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Maadi, Cairo, Egypt.
Salé Sucré: Maadi Sweets and Treats
Sweet shop Salé Sucré has many venues in Cairo, including Mohandiseen and Roxy. Maadi’s side street branch is aesthetically pleasing while offering a range of delectable cookies, cakes and oriental sweets. With large glass windows displaying sleek cases of tantalising sweets, you can’t go wrong.
While Cairo suffers no shortage of good bakeries full of tempting cakes and yummy biscuits, Salé Sucré has something of a neighbourhood cult following. Upon entering, the smell of freshly baked sweets rushes to meet you as you browse through the wonderland of baked goods. There is a wide variety of cakes in the left-hand side display case, from rich black forest cakes with decorative cherries and chocolate shavings to creamy cheese cakes with brightly coloured berry glazes, in addition to fruit and chocolate concoctions. Prices range between 50LE and upwards of 200LE for a special occasion cake.
The central display case carries every cookie, petit-four and tartlet that you could dream of in a variety of bright colours. You can buy chocolate and walnut petit-fours, date cake or berry tartlets by the kilo, which should cost around 60LE to 100LE. You can either hand-pick the selection yourself or choose a ready-made selection of flaky biscuits, chocolaty petit-fours or fruit and custard tartlets.
While the shop is dominated by miniature sweets, large cakes and sweet breads, a section of the counter is also stocked with savoury pastries, cheese and mini-deli sandwiches. These are also sold by the kilo, with an average of 60LE per kilo.
With Ramadan upon us, patrons can find all their favourite Ramadan desserts here, starting from a 1/4 kilo box. The oriental sweets are artfully arranged on tall silver platters, including the basbousa, which is the perfect blend of sweetness, konafa of every kind, and sticky pastries with both nuts and cream.
The prices are quite reasonable: a kilo of petit-fours and mini-cakes starting at about 80LE, and 1/4 kilo oriental sweets starting at 35LE. For the divine taste and sugar rush that Sale Sucré induces; this is not a bad deal. The service is great; the staff are spot on with orders and eager to help you choose from the baked delicacies on display.
Discovering the true essence of life in Cairo involves dipping and diving into the most unlikely of places; looking beyond the garish and the gaudy; finding something completely unexpected. This is often the case with the city’s dining scene, across the thousands upon thousands of restaurants, cafes and bakeries. The shops and restaurants change so often it’s impossible to keep up and there’s something around every corner and in every alleyway.
On our most recent tour to Mohandiseen, we came across a small store with a big sign that said ‘Grand Kunafa’ – almost as a proclamation of sorts. There are two small tables outside, but we recommend you take your food to go because Syria Street isn’t the quietest place. Neither is it the most comfortable – in fact, it just isn’t the most pedestrian friendly.
As the name suggests, the shop specialises in konafa and other classic Oriental sweets – even selling them by the portion. Our first experience was with the smallest size offered was the Konafa with Cheese (20LE). Readily put-together and kept on a metal plate in a fridge, the Konafa goes onto a coal grill for 20 minutes upon ordering. Although this sounds like a lot of time for a simple serving of konafa, our patience was rewarded. The konafa was hot, golden and crispy, covering a thick layer of ricotta cheese. The cheese melted and pulled like a pizza, and the best thing about it was that it wasn’t overly greasy.
Afterwards, we ordered a small Nabulsiya Extra with Cream and Pistachio (15LE). Divided into four layers, two layers of finely ground konafa has a layer of cream and it’s all topped with a pistachio paste. While the Nabulsiya wasn’t as good as the coal grilled konafa, we can’t deny we enjoyed the taste of the pistachio coupled with the syrup typically used on Oriental sweets.
Our last order was a Hareesa with Almonds and Cashews (10LE) which, unfortunately, lacked any flavour at all; flavour that was almost entirely dominated by the nuts.
Grand Kunafa isn’t the most refined-looking place selling Oriental sweets and desserts. More than most, Cairenes are creatures of habit – especially when it comes to food. Will Grand Kunafa blow your mind? Probably not; but it’s easily reachable location makes it a good back-up.