Gourmet Cairo



Description:

The Gourmet Egypt trip is designed for foodies who want to sample a range of traditional Egyptian foods, as well as see some of the most important sights in Cairo.

Egyptian cuisine is varied, and is influenced by Turkish, Middle Eastern, Mediterranean and African cuisine, as well as by ancient Egyptian recipes. It tends to be quite homely, very filling, and heavy on the veggies and pulses.

Traditional Egyptian foods include fuul (mashed, spiced fava beans), koshary (a mix of pasta, lentils, chickpeas, fried onions and tomato sauce) and molokheiya (a slimy green vegetable also known as Jew’s Mallow). Chicken and beef are more common than lamb; seafood is also popular, as is pigeon!

The Gourmet Egypt trip will give you the opportunity to try all of these foods, and more. Gourmet Egypt includes in its itinerary some classic restaurants, and also suggestions of fresh produce bazaars to visit. There is also the chance to attend a cookery class.

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Author: Nicholas Rowlands


Day 1 - Cairo


Start your day with a bit of ancient culture, and visit the Egyptian Museum. This is an incredible collection of exhibits from the pharaonic period. Be warned that the pieces are not very well organised or labelled, so it may be worth hiring a guide at the museum. However you organise yourself, make sure not to miss the strange Amarna art in the middle of the ground floor, Tutankhamen’s treasures, and the spooky mummy room (costs extra).

Once you’ve had enough, soak up some contemporary culture by checking out the modern Townhouse and Mashrabia Galleries, for some excellent local and foreign art exhibitions. Abou Tarek Koshary restaurant is nearby, and is the perfect place to break for lunch. Koshary is as delicious as it is cheap, and you can’t get any more Egyptian.

In the afternoon, explore one of Cairo’s most colourful food markets. Head south of Midan Tahrir and turn left onto al-Sheikh Rihan street. Keep going, and turn right on to Muhammad Farid street, and walk down to the triangular intersection.

You are in quite a poor, but very friendly area of Cairo that has an amazing food market. Spend some time browsing the stalls piled high with mouth-watering fruit and veg, and check out all the spice stalls. If you feel peckish, the alley behind the main covered market has a stall selling grilled sardines stuffed with herbs, tomatoes and onions.

In the evening, experience a totally different side of Cairo by heading to Zamalek, home of expats, embassies and boutique shopping. Take your dinner in Aboul Sid restaurant (reservations recommended). As well as alcohol and shisha pipes, they serve good traditional Egyptian food. This is a great place to try that most quintessential of Egyptian vegetables, molokheiya.


2

Townhouse Gallery

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Location:

Hussein El Me'mar Basha Street
(Off Mahmoud Basyouni Street)
11728 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 2576 8086
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3

Mashrabia Gallery

Location:

8 Champollion Street
(Off Tahrir Square)
11728 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 578 4494
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4

Abou Tarek Koshary Restaurant

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Location:

16 Champollion Street, on corner of Maarouf Street
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 2577 5935 / +20 (0)2 2576 1911
fax: +20 2 576 1911
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5

Zamalek

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Location:

Northern tip of Gezira island
Cairo, Egypt


6

Abou el Sid

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Location:

157, 26th of July Street, just down from Diwan book store
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 2735 9640 / +20 (0)10 100 8500
fax: +20 (0)2 3748 8109
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Day 2 - Cairo


Start early and aim to get to the Pyramids before 9 am, in order to beat the crowds and the heat. The easiest way to get there is to hire a taxi for the day. Your hotel will be able to help with this, though it would be cheaper to arrange it yourself. Just make sure your driver speaks enough English, and negotiate a fair price in advance.

Once at the Pyramids, take the time to explore the site fully. It really is magical, especially if you manage to get there early enough that you are not swamped by other tourists and touts. If you aren’t claustrophobic, it’s worth paying the small extra fee to enter one of the pyramids. There isn’t really anything to see, but the sensation of being inside such a vast mass of rock is incredible. Make sure you also allow enough time to visit the Solar Boat Museum.

Once you are done, drive to the Great Sphinx (included in the Pyramids ticket), stopping at the pyramids viewing point along the way. Have fun playing with perspective when taking photos of the Sphinx: if you get your positioning right, you can appear to be patting him on the head, and even kissing him!

Spend some time over lunch at nearby Andrea restaurant; if the weather allows it, make sure you dine al fresco. This is a good place to experience Egyptian kebabs, or even better, to sample quail or pigeon! Pigeon has a rich, gamey flavour, although it's really fiddly to eat.

After lunch, have your driver take you to Saqqara. You’re going to want a good few hours here, because it’s a huge site: home to the first pyramid ever built, and a number of tombs and other monuments. In contrast with the Giza Plateau, relatively few tourists visit Saqqara, so the site is an atmospheric place to wander around. Make sure you take sun protection and plenty of water though, because there isn’t much shade.

Start out at the museum, to give you an overview of what you are going to see, before heading to the main site. If so inclined, you could hire a guide to help you find your way around, although this is not necessary provided you have a map of the site. Spend some time exploring the area around the Step Pyramid and Funerary Complex of Djoser, before getting your taxi to take you to the tombs towards the north of the site. Make sure not to miss the Mastaba of Ti, whose detailed reliefs have provided Egyptologists with a wealth of information about everyday life in the Old Kingdom.

In the evening, head to Cedars restaurant in Mohandiseen. They do good Lebanese food at very reasonable prices, and it's justifiably popular with locals. The mezze are excellent (especially the houmous wth meat, the chicken wings and the grilled halloum cheese), and it's a great place to try another Middle Eastern speciality, Fattah. Note that although Cedars does serve fantastic shisha pipes, they don’t have any alcohol.

If you fancy a drink after dinner, head back Downtown to al-Horeya, one of the coolest bars in Cairo!


