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

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Green Refectory: Pink Muesli?!

To commemorate the birthday of Lady Grey, I decided to take her out for breakfast at the cheapest place I could think of. The Green Refectory immediately jumped to mind as I have been there many times and am repeatedly delighted to pay not-very-much for very-lovely-things. Yesterday’s muffins for two dollars? A thousand times yes. Thus, I felt this was the perfect place to show my maker how much I care for her.

The Green Refectory is a narrow cafe tucked in next to a shoe store and a tram stop just South of Weston Street on Sydney Road. There is nothing to invite the casual passer-by to enter the glassy facade – no outdoor dining to suggest that this is a place of joyous consumption (and I am not referring to happy Tuberculosis, found in much more tropical climes). Indeed, the bustle of trams, humans and narrow footpaths is a most inhospitable setting for exterior eating and so I commend the Green Refectory for not trying. Do note that for those that enjoy eating in the elements, there is a backyard to this place that I cannot fully remember sitting in but of which I have a vague sense of quaint, leafy claustrophobia.

One of the perks of going anywhere to eat at 8:30 on a week-day morning is that a fair proportion of the breakfast-populace has either eaten earlier and gone to work (respectable) or just gone to work (understandable). Happily this allows those with more flexible schedules – at the moment – to swoop in and claim a seat unchallenged. In a place like the Green Refectory where the long wooden tables are often bustling with communal diners and the smaller private tables are much coveted by less sharing individuals (such as myself), an easy week-morning seat was a relief. That relief, however was countered somewhat by the anxiety of having to squint myopically up at the menu etched onto a blackboard above the counter, and then recite accurately my decision to the friendly wait staff. A warning, the busy nature of the Green Refectory is such that I have always had to chase up my coffee, sometimes even having to reorder it. Or at least, I hope this is due to busyness and not disdain for me!

On this occasion, my breakfast hinged on an order of:

Bircher Muesli w sweetened or natural yoghurt or cream

I was presented with a submenu of dairies to decide upon – luckily I have the nous to understand that cream is for cakes and hot chocolates, and sweetened yoghurt is for putting ice-cream in, not oats. My natural yoghurt-Bircher combo eventually emerged:

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Yes, a tower of pink muesli is really what we are seeing here. As if modelled on the Egyptian pyramids, complete with strawberry capstone and sandy-cinnamon perimeter garnish, this flamboyant number is one out of the box. Once I calmed my overstimulated eyeballs, I was able to mush the absurdly, delightfully placed yoghurt into the muesli-proper and eat. What I encountered was a crisp density of apple and nuts. The Green Refectory does not skimp on almonds and hence this meal is a crunch-fest. Between hard foods I also found a strong presence of soft ones, happily including banana – king of breakfast fruit – and a saturation of berries. Indeed, the violent colour of this muesli is most likely not due to a manic chef squirting red food dye/cordial/blood into the breakfast but rather from the natural ooze of broken berries.The Green Refectory muesli also contains the culinary triple threat of the aforementioned banana, cinnamon and honey. Lots of honey. I felt my pancreas thank me for not ordering the sweetened yoghurt as the tartness of the natural yoghurt was all that stood between me and blood-sugar central.

Overall: The Green Refectory muesli is a sight to behold and sweetly pleasant to be-taste. It is also very cheap. So if you are after a crunchy wake-up meal and are not afraid to go chasing coffees, roll in to the Green Refectory and grab a muffin as you roll out.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!

MM

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