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:

wpid-20141004_090225.jpg

 

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

Advertisements

Lolo and Wren: An Overwhelming Porridge

I am always glad to discover new pockets of Brunswick – the suburb is like the Mandelbrot sequence, it expands and repeats infinitely on closer inspection. The west end of Albion Street forms the particular permutation of Brunswick that I visited recently with Baby Chino. We were meeting Ms Sourdough and the ever-unpredictable Doctor Dessert to see them off before they embarked on a European road trip – with the most important topic of conversation being my upcoming responsibility over a very determined (possibly more perseverative, as in what can occur following a frontal lobe brain injury), food-obsessed cat.

I was surprised to find that Lolo and Wren sits within a sort of super-apartment-shop-cafe complex that suddenly appears out of the surrounding housing and is itself adjacent to large mounds of dirt. What is going on there? Who knows, but I’m sure this little self-sufficient community has it covered. The cafe itself is very tidy, with the stand out feature being a wall with a teal circular pattern surrounding their quaint bird mascot. I have a newfound appreciation for teal, it is a nice choice to lighten a room and complement whites, greys and brown – colours that Lolo and Wren really goes in for.

Porridge was on my mind that morning and happily Lolo and Wren had it on theirs, too:

Banoffe Porridge: which involves things like banana, crumble and dulce de leche

To do justice to this menu item I should have transcribed what was actually in it, perhaps I dropped the ball, or perhaps I am creating an air of mystery around what “Banoffee” means. I had no idea, and this did not make it any clearer:

wpid-20140608_090444.jpg

What manner of porridge is this? The Greedy-Gert in me rubbed her chubby fingers with glee, while my somewhat artery-conscious brain quivered in horror. This is probably the best example of breakfast dessert I could ever hope to come across. I should have twigged from the name – I was misreading it as “Banhoffe” thinking it was going to be some German twist on porridge (not that I thought Banhoffe meant anything, maybe it was a place?) – “Banoffee”, the internet tells me, is a neologism formed from banana and toffee. Oh boy. The Lolo and Wren porridge was deliciously creamy, with the oats and banana warmly congealed into a delightful chewy mush. The top was a coconutty crumble that was just perfect for reminding me of many a happy dessert-time. Dulche de leche is condensed, sweetened milk and was dolloped on top alongside a date paste. As if this needed more sweetening! Thinking back, it’s rather obscene how much of a comfort food the Banoffee porridge would be – if only I was moping about something at the time! Probably because I was relatively happy I was unable to finish the dish, though not for want of trying. It was overwhelming. I’m feeling full just thinking about it.

Final Word: Burrow your way into the warren that is Brunswick and seek out Lolo and Wren. If you are cold, sad, in need of comfort or just really, really hungry order the Banoffee porridge. Be warned: It will overpower you with comfort if you let it.

Good Porridge, Melbourne!

-MM

Lolo and Wren on Urbanspoon

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:

20140405_152043

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:

20140309_085305

20140309_085533

 

 

 

 

 

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

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:

2014 - 2

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

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!

SAMSUNG

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:

SAMSUNG

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:

20130610_095508

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