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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.
Downtown Cairo’s Talaat Harb Mall isn’t the trendiest place in town, but is overflowing with outlets and all the cafes and restaurants in are situated on the ground floor. Our latest trip was to a cosy little café called Shahrzad. The name, of course, comes from the famous 1001Nights.
With its loud Arabic music, warm colours and dim lighting, Shahrzad Café possesses both the atmosphere of a bar and a café entwined. It’s quite small and dainty inside and actually looks more interesting from a distance, yet all in all the venue is a pleasantly comfortable one with a tantalising drinks menu.
Whether it’s hot drinks, cold drinks or a deliciously sweet cocktail, Shahrzad’s menu provides it all. We ordered Strawberry Juice at (13.75LE); Turkish Coffee (8.50LE) and a Shahrzad Cocktail (14.75LE) which was an interesting mix mixture of kiwi, banana milk and vanilla ice cream.
Firstly the strawberry juice tasted incredibly fresh and contained chunky strawberry pieces; the glass was generously sized too. The Turkish coffee was strong and robust just – as it should be – yet the Shahrzad cocktail, though generously sized and looking quite delicious, wasn’t as enjoyable as anticipated; the sweetness of the banana milk and vanilla ice-cream just didn’t go down well with the sourness of the kiwi. However, overall the prices aren’t bad.
There’s a vast range of drinks to try, however, and the list of cocktails kept us entertained with their unusual names and bizarre mixes, like the Romeo and Juliet; a mixture of mango; banana milk and banana pieces. They also offer canned drinks though these are expensive compared to outside: popular non-alcoholic malt beverage, Byril, costs 10.75LE, while soft drinks are sold at a typically high 9.75LE.
Desserts are available too, though they’re primarily different flavours of ice cream mixed with fruit or topped with chocolate sauce: the famous Banana Split, which is three scoops of vanilla ice cream, banana slices topped with chocolate sauce, is available for 20.75LE.
The final page of the menu consists of shisha and, being reeled in by the exotic flavours, we opted to try the strawberry flavour at a very reasonable 9.25LE as well as the cocktail flavour which cost a rather high 20.75LE. In the context of other places that serve shisha, they aren’t bad prices, but both tasted of a similarly generic fruitiness and were pretty indistinguishable from each other.
When the cheque arrived, we had been charged for a bottle of water we hadn’t opened. To the waiter’s credit, he quickly deducted the item – but make sure to revise your cheque nonetheless. There’s little here that will truly wow you, but Shahrzad offers a pleasant menu and comfortable atmosphere with decent prices.