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

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Home Made Special: Schmoosli

For this review I was delighted to receive two sample packets of muesli from the kind ladies at Schmoosli – I do enjoy a good neologism, I wonder what it means. Schmooth (sic) muesli? School Muesli? Or perhaps something altogether different, an allusion to a German heritage? Regardless, my mouth pleasantly itches as I sit here alone trying to say it out loud in different ways, happily, and no doubt to anyone listening – creepily – procrastinating instead of all the study I should be doing.

Muesli 1: Rupert Gets Ripped
This was the first time that I embarked on the muesli-making process for myself, following the recipe that I as yet had only observed. You can imagine the adrenaline wreaking havoc on the normal steadiness of my hands as I poured the muesli from its packet into a bowl, tremulously grated apple (first casualty of doing things myself: a fingernail I grated into) and then saturated with milk to soak overnight. And a restless night it was, I tossed and turned with the anticipation of what morning would bring – had I, like Frankenstein, created a monster? Would my monster be tasty? So many questions – here is the visual part of the answer:

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Ok, so my attempt at the compote looks somewhat reminiscent of placenta – but lets not taint this muesli with the brush of afterbirth before tasting it. To start off, the Rupert Gets Ripped has a natural, very oaty taste which is enhanced by the barley that is also a key ingredient. I enjoyed that the oats were such a focus of this muesli as this is not often the case with premixed varieties, however I felt that there were not enough nuts or seeds to give this muesli a boost. The ease of preparation was somewhat tainted by my just wanting a bit more crunch to this breakfast.
Overall, Rupert is a solid muesli but, like many strong, silent types – a little bland for my tastes.

Muesli 2: Heidi Gets High
The next day I turned my attention to Heidi Gets High – how whimsical and a bit risqué. I had an easier time of the muesli making process second time round in that I emerged with all of my fingernails intact. Here is the product of my process:

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Thats looking a bit better! I was encouraged to see seeds and sultanas nestled cosily amongst the oats and I was not disappointed. Every bite seemed to contain a new texture, from crunchy almond to al dente dried apple and apricot always on a dense background of cool, mushy oats. The flavour of the day here was cinnamon which is a perfect breakfast spice. And doughnut spice – but lets not get sidetracked. I was also excited to see what appeared to be chunks of bran. Oh bran! It’s not a sexy cereal, but me and my gastrointestinal tract love it. Heidi won me over with with her spicy charm and sensible penchant for bran. This was a flavoursome and healthy-tasting muesli.

(Mostly) Good Muesli, Melbourne!

MM

Home Made Special: Coles Rolled Oats

I admit that I am going back in time for this Coles oats review, back nigh on one month ago at the conception of the idea that I would sporadically dedicate a portion of the 45 minutes between waking up and leaving for uni to sampling supermarket muesli.

To my horror, this particular morning I was required to leave the safety of the Parkville precinct and venture out to the Austin Hospital for lectures – for those who do not know, this hospital is in Heidleberg, which might as well be the moon – arriving by 8am. Luckily, I am in the favour of Ms Cherry Capone who is a regular around those parts and was happy to not only be my driver (Cherry Capone, chaperone!) but also to make me her brand of muesli. And by her brand I mean Coles brand.

I arrived damply at the residence of Ms Capone at the kind hour of 6:30am where I was welcomed warmly with tea and promptly shown how to make muesli. I dazzled as she created a compote on the stovetop (and sighed inwardly and outwardly with relief when she said I could do this in the microwave) and marvelled at her stores of oats, seeds and nuts. Truly this was a home muesli paradise. The result of this domestic magic was is as follows:

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Already I knew I was in for  treat with the nutritive apple peel peeking out so boldly there next to a berry. As this was the first well-prepared homemade muesli I had ever eaten (yes, any previous home encounters simply involved drenching it in milk like common Cornflakes), I was taken aback by the sheer oatiness of it all. It is lucky for me that, unlike for wine or olives, my palate delights at the earthiness of oats and so I very much enjoyed them not being masked by the sweetness of honey. It is testament to Ms Capone to say this muesli was bursting with seeds and almonds, which really highlights the value in buying unadulterated oats – you can control the concentrations of all the other fun ingredients. Additionally, the homemade berry compote added a dash of colour and sweetness that I will endeavour to imitate in my future muesli.

For being cheap and unapologetically oaty, the Coles oats were a success. Perhaps this was in part due to the luxury of having this muesli made by – and then eaten with – a friend,  but I would definitely buy these for myself. There is also the added bonus of being able to use Coles oats in biscuits and slices – such versatility can only be a plus!

Good Muesli, Melbourne!

MM

Home Made Special: Launched!

Disclaimer: I should begin this cereal adventure by stating that, in what is perhaps my greatest achievement to date, the oats used in this production were not paid for. I will endeavour to review them objectively, however even the cold mistress of reason will find it difficult to temper the glow that comes from eating free food!

My aim here is to compare some of the muesli that can be  made in the comfort of the home. This is not something that I was able to do on a whim, it required careful planning and preparation as before starting this journey I had little idea of how to make muesli, with my regular breakfast involving little more than scrunching two to three weetbix into a bowl and cutting banana over them.

