Code Black: As Promised, Sublime and Ridiculous “Muesli”

I have been neglecting my sworn duty to Melbourne’s cereal scene of late. The ghosts of grains consumed unacknowledged over the past few months wail constantly in my subconscious, manifesting perhaps only as an eye-twitch here, or a long sigh there. What better time to get back on the blog than Labour Day, a day that had mostly been denied to me over the past seven years by Melbourne University? Now as I have graduated into the warm light of gainful employment I can bask in the rays of paid public holidays. It is absurd and wonderful to be lying in bed, reflecting on breakfast being paid by the hour. I had better get to work:

Code Black forms a deceptively unassuming prism that sits opposite the Barkly Square car park on Weston Street. Like any ominous puzzle box, the starting point was obtuse and subtle, with the first test involving sliding a geometric door in a direction that would hopefully gain us entry. The black, moody interior was quite a contrast to the sunny day outside, with naked lightbulbs highlighting the cold lines of the dark tables and dividing walls. Numerous large contraptions loomed out of the dark – probably involved in the mystical process of coffee making, which seems to occur inexplicably in both giant and tiny machines depending on where you are in Melbourne. Overall, the setup at Code Black was strangely science fiction, it certainly seemed bigger on the inside. I must also make special mention that the menu promises the “Sublime and Ridiculous”, which immediately called to mind Romantic and Gothic themes of horror and epiphany; would I be reaching those heights today?

There was one thing on my mind, and so although I simply asked for “the muesli mix, please”, the real order was the more grandiose:

Organic gluten free muesli mix, toasted nuts, seeds, grains, dried fruits & raw cacao, house made creamy coconut yoghurt & berries (V) (VE) (GF)

Whew. I hoped this dish was as much of a mouthful in reality as it was in text. I was also intrigued as to what would constitute a gluten free, vegetarian, vegan muesli. Here is what this all-dietary restriction-inclusive breakfast came out as:

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Ah, no milk. Makes sense, I guess, although it would have been nice to have been offered a soy/nut alternative. I was too coyed by the specificity of the muesli to think about asking for anything to dampen this dish. The compote in captivity was an interesting side, I suppose mixed berries are not to everyones’ taste especially if you have not been vaccinated against Hepatitis A (thanks Nanna’s). Now, to cater for the gluten-sensitive this was a barley and seed based breakfast. It was exquisitely crunchy, and so granular in texture I was reminded of the International Soil Classification Scale; instead of silt we had cacao, barley and dried fruit instead of fine and medium gravel respectively, and boy, I could go on. For the most part the smoky, nutty taste was pleasing, but was overwhelmed by the power of the coconut yoghurt. The Code Black “muesli” was inventive, but I found it unsatisfying and non-cohesive, probably because I did’t ask for soy/nut/evil milk. Not even the gloriously useless micro herb garnish would endear me to order this one again, next time I’ll get the crumpets.

Final Word: Code Black is an enigmatic institution that caters thoughtfully for many dietary creeds. The risk of this, unfortunately, is to navigate the good ship Breakfast to culinary shores so alien that one cannot help but keen for the familiar comforts of oats, grated apple, cinnamon and milk. Does that count as an epiphany?

Confusing Muesli, Melbourne!

-MM

Code Black Coffee 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