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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.
It's no secret that many restaurants and cafes in Cairo flatter with gimmicks, only to provide a mediocre experience, with few standing out as truly unique. Situated at the far end of the peaceful Zamalek's El Adel Abou Bakr Street – immediately opposite Body Shapers – Kayan has transformed casual dining in the area.
Perfect for a light brunch and leisurely session of people-watching, a green and white striped canopy shades four granite-topped tables outside. Cheery sunflower centrepieces coupled with the warm weather transported us to a more European, almost Parisian, location.
The interior reflects a country-chic but contemporary feel, with garish green walls and shabby-chic wall art. A glass cabinet – and several shelves behind – show off freshly baked, homemade pastries, as well as a wide range of artisan loaves and cakes. Greeted by friendly, welcoming staff, we immediately felt at home.
Whilst the food menus are not yet printed, the owner himself took us through the available, delicious-sounding options. A variety of gourmet steak, chicken, turkey and cheese sandwiches are available, wrapped in baguette, toast or Panini bread. Salads are also offered, along with tempting, sweet and savoury breakfast options. Fresh coffee and juices can be whipped up in seconds; we’d thoroughly recommend their sweet, chilled tangerine juice (15LE).
To eat, we opted for their triple decker chicken club sandwich (35LE) with avocado (7LE), which was nothing less than perfect. Stacked high on warm, buttered white bread, the filling was made up of the freshest ingredients; thick pieces of real chicken breast – as opposed to processed – were grilled to perfection, whilst egg and cheese melted over the ripe salad layers. The avocado was finely chopped and slight, largely blending in with the rest of the flavours.
We also took away a selection of four sweet pastries (14LE); one pistachio croissant, one peach and one raspberry turnover, as well as a cinnamon swirl. Baked to perfection, the pastry was practically flawless, whilst none of the creations were sickeningly sweet. Contrasting with the fruity flavours of the raspberry and peach jams, the pistachio croissant was subtly flavoured and scrumptious. Our only complaint would be that the cinnamon flavour of the swirl was a little too subtle.
Kayan offers delicious breakfast and lunch options in an intimate, urbane bistro setting, as well as fine, freshly baked bread and pastry options which can be delivered right to your door.