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Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Soufflé: Zamalek Sweet Spot
A good neighbour is always available to lend you a cup of sugar. On the island of Zamalek, sweet shop Soufflé knows what being a good neighbour is all about.
While some sweet shops specialise in oriental treats, ice cream or chocolate cake; Soufflé has it all. The large shop is packed with several coolers, a central counter and shelf-lined walls all loaded with sugary delights.
One section of baskets is brimming with bite-sized goodies of both the oriental and western persuasion. Tiny, crunchy tartlets filled with cashews, little chocolate-covered sandwich cookies and petite shortbreads with gooey apricot centres are just a few of the mini-treats in this section. Sold by weight, you can mix a bunch of your favourites for a tasty and colourful cookie platter at 70LE per kilo. For bite-sized savoury snacks, take a peek behind the gateau counter, where a slew of breadsticks and crackers in varying shapes with seeded toppings go for 26LE to 30LE per kilo.
The centre of the shop is devoted to a high counter, where traditional oriental sweets are on display. Soufflé’s selection includes traditional basbousa for 30LE per kilo– expect to pay more for the crunchy nut toppings– and konafa stuffed with pistachio for 140LE.
A refrigerated display of Soufflé’s cakes and tarts showcases the shop’s gourmet side. A number of beautifully designed cakes are available, including one covered with glistening peaches (120LE). Even better is the counter just next to this cooler, where chic single servings of a variety of cakes and tarts are sold.
One in particular features a double layered crunchy crust beneath a decadently rich layer of thick chocolate mousse which is topped with a combed design of dark and milk chocolate sauce. Another delightful option had a spongy white cake base topped with mounds of pastry cream and finished with pineapple, peach and kiwi. The sweetest part about these desserts is the price. At 9LE per piece, these gourmet treats are as nice on your wallet as they are on your tongue.Soufflé delivers to the Zamalek, Mohandiseen and Dokki neighbourhoods, and although they don’t cater; they do have a nice selection of dyed, fruit-shaped marzipan and lots of chocolates and candies in elegant wrappers that would make excellent favours for a party or a wedding.
And while there isn’t a single soufflé to be found in the store, their selection is so sweet that we barely notice the misdirection.
Brunch: the wonderful, yet slightly obscure to this region, concept of a meal that fits between breakfast and lunch. It’s the perfect meal for lazy, laid back days and TBS, perhaps one of Egypt’s finest bakery chains, seems to be the perfect place to feed our mid-day rumbling bellies.
The branch at Sheikh Zayed's Arkan Plaza presents TBS's signature modern design of basic off-white and wooden brown colour scheme complimented by immaculate glass windows that allow the light to ever so brightly seep into the adequately sized bakery. The minute we walked in, our nostrils were gleefully attacked by the delicious scent of fresh baking and our eyes went straight to the fridges and displays boasting a wide array of edible eye-candy. Our server greeted us and waited patiently while we tried to make up our minds on what to order.
With regards to what TBS has to offer, its menu is composed of many sweet and savoury croissant variations (7.75LE to 11.25LE/piece), alongside different types of baguettes, toast, tarts (9LE-12LE/piece), Danishes (9LE), muffins (7LE-9.50LE), cronuts (9.50LE), cookies, mini pizzas and donuts (8LE.25-10.50LE). TBS has also very recently launched some new pastry items including Raspberry and Blueberry tarts (12LE), the vegetable (10LE) and chicken (13.75LE tarts), as well as sun-dried tomato, spicy feta and mint feta puffs (8.25LE). You can also customize your own sandwich, by picking your own baguette and fillings. Of course, you can also enjoy a freshly-squeezed juice or some coffee with your treats. As you can see, the options are plentiful.
After taking slightly too long to figure out what to choose, the server swiftly boxed and packaged everything neatly. The first bite we took was of the Multi Cereal Croissant (8.25LE), which tasted light, decadent and better than any white croissant we’ve ever had - healthy options can actually taste good, after all. After that, we dug our teeth into the Rix Milano (9.25LE), which is basically a dough-wrapped sausage, and it tasted just as fresh as the former. The Mini Pizza (7LE) was also quite delicious, though tasted very similar to the Rix Milano. The Almond Croissant (8LE) was quite delightful, sweet and topped with slivered Almonds, but needed a tad more filling, as did the Pain Au Chocolat (9.25LE).
TBS seems to have successfully retained its quality whereever it has gone, with everything tasting exceptionally fresh. Moreover, the servers were, as always, welcoming and efficient and the place was spotless and neat, giving us all the more reason to come back.