Home Made Special: Historical Porridge

In a shameless ploy to get Baby Chino’s History and Live some attention, I agreed to have him make me breakfast in bed. Aren’t I nice?

This morning we were travelling back in space and time to Ancient Greece, through the tried and true portal of porridge. According to the authors of The Classical Cookbook ancient greek women who knew about herbs could use this porridge, or kykeon, for dangerous purposes – like sending men to sleep, or worse!

It is likely a breach of copyright for me to post the actual recipe, so the things that went into this dish are: semolina (soaked, drained), ricotta cheese, honey and some egg. The combination of those ingredients in quantities approximating 1 : 3: 1/2 : 1/2 grams, and heated to almost boiling point, looked like this:

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I had an immediate insight into how the Athenians built the Parthenon, how Pythagoras birthed his theorem and how Sappho had the strength to articulate her passionate poetry: they were all essentially fuelled by cake. I could not contain my delight at having an excuse to eat such a thick, creamy batter for breakfast. There was a pleasing grittiness to this pale, slightly cheesy mass. A hint of honey transported me to the Elysian fields; as if I were lightly traipsing through them, sunlight reflecting dazzlingly off the golden fleece I’d be wearing, as well as off my perfect Grecian curls. That was all in the first mouthful. Subsequent mouthfuls became more and more laborious; indeed, Heracles would have been proud of me for eventually finishing such a task. It was exhausting, luckily I was already in bed so I could comfortably lapse into a food coma. Baby Chino thus truly succeeded in channelling those Ancient Greeks, or at least the women who knew about sleep herbs.

I would not recommend this as an every day food, at least not for anyone who wouldn’t use the subsequent energy to throw a discus or run a marathon.

Solid Porridge, Greece!

– MM

Elceed: El-Seedy Muesli

Sometimes it feels like all I do is ride my bike down Royal Parade. This leafy portal to anywhere even slightly South or East of me has been a constant ever since my life stopped revolving around High School in Northcote all those years ago. Eeep, it is getting close-ish to a decade now; if riding down Royal Parade was a job, I’d be getting due for some long service leave. I should stop quantifying things in terms of how close to earning long service leave I am in them, it’s not particularly useful especially as I have been in my actual job now for only 9 weeks. This particular outing down Royal Parade to North Melbourne was to be my last in the hustle of Melbourne’s breakfast scene until the end of May, as I am about to be whisked away to Horsham for work. I am excited for some more rural breakfast experiences, perhaps I’ll try and stop in at some towns along the way to eat muesli and turn a 3.5 hour journey into a full day. Worth it? Who am I kidding I’ll probably just end up stopping in somewhere like Beufort for a vanilla slice and a Big M – much more sensible travelling fare.

I arrived at Elceed, an airy cafe just west of Curzon street on Queensberry, and was surprised to be able to walk right in (sit right down) at 10am on a Sunday. I had visions of brunch lines snaking up the road, and having that conversation with my companions that happens when one person (me) is trying to test the waters and see how committed the company is to having brunch at all. Wouldn’t it be nicer if we didn’t have to wait because we all just gave up?  Hmmm, perhaps I catastrophise slightly, I just don’t like waiting for breakfast on top of that waiting time necessitated by the concept of brunch. I digress. Elceed was not made to honour the image of the homophonous Alcide, but still managed to be a nice place to eat by virtue of light, textured walls, open archways and large terrariums.

The menu had many words, but my eyes went no further than:

House Made Granola with Organic Yoghurt and Cranberry Poached Apple

I was not expecting this to come out:

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Everything is so upright! I think I was in shock, and hence could not work out how to photograph this spooned-jar of muesli. Was the spoon placed in the jar just so I would be instantly presented with evidence that it would fit; that yes, it would be possible to get my breakfast out of there using that? I still felt a bit like a bear at the zoo trying desperately to solve a food-puzzle. The reward did have a honey component, which made my bear-self happy but was a trifle overpowering to start with. True to its pronunciation, the Elceed granola contained plenty of seeds. Pumpkin seeds were the stars of the show, which created a nice nutritious crunch alongside the toasty oats and flecks of coconut. Cranberries were a thoughtful, red, chewy addition and I think were also used to poach the slices of ?apple (I’ll be honest, I settled on it being a plum before I re-read the menu…please continue to trust my food reviews) if the grammar of the menu was to be believed. Whatever happened to make that fruit how it was when I consumed it, it was tasty.

Final word: The Elceed granola is a bit of a puzzle in terms of the logistics of eating it, and identification of its components. Do try this granola if you have already had a first breakfast and just like the taste of toasted oats and seeds (guilty!). If you are very hungry and insist on granola, Elceed have cakes that looked perfectly suitable for a cheeky dessert portion of your morning meal.

