A lot of recent reviews focus on new, up and coming openings so when I was given the chance to visit Ibrahim Pastry, a 35-year-old Rockdale institution, I was pretty excited.
Ibrahim was set up by Mohammed in 1983 and it’s a real family place. The girls behind the counter were telling us that the shop is run by cousins, aunties and uncles, family friends, and it’s this family feel that gives the place such a friendly atmosphere.
In addition to winning awards, Ibrahim has also captured the hearts (and tummies) of the local community. While we were sipping our flat whites and sampling as many pastries as we could handle, there was a steady stream of both regulars, picking up weekly orders and newbies, like us, who had been tempted inside by the delicious smells and piles of sweets in the window.
The girls behind the counter are evidently used to people popping by, eager to try but not knowing where to start. As I stood there with eyes as big as my stomach, they took us through all the different types of pastries and sweets available from baklawa to fatayers and were happy to mix us up a ‘little bit of everything’. If you’re new to Lebanese pastries, like myself, don’t be afraid to ask!
First up, the baklawas were lovely little sweet treats. At Ibrahim they do them with cashews, pistachios and almonds and are bound together with plenty of syrup and sweetness. They’re perfectly bite-sized and you could easily have one or two with a cup of their Byron Bay coffee for a mid-morning treat.
On recommendation, we also tried the sweet cheese, a Lebanese speciality made from a half-formed cheese (usually Akkawi or mozzarella), semolina, an Arabic-style cream all perfumed with rose water. It sounds strange but it was pleasantly surprising. I loved the Turkish delight flavours that the rose water gave the dish but the consistency of the cheese was something I think I might need to get used to!
Other top pastries were the pistachio balourieh, a sort of stringy pastry-chopped nut sandwich and a custard fatayer, layers of filo pastry with a cottage cheese style custard in the middle. The pastries are all generously filled with creams, custards and nuts so when you take your first bite, things can get a little messy.
My favourite by far was actually one of Mohammed’s own creations. Every Saturday he whips up a few large batches of these pastries called ‘Lady’s Arms’ which are rolls filled with a hazelnut flavoured cream. They are delicious and we even took a few home with us!
After this journey through the wonderful world of Lebanese sweets, we were pretty full and, if you know anything about these kinds of pastries, our sweet teeth couldn’t take much more! If you’re planning a visit, I’d definitely recommend having a try of a few pastries in store and then taking more home to try later. The prices are also pretty reasonable - from $1.50 onwards, so there's no excuse not to give everything a try. They also make cakes to order for occasions, Lebanese ice cream and some scrummy looking Turkish delight if you seriously want to stock up!
We had a really great morning at Ibrahim and if you’re looking for something a bit different, it’s certainly worth the trip down Princes Highway. Just bring your sweet tooth with you.
|4 / 412 Princes Highway|
|+61 2 9597 2071|
Mon – Sat 9am – 10.30pm