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Sully: Tom Hanks Shines in Remarkable True Story
Published On: 22/09/2016

On January 15th 2009, Captain Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles took off US Airways flight 1549 from New York's LaGuardia Airport to make a routine trip to Charlotte, North Carolina. Little did they know, however, that the world would remember as the day when the 'Miracle on the Hudson' took place. Three minutes into the doomed flight, a flock of birds strikes the plane, forcing pilots Captain Chesley 'Sully' Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles to safely glide the plane to ditch in the Hudson River, phenomenally saving all one hundred and fifty five lives on board. Based on the autobiography titled Highest Duty by Captain Sally himself and author Jeffrey Zaslow, the story begins immediately after the incident, with both Sully (Hanks) and Jeff (Eckhart) finding themselves in the media spotlight and over-flooded with public attention, continuously praised for their skills and bravery. The story then takes us 'backstage' to where they are taken on by the National Transportation Safety Board who soon begins its investigation into what happened and if landing the plane on the Hudson was really their only choice. Plagued by worry and doubts, Sully is soon taken on an emotional ride where he is left wondering whether he made the right decision or unnecessarily endangered the lives of everyone on board. Many will be surprised to learn that most of Sully is told through a series of flashbacks and that the central narrative lies with the aftermath of the incident – as oppose to a minute-by-minute account of the day - and the investigation as to what has caused the crash. Whilst Eastwood does manage to depict the anxiety and panic inside both the plane and the cockpit, he struggles to keep the story out of a loop of repetitiveness and though the film tries to analyse the mental wellbeing of its main character, it never really succeeds, because the idea that he was in the wrong is never particularly convincing. However, the movie's more silent moments, the ones where the viewers get a chance to spend a bit of alone time with the Captain, who struggles with the shock of it all but maintains confidence and poise throughout the proceedings, is where Sully shines the most. Hanks brings charm and modesty to the role, while as his First Officer, Eckhart proves to be the right choice with the two sharing an easy chemistry, though most of the other characters, including Laura Linney as Sully's wife, don't get much character development. All in all, Sully is a decent and satisfying tribute to an unexpected hero and a miraculous story which still has the world talking. However, it's not all smooth sailing; whilst the movie's energy is right, it lacks the necessary depth to turn it from a good film to a great one.


Osana Family Wellness: Oasis of Calm in the heart of Maadi
Published On: 21/09/2016

As anyone living in this neighbourhood will tell you ad nausea, Maadi is a bubble. A nice, greener bubble than the other parts of Cairo where people walk their dogs, ride their bikes and actually like to sit outdoors. Maadi residents have their own distinctive qualities: allergic to leaving the 'hood', prone to quiet nights in and completely mystified as to why anyone would willingly live elsewhere. What is Dokki? Why does Zamalek exist? They scratch their heads in confusion. Osana may be a good reason to move to Maadi. Located inside a large villa off of El Nahda Street, the space is surrounded by shady trees and soft grass and its various spaces work seamlessly with its surroundings, like the Earth studio (where yoga classes are practiced); a wooden shed with smooth wooden planks for flooring and a tree trunk right in the middle of it. Instead of cutting the tree down, they built the studio around it, which says a lot about the nature-loving, happy people who run this place – renowned photographer, Steve Double, his wife, Neena Serag, and Sumaya Holdijk, who has been a practitioner in places such as Nun Center. The best thing about the venue is that it feels like a community space – not a sanitised, uptight spa or yoga studio. Once you enter the reception and are greeted warmly by one of the friendly front-desk staff, the space leads you into a small café full of vegetarian dishes, fresh and healthy smoothies and enough grains to make any clean eater squeak with delight. It makes sense that they're promoting clean eating in a venue promoting yoga, meditation, energy healing and Chinese medicine among other perks, and it also makes sense that everyone surrounding you is positive and friendly, creating a familiar atmosphere that makes you feel like an old friend rather than a paying customer. Their schedule has daily classes starting from 6:15AM with free self-practice (where you basically go to meditate or do yoga with others if you're in need of a good space and positive company) and ending at 6PM, while also offering classes for all ages from kids to elderly. Drop-in costs 100LE and classes are taught by both Egyptian and foreign trainers. This reviewer tried the alignment hatha-vinyasa yoga with Nicole; a one-hour session of mostly floor-based yoga postures focusing on – you guessed it – alignment and breath. Although it wasn't an easy class – a beginner would struggle with the deep lunges and stretches – the instructor talked the class through the moves and was careful to correct alignments and push us gently but deeper into our stretches. If you're into holistic therapy and alternative medicine, then Osana's menu will read like a dream come true, ranging from the luxurious-sounding gold leaf facial (350LE for 60 minutes, available Thursdays only) to the exotic jin shin jyustu (650LE for the first consultation of 90 minutes, available Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday), which involves the ancient oriental art of harmonising life energy within the body. There's also foot reflexology, energy healing with crystals or reiki and a long list of massages (Thai, Indian, hot stone and much more) that will make you turn your one-hour class into a full day at Osana. And who can blame you? It's hard to tear yourself away from the serenity of the space and throw yourself back onto the hot, dusty streets of Cairo. An added perk is their communal events like their Tuesday farmer's market, where you can pick up homemade cookies, coconut oil, leather purses and organic grains among other items. There are also diverse and new workshops and classes introduced regularly, such as poi practice, Islamic healing and baby massage. All that and you can relax in their garden on their wooden lounge areas, while kids play in the grass and adults read their books in the sunshine. It's that kind of place. Why would you want to leave? Sign up for Osana classes by registering with your Facebook or Gmail account.


