Cairo Cafés

Tortina: Dessert Chain Scores Big with Inventive Ramadan Specials
Published On: 06/07/2015

Spicing up Konafa with brand new fresh and creative fillings has become a common Ramadan trend in all the pastry shops and bakeries across Cairo – think of it as this generation's contribution to Ramadan tradition. We've seen the infamous Nutella infused konafa, the viral red velvet and konafa topped with meringue, dates and fresh cream – the list goes on. There's certainly plenty out there, but experience has shown us that not all of these Frankenstein creations work;which is why we were thrilled with how heavenly – yes, heavenly – Tortina's Mango Konafa turned out to be. Paying a visit to Tortina's Maadi branch, we were immediately struck by the succulent selection of crisp, amber-colour konafa dishes with more toppings and fillings than the mind can comprehend. Tortina's konafa specialties include Konafa Mars Cheesecake, Black Forest Konafa, Nutella-layered Konafa Bowl and a rather tempting Strawberry and Cream filled Crispy Konafa. One of the pleasant staff members recommended the Mango Panna Cotta pyrex (210LE) – Tortina's signature dessert dish this Ramadan comprising of konafa, fresh cream, Panna Cotta and fresh mangoes. Naturally we dared not say no, because, well, you try saying no that. While the combination of konafa with cream and/or mango is one of the more widely accepted of these Ramadan variations, this one had one intriguing addition; mango flavoured panna cotta. So, here's how it goes; a layer of fresh cream anchors the creation, which is topped by a layer of fresh mangoes; on top of that is the konafa, while on top of that, is the panna cotta. While panna cotta's jelly-like consistency may not be the first thing you'd want to pair with konafa, the whole thing works. So fresh, so smooth and so flavourful, the panna cotta instantly melted in our mouths, though, overall, the dessert needed a few more mango slices. In addition to konafa, Tortina also offers a wide selection of traditional Egyptian sweets and desserts, including basbousa and katayef available in different sizes and prices- 55LE for small platters, 65LE for medium sized ones and 75LE for bigger platters. Many bemoan these kooky twists on traditional favourites and few execute them as well as Tortina has this year. They haven't simply bunged a load of ingredients on a konafa; these creations have been though through, they've been crafted and, maybe most importantly, they're unique.


Ruffles House: Ramadan Treats at Charming Bakery in Sheikh Zayed
Published On: 04/07/2015

Many come out of the end of Ramadan packing a few more pounds than they did entering it – an inevitable conclusion to the Holy Month, thanks to traditionally lavish fetars, late-night sohour and, of course, the heightened intake of desserts and sweets. It certainly doesn't help that confectioners and bakers across the city battle for hearts, minds and stomachs every year with all manner of kooky adaptation to classic Egyptian favourites like konafa and basboosa – so, in a way it's their fault. Right? One such place that is as guilty of driving our sweet-tooth cravings into overdrive is Ruffles House, thanks to some visually delicious and rich images of the Sheikh Zayed vendor's festive specials doing the rounds on social media in the lead-up to Ramadan; because let's be honest for a second – there's something irresistibly cute about a dessert in a mason jar. Sorry, make that three different sizes of mason jar. Cute. But let's backtrack for a second; Ruffles House actually has two branches in the area – one inside Beverly Hills compound and the other in the little-known Curve Mall, which is located behind Tivoli Dome, and the one we visited. The mall is still under construction and Ruffles House is the only venue open at the moment, meaning that you needn't worry about long queues and mad crowds any time soon. Of the several options we were faced with, we went for small jars of konafa with mango (21LE), red velvet basbousa (25LE) and filo pastry and date cupcake (21LE), as well as a jar of cherry cheesecake (25LE) – the latter isn't a Ramadan special, but looked too good not to try. Pardon us for sounding like a broken record, but we need to talk about the mason jars again; it makes for a fantastic visual, showing you layers of colourful deliciousness all piled onto each other - an appetising sight if we ever saw one. The konafa with mango was surprisingly light but, despite tasting fresh, desperately needed more cream to break the richness of the mango and the sweet crunch of the konafa itself. Popular among bakeries in Cairo this year, the red velvet basbousa, is a little different than most. While many incorporate the food dye in the basbousa, Ruffles House's version also uses plain layers of basbousa. Although it was full of flavour, there were two points that let the dessert down; the first was the fact that the basboosa was perhaps a little undercooked – it was pale in colour and lacked that pleasing golden finish. In addition, it was also a little too sweet to keep going back for more. The filo pastry and date cupcake, meanwhile, was a mixed bag; while the dates were used to good effect, much of the filo pastry was soggy, rather than crunchy, and needed more frosting or cream – something to help it go down a little bit smoother. Ironically, the standout was the non-Ramadan specific, cherry cheesecake; everything worked perfectly. The layers of biscuit were rich and buttery, the cream was fresh and, well, creamy, and the pieces of cherry gave the dessert just the right amount of subtle acidity. Presentation-wise, Ruffles House can't be faulted – we'd challenge anyone to walk in and not walk out with several jars of goodies. Unfortunately, small miscues ruined what could have been perfect desserts – but that doesn't mean we won't be going back for more.


