Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Best cafes: De Koffie Salon, Amsterdam

There are all kinds of coffee shops in Amsterdam. De Koffie Salon isn't one of those coffee shops, it brings relief in the form of caffeine (and saccharine treats).

There are pastries, exceptionally good coffees, and a gorgeous huge coffee machine. The furniture is very Scandi, and all of it is for sale. There's just one more thing to add... coffee.... caramel.... wafer...

Details: There are five outlets in Amsterdam, open from 7am

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Green, eggs and ham

A sleight of punctuation to distinguish me from Dr Seuss, but a cracking brunch dish all the same. Apple smoked ham, buttery seeded toast fingers, soft boiled eggs and baby spinach leaf salad with chopped steamed butternut squash (kindly donated by Mini Muesli Lover).

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Breakfast included: The Bull, Ditchling

Surroundings: The Bull is a great pub in the East Sussex village of Ditchling in the shadow of the South Downs, which makes its breakfasts guilt-free. Just thinking about walking up to Ditchling Beacon (view above) burns the calories. The pub has retained its beams, low ceiling and brassware-on-the-walls charm but also does cracking food and has some pretty bedrooms.

Buffet: There's fresh fruit, yoghurts, cereal in pretty jars, freshly baked pastries and juices. All appetizing and tasty.

Hot stuff: The menu offers a decent porridge, a little firm for ML's liking but stodgy enough to power you up the Downs. The rest of the menu features plenty of local provenance with a classic fry-up but also egg dishes, and to ML's great excitement, pancake dishes. These were superb. Golden crisp-edged discs of fluffy pancake with crinkly bacon and a generous pot of maple syrup.

Details: Breakfast from 8.30am on Sat & Sun.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Mr Moosli Lover's verdict on Yoosli

“Deliciously crunchy”. “Intensely tasty”. Bold claims from the word go from Yoosli. I’m not sure what Yoosli means but it matches the cartoony and “chatty” style of the packaging. All of which is on-trend and very friendly to read. Each product in the range has a character to ‘bring it to life’... I am not interested in that so much - more, what the cereal tastes like.

Fortunately, one is helped here as the box has a nice big window allowing you to clearly see the granola...sorry, muesli clusters. What is the difference between granola and a muesli cluster? I have no idea*.
Anyway, it looks very tasty and it does actually look crunchy, as well as being 100% organic (whoop). Crisp, crunchy and very evenly sized with lots of the additional ingredients visible even though the window is halfway up the box (this was exciting as normally I find the best bits tend to drop to the bottom of the packaging). I do as suggested by the cheery box and pour some into my bowl with lashings of cold milk.

And...crunch! Yes, this muesli cluster stuff is good and crunchy. And although I am not sure of the claim for “intensely” (would I want an intense eating experience first thing in the morning?), I would certainly go for tasty. Across all the varieties that I tasted, the taste and crunch were consistently excellent.

The ingredients (be it chocolate, nuts or fruits) never overtook the general oaty, muesli, granola flavour. The fact that these items are small is a plus as you are never looking or waiting for the one mouthful with the big strawberry, nut or - in my usual case - chocolate bit. I have to say the balance was exceptional throughout my arduous tasting session.

In all honesty, this is probably some of the most enjoyable crunchy breakfast cluster cereal that I have eaten, albeit that it wouldn’t necessarily be an every day choice because it’s a bit naughty to eat sweet cereal every day, even if it isn’t as sweet as many of the other offerings. I am not sure if I have ever eaten a muesli cluster before but I would certainly look for them now.

Having checked the new Yoosli website I see that they now describe their item as granola. Maybe it is all one and the same. If so, Yoosli becomes granola and muesli cluster champion!

 * Muesli Lover has informed me that in her opinion granola is singular items coated in honey and the like whereas a muesli cluster would be clusters of oats bound together by honey and the like.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Holy Smoke... it's brunch at One Sixty, NW6

When the Muesli Lovers were invited to test the brunch menu at West Hampstead's smokehouse, One Sixty, Mr Muesli Lover was out the door before you could say rib tips and a Brooklyn Lager... but what would the carnivores' nirvana offer at breakfast time?

Eggs, home-smoked bacon and some imaginative uses of smoked fish, with a Scandi accent... that's what.

We started with the salt beef on sourdough with a poached egg (£8.50). It was plated on One Sixty's signature rectangular enamel dishes, and like many of the breakfast options, was served attractively with watercress and finely sliced radish. The salt beef was the best I've had - thick cut and succulent.

Another winner was the smoked mackerel on rye (£9), which imaginatively was presented as mackerel pate topped with a breaded fillet of whiting, and again with tasty salad accoutrements. In future, when ingredients allow, the waitress gave the impression that this dish would be served sans whiting and truer to the menu, but ten points for inventiveness from the chef...

A breakfast classic, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs (£9.50) was a masterclass in the dish - fresh, hot and just cooked eggs with thick-cut Hansen & Lyndersn smoked salmon on rye toast with a crisp edge and chewy interior.

The bacon butty (with egg) (£7.50) included delicious house-smoked bacon, but turned out to be de-constructed, which was delicious but may disappoint the morning-after-crowd looking for a reliably stodgy hangover cure - in fact the menu undersold much of the offerings, favouring the fashionable minimalist descriptions, and not doing service to the splendid dishes. The spinach and feta omelette (£6.50) was the lightest option, and did exactly what it said on the tin.

With upbeat music, good coffee, a pile of newspapers and a few outdoor tables if the sun is shining, the Muesli's could happily while away a couple of hours on a weekend morning here... Mini Muesli Lover was well catered for with high chair and generous baby changing area. Whereas once we would have visited One Sixty for big nights in the small hours, it's now all about big breakfasts with a small one in tow... albeit with a Bloody Mary in hand...

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Best cafes: Cafe Winkel, Amsterdam

As well as selling the most kick-ass apple cake in Amsterdam, Cafe Winkel is a bit of a breakfast heaven. Its not so much trendy or quirkily Antipodean or pretentiously posh, but more a good solid cafe in a perfect people-watching spot.

The cafe overlooks the canal (above) - ok, so which cafe doesn't in Amsterdam - but also a pretty square that hosts an awesome food and knick-knacks market on saturdays (pics above of awesome Dutch cheese and breads).

The coffee is excellent (sadly only being served with chocolate eggs (as above) at Easter, but still cracking (boom boom). The breakfast/brunch options include a weighty club sandwich and hearty omelette, both perfect if you've enjoyed the excesses of an Amsterdam night out the previous evening.There's also a fry-up and good old fashioned Breville-toastie-machine style toasties, but with Dutch cheese of course.

Hungover, nosy, parched or just in need of a simple, filling meal, this is a perfect spot - just make sure you leave room for the apple cake...

Open from 8am Tues-Fri, 7am Mon & Sat and 10am Sun

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Favourite breakfast things: mugs for bowls

It's terribly French to slurp hot chocolate or coffee out of bowls for breakfast. I'm not sure there's a similar, reverse, habit elsewhere but it certainly happens in the ML household.

These mugs came from Anthropologie and like everything in that wallet-emptying emporium, are colourful, cute and quirky. I use them for cereal, fruit, porridge, soup and all sorts. Makes a nice change from plain old mr bowl.