Baba: presents Animal Farm

This post is all about offal. If offal makes you squeamish, you may want to skip this one!

Did anyone do any Melbourne Food and Wine Festival events? I only ended up doing one thing – Animal Farm at Baba. Details from the program:

“a seven course menu exploring the flavours of Turkey and the Middle East, matched with wines from Spain and Italy. Featuring bone marrow, heart, brains, tripe, liver and kidney mezze, claypots and kebabs, with Turkish delight, gelato and Turkish coffee to finish, this is a culinary feast not for the weak at heart – but for those who eat it.”

Only Bro and I went to this dinner – Alastair stayed home and had a “safe” dinner of curry. 🙂

A long table was set up in the middle of the restaurant, with tables for normal diners around the edges of the dining area. We were told that the food would be served communally, but as not every seat was filled there was space between groups and each group received their own dishes.

Baba: Animal Farm

The first course was a rich and smooth chicken liver parfait with middle eastern melbas and cornichons. A rather safe dish to start off with and good smeared on the crispy bread.

Baba: Animal Farm

Next was roast bone marrow with smoked lemon, caper and parsley salad and Turkish bread. Little dishes of pink salt from Tibet were placed on the table. To eat the bone marrow, we scraped it out of the bone, spread it on the toast, sprinkled with a bit of salt and then topped it with some of the parsley salad. Mhmmmm it was buttery and soft, plus mildly meaty with the salt and parsley helping to balance out the richness.

Baba: Animal Farm
Baba: Animal Farm

The third course was Libyan baked lambs brains in gadaffi pastry and harissa. GAK. The brains felt sooooo greasy and just seemed to coat my mouth in fat. It was the fattiest thing I’ve ever eaten (more than the bone marrow)! Looking around the table at other diners, many seemed to share my distaste. The brains weren’t a very popular course!

Baba: Animal Farm

Happily, the next course was tripe soup with cumin, currants and coriander. The soup was lovely – very strongly cuminy, and the tripe was cooked until very, very tender (I may be strange, but I thought it looked very pretty in the soup). Every now and again I would get little bits of currant and crunch down on cumin seed (one of my favourite spices).

The fifth course came out in three separate dishes. Oh boy, things were getting heavy!

Baba: Animal Farm

First we had sweetbreads with basil and tomato. I don’t think I’ve had sweetbreads before, but I really liked them. They had a kind of firm, bouncy texture and reminded me of chicken nuggets.

Baba: Animal Farm

Then there was a sumac seared ox liver with a glazed onion and chickpea salad. The ox liver was good too – rather rich, but the zingy sourness from the sumac and chickpea salad helped cut through the richness.

Baba: Animal Farm

And last for this course was a za’atar grilled lamb kidney kebab. It was bought out to the table last, and we were already eating the sweetbreads and liver by the time it arrived. As soon as it was set down, all I could smell was that awful kidney scent. I ate a kidney, and while it tasted fine I couldn’t get over that smell. Even if my stomach hadn’t been approaching full I wouldn’t have been able to eat the whole kebab.

Baba: Animal Farm
Baba: Animal Farm

The last savoury course was an East Brunswick bunny boil-up. In the boil up was rabbit kafta dumplings, chicken hearts, lamb sweetbreads and peas. We also received a small dish of pilaf. The pilaf was really good, lovely and buttery, but unfortunately after so much offal we could only eat a couple of bites. The dumplings, hearts and sweetbreads in the light broth were all fine and good, but even the most hardened offal lover would have been a bit weary by this stage (and we were a bit…. weary….).

Baba: Animal Farm

And finally, to finish, there was Turkish delight gelato, served in cones with a lump of Turkish delight on top. Thank goodness dessert didn’t follow the offal theme! The faintly rosewater flavoured gelato was a good way to end the meal and I loved the cones.

We didn’t stay for coffee – we had been sitting there for about four hours and we were desperate to get out of the wooden seats. The seats would’ve been fine for a normal dinner but four hours called for a cushion! Food wise, it obviously wasn’t the most balanced dinner (did you notice the distinct lack of any green stuff?) but we knew what we were getting into. In the whole we thoroughly enjoyed it, with only the brains and kidneys kinda defeating us. It was definitely a meal for the brave….. or for the ones with cast iron stomachs!

Baba Levantine Trading Company
80 Lygon Street, Brunswick East
Phone: 9380 8534

Brunches: Bunyip, Red Star, Panette and El Mirage

Bunyip coffee


We seem to visit South Melbourne every couple of weeks, probably because I like going to the market there. We tend to have brunch before visiting the South Melbourne market, and recently we brunch at Bunyip. Bunyip is located in an old Victorian, which looks like it once may have been a house. It was a glorious day, and we ended up sitting outside underneath a couple of large, yellow umbrellas. I didn’t notice until I uploaded the photos to my camera, but the umbrellas gave an unpleasant tint to my pictures that I haven’t been able to totally correct. Doh!

Bunyip baked egg

I ordered the Spanish eggs ($14). Two poached eggs came in a rich napoli sauce, with chorizo and black olives. The sauce was thick and a touch spicy and the eggs were happily runny. Initially I thought there was only one egg, but there was one hidden underneath the sauce. Happy days!

