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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Tortina: Alluring Cakes and Pastries in Zamalek
Located next to the Embassy of Denmark on Hassan Sabri Street in Zamalek, Tortina is very easy to find thanks to its bright and flashy macaroon pyramid display in its window and its fuchsia lighting on black walls.
The smell of the vanilla and pastries is so good and intense that you’ll want to eat everything. The shop is very clean and the products look delicious. Tortina's specialities are cakes but they offer a wide range of confectionery goods. If you are in a hurry and don't want to run from one shop to the other looking for the right dessert, Tortina offers you oriental and Western pastries, both traditional and more elaborate cakes as well as a service where you can custom-order cakes upon request for special events.
If you want to add a French touch to your dessert, Tortina offer you a wide choice of macaroons. This little French speciality is made of two delicate almond meringue cookies that, like a sandwich, are filled with different flavours such as chocolate, raspberry, lemon, coffee, caramel and hazelnut. A dozen macaroons will cost you 45LE, and it's an original gift idea if you are invited to dinner. Compared to the great French macaroon makers, we were not disappointed at all. The meringue is soft and flaky, and the filling juicy and chewy as it has to be.
As mentioned, Tortina takes requests for custom-made cakes. You can choose from their catalogue or bring your own ideas if you have something specific in mind. Considering that the preparation time depends on the volume of the order and on how many orders the shop has, the request should be made at least 24 hours before the delivery date to give Tortina enough time to prepare it. The cost depends on the size and the kind of cake.
You can also choose from their selection of cakes. A classic strawberry cake (vanilla sponge cake, fresh cream and strawberries) will cost you 120LE serving eight people, while the larger size serves twelve (160LE). There is also the mango version and a similar one that is enriched with Italian meringue, Bavarian cream, and fresh fruit (110LE and 150LE respectively). Chocolate lovers will enjoy the Mars cheesecake (125LE), the Twix cake (110LE) or a more traditional Montania (chocolate cake, Bavarian cream, Valrhona milk chocolate, and hazelnuts coated with chocolate for 160LE).
If you prefer, you can also mix and buy different chocolate, fruit, and cream pastries for 7LE to 13LE. After much deliberation, we chose to try the bright-red-strawberry tartlet (11LE), a slice of date cake (8.50LE), another of chocolate-Twix cake (10LE), and a slice of chocolate cake with a layer of crème brûlée and crunchy biscuit (10LE).
Despite their alluring appearance, we found that looks can be deceiving. All desserts were extremely sweet, but the strawberries were not as tasty as they looked, although the custard cream was fresh and melted in our mouth. The caramel in the Twix cake was barely discernible. Our favourite was definitely the date cake with its smooth cream layer that perfectly balanced the crunchy one. The last piece of cake also matched our expectations without blowing us away.
Tortina has another branch in Heliopolis, as well as concessions inside Metro market branches in Maadi, Nasr City, and 5th Settlement. Branches in Arkan Mall, 6th of October City and inside Metro Rehab City are rumoured to be opening soon.
With Brew & Chew satisfying the cravings of Maadi residents, and Dip n Dip spreading their fantastic desserts in New Cairo, Nasr City and 6 of October City, the sweet-toothed of Zamalek can be forgiven for feeling a little neglected – that is until now. Chocolate by name, chocolaty by nature, Joe’s Chocolate Bar on Taha Hussein Street could be the answer to every chocaholic’s dreams.
As a venue, Joe’s Chocolate Bar is divided into two floors; the top floor has nothing remarkable about it but allows smoking, while the ground floor is where the ‘chocolate is. Besides the melted chocolate-like decoration on the wall (which is installed upside down, so instead looks like chocolate waves) the calm lighting and wood walls create a relaxing and cosy ambiance to the place.
The items on the menu are limited and nothing grabbed our attention, but we opted for the Molten Chocolate Cake (47LE), Triple Chocolate Crepe (41LE) and their new special item – as the waiter was so keen to mention – Oreo Waffle (49LE).
The molten chocolate cake had a bold chocolate flavour and a very moist texture; the gooey centre had a fantastic pudding-like consistency, which shows that it was cooked to perfection and, overall, the dessert had a spot-on sweetness. On the other hand, we would have preferred that the ice cream was served separately, because the hot temperature of cake melted it quickly and made the top of the cake rather soggy.
The triple chocolate crepe was just as good, meanwhile; coming as three thin, light and fluffy triangular servings, each one was filled with a generous amount of melted milk chocolate, and drizzled with white, milk, and dark chocolate. We also asked for fruit (10LE) on the side which consists of mini cubes of kiwi, bananas, and strawberries, and it was surprisingly fresh even though it’s not strawberry season yet.
As for the Oreo waffle, we expected nothing more than a waffle with crushed Oreo on top, but, impressively, the waffle itself had an actual layer of Oreo in the middle. Despite the waffles needing a little more milk chocolate on top and being a bit chewy, they were largely soft with a slightly crispy exterior, and the flavour of the Oreo popped in every single bite.
Joe’s Chocolate Bar definitely impressed with their well-executed desserts and big flavours, but we felt that the variety on the menu is too safe and a bit limited for a dessert specialist. We’d very happily come back for the molten chocolate cake, though.