Cairo’s penchant for fine dining and gourmet cuisine is no secret; the trend has been given away by the rising number of online and catering venues springing up all over the capital in recent years.
For those who melt at the mention of imported Gruyère cheeses, exotic spices, fresh herbs, berries and other fine ingredients; online gourmet foods service Voila Luxury Foods has recently opened a shop near the Zamalek Residence Hotel (formerly the Safir Hotel) in Zamalek. This means that if you are tired of clicking through their glossy website, and would rather not brave the crowds surrounding their Mohandiseen branch, and prefer to inspect merchandise in person; the opportunity is now at your fingertips.
Located on Mohamed Mazhar Street, the small shop space is devoted mostly to spices, condiments and pastas. A deli fridge contains sliced salamis, pestos and cheeses, while a freezer is stocked top to bottom with ice cream. Voila is the proud exclusive carrier of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Egypt, which is sold for LE 49 a pint and LE 20 for a bite-sized 3.5 oz container. Gasp away at the high prices — they are still beaten by the slightly higher rates of Haagen Dazs, which sells for well over LE 50 a pint and LE 24 for the 3.5 oz containers.
Customers are first greeted by shelves of pastas, from Alb Gold varieties (from around LE 20 to around LE 35) displaying large shells, tagliatelle and semeli, strozzapreti, and orecchiette.
You can find a variety of sliced Italian-imported Casamia deli meats, from pepperoni beef salami (around LE 25), sweet beef salami and beef bresaola, vacuum-packed and available for between LE 25and LE 50. Lockfyne smoked salmon is also available for LE 110.
French gourmet provider Terre Exotique is featured prominently in the shop, providing everything from gorgeous, coarse pink Kashmiri diamond sea salt (LE 65) to curry and Cajun spices. Glass pots contain salade de fleures, an eclectic mix of dried blossom culinary spices, as well as dried rosebuds.
British label The Fine Cheese Co. provides a modest selection of sharp cheddars. French food company Mill Crèpes boasts boxes of gourmet cocktail crackers; while British label Buitman occupies an entire shelf of croutons, spiced wafers and seasoned, boxed bread snacks. Cottage Delight presents an extensive collection of preserves, from traditional raspberry jam to the more intriguing rhubarb-ginger, for LE 50-60. The label also has a few glass jars of old-fashioned sweets, from boiled lemon drops to striped hard candies.
For savory preserves, look for the Cottage Delight apple chutney (LE 31) and hot mustard (LE 24), while Roka cheese stick crackers are available for LE 26.
Rows of colorful sugar sprinkles by Zuk Zak are available in colors from pink to green; the industrial-sized bottles would be perfect for preparing holiday cookies.
The Zamalek branch carries a number of items not available on the website, such as coarse pink sea salt and the Casamia meats. Did we mention that Voila is the sole supplier of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Egypt?
Inconsistent pricing made shopping a bit tricky, especially in a space packed with so many varieties of spices and fixings.
The specialty packages, spices and more make for great gift ideas for food-enthusiast friends and family.
Address: 17 Mohamed Mahzar Street, Cairo, Egypt.
Open: 10AM – 12AM
This article was contributed to Daily News Egypt by Cairo360, www.cairo360.com