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Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
Le Marche: Elegant French Patisserie at Fairmont Heliopolis & Towers
An accolade of the transparent modern style, the Fairmont Heliopolis & Towers is a beacon of luxury in an otherwise low-key residential area. Walking inside the hotel, past the trendy restaurants and dimly-lit bars, Le Marche is easily spotted far back in a quiet alcove.
Illuminated under warm, orange strip lights, the cafe walls are adorned with framed posters of vintage French advertisements and tasteful photographs of the Eiffel Tower. With deep, comfortable chairs and rich rosewood upholstery, the café seats up to four people per table and is well-suited for those intimate, after-dark outings.
The menu caters more to the breakfast and lunch crowd and includes a wide range of reasonably priced soups and entrées. To start, we selected the turkey Panini (80LE) and a chicken salad (85LE). After taking down our order, the waiter brought over a basket of fresh bread – with both white and rye slices – and a plate of soft butter.
Due to a slight misunderstanding, we were given a chicken Caesar salad instead of the chicken salad and, even though we had already taken a few bites before realizing the mistake, the plate was taken back and replaced without any complications. The new chicken salad was presented in a deep-welled dish and contained zesty chicken strips and a flavourful combination of walnuts, avocado, crispy romaine lettuce, artichoke and watercress, with creamy gorgonzola dressing drizzled on top. With tender turkey slices, bocconcini and rocket all housed in a fresh portion of boule bread, the turkey Panini was a light and meaty treat. A side of crispy French fries was served alongside the sandwich, as well as a small condiment bowl filled with sweet ketchup.
The drinks menu offers a variety of hot and cold beverages, including a few alcoholic options. We decided on a café latte (30LE) and lemon juice with mint (27LE). The latte was truly worth the price and was served in a delicate tray with a piece of divine, chocolate biscotti. Perfectly blended and frothy, the lemonade was delivered unsweetened alongside a small pitcher of chilled syrup to add to taste.
From the extensive selection of sweets, we opted for a slice of berry cheesecake (24LE) and a fruit Danish (20LE). The berry cheesecake was incredibly velvety and the sweetness of the cream mixed with the tartness of the berries amounted to a palpable burst of well-rounded flavour. The fruit Danish, while rather good, was nothing exceptional and was completely outshined by the phenomenal cheesecake.
Placed away from hotel traffic caused by bridal parties and tour groups, yet close enough to enjoy the lavish visual amenities of the Fairmont, Le Marche is the perfect place to indulge in light meals and delicious, Parisian pastries.
Remember when Cairo was crazy for cupcakes? Nola was one of the first and main names behind the trend; but as with all trends, people can quickly get tired of them – something that has seen Nola introduce cheesecake, brownies, and cronuts to their menu over the years and this year, they’ve added even more
Nola’s newest items has seen the bakery introduce mini sandwiches, chocolate stones, truffles, cake pops, mini lava cakes and Belgian hot chocolate, though not everything was available when we paid the Mohandiseen branch a visit.
We started our way to out sugar coma with a Mini Chocolate Volcano Cake (27LE); a chocolate cake that’s cooked and served in a bowl, with a valley in the centre that’s filled with thick chocolate pudding, before it’s all dusted with cocoa powder. Despite the very basic, un-Nola presentation, the cake had a great spongy texture and handled the luscious melted chocolate pudding perfectly, while the cocoa powder reduced the overall sweetness to a nice balance.
We also tried the white chocolate version (28LE), but found that it wasn’t exactly what was promised. What should have been a white chocolate cake had no white chocolate flavour whatsoever, but the white chocolate shavings on top and the melted white chocolate pudding pool in the middle took care of that. Although it was overly sweet compared to the other one, there was a little bit more to the flavours and textural contrast.
For many, two cakes would be more than enough sugar intake for one day, but we also left the shop with a Chocolate Pop (9LE) and a Red Velvet Pop (8LE). Wrapped in a plastic cover with a mini bowtie, and served on a lollipop stick, the chocolate pop was moist chocolate cake with a fudgy texture, coated with chocolate shell. We enjoyed the flavours, but we’ve tried better in Cairo and there was nothing remarkable about it.
The red velvet pop had a different problem, though; the red velvet cake is coated in red velvet chocolate and had a very strong artificial flavour, which most likely came from the red chocolate shell or the red food colouring in the cake.
We also tried Nola’s hot chocolate (12.50LE) from the serve-yourself station and it’s possibly the best we’ve tried in a long time. Made with Belgian chocolate, it boasts bold flavour and a perfect thick consistency, too.
We’ve come to consider Nola as the maker of the cutest and most colourful cupcakes in town, but the new items don’t follow suit on that front. Luckily, the items we were able to try made up for it when it came to the most important thing flavour. The new items are fun, varied and ever so chocolaty.