To appease my science brain and leave as little room for confusion on my part, I will be making each breakfast using the same method, passed down to me one cold Autumn morning by the lovely Cherry Capone (more on that in the Coles oat review):

Miss Muesli’s (Borrowed and Adapted) Method for Making Muesli:

Ingredients:

–       Rolled oats or muesli

–       Granny Smith Apple

–       Unsweetened natural yoghurt

–       Frozen berries

–       A spoonful of sugar

–       Sunflower seeds, almonds (optional, to be used if muesli does not already contain them)

Method:

1. Before Bed: Lovingly transfer a serve (your discretion) of oats or  premixed muesli into your favourite breakfast bowl. Immerse in milk until just saturated. I like skim milk as I find the wateriness refreshing.
Note: if your muesli will be based on rolled oats alone, mix with seeds and nuts before dousing with milk.
Apply your Granny Smith to a sharp grater and go to town on it. You can peel the apple beforehand however you will be missing out on the tart chewy texture, and also some vitamins. I do not recommend depriving yourself of these. Mix the slivers through your soaking muesli.
Cover with Glad Wrap (or Aldi equivalent) and put in the fridge to incubate overnight.

2. Upon waking: Take a shower. Muesli is best appreciated when both ingredients and consumer are fresh.

3. Take some frozen berries (again, your discretion but overdo at your own peril – these are a garnish and not the main event!) and mix with a sensible amount of sugar in a microwave proof vessel. Cover to avoid splatter and the cook with the awesome power of micro-waves on high for approximately 45 seconds. Mix the resultant hot, soft mush and voila! Berry compote.
Note: If you have time and are so inclined, or if you do not have a microwave (the horror), this can be done over lowish heat on the stove.

4. Reverently remove the matured muesli from the fridge and peel off the plastic (you will not be able to proceed with breakfast unless you do this). Dollop yoghurt on top and garnish with your steaming compote.

5. Take your favourite spoon (see below) and use it to enjoy your homemade muesli.

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Await now with bated breath the coming set of home grown reviews!

(Anticipating) Good Muesli, Melbourne!

MM

Wide Open Road: This Muesli is Going Places!

Sydney road and its tributaries are lush with interesting places to eat, instead of with any sort of natural foliage (interesting given the tree-lined beauty that is its continuation, Royal Parade). Traffic flows sluggishly through this Brunswick artery, hardened with concrete on all sides bar the sky – which on this particular Sunday morning was a warm Autumn blue and happily not yet the steely grey that will set the tone for the coming months. Understand that I say all of this with the wan fondness bred from a life of habitation and there is nowhere in Melbourne that I would rather live!

Anyway, this discourse on Sydney Road is slightly tangential as the place I was taken for breakfast – Wide Open Road – is on Barkly Street opposite Barkly Square (soon to proudly house a JB-HiFi!). Wide Open Road is a light-brick building that looms large over the footpath. This stark exterior belies an indoors that I did not, in one of my recent posts, quite believe existed – I had  serendipitously found myself in a cosy warehouse! What has led me to make this grand statement? One word: terrariums. Plural. Wide Open Road is decorated by terrariums large and small, of all shapes and sizes – but mostly spheres and rectangular prisms. Flourishing in the soil of these microcosmic ecosystems were reedy-looking plants, leafy-looking plants and cacti. I’m really not a green thumb, but a I am a green eye in that I like seeing other people’s healthy flora. I also found plants peeping endearingly out behind wall columns that would have otherwise been bare and uninviting. Wide Open Road has (photo)synthesised nature with the industrial feel of impressive metallic, spherical ceiling lights that hang over dark fabric booths and the fans that whir lazily overhead to create a dynamic and interesting space for dining. I did manage to stop overanalysing my surroundings for long enough to ask the harried waitress for:

Bircher muesli with stone fruit compote and oat crumble

Whenever I see the word ‘compote’ I think of mafiosos in pinstripe suits, my silly association cortex has linked it irreversibly to ‘Capone’ I suppose. Old timey gang leaders aside, the muesli looked as follows:

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What a dark and mysterious muesli this is! After some of the garish offerings I have witnessed of late I was glad to see this dusky dish appear in front of me. The thing that immediately set the Wide Open Road muesli apart from the rest was the roasted nut and oat crumble lavishly strewn over it. I was particularly pleased to find cashew nuts nestled within the mix adding their smokey creaminess to the dish and giving it the feel of a guilty pleasure rather than a wholesome breakfast – I can never resist a naughty cashew or twenty. The crunchiness of the crumble almost managed to overshadow the other accompaniment to this muesli, the compote. With the help of Ms Sourdough I was able to determine that it was most likely plum that, thanks to the internet, I can say was masterfully stewed in syrup or sugar (that is, compoted) to the point of soft fleshy semi-resistance. Furthermore, the natural yogurt was tart and dense with a smorgasbord of seeds, namely sunflower and poppy, along with oats, grated apple and an odd sneaky dried apple piece that would give the lucky mouthful a delicious leathery chewiness. The Wide Open Road muesli was packed with flavour and texture, and left me so full that I later turned down free samples of who-knows-what-but-normally-I’d-have-three being handed out in the aisles of Barkly Square Coles. That is just about the highest honour a muesli can earn.

Overall: Do not drive to Wide Open Road as this is an ironic name given its proximity to the very congested Sydney road. Rather, find any other means of transport to take yourself to this cosy warehouse and insist upon the muesli – you will not eat until lunch.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!

MM

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