Saturday, September 6, 2008


A couple weeks ago I happened to run into the country manager for Casper and Gambini. I told him about how I had this blog and had written a couple of reviews about them, and he nodded. Apparently, whenever anyone on the internet mentions the name of any of their stores it is immediately conveyed to them for feedback, which is pretty great. He had been on the point of emailing me to respond to my slander about their fries, and asked challengingly, who delivered fries well? I said, "Eurodeli". He asked me to take into account the distance, and also that skinny fries just don't deliver well. I told him that McDonalds managed to do it and he raised his eyebrows in hauteur and insult.
"Well, they do."
And then I forget what happened because I had some shots. And also my memories of that evening are clouded by a female friend tipsily squeezing my right boob no less than four times...and one of them in front of a complete stranger! This must be what being friends with me is like...although I generally confine myself to discreetly poking my friends in the boob, or patting their butt. In front of good friends only!
Anyway, Elijah and I ordered Casper and Gambini a few days ago, and they told us that they didn't have fries - whether on that day (it was fitar rush time) or in general was unclear. Instead, they suggested potato wedges, which were totally delicious, along with one of the best Philly steak sandwiches I have ever had (although I have not been to Philadelphia). The problem with most Phillies I've had is that they were just too dry - but not this one. God, I want to order one right now, even though it's 8 am. Elijah wondered if maybe they were delivering potato wedges now instead of fries pursuant to my suggestion - wouldn't that be awesome if it were true?
If it is, that is likely to be the final triumphant hurrah this poor blog is going to have, as I have quit my lawyering job. My new job is also in Zamalek, but I anticipate ordering food there a lot less as the new office (at the magazine Alter Ego! Read it!) is visible from my place and will pay me quite a bit less then practising law, predictably. I could still call Mystic Mo up every day and get his feedback (and his new officemate's feedback) on stuff they ordered but I think that's going to get old real fast. Alternatively, I could just post general reviews of food experiences – I don't know why I thought that food delivered at work was blogworthy as a general theme. I could also just import the contents of this blog into my original one and fuhgeddaboutit. What do you think?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The lameness

Apparently, when you start a new blog you have to update every day or people lose interest. I wish to fly in the face of tradition and do what I want.
But the real reason I haven't updated in a while is that I went out to lunch twice last week (I suppose I could review that as well but it's not as douchey, I feel, as reviewing delivery), and also Mystic Mo went off to Peru this weekend for something like A MONTH and I don't have the heart to order without him. Yet. So I've been making my own sandwiches and bringing them, for the good of my health and pocketbook. I’ve gotten very fat and very poor lately. Still, everyone who knows me is aghast.
The downside to this is that when I was making my sandwich this morning, I asked my roommates politely if they wanted one too and to my astonishment they nodded. So I made two more. This made me very late to work (that’s my story and I’m sticking with it). And surely no one wants to read about the sandwich I made.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Cafe Tabasco: Their Pasta Salad is Revolting

We rarely order from here, as it is invariably a disappointment. I don’t now why we kept the faith.

Even more strangely, I ordered something called the Tabasco Pasta Salad. I am generally against pasta salads, since I believe a salad’s chief ingredients should be vegetables, and that people should not disguise carbohydrates as health food. It’s blatant misrepresentation. Also, I am generally opposed to salads being whole meals, as they just sit there in a cold lump in my stomach. To this end I have had many conversations with my friend Spaz to the effect of:

Me: How can you eat this thing calling itself a salad?

Spaz: I like it. It doesn’t leave a cold feeling in my stomach.

Me: But it’s got tuna AND pasta.

My pasta salad purported to have pasta, salami, smoked veal, green and red pepper, corn, cheddar, gargir, basil and sundried tomato, and it also purported to cost L.E. 20.

Mystic Mo ordered a Groovy Pasta Salad (“yeah, baby!”) claiming to contain pasta, olives, green and red pepper, salami, turkey, corn, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes with balsamic vinegar and basil oil, allegedly at L.E. 18. He will order anything if he sees the word “basil” in it. I ordered a café latte and he ordered a café mocha.

Nine hundred years later the food arrived. We were unhappy because we hadn’t asked for anything cooked and the place is really close by. Moreover, we each had to fork over L.E. 50 again (although technically he owed L.E. 5 more than me because he asked for cheese, overpriced!). It seems that our menu was outdated and now these salads cost L.E. 29 a pop. Global food crisis impacting the rich!