Pier 88: Gouna Landmark Finds a Perfect Second Home in Cairo
Published On: 20/09/2016

If you're an iconic dining spot like Pier 88 and you've made your mark over the years as one of the best – if not the best – restaurant in Gouna, comparisons will be inevitable when you open up a branch in Cairo. And so this reviewer spent doing just that for most of the night at the new branch located on the third floor of the Imperial Boat in Zamalek. Having opened in May of this year, Pier 88 has just the design and layout you'd expect from a spot that has long attracted the pomp and flash in Gouna: dark walls and floors, sedated metal fixtures and an open kitchen bar in the centre of the space flanked by hues of black marble and muted copper. The venue is more spacious than its Gouna counterpart, easily seating a hundred on the low tables surrounding the bar, in addition to the high seats at the bar and two long balconies on either side providing outdoor dining. As expected, the clientele was a mixture of old heavyweights smoking cigars and talking business, and young, trendy kids who seemed half the night posing for selfies and snapchats behind us – you know you're getting old when this bothers you. The music was an upbeat playlist of old-school r&b and dance pop, which built up towards the end of the night and had people shaking and dancing in their seats. Just like its Gouna counterpart, you come for the food but stay for the dancing. But enough about the place. Let's get to the food. Yes, the menu is slightly different from Gouna, with different pasta dishes and the Pilpil shrimps served without their trademark garlic sauce, but other than that, our familiar and favourite dishes were all there. For starters, we ordered the beef tartare (140LE) and the salmon carpaccio (130LE), which we washed down with a rather sweet Pier 88 cocktail (130LE) and an excellently sharp Fashion gin and tonic (130LE), which was mixed with juniper and a hint of rose petals. The beef tartare was excellent, though its portion was remarkably tiny: served in three kobeba-sized mounds and blended with a mustard sauce that was deliciously tangy but a little overwhelming. The salmon was a wrong choice of an order: although so thinly sliced it was more like a sauce than a carpaccio slice, the fish was overpowered by the salty olive tapenade garnished on top. We immediately had food envy when we saw a plate of beef carpaccio being prepared, and decided to opt for the beef instead next time – that is, if we can afford a next time. For our mains, we had the risottino carnaroli (150LE) and the 250gm local beef fillet (230LE) served medium rare with a side of vegetables and potato wedges. First, let's start with the bad bits. We've always loved Pier 88's fillet, so we were disappointed when ours arrived without seasoning and a flavourless Café de Paris butter, which didn't have enough herbs to give the fillet the kick it needed. Also, the potato wedges were lukewarm and barely crunchy; they'd clearly been made hours ago and then pre-heated, which really didn't win any points with us seeing as we're sitting in front of an open kitchen and can see how easy it would be to make fresh wedges right before our eyes. Now to the good news: the risotto was gorgeous – the kind of gorgeous you want to take home to meet your parents and plan your future with. Made with a lobster bisque and topped with a delicious foam, the risotto had traces of indecipherable herbs that made our palates tingle with excitement. Neither heavy nor excessively seasoned, it had the perfect lightness matched with the deliciously cooked lobster cubes. Rounding up our pleasant evening, we went for gold and ordered the tortino al cioccolato (75LE) and the panna cotta (95LE), as well as an amaretto sour (120LE) and a chocolate bon bon cocktail (120LE). Beautifully presented, our desserts were more like works of art, though we were slightly disappointed with the chocolate soufflé, which was cooked with too much egg and not enough chocolate. Our pana cotta was very interesting though, once again laced with traces of spices (we're guessing nutmeg) and served in small cubes with homemade marshmallows, raspberries and cookie crumble. We weren't expecting the marshmallow, so we liked how the dish defied our expectations but was still pleasant to experience. Last of all, the amaretto sour was perfectly bitter, though we couldn't taste the orange bitters, and the chocolate bon bon – a cocktail of Bailey's and several other chocolate concoctions – was diluted by a lot of milk and water, making it a decent milkshake, but definitely not the delicious chocolate drink you'd expect. For two starters, two mains, two desserts and four drinks each for a party of two, we paid a total of 1600LE, including service and tax, making one of the most expensive meals we've had in Cairo to date. By far, the best thing about the new Pier 88 is its atmosphere and layout: this is the kind of restaurant you'd celebrate your birthday at or bring your significant other for a very important date. It's the kind of place that makes you want to put red lipstick on and dress up for; we both left happy and vowing to come back for some celebratory experience, but at 1600LE (minimum charge is 400LE per person) for two, we can't afford to come dine here on a regular basis. And while we're on the subject of inevitable comparisons, veterans of the Gouna branch may find faults with the Cairo one, but we have to hand it to them for their great atmosphere, décor, service and presentation.


