muesli

My latest breakfast outing saw me venture out by the Hurstbridge Line to visit the new stomping grounds of the lovely Madame Macchiato, in the suburb of Fairfield which is known for its boathouse and proximity to Northcote. I do not mean to suggest with my allusion to the rail that I took the train, as I make a concerted effort to avoid public transport at all costs in preference to the power generated by my lower limbs or – at a similar horsepower – by a borrowed, third-hand Citroen. This is in equal parts due to my being a bit of a cheapskate (this is a muesli and not a ‘big breakfast’ blog after all) and seeming to always have to travel in an East-West direction which is the domain of the cumbersome and unreliable bus service. I seem to be griping about infrastructure lately, I’ll try not to lose sight of what matters here: oats.

Upon arriving at Fifteen Pounds I was immediately struck by how untreated it seemed. The crisp pre-9am sunlight was streaming in through the front window adding a golden glow to the pale timber furnishings. These tables and chairs are of a naturalistic, not obviously varnished style as if they have been simply hammered together freshly hewn. The place has a raw, earthy feel to it which is enhanced by a hanging feature of a tree branch suspending birds alighting on jars, a surreal piece that looks good but on reflection does not make a lick of sense! Perhaps a comment on how close all things in nature are to becoming jam? A sobering thought. Another piece of decor I quite enjoyed was a prominent water tank that contained brightly coloured citrus fruit floating enticingly within. The bright yellow and green made the water seem so clean and inviting – it is this sort of a contraption that could turn children off soft drink and help end the obesity epidemic – or at least that is how optimistic I felt looking at it.

Basking in the glow of water cooler over-significance, I turned my attention to the menu. For the first time in my life, I was prompted to take a menu photo – like a Loch Ness Monster or UFO sighting it was blurry and mostly obscured by the flash but I came away with the evidence of:

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Thats: House Made Bircher w/ apples, carrots, fresh juice, organic yoghurt & berries for those with a cynical eye.

 Carrots! I was intrigued. Lets see what the muesli housing this vegetable interloper came out looking like:

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Instant disappointment! The last thing this hungry Miss wants when she orders breakfast is for it to be served in a quantity able to be artfully arranged in a drinking glass. The first port of call was how to fit the spoon in without creating an Archimedes-in-the-bath type situation – it took uncharacteristic finesse but the incentive of eating generally drives me to complete great feats and so I managed. What I found was a very sweet muesli which was in part due to the overbearing volume of berries and also to the oats having been soaked with juice instead of the usual milk. The juicy taste did trick me into feeling refreshed so that was nice. Upon closer examination I was able to note streaks of orange buried in the mass of yoghurt and berries and I subsequently enjoyed the earthiness that the carrots contributed to the meal. Carrot is such a versatile vegetable – well done, evolution! Despite this foray into root vegetables, Fifteen Pounds did not excite me with this muesli. Berries and sugar stole the show in the end which unfortunately left me feeling unsatisfied, but fortunately prompted me to buy a muffin for the road – which was delicious.

Final word: Do not order the muesli at Fifteen Pounds if you are hungry or are offended by the idea of breakfast in drinking glasses. The cafe is, however, worth a visit if not only to marvel at the water dispenser.

(Not So) Good Muesli, Melbourne!

MM

Fifteen Pounds 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