La Poire: Confectionary Chain Delivers the Goods with Special Ramadan Desserts
Published On: 29/06/2015

As per the last few years, Cairo's bakeries and confectionaries have gone all out this Ramadan in an effort to outdo each other in the creativity department when it comes to traditional Egyptian desserts and sweets – and La Poire is no different. A giant in its field, quality has never been issue of La Poire and, this year, there's no shortage of options, either. Visiting the one of the Maadi branches, we would challenge anyone to step into a La Poire during Ramadan and not be overcome by indecision – there's just so much to take in. At the time of our visit, the branch had already begun selling kahk – traditionally made by bakeries and households alike in Eid – but we were drawn almost immediately to the Nutella konafa, as well as its mango counterpart, and ready-packaged Oriental sweet boxes for just 40LE per box. Sold only in whole, we tried the konafa with berries (150LE), which is essentially structured in two halves; the top half features berries over cream, while the lower half is where the konafa comes in, with layers of it and more cream continuing to the bottom of the bowl that it comes in. Tasting every bit as delicious as it looked, the real surprise was how fresh the cream was, as well as the pure taste of the berries. It all made for a surprisingly light and airy dessert, with the contrast in textures ensuring you go back for a second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth bite. Other traditional desserts with kooky, modern spins at La Poire include Red Velvet basbousa (160LE) – and its konafa version (150LE) – which has been the talk of the town – well, social media – as well as a particular creation that brings together basbousa, konafa, cake and pistachio. Not the faint of heart, the dessert sells for a whopping 190LE and is one of the more outrageous appropriations of classic Egyptian sweets to emerge this Ramadan. Other, simpler options include the slightly more established and aforementioned konafa with mango (150LE) and the and inevitably super-sweet and ever-so-slightly over-priced konafa with Nutella (175LE), as well as Aish Saraya cake with pistachios (150LE). Many bemoan what was once called by our friends at Cairo Gossip "the perversion of desserts, " but there's an intangible thrill about consuming these quirky versions of Egyptian classics – a thrill you will readily find at La Poire this Ramadan. 


Five Ramadan Desserts in Cairo You Have To Try Before It's Too Late
Published On: 28/06/2015

