Miss Muesli Abroad: Japan Tour – Sentido Cafe

It has been all quiet on the writing-about-muesli (but not necessarily on the eating muesli) front over the last few months as I have been busy with significant life events such as finishing my degree and being on proper holidays for the first time in a very long time. There is something about suddenly having heaps of time that really distracts from things that require discipline such as the very serious task of oat bloggery. Now, however, I am overseas and idle time is again a commodity – What better conditions to spur me to write?

Like any budding artist (yes, I’m counting breakfast writing as art – it’s certainly not blasphemy or pornography), I have gone on tour in Japan! The only problem with this, I suppose, is that cafe muesli is a rare beast in this land. In fact, according to my extensive searching (read, I googled “city x cafe muesli”) there has so far been only one place that I have found that caters to my very specific Western breakfast needs. But I’ll get to that. First, I’ll set the scene. Cereal is not the norm here. I have been starting my days with convenience store bought aloe vera yoghurt, which advertises that it is “good for beauty body” so I guess that’s probably the wisest thing to eat in the morning. Just quickly, in Japan 7-11s and their ilk are the best and a far cry from the over priced service stations back home. Let’s just say I’d happily eat an egg and mayo sandwich from a 7-11 in Japan.

Back to breakfast. Probably the beautiful low point for me was having the most ornate, meticulous traditional Japanese breakfast prepared in the room Baby Chino and I were staying in. Eating fish, tofu and pickles for breakfast was too much for my three weetbix and a banana palate to handle. After that the search for cereal intensified, and I found success in Kyoto: Cafe Sentido is a glorious anomaly near the Karasuma Oike subway station. Blackboards cheerily announce the menu which includes the much sought after ‘cereal set’. That’s all I needed. Without further ado, calling on the language skills that Chic Pea tried hard to impart to me I ordered for myself and Baby Chino:

Cereal set oh futatsu onegaishimas

When this was met with a friendly, lengthy reply asking for my preference about something, my Japanese competency reached capacity and I just said a blank-faced yes to everything that followed. This is the result of my confusion:

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Hooray! This was granola, and like most things in Japan from my height perspective, everything about it was tiny. The oats were in sweetly toasted fragments, combined with similarly obliterated nuts. Together these created a crunch-fest that I had been sorely missing in the morning. The prospect of slurping yoghurt for breakfast every morning is one reason to look after my teeth I suppose. The dollop of yoghurt in this meal cooly contained delicate slivers of banana. Fruit is very expensive here, I have seen cantaloupes from the equivalent of $21 – $70 each, but it is also so richly tasty. These banana slices seemed to have a concentrated flavour, that made my brain sing with the happiness many good breakfast memories. The meal seemed over almost as soon as it began, but it was worth every yen.

Final word: If you are living in Japan or are travelling for any length of time and have a bit of homehungriness for a cafe breakfast, find Sentido in Kyoto. Cereal rejuvenation awaits!

Good muesli, Kyoto!

-MM

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56 Threads: Sewing Wild, Friendly Oats

For reasons known only to herself, the benevolent Lady Grey decided that this particular morning would be one devoted to “girls” – I prefer to identify as a blossoming young woman, but that might be a delusion in itself. Happily, a girls morning means that the similarly age-bracketed and beloved Madame Phở-pas, Ms Mimosa and I are treated to breakfast and an item (or a sneaky three) of second-hand clothing. After we discovered that the pop-up store in Carlton that Lady Grey had her eye on had distressingly popped-down, I swooped in to save the day by suggesting that we dine out West and move on to Footscray Savers, a much less crowded option for a late Saturday morning.

The venue we descended upon was 56 Threads in Derby Street, Kensington. My interest was piqued by their ethos of providing employment and training for new migrants, which is a heartening initiative given the current political clime. The cafe sits on the ground floor of public housing in Derby Street. The main theme seems to be geometry, with interesting dodecahedral light fixtures and clean lines dominating the bench architecture. Of note, as I have been on an accessibility tirade of late, I observed that 56 Threads has an entranceway wide enough for a patron to enter using a motorised scooter, order coffee, then turn around and leave without hitting furniture or being impeded in any way. If this level of functionality existed more uniformly across the city, Melbourne’s cafe-culture would be more inclusive of the oft forgotten population of people with mobility impairment – which is certainly not insignificant!

Upon perusal of the menu I was excited to order:

56 Threads almond and cranberry muesli: made in house served with strawberries and yoghurt 

In a refreshing twist given my last cafe experience which I will neither forgive nor forget, we did not have to wait even 20 minutes before our breakfast arrived. Here it is:

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This was a simple, hearty muesli that felt like it was prepared by a well-meaning dad: The portion was generous, the oats were plain with nicely-toasted almonds, crunchy hazelnuts, sunflower seeds and cranberries mixed in to provide extra taste and a sensible amount of nutrition. Fresh strawberries and cool, creamy yoghurt combined for a light, Springtime taste. While nothing fancy – not a micro herb, chia seed or labne to be seen – the 56 Threads muesli was homely without pretension and a meal that kept me going until lunch. What more could a “girl” on a girls morning want?

Final word: Regardless of your mobility requirements, take yourself out to 56 Threads and enjoy a friendly, inclusive breakfast. While you will not find super specialised on-trend ingredients that will blow your mind and confuse your tastebuds, you will find plenty of community spirit – super food for the soul.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!

-MM

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