Needless to say, no pasta salad can live up to the expectations created by L.E. 29 but these fell far short of even that. When they arrived, infinitesimally small and minus forks, we could not figure out which was which. We just distributed them, I unearthed forks from my closet, and we sat down at our desks.

I think I started out with the Groovy. I say this because I swam in a bath of balsamic vinegar, distinctly sans anything in the way of cherry tomatoes. That Shit Was Repugnant, is all I have to say.

Meanwhile, Mystic Mo reported that his one, the Tabasco, was too full of gargeer, and certainly had no sundried tomatoes, although he liked the basil and said overall it was OK. He suggested however that it would improve both salads if we mixed them together. I got up and approached his desk, around which both of us stood for a while, plastic containers of salad in hand, trying to figure out how to mix them yet still retain half each. Ultimately, of course, we did the stupidest thing ever. We used our forks to make dividing lines along each of our salads, and then tried to use the plastic forks to ladle one half of each ON to one of the halves of the other salad. This resulted in my dropping a fat kernel of corn of a book on his desk, “How to meet and work with Spirit Guides” by Ted Andrews, which was lying face down because he didn’t want our activities to disturb the Guides. Anyway, when I got the kernel of corn (with dressing) on his nutjob text he said, “Matneekileesh el maktab!” and suggested we do the rest of our mixing over my desk. This we did not do. We did it over the floor instead, now decorated with a piece of mushroom.

We retired again behind our respective desks. The salads were marginally improved but still ick and I didn’t finish mine. Gross. There were just too many flavours in both that just didn’t mesh well together (apart from the missing ingredients and balsamic vinegar deluge). I knew I was right about this pasta salad thing. Not that any of Tabasco’s food has ever met with my approval really. It’s sad that it is, as far as I know, the only place to procure pancakes in Zamalek. I don’t like pancakes myself but my friends do. The one in Dokki has shisha as well.


The coffee was acceptable. They also provided us with sugar packets and spoons for it, and each of them was clearly labeled. Mine said “Name: Mr. لاتيه” but I got the idea. They also included two pieces of toast for each of us in triangular plastic boxes. We had no idea what to do with these pieces of toast.

Overall, suckage. Not ever ordering from there again. Their work-appropriate foods have always blown. Mystic Mo said the Tabasco Pasta Salad was OK though. But I think his judgment is compromised by his love for basil.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Casper & Gambini's Take (and Eat) Two

So, even though we had Costa and Eurodeli over the last couple of days, I am yet again reviewing Casper and Gambini’s because I didn’t feel like reviewing them on those days (although they’re on the Top Five work roster so the time will come).

This time we had something different out of consideration for my kind readers. Mystic Mo had the Club Sandwich – “our triple decker classic: jumbo toasted Pullman loaf, your choice of thin sliced roast beef or tender chicken breast, layered with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, crisp beef bacon, boiled egg, mozzarella cheese and mayonnaise. Served with crispy French fries” at L.E. 31. He chose chicken (fool). I had a Counting Calories Pick 2! Combo, namely ½ a Greek salad and ½ a Good Old Turkey Swiss sandwich, at L.E. 27 (and I accepted the menu’s thoughtful recommendation to ask for their multi grain baguette, if I was thinking healthier). We both had the previously mentioned Café Mocha. It took forever for him to order the food, because we argued over whose turn it was to make the phone call. I insisted that traditionally he was in charge of C and G and I was in charge of Eurodeli. However, he was the one who called Eurodeli the day before yesterday, because when I asked him what he wanted he wouldn’t tell me, saying instead: “tab mat haaty boosa”. When I respectfully declined he snatched his phone up and did the ordering himself, kindly acquiescing to also make the order I shouted at him. I related these events again to him today. He said “tab matgeebi boosa bo2 fe3lan.” He then took forever figuring out what he wanted and perusing the menu extensively. There are new items, he claimed.

When the food arrived a lifetime later, we were somehow stunned by the considerable total sum: L.E. 99. Mystic Mo instructed me to hide the C and G menu and that we’d only order from there on special occasions. We also agreed that I was perfectly capable of making nice sandwiches myself and so I would do that starting when he got back from vacation. Because you see, it’s assumed I would make him one at well. Please. I consider it a hardship to get up early enough to take a shower. Then again the Italy trip was financially destructive in the extreme, so I should really make myself sandwiches at least…


The Club Sandwich was reportedly yummy. Egg: great. Mayonnaise: appropriate. Mayo mustard side dip: thoughtful. It’s nice to have a dip alongside. Also, it was huge, meaning that Mystic Mo, a big dude, was full halfway through. He reasoned that maybe this justified the expense, as he could have the rest later.

