Amazing Porridge

Weekend Notes is a great way to find out what’s happening in Melbourne and surrounding areas and when I read that various cafes serve up a great porridge I just had to check them out. The Patient Partner LOVES his porridge. I think secretly he loves it because it’s the only time he puts lashings of sugar on anything. Admittedly I’ve weaned him onto using coconut sugar which is an improvement on the mounds of regular brown sugar he was using. This type of porridge made with oats is our quick breakfast for when we have to leave the house really early as on days when we drive into the city to do our farmer’s market shopping.

But on weekdays our porridge is made with millet, quinoa or amaranth, topped with a mixture of fruit, nuts,  yoghurt or kefir and perhaps a drizzle of coconut nectar.

Millet & Amaranth PorridgeMy Millet & Amaranth Porridge

It’s my job to make the porridge while The Patient Partner makes our salad for lunch at work. And it’s all finished off with a cup of filtered coffee made quickly with the Aeropress using freshly ground coffee beans from any one of our favorite Melbourne Cafes.

Its a good way to start the day. Plenty of quality protein to provide energy, probiotics for a healthy gut, fruit for vitamins and the caffeine hit to get us out the door!!

The Big Wave Cafe in Newhaven Phillip Island was recommended by Weekend Notes and as we needed to visit the Patient Partner’s Mum in Cowes we decided to leave early and give their porridge a try.

My PP’s lovely Mum nearly fell off her chair when we told her we paid $14.50 for a bowl of porridge. Had Uncle Toby’s rolled oats gone up that much she asked!    She still wasn’t  convinced when we told her that this was a delicious breakfast bowl of quinoa and black rice, topped with banana, rhubarb, stawberries, passionfruit, coconut milk, mint leaves and pure maple syrup to finish it off.

The Big Wave Porridge Phillip IslandThe Big Wave Porridge

I particularly liked the addition of the fresh  mint leaves and as I now have a huge pot of it growing in my garden I have been adding it to my  own millet or quinoa porridge. Lavender flowers are another tasty  sprinkle from our garden. The beauty with porridge is that you can be as creative as you want. It’s come a long way from plain boiled oats.

I have rather horrible memories of my time in Scotland as a teenager many many years ago.   It was my first job out of school and I was staying in digs run by an incredibly tall landlady with an incredibly short temper. I don’t think she liked having lodgers because it seemed to me that she did everything in her power to make sure no one would ever return.One of these was to serve bowls of stodgy porridge for us every morning for the duration of our stay. Not only was it thick and almost cold it was drenched in enough salt to give us  early onset of heart disease. Thinking back, apart from the obvious taste difference it possibly was no worse for health than the porridge my Mum made for us as kids with spoonfuls of  cream and brown sugar.

Scottish Porridge OatsScots Porridge Oats with Salt

Now the search is on for more porridge options from around world.
Much of our year is spent in Malaysia and there porridge is a savoury. Most often a tasteless boiled rice or congee spruced up by the addition of chicken or fish head and lots of salt. Not a healthy option maybe but really good if you have a dodgy stomach. It seems to help just like chicken soup does when you’re not feeling great.
In China this same rice porridge/congee is served up for breakfast and unless you are a local its hard to eat it without adding some fruit.

Just found a great porridge online from NourishbyAshlyn. An awesome site for those with fructose malabsorption, but also for anyone wanting some healthier options. She writes well too so her website is entertaining as well as informative.
Her Banana Porridge is delicious and you can be as creative as you want with the toppings. I used Loving Earth Choc Hazelnut Butter instead of Peanut and a mixture of bluberries and raspberries. Every mouthful a taste sensation.

Banana PorridgeAshlyn’s Banana Porridge

When in Malaysia we have a bit of an in joke with fellow expats about porridge days. Usually its the day of the week when we cant be bothered making anything more elaborate than the quick Scots type of oats with some added tropical fruit, but I had no idea until recently that there is actually a WORLD PORRIDGE DAY.

