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Cairo-Alex Desert Rd, Cairo, Egypt.
Marble Slab Creamery: Ice Cream Creations at Your Command in Dandy Mall
Dandy Mall is filling out pretty nicely, and its latest addition is international ice cream vendor Marble Slab. Having made its way from the US to the Gulf, Marble Slab has been eagerly awaited by fans in Cairo. This is the first of what is likely to be many branches in the city sits across from healthy fast-food restaurant Express by Mo.
Choosing your order is a bit of a process. There are only three stages of decision-making – type of cone, flavour of ice cream and mix-ins – but there are so many options that first-timers may well crumble into a panicky wreck. Thankfully, though, the incredibly enthusiastic and helpful staff is happy to give you a taste-testing course and run-through of how your creation is made.
After picking out of the many ice cream flavours, which include everything from bubblegum and cheesecake to mango and honey, your preferred number of scoops are taken for mixing on the frozen marble slab; hence the name. Flattened out like dough, your ice cream is then topped and meshed with the mix-ins of your choice before being reconstructed in to scoops and placed in a paper cup, a cone or a cone-cup.
Several chocolate or candy-coated cones are available to build your creation on, and having sampled a spoonful of crushed Heath Bar (5LE) – an American chocolate bar made of chocolate, butter and almonds - we plumped for the Heath Bar-coated cone over other notable types like the sprinkle-covered and white chocolate cones (5LE to 6LE).
We chose a simple but delicious sweet cream ice cream (18LE for one scoop), and asked our friend behind the counter to lather more crushed Heath Bar as well and crushed Kit-Kat (5LE). Every element of this mammoth ice cream was perfect. The fresh and crunchy cone, the subtly sweet and creamy ice cream and the mix-ins blended together flawlessly.
We also tried the apple and cinnamon ice cream and mixed-in more Heath Bar. To the staff’s credit, they know ice cream. The apple and cinnamon alone was pretty good and vivid in taste, but the almond and butter combo of the Heath Bar made it creamier without taking anything away from its taste. Other mix-ins include sprinkles, gummy bear and Snickers.
Nothing’s perfect, and neither is Marble Slap. While the shop is as big as it needs to be, there are only two small tables, while other seating is outside on the other side of the pathway that leads to its entrance. Granted, that’s quite nit-picky, but we had more to be aggrieved about. While there are enough ice cream flavours to satisfy casual ice cream eaters, Marble Slab fans will be quick to notice that this branch offers only a small section of what Marble Slab branches in the US and the Gulf offer.
However, with so many potential combinations of ice cream alone, it’s unlikely that Marble Slab’s novelty will run dry any time soon. We won’t question why the ice cream chain has launched in the middle of winter; but instead we praise the fact that it backs all its flash and high prices with substance.
Yet another purveyor of frozen yoghurt and ice cream in Cairo has opened its doors! New at Nile City Towers, Scoops is actually pretty good, offering real Italian Ice-cream – or ‘Gelato’ to Italians - as well as tasty frozen yoghurt. We marched along the concourse to their small, bright pink corner shop to try out their chilled desserts.
The space itself is small but adequate, sporting two large glass counters; one brimming over with tempting ice creams and the other full of tens of colourful toppings. Unfortunately, there is no seating area, meaning that take-away is the only practical solution.
Offering both natural and flavoured yoghurts, prices range 20LE-49LE, with the flavoured varieties - which only featured chocolate at the time of our visit – costing only slightly more. We went for a natural small frozen yoghurt with three different toppings; chocolate chip, Kit Kat and granola (29LE) which turned out to be an excellent combination, perfectly complimenting the icy, bitter-sweet, sharp taste of the natural yoghurt.
Scoops of Gelato Italiano ice cream range at 13LE-34LE, whilst 400 gram tubs are 68LE and 750 gram tubs are 99LE. To help us decide which flavour to choose, we were given testers of the Ooh La La La Oreo Gelato, Vixeny Vanilla and the Playful Pistachio. All the ice creams were delicious, and almost positively authentic, with the Oreo ice cream tasting incredibly chocolaty with a rich biscuit aftertaste; meanwhile, the vanilla was creamy and fresh, whilst the pistachio boasted a good balance of sweet and nutty.
Rather than purchasing a straightforward ice cream, something more unique caught our eye. Scoops sells brightly-coloured flower pots filled with chocolate, strawberry, vanilla or mango ice-cream, topped with chocolate crumbles and a fake flower for 22LE. We went for the exotic mango flavour – a choice we didn’t regret. Although the chocolate topping was delicious on itself, and even chewy in parts, the chocolate-mango combination didn’t quite work.
Alongside the ice cream range, fun-looking Gelato pops – essentially lolly pops of ice-cream – are priced at 14LE each, 74LE for 6 or 119LE for 12. You can also grab a caramel, vanilla or chocolate milkshake for 30LE, or an espresso for 12LE.
Scoops’ branding doesn't distinguish itself much from its numerous competitors, and generally doesn’t do it justice, because their ice cream truly is delicious – and that's what really counts!
Marble Slab will take over Cairo by opening another branch in Citystars on January 5th.