Sign in using your account with
Zamalek, Cairo, Egypt.
Nola: More Cupcakes in Cairo, Hurrah!
Here’s yet another reason why living in Zamalek is awesome if you have a sweet tooth! Located on the always busy Brazil Street just off of 26th of July Street is Nola, a quaint and elegant little cupcake shop with charming decor and sweet desserts. Though it’s definitely not the first pastry shop in Zamalek to sell cupcakes (you’ve got Loolie’s and Sugar N Spice in walking distance), it is the first to devote itself entirely and completely to cupcakes.
At the time of this reviewer’s visit, the cupcakes are sold in two sizes, a tiny bite-size and a large size, which– quite honestly– is not as large as we had hoped it would be. The cupcakes are arranged in a glass display shelf on one side of the shop, while the other side holds a chalkboard with the menu list written out in coloured chalk. Nola’s interior is painted in Robin’s Egg blue with elegant floor tiles, white chandeliers and two white high-top tables in the centre for you to wait at while your order is being prepared.
The upper level is completely devoted to the in-house oven and baking section, where a new batch of cupcakes is consistently being baked. So, if they’ve run out of your favourite flavour; be sure to ask when their next batch will be ready: it could be a matter of minutes.
At the time of this reviewer’s visit; the following cupcake flavours were available: chocolate, peanut butter, blueberry, apple, vanilla, carrot, coconut, red velvet and lemon meringue. Prices range from 8.50LE for the vanilla cupcake all the way up to 12LE for the quite extravagant chocolate cupcake.
The cupcakes are all so prettily arranged and decorated; you almost feel bad taking your first bite. Biting into the little treat, you’ll find that the cake’s texture is lovely and chewy with just the right consistency of fluffiness. In some cases such as the vanilla (8.50LE) and carrot cupcakes (11LE), the icing is just a little too creamy; as we prefer ours to be thick and heavy.
Some flavours are also a little too vague; it was difficult to figure out if our cupcake sample was carrot or banana, especially since the cake itself tasted more like banana cake and the icing had too much butter. The lemon meringue (11LE) and coconut cupcakes (9LE) brought interesting twists to the traditional flavours, but while they were sweet and pretty; they were nothing special to write home about.
The red velvet (10.50LE) is decorated with a picturesque, fluffy cake texture, though its cream cheese icing overpowers the cake’s flavour. The chocolate cupcake (12LE) has a rich, creamy chocolate icing that complements the rich chocolate cake.
All in all, the cupcakes at Nola are sweet, pretty and daintily decorated: they’re the perfect gift to bring to a ladies’ afternoon tea or an elegant birthday party. Their moderate sizes and so-so flavours stop them from becoming our all-time favourite desserts in Cairo; but since this is only the shop’s opening week, we see great potential in Nola’s future.
Shisha, hookah, water-pipe – whatever you want to call it, it’s every bit as essential to Cairo cafes as chairs and tables are and the majority of places across the city serve it as a key ingredient to the quintessential Egyptian experience.
Located in the bustling Marghany Street, Hookah Lounge stands out with its bright purple sign and white painted walls. We were greeted at the entrance by a waiter, who offered us the choice of either indoor or outdoor seating. Spending any kind of prolonged time outside in Cairo in November is likely to have you shivering to the bone, but Hookah Lounges outdoor area is equipped with surprisingly effective heaters.
We were instantly seated in the mildly crowded lounge without having to wait and had our menus laid out before us in a jiffy.
The design of the place immediately puts you at ease, boasting a laid back white and silver colour scheme. We especially loved the gigantic, colourful shisha design strewn to the side wall and thought it added a rather charming feel to the place.
Going for a rather non-fussy menu, Hookah offers no-fuss mainstream dishes; pastas, pizzas, sandwiches, salads and burgers pretty much dominated the menu. For the shishas, however, they offer a wide range of flavours and mixes.
We placed our order and had our shishas by our sides a few minutes later. The blueberry-vanilla (27LE) was quite heavenly, albeit a bit too strong in flavour. We, nonetheless, loved it. The cherry-vanilla (27LE), which wasn't on the menu, but made as a special request for us, was much lighter than the former and tasted just as delightful. Our coal, however, was not regularly maintained and we had to ask the waiter continuously to change it.
Arriving right after the shishas, our steaming main dishes looked absolutely mouth-watering. The Fried Mozzarella (25 LE) consisted of four large pieces of fried, breaded cheese with a dip and tasted as sinful as deep-fried cheese should taste. Our Chicken Alfredo pasta (49 LE) came in a hefty serving and consisted of penne pasta – as requested – topped with dense white sauce and grilled chicken chunks, sprinkled with parmesan cheese. Though nothing stands out as being extraordinary in the food department, everything was cooked well and served in big, filling portions.
But this being a cafe called Hookah Lounge, the focus is very much on shisha and though it wasn’t tended to as regularly as one would like, the quality and variety of the different flavours makes it a haven for shisha fans.