Chili's: New Menu, Same Problems at Tex-Mex Specialist
Published On: 20/09/2016

Chili's isn't as popular in Cairo as it once was and for the past few years the chain has been going through a rough time in terms of quality. However, the words 'new menu' got us rather excited to revisit the Mohandiseen branch with high hopes for what was once the best Tex-Mex restaurant in Egypt. Usually when Chili's announce a new menu, it contains 4-8 items for a limited time, but this one is set for good. From Southwest Chicken Soup (20LE) and Tableside Guacamole (45LE), to Ancho Salmon (170LE) and Avocado Sirloin (150LE), there are new items is in almost every single section – besides the desserts - on the menu. We started our meal with White Spinach Queso (40LE) as an appetiser. Served with tostada chips and fresh salsa, the dish had rich flavours from the Monterey jack and white cheeses that were complemented by the lighter spinach, pico de gallo and chopped cilantro, while the occasional heat from the diced jalapeno in the guacamole was great. Besides the slightly lumpy consistency, the white spinach queso had a well-balanced flavours and it's perfect to share with a group The hype was very much real for the mains after the fantastic appetiser, as we kicked things off with Smoked Chicken Quesadillas (58LE). Supposedly, the flour tortillas are filled with house-smoked chicken, sautéed red and green bell pepper, caramelised onion, melted Monterey jack cheese and jalapeno aioli sauce – but that's far from what we were served. Aside from the no-show of the red bell pepper and jalapeno aioli sauce, the chicken was just plain grilled and not smoked as promised, while the presentation was sloppy and the tortillas were tough, making this dish a complete disaster. It didn't get much better with the second main, the Sweet & Smoky Burger (66LE). The patty was super dry, chewy and flavourless, the pepper jack cheese wasn't melted and the supposedly mango-infused BBQ sauce lacked flavour and was watery, making the bun very soggy. We thought things couldn't get any worse, but the Spicy Grilled Shrimp Tacos (70LE) proved us wrong. The dish sees three tortillas filled with a mixture cilantro slaw, pico de gallo, sliced avocado and grilled spicy chilli-lime shrimp. Besides the fact that the shrimp was bland in taste, overcooked and chewy, the horrible cut of the avocado – is this an avocado or a cantaloupe? – and the shrimp-to-toppings ratio was way off and made us feel like we're eating a taco salad. Despite the strong start, our experience at Chili's might well be our worst to-date. Despite the initial enthusiasm of finding so many new items, the carelessly presented food, the stream of cooking and service errors and the number of missing ingredients made for a woeful introduction to the new menu.