Bunyip fritters

The Boys had corn fritters with roast tomato, bacon and relish ($12). I love corn fritters for brunch, and these looked pretty good.

Bunyip Cafe,
313 Coventry Street, South Melbourne,
Phone: 03 9682 5844

Ice coffee

Red Star

The scorching weather last week was a surprise, as was the fact that at Red Star I had a sweet breakfast, while Alastair had a savoury one. I started off with an iced coffee, which was large and full of milk and ice cream. It wasn’t very strong coffee wise though, which was slightly disappointing.

Big star french toast

I ordered the french toast with maple syrup ($7.50) adding grilled banana and bacon ($2.60 each). I think I could’ve skipped the banana, and I did wonder where the other half of my banana went (in the photo you can see a nub of the other half)! They were very generous with the bacon however, and that was great with the french toast. Points off for the fake maple syrup though.

Red star big brekkie

Alastair and Pat had the big breakfast which came with two eggs, bacon, sausage, hash brown, tomatoes, mushrooms and scwhob’s toast ($19). I thought it was a bit on the expensive side, even for a big brekkie. The toast was great – Pat took one bite and drooled due to the generous buttering. I ate a piece too and it was gooooooooood.

Red Star
315 Coventry Street
South Melbourne, 3205
Phone: 03 9682 1678



I have blogged about the fabulous gnocchi bolognaise previously, and Panette also do a spinach gnocchi. For some reason I haven’t noted down any details about this one, but from what I can remember the spinach gnocchi is served with a napoli sauce and topped with mozzarella.

Panette gnocchi

It’s not as light and as tasty as the other gnocchi but it’s pretty good. And if you’re watching your weight, just try and ignore the massive amount of cheese!

Caffe Panette
144 Cecil St, South Melbourne 3205 VIC
Phone: (03) 9690 2803

El Mirage coffee

El Mirage

The other weekend we were in the Brunswick East area because I had to drop by a friend’s house, and we took the opportunity to try a new cafe.

El Mirage was very busy when we arrived, and we had to wait a few minutes for a table. As we ordered, the waitress advised us that meals would take about half an hour, due to lots of people ordering at once. That was okay with us, so we ordered and waited.

Everyone in the cafe, especially the staff, seemed very trendy, and I felt like we weren’t cool enough to be there. 🙂

My long mac was very enjoyable, although I tried to delay drinking it. I knew that drinking it 30 minutes before eating would make me all jittery from the caffeine!

El Mirage gringo

Either the time went very quickly, or 30 minutes was a worst case scenario, but it didn’t seem to be too long before our food arrived. Bro and I both had the Gringo ($15) which came with poached eggs, mexican beans, tomato, bacon and “home-fries”. The eggs were soft and runny, and I loved the beans and the home-fries. I always like it when you can get something a bit different from regular eggs and toast.

El Mirage
349 Lygon St
Brunswick East
Phone: 03 9388 0966

Tiba’s Lebanese Restaurant

Tibas Lebanese Restaurant

In celebration of my Bro’s birthday in August, we took him out to dinner. Because it was a weekday, I didn’t feel like going somewhere too fancy, so I picked Tiba’s Lebanese Restaurant.

Well, it was a good thing I wasn’t looking for fancy, because Tiba’s certainly isn’t! The atmosphere was…… what’s the best word? Functional comes to mind! It was a bit like having dinner at someone’s house – someone who hadn’t decorated for a couple of decades. Still, we weren’t there for the atmosphere or interior design – we were there for food.

After perusing the menu, we decided on the set menu and chose Tiba’s House Special. I assumed that the price was per person, but it wasn’t – it was per serve. After a bit of confusion where we got the feeling that we only had ordered one House Special (we had), Alastair went to the waiter to clarify and settled on two serves of the set house special. He was told that three would probably be a bit too much for the three of us and that was good advice.

I really needed to eat – a strong coffee in the late afternoon had been churning my stomach and I was still feeling a bit nauseous. I kept being teased by the sight of food being bought out only to disappear around the corner. So when food arrived (after a couple of quick nasty photos of course) I started stuffing myself.

Because I was so focussed on eating, I don’t really remember exactly what we had… I know there was pita bread, and dips (hummus, tzatziki, & baba ganoush), dolmades, chickpeas, parsley salad (I’m still not sure if this was supposed to be tabouleh as there was no visible signs of burghul), garden salad, pickles, Lebanese pizza and falafel. While I was eating stuff individually, Alastair had the brilliant idea of sticking stuff in pita bread and wrapping it up. Just like a bought one!

Tibas Lebanese Restaurant

Then the meat came out – lamb, chicken, beef, sausage, some random meat on a stick, sitting on a bed of rice.

Tibas Lebanese Restaurant

And that rice – OH MY GOD. All the juice from the meat had soaked into the rice and it was so tasty. It was oily and meaty and delicious – I could’ve eaten a bucket of it. My only wish is that the rice had been a bit warmer. There is nothing like steaming hot rice straight from the pot or rice cooker. Mhmmmm.

It didn’t feel like I had eaten that much, but by the end of the meal we were all completely stuffed. Not that my full stomach stopped me from taking a small pack of pastries home to savour on the couch…!

Tibas Lebanese Restaurant

Tiba’s Lebanese Restaurant.
504 Sydney Rd Brunswick 3056.
Phone: (03) 9380 8425

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