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Heliopolis, Cairo, Egypt.
Oscar Market: Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice, A Butcher and Brussels Sprouts-Oh My!
The bakery inside Oscar Market offers inexpensive baked goods that arrive in fresh instalments throughout the day. If you’re lucky, they might even be warm when you buy them. Baguettes, croissants and pains saucisses are among their bread choices, which range from 2.5LE to 5LE. Delicious butter cookies with chocolate chips, cinnamon cookies and seasonal baked goods like kahk are also available. Cookies cost about 25LE per kilo and are well worth the money. The men that work at the bakery will happily allow you to sample anything that looks good, so don’t be too shy to ask.
The produce section is filled with glorious cherry tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, purple cabbage and radishes, among other vegetables. The fruit section offers the most delicious red pears, peaches, apricots, kiwis, red and white grapes, fresh ginger and three different kinds of apples. Freshly squeezed orange is prepared before your eyes for12LE per litre.
Oscar Market is one of the few places in Cairo where people can sample pork products while the butcher prepares their cuts of salami, bacon and sausages. Bacon is a whopping 74LE per kilo, while sliced ham sells for 47LE per kilo and domestically made sausages are 41LE per kilo.
A wide array of beer and wine are also available at Oscar’s. For beer, expect to find decently stocked shelves of Saqqara, Meister, Heineken and Stella. Stella beers are the least expensive, going for around 6.5LE, whereas Heineken sells for just under 10LE. Most domestic wines hover around the 40LE range, including Omar Khayyam and Obelisk. Chateau de Rêves is almost double the price, while the jewel of the wine selection is a Cape Bay South African wine.
Oscar is also a great place to pick up little fix-ins that can add a whole lot to a meal like capers, quesadillas, a variety of pesto sauces, stir-fry sauces, curries, fresh ginger and salad greens. The cheese section has a wide selection of international cheeses such as Frico, Old Amsterdam and President.
Oscar isn’t the least expensive grocery store in town; it would be better to head to a smaller, local market for basics that you can buy anywhere. However, if you’re prepared to shell out money for items that you’d have a hard time finding anywhere else, head on over to Oscar Market. You won’t be disappointed.
We can all agree that cooking is not everyone’s cup of tea, despite the fact that making a homemade meal is actually quite easy. But busy work schedules or just general cluelessness when it comes to the kitchen, means that many end up ordering food. Yesterday was one of those days where we just wanted to chill at home and we found out about the frozen food masters, Food Swings.
Food Swings is a one-of-a-kind delivery-based operation providing homemade, frozen food that is either microwaveable, or ready for the fryer, oven, or even the sandwich-maker. The meals can be stored for up to 3 months and to most take between 10 to 30 minutes to heat – something we just had to try. You can make orders via phone or Facebook messaging, with Food Swings delivering to different areas of Cairo on different days – check out the schedule here.
We found only 8 choices from the ‘Frozen on Duty’ section of the menu and 4 types of pizza from the ‘Pizza Madness’ section. However, there was a lot of interesting choices like Mexican Hawawshy (54LE) and Shawerma Pizza (49LE) but we decided to go with the Risotto Balls (32LE) as an appetiser, and as our mains, we opted for the Large Lasagna (98LE) and the Mexican Chicken Wraps (41LE).
We were super impressed by how cheerful the packaging was, the clear instructions and the use of vacuum packing, as removing the oxygen extends the life span of food and keep it fresh, while also making it much easier to store in your freezer at home.
The risotto balls - all 17 of them – were filled with a good amount of cheese and the risotto itself was rich and creamy, while still retaining a small bite to it like any perfect al-dente risotto should be. As for the crust, it was well-seasoned with Italian spices and had a perfect golden-brown colour – although that’s something we’ll take credit for.
Due to technical issues with our oven - which reminded us to buy a new one - we decided use the microwave for the lasagne. Despite this, the layers of the smooth and creamy béchamel sauce mixed with cheese, well-seasoned beef Bolognese bursting with tomato flavour, and of course their homemade lasagne sheets, left us wondering, what kind of sorcery they used to make frozen food taste so fresh?
Just so we’re clear, we didn’t burn the Mexican chicken wraps; what you see up there are beautiful grill marks. There were 5 wraps to be defrosted in the microwave then heated in a sandwich maker. While the mixture of chicken, red pepper, corn, red beans, green onions, spinach, chilli-pepper and shredded cheddar cheese, looks great on paper, we didn’t feel the presence of cheese at all and the chilli-pepper was just overpowered by the other flavours.
We finished our meal with Cinnamon Caramel Roll Jar (22LE) and no, it’s not microwaveable and we didn’t have to put it in the sandwich maker – this comes readymade. Soft layers of cinnamon rolls are topped with luscious salted caramel sauce, pastry cream and a generous amount of pecans. This dessert would’ve been flawless if they left the pastry cream out, as it was bland in taste and didn’t really belong with the cinnamon and caramel.
Overall, Food Swings is an incredibly practical option and the experience itself is actually pretty fun. The order came on time, the online responses are quick and professional and it’s a great concept that will save time and effort for newlyweds, working moms, or bachelors. It's certainly better than most frozen foods found in supermarkets, but if you're looking something more than that, the variety might dissapoint.