Home Made Special: Lord Marmalade’s (thankfully) Marmalade-Free Muesli

One of the best things about being a muesli-blogger is that family and friends alike suddenly come out of the woodwork as being  muesli-makers. It warms my heart to receive portions of their creations, and so I have acquired a small collection of different muesli packaged in ways that causes me to fondly reflect on some of the donor’s idiosyncrasies: tiny jars (meticulous hoarder), old yoghurt containers (pragmatist) and tupperware (trusting, perhaps too much so as they might not ever see this container again). I feel quite privileged!

This morning’s home-made special comes from Lord Marmalade who, despite being my inspiration for ordering “The Works” at Shepparton Pizza Hut the other week, has become a real health food and exercise guru these days. I was very excited to try his muesli which contains things like:

Oats, bran, almond, pepitas, sultanas and pistachios

I soaked it overnight in milk and here is what I was greeted with in the morning:

wpid-20140718_091413.jpg

This was a very raw, earthy muesli which was elevated to gourmet status by a smoky savouriness imparted by the pistachios. The addition of salt is surprisingly pleasing in breakfast dishes, and while I won’t be adding salt to my weetbix any time soon (or will I? Maybe that is what will make weetbix take off as a cafe food!), salt in porridge and muesli (in the form of pistachio) is genius. Despite being soaked overnight, Lord Marmalade’s muesli was resilient to mushiness and instead was densely crunchy, adding a jaw workout to the health benefits of his dish. The only thing I might include in this breakfast next time would be a sprinkle of cinnamon (though would this blend with pistachio?) which would complement the almonds and any added banana.

Final word: If I was giving out stars, this would get 5 gold ones. As I am a star-witholder (anyone who has played Super Mario 64 knows you don’t just hand them out once you find them), I’ll say for those at home: pistachios in your muesli are worth the investment.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!

-MM

Advertisements

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:

20131231_095150-2

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

Miss Marmalade: Muesli Not To Be Missed

After waking in terror last night during a particularly violent thunderstorm, it was fortunate that my nerves were to be soothed this morning by the unique combination the company of Ms Sourdough and muesli. There is nothing like a bowl of oats to fortify the spirit (and to activate the gastrocolic reflex, but as it is not polite to mention this in conversation this important truth is relegated to brackets).

It had been a while since Ms Sourdough and I had managed to align our schedules to facilitate a coveted weekday breakfast and so I wanted to take her somewhere memorable. That place was Miss Marmalade, a cafe tucked away in Union Street, just East of Barry Street and opposite the Union Hotel in Brunswick. How could I resist the Inception-esque allure of a muesli within a Miss Muesli  within another Miss?

Miss Marmalade is a charming place.  The faded-white awning overhanging planters brimming with…plants…(botany is not my forte)… outside is reminiscent of an old country town general store. The homeliness of the warm, rough brown of the counter and furnishings is accentuated by the dark brick walls and the warm light reflecting off the array of enticing cakes displayed in quaint glassware. There is an eclectic mix of decorative pieces including a collection of green bottles hanging on a wall – which brings to mind the consequences of what happens if one should accidentally fall – how endearing to be reminded of primary school bus songs in such an unexpected setting!

Miss Marmalade has two muesli on offer, a Bircher and a granola. According to the menu I chose:

Berry Nutty Bircher Creamy Rolled Oats with Tahitian vanilla, royal gala apples, mixed berries and sweet dukkah

Sweet, sweet dukkah. What is dukkah, we both ask? Well according to the Google it is a mix of nuts and spices from Egypt and can also be spelt: duqqa. That description makes the topping and the tasting of this muesli make more sense:

SAMSUNG

How pleasantly fresh. The thick, creamy vanilla yoghurt was divine and was the perfect vehicle for delivering the soft, earthy oats and crunchy nuts into my person. The berry nuttiness of this dish was not a misnomer, the joy of encountering whole hazelnuts and macadamias with every bite is only comparable to the joy of not being allergic to nuts. There were so many nuts! What a treat. The slight spice that I now know is attributable to the dukkah was a lovely accompaniment to the tartness of the raspberries and blueberries, as well as adding to as the crisp freshness of the sliced apple. It speaks volumes for this muesli that not only did I love it, but so did Ms Sourdough and she has a much more refined palate than the one in my relatively-uncouth yap.

Final word: Take this opportunity to be adventurous and explore the backstreets of Brunswick to find Miss Marmalade. Your reward will be great, as this muesli is one of the best in town.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!

-MM

Miss Marmalade 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

Top Paddock: Stallion Muesli

This particular  morning I ventured out to Richmond which is much further away from Brunswick than I thought – but probably still not far enough to complain about. I think my confusion stems from not having much of a concept of the East of Melbourne, or of Victoria for that matter. Some might call this a sheltered existence but when almost 100% of your destinations for the last 5 years can be summarised in two words – Parkville Precinct – you tend to have a more narrow focus. Or become lazy.

I was lucky enough to be spending to morning out with The Milkmaid who had suggested that we try Top Paddock in Church Street. I would have cycled there except I was not-so-stoically enduring the second cold that I had earned in my time at the Royal Children’s Hospital – kids are great – so we drove. I mention this only because the benevolent Pope Eggs-Benedict, who was a welcome and coined-up surprise addition to the party, ended up having to pay for parking to enable us to get anywhere near the place – not a good start to the morning. I’m rambling a bit about the prelude to the breakfast to cover up the fact that I did not get a good look inside Top Paddock because at 9:30am it was full. As I am the type of cavalier (impatient) breakfaster that will endure freezing temperatures to eat muesli, my company and I sat outside. My impression of the place is, therefore, that it was cold.

As my brain was numbed by hunger, the very helpful and up-to-date Top Paddock website reminds me that I asked for:

Bircher Muesli with natural yoghurt and green tea poached fruit

Green tea?! Ah, the exotic East-ish of Melbourne. Here is what that looked like:

20130622_095612

Everything about this visual feast is endearing to me. I very much enjoy the whole poached pear plonked proudly atop a mound of moist muesli. The micro-herbs (an entity that I had never before encountered – how uncouth I must be!) trail delicately around the dish giving it a whimsical, Springtime look. Additionally, for a change berries take a backseat as they create a darkly rich frame for the aforementioned pear protrusion. Seeing as I did not simply stare at my muesli I should mention how it tasted. The overarching theme here is lightness. There was a lovely balance of sweet shredded apple and tart, citrusy herbs. The green tea infusion left me with a very pleasing, dusky aftertaste that was one of the best things about this unique muesli. Finally, a note must be made of the moist density of this Top Paddock dish which is a texture that makers of Bircher muesli should strive for.

I would be remiss not to include a note on the Top Paddock porridge which I enviously watched The Milkmaid order and eat, despite me being visually and nutritionally sated:

20130622_095629

Man oh man. Oats oh oats. Flowers and rhubarb and micro-herbs and pistachios! Those are all of the things I can see but sadly did not taste. Apparently it was “full-bodied, thick and creamy…with the sugar caramelising into toffee” (Milkmaid, 2013). It kills me that these are not my descriptors, I’ll have to go back for this!

Overall: If you wake up early with hungry eyes-and-stomach, go to Top Paddock and feast on the cereal. Try not to pay for parking.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!

-MM

Top Paddock on Urbanspoon

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:

20130423_065130

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

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:

20130421_085429

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:

20130421_090753

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