Ah, Ramadan – the month of self reflection, control, modesty and all round goodwill. But it's also a month that sees us consume an inordinate amount of desserts and sweets. Egyptians will sooner give up their limbs than the traditional Ramadan desserts our families have been feeding us since before we even had teeth to chew them with. But in this modern day and age, Egypt's favourite bakeries have taken the desserts we all know and love, like basboosa or konafa, and given them a modern, Western, twist. We're running through the ones that sound the most appealing, keeping it short and sweet. Konafa Maltesers Cake at Crumb's Cupcakes & More Crumb's goes beyond enticing us with their Konafa Maltesers cake – an unholy creation that is every bit as sinfully delicious as it looks. We recommend buying one cake for yourself and then another one for everybody else to share. Konafa Mango Cake at NOLA Cupcakes NOLA is never a place to miss out on an occasion and has gotten in on the kooky Ramadan creations deal with their absolutely irresistible Kunafa Mango cake. It has the added bonus of Egypt's favourite summer fruit, aside from watermelon of course, so you can now enjoy your daily intake of fruit with a classic Ramadan favourite. Red Velvet Baklava Kunafa at Dukes Patisserie Dukes contribution to the sugar shock that only Ramadan sweets can give you is their Red Velvet Baklava Konafa. It's an amalgamation of three of Egypt's favourite sweets, and if you go into a sugar-induced coma then this is not the worst way to bid adieu to this otherwise cruel, cruel world. Mahalabeya Chocolate Oreo Baklava at Nuntee's Pastry & Bakery Nuntee's came to play the dessert game with their Mahalabeya Chocolate Oreo Baklava. It's cute, it's in a cup, it's just for you. There'll be no demands to share this little dessert and you'll have it all to yourself. The only problem might be the fact that you'll need more than one of these to have your fill. Basboosa Nutella Cake at the Batter Half & Co. The Batter Half & Co. spared no effort in creating the mouth-watering Basboosa Nutella cake. Looking almost too good to eat, this is one of the more simple desserts on this temptress of a list – sorry to those who might be fasting while reading this – though, in this case, less is most certainly more. Stay tuned for more perversions of Ramadan desserts - happy eating!


Carousel: Ramadan Goodies at Heliopolis Favourite
Published On: 23/06/2015

With Ramadan comes the potentially deadly challenge of trying out as many of the mouth-watering desserts that Cairo's patisseries come out with every year. It's like there's an on-going competition of who can create the most sugar-loaded dessert- not that we're complaining. Located in a lively part of Heliopolis, Carousel's mint-coloured theme makes it stand out against the general grey tones of the street. The moment you step inside, you notice just how relaxingly uplifting the Alice in Wonderland décor of the place is. To say we were dazzled by the wide array of desserts on display would be an understatement. Our eyes first fell upon the dozens and dozens of dessert cups on display including Banana-Nutella Kunafa, Red Velvet Kunafa, Blueberry Kunafa, Aish Saraya, and Black Forrest Kunafa. We also saw a few others treats, including large bowls of Banana-Nutella and Red Velvet Kunafa, as well as Maltesers Kunafa and Kunafa-Mango. A very sinful-looking Kunafa Fudge Cake also caught our eye from the display. Other desserts Carousel is known for include Nutella-stuffed Zalabya and Toasted Atayef platter that comes with blueberry, Nutella and caramel dips. We made up our minds and went for the Red Velvet Kunafa Cake (170LE), that was swiftly boxed by our cheery server. Did it live up to our expectations? Well, let's just say our taste buds were singing with joy at the first taste. Overall, the cake was sweet without being overly so, even with the fresh cream cheese frosting. The thin layer of kunafa, however, added the Ramadan-touch to an otherwise mainstream dessert. All in all, Carousel totally catered to our westernised craving for oriental desserts with a twist. We loved how friendly the staff were and the vibe the venue carried. We'll definitely be going back to try more of their Ramadan creations!


Ramadan in Cairo 2015: 10 Perfect Places in Cairo to Enjoy Shisha
Published On: 17/06/2015