If you would like a list of amazing porridges, sweet and savoury and feel you could make a difference to the lives of poor children in various countries around the world then click here.

 Happy Porridging Everyone!!

For the Love of Coffee

I love a great coffee. A real coffee. A knock you for six coffee. A coffee that has you believing you have found God in your cup.
There is nothing better than the first taste of that heavenly aroma that awakens the senses and prepares you to breathe life into another day.

Yes, I love it. But not just for that smooth silky latte or double shot espresso but for everything that loving a great coffee has added to my life.

Years ago I was about to give it up. Ordinary coffee from a very ordinary coffee chain was my lot where I worked and I was over it. Then one day after visiting Serge Videl, my hairdresser in Hawthorn I noticed a new cafe around the corner. That one coffee at Axil in Burwood Rd changed my life.

The next day I purchased an espresso machine. A lovely shiny stainless steel monster now took pride of place on my kitchen bench, squeezed in between a motley array of appliances aimed at making my culinary experiments a whole heap easier.
The following months saw our milk purchases skyrocket as I diligently practised the intricacies of latte art. Unsuspecting friends & family who even half crossed our threshold had a coffee thrust into their hands with another Rosetta design etched into their crema.

Latte Art

Melbourne has some of the best cafes in the world. The coffee is amazing and the cafe owners and baristas are more than happy to share their passion with the general public. Over the years I have had no end of conversations with cafe staff who were genuinely eager to pass on their knowledge to me however busy they might be.   On our various travels my Patient Partner and I have drunk many coffees at many cafes but none yet have the amazing customer service that we find in Melbourne.

Perhaps this is due to the competition here. With the ever increasing number of cafes customers can pick and choose, but I rather think its because the top cafes have just got the formula right with smart, passionate staff, good food, a comfortable trendy venue and brilliant coffee.  The fact is that on the weekend in these great cafes it is nothing to have to queue for 30 or 40 minutes to get a table, and so, for the love of a great coffee we do!

Waiting for a great coffeeQueuing for a great coffee at THREE BAGS FULL in Collingwood

It’s impossible to list them all as Melbourne’s city and inner suburbs are becoming saturated with great cafes offering  1st class food and coffee, but here’s a few of our favourites, all tried and tested many times.

Axil – Burwood Rd, Hawthorn,

Three Bags Full– Cnr Nicholson St & Mollinson St Abbotsford

Proud Mary– 172 Oxford St Collingwood

Auction Room103 Errol St North Melbourne

Di Bella- 19-21 Leveson  St North Melbourne

St Ali 12-18 Yarra Place South Melbourne

Barry85 High St Northcote

All of the above have brilliant food and  consistently  awesome coffee

Padre – Several locations but our regular one is at South Melbourne Market where they have great coffee, pastries, and muffins that are to die for, especially the ones with fresh raspberries and dark chocolate. They do not serve meals here. Open Wed, Fri, Sat & Sun 8am – 4pm.

Market Lane Coffee – Prahran Market ( open Tues, Wed, Thurs, Sun and Mon for sale of equipment & beans) They are also at various other locations including the Queen Victoria Market.  No meals but wonderful coffee and pastries

My list could go on forever so I’ll leave it here with just a handful of those we always enjoy, where the coffee and food is consistently good and the service is impeccable.

And if you’re love of a great coffee has you searching for the best then a must visit is to the International Coffee Expo which takes place in Melbourne each year. Here you can find out everything you need to know as well as sampling some magnificent beans. It’s also fun to sit and watch the competitions that are going on during the Expo. It’s a real eye opener to see what it takes to become a great Barista, and to understand everything that goes into making what is the end result of a long journey from Crop to Cup.

Click on the above “Crop to Cup” to see an interview with Sasa Sestic, World Barista Champion 2015, and a short of the movie that was made documenting his journey to become  ‘The Coffee Man’