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Puff Pie: Colourful Snacks in Zamalek
Located just around the corner from Mobinil in Zamalek, Puff Pie might be a bit difficult to find first time round. Sitting across from Roma Laundry, the interior of Puff Pie is black with a lot of bright yellow details. The venue itself is very small and therefore not really suitable for having an elaborate lunch or dinner. Upon requesting the menu we were presented with an iPad. Whether this is the usual system or the real menu’s are still in print remained was unclear. We opted for the Spinach Cheese puff pie (20LE), the Chicken Mushroom puff pie (22LE), the spud with fresh fruit (20LE) and took a vanilla milkshake while we were waiting (15LE). The milkshake was prepared on the spot and was full of vanilla flavour. It was definitely refreshing but a bit too sweet for our liking.
After waiting around for a while we were presented with the food and that’s where the questioning began. We were not quite sure what we had on our plate. What we saw were yellow, red and dark purple rolls with filling. We started off with a yellow piece filled with cheese and spinach. The filling was exceptional and tasted delicious. The yellow roll in which it was wrapped was fairly tasteless and we couldn’t figure out quite what it was. Perhaps dough or egg as one of our dining partners speculated. The chicken mushroom wasn’t disappointing either. The chicken pieces were tender and the mushrooms were fresh. They were covered in a white béchamel-type sauce and also wrapped in the bright red and yellow ‘pastry’. When we got to dessert, we couldn’t exactly find the spud in our spud with fresh fruit but it wasn’t bad. We found it a bit too sweet but the portion of fruit was very generous. Though we absolutely enjoyed our little bites we are still clueless about the wrap. As a side dish we were presented with a big bowl of vegetables. The only downside was that our food definitely got heated up in the microwave making it a bit soggy. Perhaps heating up in an oven would fare better.
If you have a party or gathering, it wouldn’t hurt to have Puff Pie cater for you. The bites look very appealing and give a funky twist to regular finger food.
No matter how many foreign cuisines come to the Cairo restaurant scene, there’s nothing quite like authentic Egyptian food - a sentiment that had us eager to try recently opened Heliopolis eatery, Skalans.
Located in the Sheraton Buildings area, close to Hamada Sheraton – another famous street eats hub in the area serving foul and ta’ameya— Skalans is a small shop with quirky blue garbage cans for chairs and an interior floor designed to look like that of the street. Gaining more popularity by the day, Skalans was already crammed up people at the time of our visit and when we did eventually find seating, we found the chaos left by the people who came to eat before us waiting.
Torn between all the drooling choices in the menu – from liver sandwiches, Alexandrian spicy sausage sandwiches (8.50LE-10.50LE each) and Hawawshi (12LE- 23LE), to pastas (19LE) and spicy meat platters (30LE - 32LE), not to mention some grilled cheese sausages – one of Skalans' specialties (10.50LE) – we finally settled on a medium and a large Hawawshi (12LE and 19LE), an Alexandrian sausage sandwich (8.5LE) and two packs of French fries (5LE each).
Besides our main bites, we wanted to also try the dessert and between Skalans – a sandwich comprised of cream, honey, jam and halva (halawa) – (8.50LE) and a Nutella dessert – halva with nutella –(8.5LE) we opted for the latter.
An hour later, the cashier screamed our number and our food was ready, alongside some complementary pickles. Served in half pita bread portions, our hawawshi was quite tasty; though somewhat greasy, it boasted perfectly seasoned minced meat and good consistency and was surprisingly light.
Smothered in Tehina, chopped vegetables and a mere half a sausage, our Alexandrian sausage sandwich was quite disappointing, on the other hand; lacking the traditional Alexandrian pungent, aromatic seasoning, the sandwich was far from flavourful and actually rather bland.
Despite the unfamiliar mix, our Nutella-halva blend was perfect; surprisingly light, the two flavours actually worked together and managed to be both creamy and light at the same time.
Overall, despite some missteps, such as the slow service and the unnecessary and deafeningly loud music, our visit to Skalans was satisfying enough; just don’t expect your visit to be a relaxing one.