My salad was actually great – and I speak as a person who sniffs at delivery salads, and also as a person who made, and ate, her weight in Greek salad yesterday. Yes, it had those huge pieces of lettuce you can hardly fit into your mouth (who started that trend? Who?) but it was fresh, the dressing was good, and it had fresh herbs in it. And even more key, the cheese was good. Not too creamy, not too Egyptian/crumbly. The olives were sliced, thank God. I hate interrupting meals to spit out olive pits. Usually I just give the olives to dining companions since I don’t like them much.

My half sandwich turned out to be a wee baguette. I have a soft spot for wee loaves of bread (and wee stuff in general…I remember once remarking to one of my roommates in university, a scary if loving female with a sharp eyebrow ring, morbid art, a cigarette holder and goth makeup who loved her some System of a Down, that I thought naked Bart Simpson as a toddler was the cutest thing ever. She said, “You’re weird, and might need some help.”)

The sandwich, however, was not weird. It was great. Plenty of delicious turkey, real mozzarella cheese in generous quantity, fresh lettuce and tomato. Not too much mayo. I was full, but not too full.

The cutlery and condiments were a real joy to me. First they came in individual little paper bags – sure, bad for the environment, but not as bad as plastic. Each bag contained a knife and fork, a salt and pepper packet, and an individually wrapped Halls. Classy. And I was particularly happy with the knife and fork themselves – they were pretty close to being real. They were made of tough plastic and didn’t bend at all. Sugar was also provided even though the mochas don’t need it. I put them in my bag of spare sugar packets that I keep in my work closet with my legal codes.


As stated, the expense. Corporate lawyers who persist in taking art-gazing trips to Italy (me) and shamanic voyages along the ancient trails in Peru (him) still cannot afford L.E. 50 a day. It’s shameful. Should make own lunch like my sensible girlfriends, although I hear reports of mesa2a3a and whole zucchinis being brought into work by the Podophobiac.

Also, Mystic Mo’s fries were soggy and limp. We’ve had the fries there before and they still sucked. Maybe it’s the distance? And worst of all: no ketchup. Mystic Mo asked me if there was any ketchup remaining in my closet stock, and there was not, due to insufficient ketchup provision by Hardees.

I’m ditching the ratings. You all can read.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Casper & Gambini's: "The Taste of Tradition"

“Everybody must eat to live. Some people eat to live longer.” This wise, obscure philosophy is the slogan depicted on the menus, next to a spruced-up dustbowl-era farmer with a scythe across his shoulders. It is hard to reconcile their down-home pure image with their locale in gleaming Nile City, especially when said locale makes their deliveries really late. And also because it’s a Lebanese chain.
We’ve ordered from C and G several times before, having been turned on to it by our fancier colleagues. For a long time, C and G menus were in greater demand around our office than the Companies Law and its Executive Regulations, precious commodities indeed. I have been induced to leave my seat several times in search of this menu. Irate lawyers often stamped into offices accusing others of filching it. Such was the feverish demand that upon receiving a copy into our custody some months ago, we immediately had it photocopied twice, each locking a copy into our respective drawers and handing the original back to its owner. It transpired that this scarcity of menus was because they were printing new menus, which hadn’t come in yet. A new menu was delivered with our order today, and I was endlessly tickled to find that on the cover it actually says “delivery menu 2nd edition” while on the previous one it says “delivery menu 1st edition”. I have both of them beside me right now. Such accurate reporting exemplifies my hard-won lawyering skills, you know. Also, they now deliver up to 11:30 pm. Balad 3azeema bardo.
So, I ordered my usual, the Best Low-Cal Tuna at L.E. 18. This is described as “tuna in water, sweet corn, sliced tomatoes, cucumber, light mayo and tomato in a sliced multi-grain – 490 calories”. I ordered it in a baguette though. On examining the new menu, I find that now it comes in a “freshly baked multi-grain baguette”! An oracle ya nas.
Mystic Mo, being off vegetarianism, ordered the Chicken Fajita Wrap at L.E. 29. Actually, on the old menu it was L.E. 27. Still overpriced. This is said to be “tender chicken sautéed in fajita spices, sweet peppers and onions with lettuce, salsa, sour cream, guacamole and mozzarella cheese, all wrapped in a fat-free flour tortilla.” He also had a café mocha.

