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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.
For many, happiness equates to chocolate – and for good reason. Scientifically, chocolate produces two important hormones; the dopamine which helps you be alert and focus and serotonin – also known as the happy hormone – which prevents depression. Yearning for some great desserts, and of course some dopamine and serotonin, we headed to Dip n’ Dip, one of the most talked about chocolatiers and dessert places in Cairo and a definite go-to if you’re craving chocolate-infused desserts.
Located inside Citystars, Dip n Dip’s food court branch has a spacious indoor area with touches of wood, with red, black and white colours dominating the interior, the ceiling, the walls and even the plates, not to mention three chocolate fountains displayed in front of the open kitchen. The venue itself is big, with several tables set outside, so you don’t worry about the long wait you’ll usually find at Dip n’ Dip’s Cairo Festival City branch.
With a huge variety of desserts, including Caramel Pain Perdu (50LE), Brownies n' Cheesecake Pot (65LE), and, wait for it, Fettuccine Crepe (60LE) – shredded crepe topped with molten chocolate – we wanted to try almost everything, until we finally decided to go with the Funky Brownies Crepe (50LE) and classic Dip n' Dip Waffle (60LE).
The former is a French crepe with perfect thickness stuffed with fudgy brownies and smothered in Dip n’ Dip’s insane milk, white and dark chocolate sauce combo. As good as it sounds on paper, the combination of the brownie-stuffed concoction didn’t work, with the chocolate sauce itself served in such abundance that we had to scrape it off to taste the crepe itself; it was an overly sweet dessert, unbalanced in terms of flavours.
The waffle was a different story altogether, though. Served with strawberries, kiwi, bananas, pineapple, whipped cream and your choice of milk, dark, or white chocolate, the Dip n’ Dip waffle is by far the best waffle we’ve come by in some time.
The fact that it’s overpriced and is actually half-a-waffle, it had a crispy exterior, with a soft and fluffy centre. The waiter came with a jar of milk chocolate sauce to drizzle it over the plate as a touch of showmanship, but again it was just too much and drowned the otherwise delicious waffle.
With a cheerful vibe and a love of chocolate, Dip n’ Dip is sure to please. Perhaps the one concern we had during our visit, was the fact that the chocolate was overpowering the desserts rather than complementing them. For those who like a little bit of chocolate over their dessert –including yours truly— the experience might be just end up being a chocolate overdose, but as far as chocolate, Dip n’ Dip is every chocoholic’s dream come true.