Ayadina: Point 90 Mall of Lebanese Restaurant Disappoints
Published On: 19/09/2016

Levant cuisine has spread in Cairo at a rapid rate in the past few years, with the additions of many restaurants specialising in Lebanese and Syrian cuisine. Ayadina is one such restaurant; specialising in the food of Lebanon – to be more specific – has opened four different branches across Cairo, boasting a unique design and colour scheme that always stands out compared to the surrounding venues. Their new venue at Point 90 Mall in New Cairo is no different, with the dominating colours of purple, turquoise, pink and green in all of its furniture gave it a playful and relaxing feel, as we took our seats inside. We opted for the Hommos (24LE), Vine Leaves (26LE) and Toumeyah (22 LE) as our cold mezzas, and the Sambousak mix (34 LE), and the sausage with pomegranate dip (44 LE) from the hot mezzas. We also tried the Chicken Fattah (75 LE), Grilled meat (Kebab) (95 LE), and Shish Tawook (75 LE) for our main dishes, while also opting for the Special Cocktail (25LE), and the – Lebanese house special – Jallab (26LE) to wash everything down. Thirty minutes later – and after reminding the waiter of our order – the mezzas arrived alongside a bread basket with three fresh loafs of Lebanese bread. The toumeyah - a garlic dip – was well balanced, proving to be less sour than most restaurants do it and provided a good back drop once the Sambousaks were dipped in it, which came as two meat, two spinach and two cheese. The spinach ones had a slightly sour aftertaste, as did the cheese ones, which were shaped like spring-rolls rather than traditional Sambousak. As for the beef, it had the an earthy flavour and was very well seasoned. Having a zesty fresh taste, the vine leaves were flavourful and fully stuffed and held themselves together well once sliced into, making it one of the highlights of the meal. The Hommos had a great smooth texture with a rich flavour, meanwhile, contrasting the sweet and sour taste of the sausage, which had a juicy interior as it sponged in the pomegranate sauce, wrapping up a great start to our meal. Even though it's a main dish, the Fattah arrived with the appetisers; served in a small metallic bowl with toumeyah, chicken and small pieces of bell peppers and bread. The rice had an almost overpowering cardamom aftertaste, which almost ruined the whole plate. However, the toumeyah had the same rich flavour as the aforementioned, while cubed chicken pieces were large, well seasoned and worked well with the accompanying pieces of bread which gave a satisfying crunch. Almost another thirty minutes later, the rest of our main dishes finally arrived. The shish tawook and grilled beef came as six to ten small pieces with a garlic or tahini dip, alongside two pieces of potato wedges. The shish tawook needed to be grilled a bit more as, although they were tender, they barely had any grill marks while having a pinkish hue to them. Somehow, they were also a bit dry, but this time, the toumeyah lacked a bit in seasoning. As for the grilled beef, it was a bit chewy and had a gamey flavour, and generally lacked anything to make it special or memorable. As for the accompanying potato wedges they were barely cooked and were hard to slice into and – again – lacked any seasoning to which we had to add salt, pepper, and toumeya to give it an extra flavour. Finally our drinks arrived in tall glasses; the Jallab, which is made from a mix between carob, rose water, crushed ice and topped with pine nuts and almond slices, had a refreshing overall flavour, with the flavour of the carob playing off the sweet aromatic taste of the rosewater nicely. The Special Cocktail, meanwhile, was a mix of mango, orange, banana and pomegranate grenadine. While having an overall fruity flavour, the mango dominated, with the pomegranate and orange giving a slightly tangy aftertaste; however, the banana was nowhere to be found. In the end there was a lot going for Ayadina, however cracks were shown in the staff and kitchen's performance under the pressure of a busy evening, resulting in an occasionally unpleasant and somewhat underwhelming experience at a restaurant we have come to expect more from.