We both liked our sandwiches very much. Mine was light, fresh, only appropriately mayo-ed and very large (that’s what she said!). And kind of low-cal I guess. His wrap was yummy too. “Juicy, as Mexican food should be,” he said. “Fulfilling. Malyan 7agat. Shebe3t wetkayeft we kol el 7agat di.” I had a bite, it was yummy, although I prefer to generally eat lighter things at work. Not that I’m busy. They still don’t know I’m back from vacation yet. The coffee was also great, I had some of that as well (the gross-out factor in our office has receded far, far into the horizon). It was both deeply chocolatey and deeply coffeelike. Really kind of a triumph, especially for Cairo.

The time it took, but we have to factor in the driving distance. The napkins were minute though. Mi-nooot. Kind of expensive as well.

Mystic Mo’s ranking: 8

My ranking: 10. For my sandwich anyway. It really was an ideal tuna sandwich.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Testing: Trianon

Mystic Mo and I are two lawyers in our mid-twenties who share an office in a law firm in Cairo. An all-consuming topic of concern for Mystic Mo and I from 12 pm onwards is what to order for lunch every day. Offices all over Cairo resound with this concern, I feel, so we'd like to be a resource to those privileged thousands who order food every day. Also, ordering is a whole different exercise from dining in, and ordering from work an even more delicate affair because you must consider messiness, post-food sluggishness, and aroma/onion breath issues.
Our parameters:
  • We work in Zamalek.
  • He is a vegetarian about 80% of the time, and I consent to lunch on vegetarian items once in a while.
  • We always order together.
  • We have a subsidized office cafeteria.
  • Egypt has pretty low quality restaurant food, in general, and Egyptian cuisine is really nothing to write home about.
  • Everything delivers, all the time.
Today's entry:


This is the first time we've ever ordered from Trianon. Their menu on Otlob looked impressive and vast. We gathered around my screen - indeed, there was such wealth that I was induced to get up on several occasions so he could get a good look. I don't know why he couldn't get this look sitting on the desk. I scroll up and down slowly! Neither of us likes relinquishing control of the mouse.
After long argument I ordered a Trianon Royal Burger, touted as being "beef burger + beef bacon + tomatoes + cheese + pickles, served with French fries", at L.E. 26.75 (although on the menu it said L.E. 26.95). He ordered a haloumi sandwich, alleged to be "fried cottage cheese + tomatoes + watercress + herbs sauce, served in a ciabatta loaf" at L.E. 13.95. We had ordered crispy fish fingers with tartar sauce at first, but a very melodious woman called and told us they were out of all seafood.

The food arrived after an appropriate time. We gave them points for including such items as knives, forks, salt, pepper, and napkins, all of which cannot be taken for granted by Cairo's vendors.
To our amazement, the extra ketchup I requested was brought, and was copious, and a container of mayonnaise was also delivered, unrequested. This mayonnaise proved home-made (restaurant made?) and was profoundly delicious, even to a mayonnaise hater such as myself. It was lemony and fresh and light.
Mystic Mo's haloumi sandwich was reportedly "delicious" and "incredibly good", and he looks forward to ordering it again, despite its minuscule nature. We're going to point that out next time actually.
My burger was square, on square foccacia (I think). The bottom bun was a bit soggy. The beef bacon was of the British variety: large, fatty and not crispy. Which is how I like it. The burger was large, and the meat substanial.


They sent us a menu, but that proved to be a dessert and new items only menu, at which we chorused "lame!"
The haloumi sandwich was MINUTE. A toddler could not have found it satisfying. A yellow lump of something was next to it, which I assumed was potato salad. Mystic Mo's verdict on it was - eloquent arbitration specialist that he is - "it wasn't great".
The burger was, and Mystic Mo agreed (I prevailed on him to suspend vegetarianism for the sake of academic documentation and the edification of others), on the kofta side. Decidedly so. He even said it tasted exactly like when his mom would say, "why are you ordering this garbage! Ta3aala, I'll make you a better burger". Also, it is now sitting like the proverbial rock in my stomach and climbing ever higher into my diaphragm. It did have rocket (gargeer) instead of lettuce, though, which I appreciated as a despiser of lettuce. It came with fries which were truly soggy and mushy, although in good quantity. I'm not opposed to soggy fries, but Mystic Mo took some and then he came back and swept them off his plate and onto mine, so disaffected was he. Our neighbour S, who came to dally with him, delicately ate five fries with a fork and made no comment.

Mystic Mo's ranking: 9 on the guilty – not guilty scale. It's a lame scale, we know. Especially since we don't even do criminal law. But my only other suggestion was the injustice-justice scale, what with the scales of justice, but that is just painful.

My ranking
: 7. But then I didn't taste his sandwich.