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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.
We love finding venues where we don’t expect them, and this particular one we’re sure is in a spot most have never considered going to.
Situated in the ground floor of Talaat Harb Mall in Downtown Cairo, Mashour is a treat after hours of sifting between retail outlets, jewellery kiosks and shoe shops taking up the whole seven floors of the mall.
Mashour is a pleasant, highly spacious and fully air-conditioned cafe serving drinks and small desserts. The environment and atmosphere is comfortable and, despite the chatter of customers, it's a nice place to enjoy with friends whilst relishing in it’s delightful beverages.
Immaculate tiled flooring, surprisingly stylish tables and red cushioned seating make up this venue which is made even more decorative and serene by it’s leafy green plants dotted here and there.
The tables and chairs are generously spaced out in this large area, which is ideal when the bar fills up, especially during the football season as everyone gathers around the large flat screen TV; seating is also available just outside of Mashour for those busy days, though there is no air-conditioning and it can be a little uncomfortable.
Drinking at Mashour is a pleasant occasion although the menu is somewhat limited. This cafe offers a mixture of hot and cold beverages; one tea with lemon costs 7.50LE and one strong double espresso costs 13.50LE. Canned drinks are available too but are a little expensive with a can costing 8.75LE and a can of Red Bull reaching to an excruciating 20.00LE.
Mashour do have a range of exotic cocktails presented on the menu, too, though upon further study of the items listed, we realised that they were more of a light dessert. We ordered one chocolate milkshake at 13.75LE, which arrived in a tall generous glass and was topped with delicious fluffy foam, one Florida Juice at 12.00LE and, finally, one Cream Caramel at 10.95LE. The juice and the cream caramel were of an average standard considering their high prices - though the milkshake was particularly creamy and enjoyable with a strong chocolaty taste.
The service was fast and friendly with drinks served by waiters dressed in smart white shirts and black trousers, and the manager was particularly helpful in suggesting drinks from the menu. However, it is a shame about the prices, which seem a little steep; you pay for the venue and not the drinks. On the plus side, Mashour do provide several additional services than the average bars and cafés, a large flat screen television at the front, free Wifi and Shisha are amongst the pros.
Though Mashour serves only drinks and light desserts, there are many other food outlets very close by on the ground floor serving a variety of fast foods to be enjoyed within the large eating area in the centre of this small oasis.