Good-ish Muesli, Melbourne!

-MM

Elceed on Urbanspoon

Mixed Business: Muesli Good Enough to Buy Shares In

My return to the Melbourne breakfast scene took me to a part of Clifton Hill that was both familiar and strange to me, depending on which side of Queens Parade we look at. The familiar aspect of this northern arterial road lies to the East in the form of the bizarrely architectural Clifton Hill McDonalds (I do love art deco, and a sneaky caramel sundae). The Clifton Hill Mac drive-thru and car park has served as the setting for at least two firsts for me – my first desperate car-knock for jumper leads to start a flat battery caused by eating sundaes with the headlights and radio on; and my first encounter with a brothel (to eat, we always park out the front of Scarlet Lady or “Scarly”, the other den of iniquity apart from the McDonalds). I had so far overlooked the West side of Queens Parade as it tends to go by in a blur of frantic U-turning across this busy road in order to make it back home. Having the opportunity to actually walk on this side of the road revealed a pleasant strip characterised by many bikes, a quaint little florist and Mixed Business, the cafe where I was meeting the world-beating Madame Macchiato for a final breakfast before she jets off to study disease in a foreign land.

Mixed Business has a clean, raw retro feel. The decor appealed to the obsessive in me with a pervasive neatness in the arrangement of the crockery, baskets and cafe knick-knacks on the simple timber shelving adorning the wall behind the counter. Even the plants had a simple neatness of growth and arrangement that made my brain very pleased to look at (and some people call me highly strung – I don’t see it). Finally, and I don’t often mention this, but the staff were as warm and friendly as a sunflower tablecloth (which was not present here, probably for the best – too much of a good thing etc etc).

Excited by the prospect of breakfast in friendly surrounds I ordered:

House muesli with strawberries in rose water syrup, honey yoghurt and pistachios

My hopes high, and with the promise of a quality dish by Mme Macchiato from past experience, I eagerly received this menu-reality:

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The almost UFO-sighting quality of this image belies the excellence of what my eyes actually registered (though this is less blurry than what my unaided vision would have picked up so let’s just say I was trying to convey “frustration of myopia” with this one). You don’t need 20/20 vision, however, to appreciate the deliciousness of this muesli. Mixed Business have got it right, from the creamy yoghurt used as a medium to convey a subtle hint of rosewater and honey sweetness into the power combination of pistachios, coconut and oats. The strawberries add a refreshing coolness and berry-ness to the mix that complimented the heavier smokiness of the nuts. And as you can see, Mixed Business did not skimp on the nuts which to me conveys a customer-care at a level beyond friendly service. The staff can be as accommodating as can be, but if at the end of the day my mouth has been largely devoid of nuts, I will be going home disappointed (a mentality that surely must be shared by patrons of one of the above-mentioned establishments).  To top it off, having the liberty of tailoring the viscosity of the muesli with a separate milk jug is a thoughtful addition to this breakfast experience.

Final Word: Queens Parade has much more to offer than the late night Maccas run. Wake up, walk to the other side of the road and have the good people at Mixed Business fix you this muesli. Caution: they do not have a drive-thru, so you will have to wear pants.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!

-MM
Mixed Business on Urbanspoon

The Old Paper Shop Deli Revisited: Muesli to Turn a North-Miss South – Again

My now annual trek across the Yarra to Albert Park for the Brazillian Butterfly Queen of the Lake fun run for Ovarian Cancer ended much like the last one did – me dragging my hot, sweaty, self-satisfied body to the Old Paper Shop Deli for a Ms Sourdough sponsored breakfast. I again had the company of a much fitter, less sweaty Baby Chino and was happy to include newcomers to the support of this worthy cause, Lord and Lady Marmalade.

The interior has not changed, however I feel as if I have become more observant as this time I noticed a decadent decal of a topless woman on the facade. How risqué! We still had to go up and order at the counter, and it was lucky we did so quickly as the place promptly filled up after 9am. Ms Sourdough offered to do my bidding for this task and so she directly and politely ordered:

Two Birchers, please.

She has good taste. Here is what eventually came out:

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Prunes! Well, one prune. There were more but I was so excited by this muesli to stop to take a photo of the undisturbed dish. I cannot go past a breakfast that includes this most sticky sweet digestive. Imagine if bran was also an ingredient here, my gastrointestinal tract quivers at the thought. Anyway, prunes alone were my reason to revisit this muesli as I would like to reiterate how great they are. The muesli here has not changed one bit – still refreshing with cool grated apple and natural yoghurt. The hazelnuts add a dessert-like flavour, recalling cakes and crumbles – things that the Old Paper Shop Deli has in delicious-looking spades. There was even the silly mint garnish that I came across one year ago but this time I will pay it the respect it deserves as it put a furry little mint tinge to the underlying yoghurt, which is much more appetising than I’m making it sound. Again, I could have eaten two serves of this muesli, but that is probably because running around Albret Park Lake in 32 degree heat will make a girl extra hungry.