Ramadan is a time to embrace traditions, and there are few as widely enjoyed as indulging in a bit of shisha after fetar on a cool Ramadan night. You may or may not have noticed Egyptians' unique infatuation with shisha. Cafes and restaurants all over the capital continue to embrace the craze by offering a wide array of flavors for its ever growing fan base, and you may have sampled quite a few before selecting your favorite. That's why, with Ramadan finally here, we have compiled a list of the top places in town to enjoy your shisha with a mix of Cairene nightlife pizzazz and little Ramadan spirit. Without further ado, here are, in no particular order, the top ten shisha places this Ramadan 139 Lounge and Terrace Located at the illustrious Mena House hotel, 139 is gracefully enveloped in beautiful greenery and serene fountains, giving it a nice breezy atmosphere -and what is better than enjoying great shisha with a view of the Pyramids that adds a little Egyptian flair to your Ramadan night? Baladina With its humble, rural Egyptian, style, Baladina is the place to be on Ramadan nights if you want to kick-back, relax, and enjoy your shisha in a quirky yet enjoyable atmosphere. So this Holy Month, don't forget to pass by Sheikh Zayed's Arkan Mall for an authentic Egyptian setting. Naguib Mahfouz Café and Restaurant If you're seeking refuge from the hustle and bustle of busy Ramadan nights in the popular Khan El Khalili, you should definitely pass by Naguib Mahfouz for a special dosage of nostalgia, live music and great shisha; a truly authentic Ramadan experience. Wahawi Ramadan Lounge Event Republic's annual kheima at Le Pacha 1901 in Zamalek is back for yet another Ramadan season, offering quite, laidback nights perfect for a little shisha-infused R&R. With its blissful location and captivating Nile views, Wahawi is the best place to embrace the modern Ramadan spirit with some hot tea and good shisha. Na2na2a Heliopolis café, Na2na2a, charmed its way into our hearts ever since it opened. A colorful shisha lover's playground, it offers a variety of board games, all-you-can-smoke shisha (how awesome is that?), and of course, loads of snacks for your post-fetar na2na2a. El Fishawy Another Khan El Khalili icon, El Fishawy offers you the true Egyptian ahwa experience complete with that unmistakable Ramadan-y feel. With a basic menu and shisha galore, the place also lets you get a little shopping done, with street vendors sprinkling that Egyptian charm you love to hate everywhere they go. Plus, you can't live in Cairo and not go to El Fishawy. Sequoia As always, Sequoia never ceases to impress. Situated at the northern tip of Zamalek, it's seemingly endless menu and shisha selection make it impossible to resist. Though a bit more expensive than most, the calm atmosphere and beautiful scenery are definitely worth it. Bab El Nil Fairmont Nile City's tent, Bab El Nil, has always turned heads with its spacious roof top area. In addition to the inspirational view of Cairo from above, the live music adds definite chill points, making this the one of the best places for a shisha night with your closest friends. Wel3a You thought we forgot it didn't you? Of course, no shisha list is complete without Wel3a and its contributions to shisha-culture. One can never speak enough of the plethora of flavors they offer, their attention to detail, and their beautiful Nile-side setting, all making it a must-go for shisha fans everywhere. Ramadan Kareem! Stay tuned to Cairo 360 for more of Ramadan in Egypt's Capital.


Dip n' Dip: All things Chocolatey Served at Cairo Festival City Mall
Published On: 14/06/2015

As is the case with any new successful venue, all the hype starts on social media. We first heard about Dip n' Dip when we saw people sharing unbelievably alluring pictures of desserts that are smothered in all types of chocolate. Needless to say, our willpower shattered a little too easily, and there we were on our way there with one thought in mind: "Adios bikini body and hello, chocolate." Located in the fountain area of Cairo Festival City, Dip n' Dip is averagely sized with indoor as well as slightly smaller outdoor seating areas. To say the place was packed during the time of our visit would be an understatement and so, unsurprisingly, we had to be jotted down on the waiting list. Thankfully, someone cancelled their reservation and we were seated fifteen minutes later. The interior of the venue paled in comparison to the three huge chocolate fountains with drizzling milk, white and dark chocolate placed on the counter. Our waiter came by immediately with menus in hand and and upon inspection, they revealed that Dip n' Dip solely specializes in dessert. From crepes to waffles, cream puff, chocolate fondue, cakes, pain perdu and chocolate mousse, there's probably no chocolate-covered dessert known to man that isn't offered there. The items that most stood out to us included the Marshmallow Crepe (45LE), the Fettuccini Crepe (60LE), the Waffle Stick (25LE), and the Triple Chocolate Mousse (35LE). We opted for the Brownies Crepe (45LE), which our waiter recommended, and the Chocolate Banana Waffle (55LE). Our order took ages to arrive and was on our table more than half an hour later. The wait, however, was worth it for both desserts tasted as delicious as they looked. The Brownies Crepe, featuring a folded crepe stuffed with crushed brownies that is covered with melted white, milk and dark chocolate, was equal parts heavenly and deadly. We got through half of it before giving up and trying to ward off a diabetic coma. The same can be said for the Chocolate Banana Waffle, which featured banana-stuffed waffles covered in milk and white chocolate, with whipped cream on the side. All in all, despite the incredible noisiness of the place, with a kid crying here and another screaming there, the desserts were just as promised by their popular pictures on social media: out of this world. You will, however, probably have to wait for some time before being seated- you have been warned. 


The Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards: Bakery & Confectionary Award Winners
Published On: 01/06/2015

There's no denying Egyptians have a love for sweet and baked goods – our colloquial word for bread is life, afterall. From your local forn to the more upscale bakeries, the smell of fresh baked goodies is something even the most ardent anti-carb dieter will find to resist. But translating that delicious smell to equally delicious edibles is the tricky part, because there's nothing quite as disappointing as food that smells better than it tastes. In Cairo, there are only a few bakeries and confectioners that can truly be considered outstanding – whether it be for consistency, quality or the simple fact of being on trend – we're looking at you, cupcakes. Below are the winners of the Bakery & Confectionary Awards. Coppermelt Coppermelt is the whole experience. The venue is elegant, the service is very friendly and the desserts are mouth-watering, what more can you ask for? The Batter Half & Co. Zamalek's the Batter Half & Co. is everything you want a bakery to be; it's homely, comfy and their cakes are to die for. Bread Basket Managing to stand tall through waves of competition in Zamalek is no easy task, but Bread Basket continues to do so style all while serving up delicious goodies. Crumbs Cupcakes & More From the original gang that brought the cupcake fad to Cairo, Crumbs manages to churn out delicious cupcakes as well as customised orders for parties while remaining the welcomingly less gaudy of its peers. Dukes Famous for more than just their dirt cakes, Dukes has quickly become a Heliopolis favourite for its consistency and delicious cakes and pastries. Mandarine Koueidar A hallmark of confectionaries in Egypt, Mandarine Koueidar's consistency for some 90 years makes it the confectionary everyone compares themselves to. NOLA Cupcakes Despite the fad of cupcakes beginning to subside, NOLA has managed to maintain a loyal following thanks to its expansion to other neighbourhood around Cairo. PAUL Although PAUL is a full on restaurant and Boulangerie, they're baked goods are unparalleled and with their subtly stylish venues and authentic French food to boot, this is one of the most successful foreign imports. TBS Everyone knows that moment when you walk into TBS. Their selection of fresh bread, pastries and the sandwich bar are just some of the reasons why they deserve this award. Tiny Treats Cupcakes There's nothing quite as hard as distinguishing yourself from the crowd, but Tiny Treats have been able to do just that by offering inventive and adventurous flavours. Click here for more on the 2015 Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards.


The Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards 2015: Ice-Cream & Dairy Award Winners
Published On: 01/06/2015