1

The Great Pyramid

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Location:

Giza Plateau
12561 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 383 8823
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2

Pyramid of Khafre (Chephren)

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Location:

Giza Pyramids Plateau
12561 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 391 3454 (Tourist Information)
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3

Pyramid of Menkaure (Mycerinus)

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Location:

Giza Pyramids Plateau
12561 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 383 8823


4

The Sphinx

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Location:

Giza Pyramids Plateau
12561 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 383 8823
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5

Solar Boat Museum

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Location:

Giza Pyramids Plateau
12561 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 391 3454 (Tourist Information)
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6

Andrea

Location:

59-60 Marioutiya Canal, Kerdasa Rd, Harem
Shara Kerdessa, al-Haram
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 3383 1133
fax: +20 (0)2 3385 4441


7

Step Pyramid of Saqqara

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Location:

North Saqqara
(32 kilometres south of Cairo)
12561 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

visit website


10

Saqqara: Mastaba of Ti

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Location:

North East of Serapeum, Saqqara
12561 Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 285 4509 (Tourist information)
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12

Cedars Restaurant

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Location:

42 Gezirat el Arab
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 3345 0088 / +20 (0)2 3347 2537 / +20 (0)2 3344 5108 / +20 (0)10 700 1717
fax: +20 (0)2 2414 9387


13

Horeya

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Location:

Midan el-Falaki
Bab el-Louk
Cairo, Egypt


Day 3 - Cairo


Today you are going to explore the area around Khan al-Khalili, in Islamic Cairo. Take a taxi to the Khan, but let him go, because you will be walking from here. Spend a while checking the exotic souvenirs of Khan al-Khalili, and stop for some refreshment and top-notch people-watching in the famous al-Fishawi coffee shop.

Although technically non-Muslims are not allowed, you can often get into al-Hussein Mosque in the main square, and it's worth having a bash.

Then head up Muizz li-Din-Allah towards Bab al-Futuh, the north gate. There are a number of beautifully restored Islamic monuments up this street that you can visit, such as the Sabil-Kuttab Abdel Rahman Katkhuda, Beit al-Souhaymi, and al-Hakim mosque. Directly opposite the north gate is one of Cairo’s best kept secrets – Zizou’s restaurant. Zizou offers the best spicy Alexandrian sausage sandwiches in Cairo, and no self-respecting food lover would be able to leave Cairo without at least trying them!

After lunch, retrace your steps back down the street, keep going past the al-Muski crossroads, and you will be in the spice bazaar section of Khan al-Khalili. Nowadays, it’s not only spices that are sold here, but the souq is no less intoxicating for it. Although the stall holders here are quite pushy, they are also more than happy to explain the properties and uses of their wares to anyone that is interested.

If you are hungry (or curious, or just plain greedy!) you could stop for another bite to eat at the Egyptian Pancake House. Gourmet it ain’t, and touristy it is, but this little restaurant still offers up a tasty, cheap and cheerful Egyptian staple known locally as feteer. Perhaps you could justify it by taking a sweet one, and calling it dessert! (Note if you didn't try pigeon yesterday at Andrea, Farahat restaurant is just around the corner, and is considered to serve the finest pigeons in Cairo!)

After this, keep heading south down Muizz li-Din Allah towards Bab Zwayla, the south gate. Along the way you will walk through a local clothing market, and pass numerous mosques and madrassas, most of which can be visited should you choose.

South of Bab Zwayla is the Street of the Tentmakers, where the traditional craft of handmade appliqué is still practised. Keep going even further south, and you pass through another vibrant local food market. Similar to day 1, this is a bewildering riot of colour, smell and sound: though prepare yourself, for this market is famous for selling offal, as well as live animals such as chickens, geese and rabbits.

Once you reach the main street, grab a taxi back to your hotel, before heading down to Maadi for your final night’s cooking class! Gourmet Egypt (www.gourmetegypt.com) offers an Egyptian cookery class every day from 6.30 – 10 pm, at a very reasonable price. Note that you will need to have booked in advance.

You’ve sampled some of the finest local food in Cairo, and explored a few of the souqs where the wonderful fresh produce comes from, now it’s time to end your trip by cooking – and eating – your own local feast!


1

Khan el-Khalili Bazaar

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Location:

Off Hussein Square
(Across from El Azhar Mosque)
11211 Cairo, Egypt


2

Al-Fishawi Coffee Shop

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Location:

El-Fishawi Alley
(Khan al-Khalili)
Cairo, Egypt


3

Al Hussein Mosque

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Location:

El-Hussein Square
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 285 4509 (Tourist Information)
fax: +20 (0)2 285 4363 (Tourist Information)


5

Beit Al Souhaymi

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Location:

Darb al-Asfar Street
Around Bab el Futuh
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 2 285 4509
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6

Hakim Mosque (Al)

Location:

Al-Mu'izz li-Din Allah Street
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 285 4509 (Tourist Information)
fax: +20 (0)2 285 4363 (Tourist Information)
visit website


7

Zizo's

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Location:

1 Midan Bab al Futuh
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: 2025926530


9

Farahat

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Location:

126 Al-Azhar Street
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 2592 6595


10

Al-Azhar Mosque

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Location:

Al-Azhar Street
Opposite El-Hussein Square
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 59 3893
fax: +20 (0)2 59 3893
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11

Egyptian pancake house

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Location:

Midan Hussein
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: 2024505871


12

Bab Zwayla

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Location:

Sharia al-Muizz el-Din Allah Street
Cairo, Egypt

Contact:

tel: +20 (0)2 391 3454 (Tourist Information)
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13

Street of the Tentmakers

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Location:

Souq Al-Khiamiyya
Bab Zwayla
Cairo, Egypt


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