Final Word: The Old Paper Shop Deli muesli is a good second reason to be in South Melbourne. The first reason should be something charitable and fun, and not awful like the Grand Prix or Chapel Street.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!

-MM

The Old Paper Shop Deli on Urbanspoon

Clique3: Porridge I Could Be Friends With

Undaunted by last week’s failed foray into porridge, I decided to take advantage of the benevolence of Lady Grey whose maternal instinct now extends to buying her moved-out-so-must-be-starving (or at least that’s the act I maintain) daughter breakfast once in a while. I did not have any idea where she was taking me, I only hoped that when we got there that I would be greeted by a menu that did not smugly slip in a ‘semolina’ or ‘sago’ in front of my now-coveted winter breakfast.

We managed to survive the gauntlet that is Albert Street in Brunswick, dodging and weaving around parked and moving vehicles alike, to arrive at Clique3. This was a warmly lit, cosy place offset nicely by the grizzly, overcast street outside. Of note there were inverted wire ceiling fixtures upon which dark butterflies alight – or perhaps I’ll decide to interpret them as moths, as we do not see enough of these hairy  oddballs in decor. Interior designers, take note. In terms of furniture there were large timber communal tables which we thankfully did not have to share this early on a weekday (I’m not a dignified eater, it’s best those in proximity are not strangers and are used to my excited, hearty manner of consumption) and at the far end of the room there was a single table with an eclectic collage of fabric chairs which I did not feel up to navigating that morning but did help the place to look quaint.

Unfortunately Cliqueis one of those places in which you have to order at the counter. Fortunately my hungry eye instantly spied what I was after and so I was spared that special awkwardness of umming and ahhing while a line of people behind you shift impatiently from foot to foot. I cheerily asked for:

Porridge with grilled banana

This is only a paraphrase as I was too overcome by the relief of not finding some dread qualifier in front of the word porridge. Here is what emerged:

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Joy! A big ol’ bowl of oats. I immediately wrapped my perpetually icy hands around the sides and let the rejuvenation begin. Instantly my capillaries dilated as the heat seeped from porridge to person,  colour creeping up to my fingers as blood was finally given permission to flow there. Alright, I’ll stop the melodrama, but I was pretty happy. As for the porridge itself; it was hot, creamy and densely oaty. The grilled banana and honey accompaniment perfectly contributed a sweet mushiness to the chunky porridge. I should also commend Cliquein that they managed to get the amount of milk just right to give the meal some movement without drowning it. Finally, they did not skimp on the serving size – there would have been nothing worse than getting a simple glassful of this porridge.

Final Word: If your fingers, hands or cockles of your heart need warming, join this Cliquebefore Winter ends and get them to make you their porridge.

(Just as good as) Good Muesli, Melbourne!

-MM

 
Clique3 on Urbanspoon

Fruits of Passion: Muesli of Indifference

On my first observed Labour Day in five years (thanks, Melbourne Uni) and probably my last for quite a number to come (thanks again) I decided to venture out to Kensington to sample the muesli that Fruits of Passion has to offer. I embarked that morning with a light heart and a special smugness that only comes from knowing that many of my friends and family were being forced to learn or work while I would be triumphantly stuffing my face at breakfast with not a care in the world. Suck it, academia!

Fruits of Passion can be found nestled next to Kensington train station on Bellair Street which is a leafy and inviting location – especially on a languidly sunny public-holiday. Inside, Fruits of Passion can only be described as being proudly Melbourne with a pop-culture tic. Trams and suburb names share the walls with newspaper clippings of sensational stories; bright artwork sit alongside large mirrors and (most likely) faux flowering vines extend down from high ceilings. This is the second instance of ceiling plants I have encountered and instead of screaming “uber-quaint-trendiness here!” these gave off more of a pleasant, welcoming, eccentric-aunty feel. The brick walls, mirrors and concrete floors give the place a very cool, open and airy feel which is most appreciated in the midst of an Autumn heat wave. I very much enjoy the Fruits of Passion decor, it even has a mezzanine! Perhaps. Not really – it has maybe three steps to a higher level so you feel a little elevated – but mezzanine is such a romantic word that I thought I’d include it.