While dairy products are on every shelf in every grocery store in Egypt, and the notion of ice cream already quite common in a country that loves its Gelati from the local laban, there's no denying that we've been missing out on ice cream flavours for years while we were still fathoming strawberry, mango, chocolate, vanilla and mesteka. However, in recent years, a number of stores specialising in ice-cream have flooded the market, and a new tier of competition has been unlocked. We've picked out only the best of the best; the ones you can always count on for that creamy goodness that gets you through the summer – or winter. Here are the Ice Cream & Dairy category winners for the Cairo 360 Editor's Choice Awards 2015. Carvel Probably serving the biggest portions between all the ice cream vendors, what Carvel may not be as flashu and ostentatious as other winners on this list, but the quality can't be faulted. Cherry on Top What's better than frozen yogurt? Customising your own frozen yogurt cake of course! With great toppings and the best consistency of frozen yogurt you could find, Cherry on Top is a definite winner. Gelato Mio The first time you try real gelato is always a special moment. Gelato Mio excel at freshly made sorbets, and funky inventive flavours. Try the fig and ricotta cheese flavour. Rigoletto Possibly Egypt's oldest ice cream vendor, Rigoletto manages to capture the flavour of nostalgia in both its ice cream and cheese cakes. Pinkberry Combining frozen yogurt with a long list of fresh fruit toppings, Pinkberry might not be the first venue to embrace the frozen yogurt fad, but they are definitely one of the best at making them. Scoops Offering both gelato and frozen yogurt, Scoops isn't as popular as it should be – the small shop makes delicious ice cream with funky packaging. TCBY A colourful DIY experience is sometimes just what the doctor ordered. TCBY lets you completely customise your frozen yoghurt in different sizes, flavours and toppings. Yoggy's Eating ice-cream can be a wholesome experience, and Yoggy's aim to capture that by including all the fun of putting together the contraption yourself, with endless possibilities thanks to their salad bar-like topping station. Stavolta Easily Maadi's favourite ice cream provider, Stavolta rose to a household name faster than wildfire because of their delicious and freshly made ice creams that are regularly updated with seasonal flavours and new concoctions. For more on the 2015 Cairo 360 Editors' Choice Awards, click here.


Wafflicous: Tasty Waffles in Zamalek From the People Behind Shawerma El Reem
Published On: 30/05/2015

Cairo seems to love fads and trends, none more so than when it comes to food – think gourmet burgers, quirky, modernised Egyptian cuisine and other novel food concepts that have taken a grip over Egypt's capital. This extends to the world of baking and, possibly encouraged by the popularity of cupcakes over the last few years, waffles threatened to be the next big fad, but for the wildly varying levels of quality amongst the several specialists that continue to pop-up. While it's an easy recipe and fairly uncomplicated procedure, waffle shops that opened have tendedto be either very good, or very bad – with nothing in between. Owned by the same people as Shawerma El Reem, Wafflicious shares its premises in all of its branches. The decor is simple and modern, with a predominantly orange colour scheme. There's a bar with all the toppings, as well as refrigerators housing other baked goods like cupcakes (13LE) and cheesecake cups (14LE). We glanced through the menu which breaks down the process into four steps – pick out the shape of your waffle, main topping (Nutella, dark/white chocolate, caramel or honey), secondary toppings like fruit, nuts, and syrups and finally, you can add a scoop of Movenpick ice cream (8LE). Waffilicious also have a number of savoury options including Kofta and Hot Dog Waffles, of which we opted for the Kofta (18LE). From the sweet options we opted for a Belgian Waffle with Nutella and Strawberries (26LE), as well as an American Waffle with Oreos, Caramel and Dark Chocolate sauce (22LE). The Kofta waffle was surprisingly great; the dough was crunchy on the outside and the Kofta itself tasted well marinated and cooked – which is no surprise when you factor in the expertise of Shawerma El Reem. The only thing missing was some kind of sauce to compliment the dish, which gets a little too one-note. The Nutella and Strawberries waffle was also excellent; the toppings were plentiful and the fruits fresh, though the waffle itself could've used more crunch because all the toppings are soggy. The Oreo, Caramel and Dark Chocolate waffle was the definite winner, though. The sweetness of the caramel contrasted the bitterness of the dark chocolate, as did the crunch of Oreos to the slightly soggy waffle. It's worth mentioning that the staff and employees at the venue were extremely friendly, pleasant and efficient despite it being extremely crowded at the time of our visit.


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Cairo Weekend Guide: Oktoberfest at CJC, Craftopia Bazaar, Live Music & More!

Hello Cairo, Summer is surely still around; but as we continue to melt under the heat during the morning, Cairo's nightlife, meanwhile, welcomes the autumn season with live non-stop entertainment. Thursday is a typically eventful night; with a line-up featuring Bashar Galal, Zeina and Abou Samra, D