Lolo and Wren: An Overwhelming Porridge

I am always glad to discover new pockets of Brunswick – the suburb is like the Mandelbrot sequence, it expands and repeats infinitely on closer inspection. The west end of Albion Street forms the particular permutation of Brunswick that I visited recently with Baby Chino. We were meeting Ms Sourdough and the ever-unpredictable Doctor Dessert to see them off before they embarked on a European road trip – with the most important topic of conversation being my upcoming responsibility over a very determined (possibly more perseverative, as in what can occur following a frontal lobe brain injury), food-obsessed cat.

I was surprised to find that Lolo and Wren sits within a sort of super-apartment-shop-cafe complex that suddenly appears out of the surrounding housing and is itself adjacent to large mounds of dirt. What is going on there? Who knows, but I’m sure this little self-sufficient community has it covered. The cafe itself is very tidy, with the stand out feature being a wall with a teal circular pattern surrounding their quaint bird mascot. I have a newfound appreciation for teal, it is a nice choice to lighten a room and complement whites, greys and brown – colours that Lolo and Wren really goes in for.

Porridge was on my mind that morning and happily Lolo and Wren had it on theirs, too:

Banoffe Porridge: which involves things like banana, crumble and dulce de leche

To do justice to this menu item I should have transcribed what was actually in it, perhaps I dropped the ball, or perhaps I am creating an air of mystery around what “Banoffee” means. I had no idea, and this did not make it any clearer:

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What manner of porridge is this? The Greedy-Gert in me rubbed her chubby fingers with glee, while my somewhat artery-conscious brain quivered in horror. This is probably the best example of breakfast dessert I could ever hope to come across. I should have twigged from the name – I was misreading it as “Banhoffe” thinking it was going to be some German twist on porridge (not that I thought Banhoffe meant anything, maybe it was a place?) – “Banoffee”, the internet tells me, is a neologism formed from banana and toffee. Oh boy. The Lolo and Wren porridge was deliciously creamy, with the oats and banana warmly congealed into a delightful chewy mush. The top was a coconutty crumble that was just perfect for reminding me of many a happy dessert-time. Dulche de leche is condensed, sweetened milk and was dolloped on top alongside a date paste. As if this needed more sweetening! Thinking back, it’s rather obscene how much of a comfort food the Banoffee porridge would be – if only I was moping about something at the time! Probably because I was relatively happy I was unable to finish the dish, though not for want of trying. It was overwhelming. I’m feeling full just thinking about it.

Final Word: Burrow your way into the warren that is Brunswick and seek out Lolo and Wren. If you are cold, sad, in need of comfort or just really, really hungry order the Banoffee porridge. Be warned: It will overpower you with comfort if you let it.

Good Porridge, Melbourne!

-MM

Lolo and Wren on Urbanspoon

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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:

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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

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

Pearl Oyster: Shucking Good Muesli

The combination of the words pearl and oyster to create Pearl Oyster upsets my brain. I want to like it; I own pearls, have eaten an oyster and love all things sea-related (except sea snakes, those are awful) however being made to consider “Pearl Oyster” as a name puts me on edge. Is the oyster made of pearl? Is this a pearl-bearing oyster? Am I obsessing over something trivial? Regardless, I’m not looking forward to having to write this cafe’s name out repeatedly here.

Very early last Saturday morning I managed to move beyond my name hang-ups and  visit Pearl Oyster, located on Miller Street just East of Gilbert Road. The modest exterior belies an extensive indoor and out-door dining area that is very dedicated to a theme. That theme is Grandma-Cool. To give the place credit I felt instantly at home, with the decor effectively embodying the coastal old-folksiness of my childhood – minus the old lady musk (not unfortunately). The indoor space was decked out in Vs – vinyl, veneer and vintage – and while some may sneer at the pretentiousness of it all, I’m the sort to get excited about this level of commitment. It’s commitment like this that makes people good at karaoke, and wins Nobel prizes – Pearl Oyster’s achievement fits somewhere in the middle of that spectrum.

Being a lovely Autumn morning my company and I elected to sit outdoors where we found an umbrella-shaded table with plastic chairs, on fake grass. The grandma-teaparty theme extends even to the outdoors! The icing on this visual cake came in the form of a crop of very cheery sunflowers that reminded me how much I enjoy bright, giant flora. I forgot to check if they were real and to be honest I’m glad I did not indulge my inner cynic – I choose to believe that they were living.

Anyway, after spending zero time deliberating I ordered:

Muesli

I cannot remember any other descriptors in the menu as it was too early in the morning to bother with things like critical appraisal of muesli-in-text – I wanted muesli-in-mouth. Here is muesli-in-eyes:

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What’s this? The visual pizzaz of berries has been shunned for a more homely nut exhibition. Pistachios were the guests of honour in this dish, a welcome addition to the standard company of nuts – almonds and hazelnuts (how blasé I have become, it was not three weeks ago that I was gushing over hazelnuts. Move over guys, there’s a new favourite in town). The prominence of nuts in this muesli was enjoyable in both taste and texture. This was a pretty light muesli otherwise in that the oats were not super concentrated nor was the yoghurt particularly thick. I noticed a pale, white liquid within this dish and came to the conclusion that it was either yoghurt juice, or that a small amount of milk had been added. The latter option is a dangerous one as the amount of milk added to a Bircher muesli is a very individual decision and can spell disaster if you overdo it (bitter, bitter experience talking here). Pearl Oyster got it right, though! Also if it was just a fluke of yoghurt juice perfectly loosening up the muesli, this would be the first time I have ever happily enjoyed what is without a doubt the worst part of yoghurt on a meal.

There were two other ingredients of note in the Pearl Oyster muesli, the first being figs. Figs! What a nice surprise. The other represents the only failing of the cafe theme – Granny Smith apples did not appear to be used, rather the red tinge to some of the grated apple suggested the employ of a Pink Lady. I much prefer pink lady apples, but they probably contributed (with the help of delicious coconut, apricot and honey) to this muesli being pretty sweet. As my father says, however: “there are plenty more teeth in the sea”, so the sweetness of this breakfast did not weigh too heavily on my mind.

Final Words: Buy this muesli if you are craving nuts and want a sweet treat for breakfast, but also still want to be kept regular with fibre and dried fruits.

Good Muesli, Melbourne!

Pearl Oyster on Urbanspoon