Anyway, myself and company were seated in this elevated area and only after poor Baby Chino suffered the always hilarious indignity of a self-inflicted pants wetting (the classic full-glass-in-lap story) could the menu be considered. I was the black sheep of this occasion as Lord and Lady Marmalade, Ms Sourdough and Baby Chino all eagerly ordered the pancakes. I stayed true and asked for:

Bircher Granola Muesli with Mixed Fruit

I am only slightly paraphrasing here as I don’t recall if it was ‘Bircher Granola’ or ‘Granola Bircher’ and was too caught off-guard by the proposed fusion of these two types of muesli to encode the actual details of the fruity accompaniments. With bated breath I received:

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I’ll admit at this point I was having some post-traumatic-esque flash backs to Dr Dax and the fruity mess I was served there. I did not let my trepidation deter me from my task and on first bite found this muesli to be quite sweet – and not in a forgivable yoghurty way but akin to the way that you know Fruit Loops transgresses against your enamel and insulin profile when you eat it. Perhaps that was the granola – oats toasted in honey and oil – and perhaps it was all of the honey drizzled over everything. I was disappointed at the lack of yoghurt to give the tart creaminess that I enjoy with my oats. The muesli was an oaty mush of a dish either due to this inadequate amount of yoghurt; or perhaps to a lack of commitment to milk-pouring leading to this muesli falling short of the more traditional-cereal plane of liquidity. I did enjoy the banana (as I am a Miss Weet-Bix and Banana in my life away from the glamour of the breakfast world), raspberries and blueberries. I think I even detected the odd raisin (or perhaps it was two sultanas stuck together). These, however, were not enough to absolve this dish from the heinous crimes of nut negligence and apple abandonment – the omissions of two vital ingredients in a Bircher muesli.

This was an exercise in confusion. In trying to make a “Bircher Granola” Fruits of Passion took the worst aspect of granola – sweetness – and did not balance it with the tartness of yoghurt and apple. My hopes were such that this would be a gateway to reviewing granola, but frankly all the Fruits of Passion muesli has done is put me off.

Final Word: Fruits of Passion disappointed me with this muesli. In such a lovely setting I was left to watch, flushed with envy, as my company devoured their sumptuous pancakes – which I would definitely come back to try.

(Not So) Good Muesli, Melbourne!

MM

Fruits of Passion on Urbanspoon

The Old Paper Shop Deli: South of the Yarra (*sniff*) Showing How It’s Done

Last Sunday morning I found myself in South Melbourne. I know how I got there – this isn’t one of those stories – it was in the course of doing a fun-run around Albert Park in aid of ovarian cancer research. And what better way to celebrate running 5km than a high-society bowl of muesli? Yes, I’ll launch right into it: being a Northern suburbs Miss I have an innate wariness of the land over the bridge(s) so get ready for lots of “South-side” this and “snooty” that. That’s how I was brought up, I suppose.

The Old Paper Shop Deli is, according to Ms SourDough who was one of my company on this occasion, a South Melbourne institution. It is located just North of the corner of Clarendon and Dorcas (malorcas) streets and is pretty un-inspriring in terms of its interior. That is, until the hungry eye rests upon the selection of cakes – which almost made me consider breaking my “cereal is breakfast, cake is not” rule. Almost, but I’m occasionally practising self control these days.

The procedure at the Old Paper Shop Deli is to take a seat and then go up and order when you have considered the menu. How empowering/inconvenient! After taking mere seconds to scan the menu for muesli (I was on an endorphin high so everything was done quickly and with gusto) I went up and ordered:

The muesli, thank you”

I’ll be honest, I’m paraphrasing again because I had to order for my two breakfast companions which was easy due to endorphins and their memory-enhancing properties. In fact, the only thing that was not enhanced that morning was my appearance, which was decidedly dishevelled and a bit damp. Lucky there were no paparazzi about.

After not very long, this arrived (ignore the bacon, Baby Chino doesn’t like muesli for some reason):

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You know you are on the wrong side of town (that’s right, the South side) when your muesli comes with a mint garnish! Despite this, the dish was glorious. Firstly, it was cold which is the sort of refreshment I am after when I eat any sort of dairy product (except tasty cheese, which is best melted). Honey was drizzled on top giving it an initial sweetness that was not overbearing and happily diminished as I made my way through the meal. The real revelations here, however, were the fruit and nuts. Call me old-fashioned, but I love a good prune and this meal had at least three of them which added a soft, waxy texture that was truly lovely. Additionally there was a very high density of freshly-grated, cold granny smith apple throughout the muesli that added a welcome crunch and tartness. Finally, I was surprised to discover that hazelnuts were the nut of choice for this meal, something I have not tasted anywhere else which is a shame because it turns out that hazelnuts are great. To be honest, the only thing that was wrong with the Old Paper Shop Deli muesli was that it seemed served in gourmet (read: small) portions but that could have been a misperception induced by those nefarious endorphins.

Overall: Run to this muesli. I sort of did and it was amazing. I will be coming back here for the cakes also, but you will have to leave my eventual thoughts on those to your imagination as this is a muesli blog.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!

MM

The Old Paper Shop Deli on Urbanspoon