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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.
A perfect hangout spot can be hard to find in Cairo. Though there’s certainly no lack of cafes, restaurants and bars, it’s simply difficult to find a place that balances entertainment, food and a sense of comfort all at the same time with venues often sacrificing one aspect to keep the rest as high as possible.
Hidden away in the Walk at Beverly Hills,6th of October City, lies Bricks; a simple venue with an emphasis on being a hangout spot with good food. The outdoor area is filled with modernised version of Ahwa chairs painted in white along with wooden top tables with metal centres offering cosy setting.
Bricks also boasts a relatively small indoor area with the same previously mentioned chairs and a ‘PlayStation Corner’ for anyone who’s into gaming – for free – alongside a huge black graffiti-decorated wall quoting famous Beatles song, Come together.
With a relaxed atmosphere, Bricks offer a chilled out mood their seating arrangements, while the availability of playing cards and backgammon, as well as a screen to show matches, it certainly checks two of the boxes for an all-inclusive hangout spot.
After taking a seat outside and looking through the menus we opted for the Mozzarella sticks (35LE) as an appetiser, as well as the Classic Burger (45LE), the Mushroom Burger (55 LE) and a Chilly Hotdog (40LE) with extra cheese (5LE) for our main dishes.
Arriving only a few minutes later, the appetiser came as four mozzarella sticks with a mayo and sweet chilli sauce; the sticks had a satisfyingly crunchy outer shell with a tender gooey cheese centre that was enhanced even further after dipping it into the sweet chilli sauce for an extra spicy sweet aftertaste.
Our main dishes arrived moments later in wooden framed plates accompanied with a small bowl of pickles, alongside some fries. The Mushroom burger had a large burger patty on top of some lettuce and mayo, topped by Swiss cheese and large mushroom pieces and had some curly fries on the side (4LE).
The curly fries were well seasoned and would rival that of Hardee’s, with a crispy exterior and tender hot interior making us uncontrollably eat one after the other. As for the burger, it had a high quality, pure beef flavour with a barbequed aftertaste, working well with the slightly tangy cheese and the saltiness of the mushroom, making it a well-rounded sandwich.
The classic burger followed the same pattern as the mushroom burger in quality, and had lettuce and tomatoes, but was a bit dry. However, that was quickly solved by adding the mayo and sweet chilli sauce.
Moving on to the Chilli Hotdog, it came in a large hotdog bun, topped with some mustard and smothered with chilli, extra cheese and slices of onion alongside some French fries.
Although the fries lacked a bit of seasoning, it was easily fixed with a bit of salt, and were great, similar to ones from other fast food restaurants like Burger king or McDonald’s; crunchy on the outside, soft and hot on the inside.
As for the hotdog itself, it had the traditional familiar hotdog taste with an extra kick from the mustard, while the onions made the flavour of the chilli pop, making the sandwich one of the highlights of the evening.
We also tried the Peanut Butter Milkshake (30LE), which arrived in a tall glass with a straw. Though rich with peanut butter flavour, it was a bit light texture-wise, and could have been all round better if was a bit thicker.
Overall, our visit to Bricks was a pleasant one. With great food and excellent, attentive staff, it makes for a good hang-out spot for both groups and individuals by keeping things relatively simple and letting the atmosphere and food talk for themselves.