FooDiva calls on Egypt
El Gouna, Egypt, October 6th 2010; You’re no doubt wondering, why’s FooDiva in Egypt?….well over the years whilst growing up in Cyprus and over a decade working in the Middle East, I have travelled to Egypt umpteen times…but never to Alexandria and hence with my sabbatical in full flow I had to visit. But first things first…
I spent one night in Cairo at my old work haunt, the Conrad (thank you Kevin!), and had to try out their newly transformed F&B venues. OMG, what a change, so much so, I thought I had descended on the wrong floor. Level two now houses three new venues; Kamala for South East Asian, Oak Grill, a Scandinavian treat, and Stage One, an upscale lounge bar with spectacular Nile views. I lunched at Kamala, and whenever I spot my all-time favourite Balinese dish Nasi Goreng on any menu, I always have to try it out to see if it rivals the Dubai version at Ginseng. Well it certainly lives up to FooDiva’s expectations, accompanied by what I am sure is Cairo’s only selection of flower teas. Stage One is perfect for pre or post dinner cocktails. Oak Grill will have to wait for my next visit, as will Solana when it opens later this year. In the meantime, Egyptian socialites please add Conrad Cairo to your dinner wish list.
Leaving bustling Cairo behind, I am now ensconced in El Gouna….for those not in the know it’s an integrated lifestyle community in a lagoon setting housing everything you can imagine…hotels…restaurants…residences…golf courses…schools…hospitals…you name it they’ve got it. Egyptians like to refer to it as the ‘Venice of the Middle East’ – I’ll let you decide if you agree.
I was thrilled to hear that my favourite Egyptian restaurant Abou El Sid had opened an outlet here. If you’ve not tried the Cairo Zamalek branch, then please make sure you do. So off we went for dinner on night one. Located in the so-called ‘Downtown’ area, Abou El Sid overlooks one of the many lagoons. Indoors, it’s not as cosy as it’s Cairo counterpart, but great to have the option to dine outside especially with such beautiful weather. Friends think I am crazy, but I am a huge fan of the Egyptian ‘kosheri’ dish, basically a melange of rice, macaroni, lentil and fried onions topped with a spicy tomato sauce which I always eat it when in town. The Abou El Sid version featured spaghetti instead of macaroni, which does not marry very well with the other ingredients, so no seal of approval from FooDiva. We also selected stuffed sausages, chicken liver Alexandrian style, oriental salad and of course tahini. All accompanied with the traditional straight-from-the-oven Egyptian wholemeal pitta bread. And my dad’s main course was circasian chicken in walnut sauce, according to the menu, a very old Egyptian dish. Apart from the sausages which were not as yummy as Abou El Sid Dubai (yes there’s one at Mirdif City Centre!), the dishes were delicious. Polish it off with fresh sugar cane juice (you can add your favourite spirit too), and triple your calorie intake at the same time!
Ma salaama…FooDiva. x