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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Small Block: Geometric Muesli

On a semi-recent cold Winter morning, Baby Chino and myself set out for a brisk (but shamefully short) bike ride to Small Block, an unassuming cafe-front at the cool end (my end) of Lygon Street, where we were meeting the indomitable Ms Sourdough and the ever-elusive Doctor Dessert for breakfast.

Small Block plays heavily on a simple maths theme. For those of you who quiver at the site of the quadratic equation, or simply get angry with algebra – this is a safe place. There is a number wall with single digits pleasingly arranged in a tetris-like collage; there is a giant happy-coloured abacus adorning another wall and there are games aplenty for those so inclined to play as they eat. As there would be nothing like a good board-tipping followed by a huffy walkout to spoil a morning out, I refrain from playing games in public so this feature is lost on me. The decor was very sparse and basic, with concrete floors and functional ugly-but-comfy chairs – just what you would expect from a left-brained establishment.

The menu is found on a blackboard on one of the walls, and so I was able to make full use of my updated glasses prescription to ask for:

The bircher muesli, please

The answer to this equation was worked out as follows:

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What a neat pile of muesli. I enjoyed the rays of cinnamon framing the meal like a halo, an appropriate presentation for the glory that is cereal. Speaking of wonderful things, I would have to say the best thing about Winter is rhubarb. I will never stop being pleased to see it and today was no exception – such volume of chunks! The praise, however, does not continue much beyond this superficial level. The Small Block muesli was very light on the oats and heavy on the coconut, resulting in the dish tasting very much like a rhubarb crumble. Now, I am all for breakfast-dessert, but here I was expecting a breakfast-breakfast and so was not loving this dessert-dessert masquerading as muesli. It was all very sweet and crumbly, with sultanas and possibly dates providing some enjoyable chewiness – which is all well and good except I would soon have no teeth to chew with if I continued to eat breakfast with the sort of sugar content that the Small Block muesli seemed to have.

Final Word: If you are not a diabetic (or prepared to increase your insulin dose if you are) and feeling like some yoghurty rhubarb-crumble for breakfast, try the Small Block Muesli. If you value your teeth and pancreas perhaps stick to the eggs.

(Not So) Good Muesli, Melbourne!

-MM

Small Block on Urbanspoon

Fifteen Pounds: Lightweight Muesli

My latest breakfast outing saw me venture out by the Hurstbridge Line to visit the new stomping grounds of the lovely Madame Macchiato, in the suburb of Fairfield which is known for its boathouse and proximity to Northcote. I do not mean to suggest with my allusion to the rail that I took the train, as I make a concerted effort to avoid public transport at all costs in preference to the power generated by my lower limbs or – at a similar horsepower – by a borrowed, third-hand Citroen. This is in equal parts due to my being a bit of a cheapskate (this is a muesli and not a ‘big breakfast’ blog after all) and seeming to always have to travel in an East-West direction which is the domain of the cumbersome and unreliable bus service. I seem to be griping about infrastructure lately, I’ll try not to lose sight of what matters here: oats.

Upon arriving at Fifteen Pounds I was immediately struck by how untreated it seemed. The crisp pre-9am sunlight was streaming in through the front window adding a golden glow to the pale timber furnishings. These tables and chairs are of a naturalistic, not obviously varnished style as if they have been simply hammered together freshly hewn. The place has a raw, earthy feel to it which is enhanced by a hanging feature of a tree branch suspending birds alighting on jars, a surreal piece that looks good but on reflection does not make a lick of sense! Perhaps a comment on how close all things in nature are to becoming jam? A sobering thought. Another piece of decor I quite enjoyed was a prominent water tank that contained brightly coloured citrus fruit floating enticingly within. The bright yellow and green made the water seem so clean and inviting – it is this sort of a contraption that could turn children off soft drink and help end the obesity epidemic – or at least that is how optimistic I felt looking at it.

Basking in the glow of water cooler over-significance, I turned my attention to the menu. For the first time in my life, I was prompted to take a menu photo – like a Loch Ness Monster or UFO sighting it was blurry and mostly obscured by the flash but I came away with the evidence of:

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Thats: House Made Bircher w/ apples, carrots, fresh juice, organic yoghurt & berries for those with a cynical eye.

 Carrots! I was intrigued. Lets see what the muesli housing this vegetable interloper came out looking like:

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Instant disappointment! The last thing this hungry Miss wants when she orders breakfast is for it to be served in a quantity able to be artfully arranged in a drinking glass. The first port of call was how to fit the spoon in without creating an Archimedes-in-the-bath type situation – it took uncharacteristic finesse but the incentive of eating generally drives me to complete great feats and so I managed. What I found was a very sweet muesli which was in part due to the overbearing volume of berries and also to the oats having been soaked with juice instead of the usual milk. The juicy taste did trick me into feeling refreshed so that was nice. Upon closer examination I was able to note streaks of orange buried in the mass of yoghurt and berries and I subsequently enjoyed the earthiness that the carrots contributed to the meal. Carrot is such a versatile vegetable – well done, evolution! Despite this foray into root vegetables, Fifteen Pounds did not excite me with this muesli. Berries and sugar stole the show in the end which unfortunately left me feeling unsatisfied, but fortunately prompted me to buy a muffin for the road – which was delicious.

Final word: Do not order the muesli at Fifteen Pounds if you are hungry or are offended by the idea of breakfast in drinking glasses. The cafe is, however, worth a visit if not only to marvel at the water dispenser.

(Not So) Good Muesli, Melbourne!

MM

Fifteen Pounds on Urbanspoon