Pasta Citta: New Branch, Same Great Food
Published On: 18/09/2016

Location is one of the most important aspects of any restaurant – it can make or break a venue, especially in a city like Cairo that keeps expanding outwards. It's as simple as this: if it's too far or hidden away, it simply doesn't get exposure and it's something that has been the death of many a restaurant. Pasta Citta is one such restaurant which had that exact problem. With its first branch located in Beverly Hills, you're unlikely to have ever encountered it unless you were going there specifically for it. Its second venue, however, is in a prime location nearby at Rivulet, situated between Galleria40 and Capital Business Park. The venue boasts a large outdoor area with simple metal seats covered with matching yellow or black cushions, which contrasted to the more modern look of the indoor dining area which had more comfortable grey and yellow seats with black round tables and chequered floors with an industrial ceiling of exposed air conditioning ducts and lighting wires. As we took our seats outside, we opted for the Fried Potatoes Platter (37LE) as our appetiser, while ordering the Beef Lasagne (52LE), Cordon Bleu (85LE) and Beef Stroganoff (115 LE) as our main dishes. The fried potatoes platter came as a medium-sized pot filled with French fries and sweet potato fries, with a small bowl of honey mustard for some extra flavour. Beautifully presented, the fries were great with an external crunch and tender centre; they were well seasoned with a herby aftertaste which worked well with the honey mustard. The Sweet potato fries, meanwhile, provided the perfect contrast to the savoury fries with a sweet aftertaste that also mixed well the honey mustard giving the sweeter side and extra punch to make the dish a well-balanced one. Soon our main dishes started to arrive; served in a white rectangular bowl, the beef lasagne was a bit under-seasoned, but was still flavourful with a golden well-cooked top. It was easy to slice into, revealing the internal layers of the lasagne drenched with salsa and minced beef, all working together to form a tasty dish with one delightful bite after the other. Exploding with aromas, the beef stroganoff came in a sizzling hot skillet; the sautéed beef strips were dripping with sauce and small pieces of mushrooms and onions, alongside a large white plate which had the rice and mashed potatoes as sides and a small gravy boat. The beef itself was bursting with flavour in every bite with a generous amount of sauce which was by far the highlight of the evening. As for the sides, the rice was really overcooked as was melded into one big piece like sticky Chinese rice while also bland. The mashed potatoes, meanwhile, were great with a smooth texture that already had a great flavour and was given that extra kick from the gravy. Coming in a large white plate, the cordon bleu came in a capsule-like shaped piece, cut in half alongside white rice and mashed potatoes and gravy. Unfortunately, it had been burnt, with an almost burnt black outer shell. It was quickly taken by the staff and we received a new one with the golden brown exterior we were waiting for. The cordon bleu had a crumbly exterior shell, which fell apart as soon as we sliced into it, while the tender interior was stuffed with mozzarella and smoked turkey, every ingredient had powerful flavours that were balanced perfectly; the strong mozzarella taste hits first, smoothing the way for the chicken while keeping the turkey as a delightful aftertaste. In the end, we had very little to complain about at Pasta Citta, with its new location putting it at the very entrance of Rivulet providing traffic and exposure. What it does with that spot is provide a great, comfortable seating area, attentive staff and good food; they also offer shisha for people looking for a nice, quiet place to enjoy with their friends.


Pete's Dragon: A Modern Fairytale That's Cute Without Being Cutesy
Published On: 17/09/2016

Although it forgoes the whimsical nature of its 1977 animated original, there's plenty of heart and innocent joy to be found in Disney's adaptation of Pete's Dragon; a more poignant, atmospheric and a endearing story of a boy and his faithful pet dragon. The story is centered on a young boy named Pete (played by the wonderful Oakes Fegley); a ten-year-old who, for the past six years, has been living deep into the northwestern woods. He soon crosses paths with a logging company and kindhearted park ranger, Grace (Howard), who can't quite come to grips with the fact that he has managed to survive alone for this long. Brought back into town, Pete is soon welcomed into Grace's family – which also includes her fiancé Jack (Bentley), Jack's daughter Natalie (Lawrence) and Grace's father Meacham (Redford) – who slowly begin to learn more about the boy through his shared stories and drawings . However, as they dig deeper, they soon discover that Pete hasn't been alone all this time, learning that Pete's mysterious companion - a green furry dragon named Elliot - is not a figment of a young boy's imagination after all. The discovery of the dragon offsets a series of events, however, which carry dangerous consequences. Though it was never considered a Disney classic, the live-action and animated musical of the seventies oozes enough charm for a modern-day redo – and , forty years later, the sentiment is still relevant. Co-written by David Lowery and Toby Halbroks – filmmakers currently attached to the remake of Peter Pan which is to be released in 2018 – the story is simple and straightforward with the writers ensuring that the audiences both young and old are intrigued and equally drawn into the story's wonderfully created space. The balancing act of both magic and realism is handled well and the visuals - embraced wonderfully by cinematographer Bojan Bazelli – are gorgeous, making most use out of the peaceful and sprawling New Zealand landscapes. With the inseparable bond and relationship between Elliott – one of the cutest dragons you'll ever see – and Pete serving to be the beating heart of the story, the young actor tasked with bringing this unusual friendship to life is deserving of all of the praise. Grounded, sensitive and blessed with just the right amount of mischief, Fegley is the star of the show together with Laurence's Natalie whose on-screen chemistry with the young boy is a perfect match. Don't think twice before going in to see this magical adventure. You won't be disappointed. 


