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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.
Having already made its name in the Egyptian dessert market, Thomas Patisserie is by no means, an unfamiliar brand. Thomas’ latest branch in New Cairo, however, is still new and pristine and so, being the adamant sweet-tooths we are, we decided to hit it up for a much-needed sugar fix.
Located in a rather odd part of New Cairo, in the Medical Park, Thomas is relatively spacious yet lacks any seating areas; it’s the type of patisserie you go to when you want to take your desserts to-go.
The interior appearance of the venue unabashedly leans to the sleek, dark, black spectrum of decor; an obvious attempt at obtaining a chic and posh design. The whole vibe, however, is a little too much and ends up looking a little tacky rather than the elegant.
The place offers a variety of desserts, divided into the two obvious types; Western and Middle- Eastern/ Oriental treats. Taking a glance at all the desserts offered at the time of our visit, we couldn’t help but notice that the gateaux and cakes looked much better-stocked and more alluring than their Oriental counterparts. The Oriental desserts on display, however, included lots of the classics like Basbousa (40LE-60LE/ Kilo), Konafa, and Baklava amongst others. You can also order a selection of the three for 130LE/Kilo.
We migrated to the better lit display of all the gateaux, tarts and cakes one could ever think of. From round, English-type, breakfast-friendly cakes (70LE) to full-on, occasion-orientated cakes (120LE-150 LE for a small one and 170LE-210LE for a large one), the cakes came in all sizes with all kinds of flavours and toppings. Moreover, the infamous French delicacies, Macaroons, were also available in a multitude of flavours (175LE/ kilo). Gateaux, both normal-sized (9LE-16LE/piece) and soiree-sized (100LE/kilo), were also available and we opted for a few pieces to indulge in.
Other savoury baked goods can also be found at Thomas, including pates, croissants and mini pizzas (5.50LE-8LE/ piece). Gourmet chocolates (175LE/ Kilo) are also offered and would make lovely gifts for any occasion.
Our gateaux were well-wrapped in a box and were pleasing to the eye. The classic, sugar-topped, millefeuille was light, yet decadent, with the pastry tasting exceptionally fresh. The mango tarte was also quite delightful and light. The chocolate gateaux, however, despite tasting alright seemed to lack a certain oomph; chocolate desserts should never taste average.
All in all, Thomas offers quite a lovely selection of desserts for all kinds of occasions. Despite its wishy-washy design and quite peculiar location, it still did have adequate service, with super friendly staff. The desserts themselves were not ground-breaking in the taste department, but were still of notable quality.