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Toasted muesli

11 May

I’m a big fan of breakfast. It’s a meal I never skip and one I often go to bed thinking about. Yes, I’ve made that confession on this blog before.

But in China, breakfast is a different affair – no cereals, toasts or scrambled eggs and bacon to be seen. My local Wu-Mart has a box of imported corn flakes and a whole row of oats, but that’s it in the way of cereals. Of course you can go to the western supermarkets and buy WeetBix for 55rmb (A$7.80), and they fulfill the cravings a little, but I really miss a good muesli. Back home we’d eat Carman’s, or on the lucky occasion when my mum would visit or we’d go down to Melbourne for the weekend, we’d eat her marvelous toasted muesli.

I guess everyone has their way they like to eat it. My dad and Dan like it plain with cold milk. My mum has hers with fruit. I love mine with fruit and yoghurt.

Despite there being a wide selection of muesli to buy in the western supermarkets, we’d been disappointed by too many, so when a friend lent us her toaster oven, the second thing I made (after a chicken, leek and mushroom pie) was toasted muesli, a la my mum, Kathy. It was the first time I’d ever tried making it, and despite not being able to find a few of the ingredients, it turned out delicious. It had oats, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sultanas, dried apricots, coconut, almonds, cashews and more…no soy grits unfortunately – I’m still looking for them. We also managed to get most of the ingredients organic, so we were really happy with what we were cooking with.

I combined everything and toasted it in batches in the toaster oven, and in 10 minutes the house smelt like my parent’s when my mum makes her muesli. I tried some and it was really good, if I do say so myself. But Dan also agreed, so we made another two or three batches. Each mouthful has crunch, plus delicious flavours and textures. Mum’s recipe really is good. I have to give the toaster oven back soon, so I’ll make another few batches to tide us over until we either buy an oven or borrow this one again! We’re also considering taking orders for this OM (Organic Muesli), so if anyone’s interested in trying some, let us know!

Beijing’s best milk teas

21 Apr

Being a fan of milk teas back home – particularly those from the Easyway chain in Australia – I’ve been trying a few over here.   Most places that sell milk tea in Beijing offer a good variety of hot and cold drinks over and above milk tea. For example, coconut milk with pearls, slushy/icey desserts, fruit drinks etc. I must admit that I haven’t tried most of these and generally stick to cold milk tea with pearls (ie little tapioca balls)  . I love tea, I love cold milk and I also love the tapioca pearls, so for me it’s a great combination and I find it very refreshing. The tapioca pearls also make a nice snack when you’re peck-ish, which kills two birds with one stone.

In Beijing, for delicious flavour and milk that’s very close to being organically produced (so they say), Wondermilk is definitely the cream of the crop. It’s located at Sanlitun and I must go through four or five a week from there. Comparatively it’s not cheap (18 yuan for a small cup), but I’d sooner go one of these than any of the other milk teas I’ve tried over here. There’s the real taste of tea through the milk, and perhaps it’s the use of fresh milk rather than powdered that gives it an extra special taste. We both love the frozen yogurt and their fruit “Wondershakes” made from frogurt too and we often use the milk to make our own yogurt – you can buy it from their shop or in some western supermarkets.

Next up for taste would have to be Happy Lemon. Coming in at 5 yuan, you get a good sized cup (bigger than Wondermilk) and it tastes a close second to Wondermilk. Their menu of teas is extensive – many milk teas including Oreo and malt, or the cocoa milk tea with cream puff (don’t ask, I haven’t tried it!). Jess also had a Blueberry with Nata Da Coco, one of their specialty drinks (the ones with a little yellow smiley face next to them) which was a delicious blueberry syrup with jelly pieces. Their range of lemon teas also looks interesting. I’d put Taiwanese dessert shop iTea and Hong Kong chain MRT on an equal footing in terms of taste and value. MRT is the name of the Hong Kong subway and is an interesting little shop. They have plenty of flavoured teas (including the famous Hong Kong milk tea) and the cold milk tea is quite strong, but still nice. Unfortunately they don’t make it with tapioca pearls – not at the shop we visit in Dongsi anyway. They make up for it with their delicious egg tarts, warmed up if you desire.

Coming in last would have to be the milk tea at Jack Hut. I’d only have one from there if all the others were closed and I was desperate.

A similarity at all of these tea shops is the overwhelming size of their menus. They offer tastes for everyone – hot, cold, milk, black tea, fruity, icy, pearls, jelly, slush, pudding, yoghurt, ice cream…whatever you’re after, a milk tea shop is bound to have something for you.

My absolute favourite (including those from overseas) would have to be … drumroll … the taro milk tea with pearls from Easyway – it’s a light purple in colour. It’s very hard to resist buying one every time I walk past that store!

Mmmmm Melbourne

2 Apr

Have been salivating over my good friend Neil’s photo blog of all things Melbourne. He captures beautiful images of everyday Melbourne, but what really got my tummy rumbling was the amazing food he eats and shoots. He makes me miss my hometown!!

We’re enlisting you, Neil to be our food guide when we get back to Melbourne. 🙂