Gaby's: A Masterclass of Casual Dining at New Cairo's Point 90 Mall
Published On: 17/09/2016

Though 6 of October City residents might disagree, New Cairo is proving to be a hub of dining, with new restaurants, cafes and bars opening monthly, one of the latest of which is Gaby's, who has opened a new branch at Point 90. With an outdoor area filled with the chain's trademarked wooden chairs giving a club feel, the indoor area takes things up a notch with armchairs and sofas, as well as exposed air-conditioning ducts and interestingly designed lights. After taking our place inside, we opted for the Bits & Dips platter (110LE) as our appetiser and the Chateubriand (270LE) and Chicken Portobello Roll (95LE) for our main dishes. Arriving a few minutes later, a complimentary bread basket was served, with freshly baked bread and bread sticks, with a crunchy exterior and spongy interior accompanied with a small bowl of feta cheese which was a good contrast and gave the bread some flavour. About twenty minutes later, our appetiser arrived in a large rectangular white plate filled with two large servings of nachos, three sausage samosas, four spicy Buffalo wings, three crispy bonbons, three mussels topping some potato salad and a small bowl of sour cream – yes, it's a lot. We decided to start with the messy Buffalo wings which were bursting with flavour, with a mild spiciness to it, which only gave the chicken an extra kick; afterwards we dove into the sausage samosas which had a satisfying crunchy exterior with an Oriental sausage stuffing which had a grainy texture with a flavourful Oriental spiciness. Moving on to the crispy bonbons – fried bonbons stuffed with cheese and spinach, with what almost seemed like a cornflakes exterior instead of regular breading giving a yellowish colour. The fight for flavour dominance was intense as the cheese could only be found as an aftertaste while the cornflakes taste was so dominant, overpowering the spinach and potatoes at times. Unfortunately the mussels were bland and didn't have much to offer compared to the rest of the plate which if removed, its absence would go unnoticed. The potato salad was a bit bland as well, though well-cooked, pushing us to add a little salt and pepper to add a little seasoning. The nachos were heavily seasoned and topped with some pico de gallo, and had a an overpowering flavour due to the excessive powdered seasoning which could only be toned down with the sour cream which created a balance of flavours and calm it down a bit. Moving onto the mains, the Chateubriand came as two tenderloin fillets topped with a grape sauce with small slices of grapes, alongside basmati rice. The fillets had an earthy taste, with the grape sauce offering a great backdrop with its mildly sweet and sour aftertaste to contrast the dryness of the well-done grilled fillet, while the basmati rice was cooked perfectly, once again working well with the grape sauce to make it a well-rounded dish. The Chicken Portobello Rolls, meanwhile, were four small chicken rolls stuffed with mushrooms and cheese, topped by pepper sauce with a side of mashed potatoes and broccoli. Slicing into the four rolls, three were well cooked, while one had a pinkish hue; prompting us to leave it aside. Taste-wise, the flavours were intense and, again, earthy, thanks to the Portobello mushrooms. The mashed potatoes were smooth, but a bit under-seasoned. After a largely excellent meal, we opted for the Nutella Feteer (70 LE) for dessert. Arriving moments later on a wooden serving board, the Nutella feteer was rectangular and drenched with Nutella and cut into sections, each topped with something different – slices of apple, kiwi, banana, and finally a ball of vanilla ice-cream. The chosen fruits were well selected as each offered a different flavour to contrast the Nutella, with the apples offering the sweet side, the kiwi sour, the bananas creamy and the ice-cream a light, smooth aftertaste to the heavy Nutella. The feteer itself was light and easy to slice into. So what of our experience at Gaby's? Casual sophistication, top quality food and friendly staff – we couldn't ask for more.


