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Generally Recognized As True: April 2009

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Muesli review: Finax, Bob's Red Mill, Dorset

Muesli seems to me to be a good cereal. It's the only cereal that I eat nowadays because I've come to the conclusion that all boxed cereal is bad for you, whether or not it's organic, low sugar, high fibre, granola, or loaded with vitamins and "essential nutrients". On the odd occasion that I do go back to the usual boxed cereal, I can tell it's no good because of how it makes me feel: highly-strung and feeling full but still hungry.

But, muesli doesn't seem to have these problems. It's a dry and relatively-raw cereal without any fancy sugar-based varnishes, crunch enhancers, or funny shapes.

I'm going to briefly mention three types that I've tried over the past few years: Swedish Finax, American Bob's Red Mill, and British Dorset. I was also going to include Bulk Barn's no-name muesli but they changed it recently to have some hard, gritty pieces in it. That's fine if you're going to cook it, but I eat it cold with milk so I don't buy it anymore.

Finax
Finax isn't so subtle in their marketing, with a big "GOOD FOR YOU" plastered on the front, as if it's the name of the muesli (it very well may be the name). It's mostly made up of flaked grains with a sporadic scattering of sweet pieces like papaya and raisins. It's a good cereal for a small bowl because there aren't any big pieces to come rolling over the top when you put the milk in. Because the sweet things are so sparse, it seems like a lighter cereal and doesn't sit around in your stomach for hours or have any adverse side effects. In fact, after I eat it, I feel like I might be ready for a half-day's work at a Swedish social democratic government job (though of course I'd take a full day to do it).

In Canada, you can get it at Superstore.


Bob's Red Mill
Bob's Red Mill is probably what you'd call a "hearty" muesli. It has a serious, earthy look to it and has some dates and raisins for sweetness. The sweetness is higher than Finax because there are more sweet pieces, and the flakes are larger. It also has a lot of sunflower seeds compared to most mueslis, which over time I haven't come to like very much. Everything else in the mix crunches in your teeth nicely, but the seeds slide around sometimes or just get in the way.

In Canada, you can get it at a number of places that carry Bob's Red Mill stuff (usually in its own display). Superstore carries it.




Dorset
Dorset is like a "deluxe" muesli, regardless of the version you choose (there are many). The simplest version has whole hazelnuts in it, for example. It's also loaded with dates and raisins and the sweetness (though natural) is the highest of the three. It's not TOO sweet, but it's on the sweet side. Combined with the relatively large amount of nuts, it turns out to be a pretty rich cereal and I don't like to eat it every day. But, this is what I remember as "muesli" -- fitting, since it is British and I grew up in England. At the same time, muesli isn't a British invention so it's likely a British interpretation.

In Canada, you can get this at A&P/Metro. Foodstuffs in Georgetown has a few of the varieties, too.


Summary
So, really... I liked Bob's Red Mill at first but over the long term got tired of there being so many seeds. I don't like lots of seeds in muesli. Finax is the best "every day" muesli because it's light -- not too rich and not too sweet. Dorset is a good "special" muesli for when you want something a bit sweeter and heavier and it's fell well-balanced, but I find it a bit too heavy for eating every day. Maybe you can call it a "dessert muesli" :) This is based on their least-extravagant muesli. I've tried a few of the others that they make and they're all about the same as far as the heaviness goes.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ray LaMontagne concert : April 15, 2009 : Massey Hall : Toronto, ON

It hasn't been that long since I saw Ray LaMontagne in concert because I saw him last year at Danforth Music Hall. It was just as good the second time around -- this time at Massey Hall -- and I haven't got much more to add.

But, this review of the concert at Jam! is a pathetic review, giving it a mediocre rating apparently only because RL didn't talk very much during the show. Maybe this is important to someone who either (a) wants to have something different to say in a review or (b) doesn't care about the music, but even with both of those in play, you'd have to be pretty insensitive to notice that the reception to the concert was very enthusiastic and nobody seemed to care about any of the points she raised because they were there for the music. It's a rude and insulting review written for the type of people that wouldn't really care about the so-called showmanship even if it was there (and I'm not sure that it wasn't there, anyway... there was nothing at all missing from this show).

It reminded me that I also saw world-class flamenco guitarist Paco Pena in the same hall last year, and he didn't say a single word -- about 50 words less than RL did last night. But so what? It was one of the best flamenco shows I've ever seen and I don't have a single negative memory.

We need more good musicians: we don't need more amateur comedians. Ray LaMontagne is better for being the former and for not trying to be the latter.

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P.S. The gallery seats at Massey Hall -- those above the balcony -- are actually pretty good. I wasn't sure what to expect, but the hall is so shallow, and the gallery seating is staged at such a relatively large angle that you get an excellent view of the stage. In some cases, they would be better than the floor seats. I had floor seats at Danforth Music Hall last year and the view was larger but not as broad.