Ben-Hur: The Remake Nobody Wanted
Published On: 14/09/2016

With its 1959 adaptation starring Charlton Heston having won a whopping eleven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, the 2016 revision of Lew Wallace's 1880 novel, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ, was always fighting an uphill battle. Unfortunately, thinly-sketched characters and shaky cinematography undermine director Timur Bekmambetov's attempts to bring the ambitious script to life. The Biblical soap opera about forgiveness and redemption follows many of the same beats as the 1959 version, focusing on the relationship between the title character – a Jewish nobleman – and his adoptive brother and Roman soldier, Messala (Kebbell). Amidst the beginnings of an uprising in Jerusalem against the ruling Romans, an assassination attempt on Roman governor Pontus Pilate puts the two friends on opposing sides of the battle and Ben-Hur into slavery. Though the relationship between Ben-Hur and Messala is the soul of the plot, there's very little time spent on developing the characters; even the first part of the film, which should establish the bond between the two, is rushed, while the Christian elements of the tale – which weren't really explored in the 1959 version – feel forced, especially when Jesus, played by Rodrigo Santoro, shows up. The performances are equally disappointing, with Huston turning out to be a bland choice for the lead; in fact, Kebbell steals the show, delivering a deliciously evil performance. On the technical level, the famous chariot scene has its moments, but choppy editing, unnecessary close-ups and poor CGI take the shine off of a scene, and film, that really didn't need to be retold. 


Stranger Things: Spectacular Throwback to 80's Horror & Sci-Fi
Published On: 13/09/2016

There's a good chance that you've already heard about Netflix's latest supernatural horror-drama, Stranger Things; an eight-episode series about a young boy whose mysterious disappearance from a small sleepy town in Indiana, manages to offset a series of strange happenings has arrived under much expectation. Created by the Duffer Brothers, Stranger Things - a show already praised by many and lovingly described as the "love letter to the supernatural classics of the 80's" - begins with Will (Schnapp); a twelve-year-old boy who mysteriously disappears one night, sending his mother, Joyce (the wonderfully unhinged Ms. Ryder) on a frantic search for her missing boy. Paranoid and afraid of what might have happened to her son, Joyce pleads with the local Chief of police, Hopper (Harbour) to organise a search party, however, Will's friends - Mike (Wolfhard), Dustin (Matarazzo) and Lucas (McLaughlin) - have already taken it upon themselves to look for their missing friend. Their search takes a turn when the boys soon coming across Eleven (Brown); a mysterious girl who possesses powerful abilities who might just be the one they need to help locate Will. The carefully built world which surrounds Stranger Things is a place filled with 80's nostalgia; complete with movie, music and literary references that are most rewarding. With echoes of E.T and The Goonies particularly strong throughout, Steven Spielberg's work in the era is clearly an inspiration. The story is driven by a heavy dose of intrigue and suspense which The Duffer Brothers masterfully explore and build on as the story progresses. The rich and deeply-layered storyline is told through a familiar yet seemingly dark 80's atmosphere - its mood elevated by an appropriately eerie synth score - and a purposefully slow pace which rewardingly picks up as the episodes unfold. Apart from being blessed with a wonderful script, fitting mood and an overall intriguing set up, Stranger Things' strongest feature lies with its cast with both distraught mother, Ryder, and weary cop, Harbour, delivering equally strong performances. However, the story's heart is in the hands of its younger cast, who manage to bring an equal doses humanity, authenticity, vulnerability and humour to their roles; Brown's Eleven is top of the pile, with her compelling performance marking her as one of the most unique and interesting young talents to emerge onto the scene. There's plenty of heart to be found in Stranger Things and a sincerity rare to television; scary, funny and full of adventure, it's a wonderful blend of everything 80's and as binge-worthy a TV show as you'll find this year;


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How to Become a Rock Star in Cairo Part Three: Jamming & Practicing

We've talked about how and where to get instruments, and even about where to go and learn how to play those instruments. In the third part of How to Become a Rockstar in Cairo, we'll help put the spotlight on places where musicians can practice and jam; places where they can be as creative as they'd