Egypt Independent

French countryside cooking in Cairo

Picture this idyllic setting.  It’s a cool afternoon in the countryside, a gentle breeze sways the leaves overhead, providing just the right amount of shade in this cool but sunny climate.  You enter a lush garden, where tables are spread around on the grass.  Pierre-André, the French maitre’d, welcomes you, and directs you to a table tucked in between other guests, who, from the various languages spoken, seem to be drawn from various corners of Europe.  In the background, show-jumping horses train, and your kids are welcome to try their hand at pony rides.  Soon, fresh home cooked-food starts arriving, cooked by Pierre-André’s French/Spanish wife, Marie, that tastes just like your own mother’s, if only she had been French.

Where are you?  France?  Italy?  Perhaps a rustic corner of Spain?  Wrong on all counts.  You’re in Egypt, not far from the pulsating metropolis of Cairo, at the feet of the Abu Sir pyramids in Sakkara.  The restaurant, Aux Délices de Marie, developed by husband and wife partners Pierre-André and Marie Gomez, who formerly ran the Bouillabaisse restaurant in Ain Sokhna, recently opened, and has created a dedicated following among Cairo’s expatriates and diplomats.  On a recent afternoon, the parking lot resembled the UN much more than it did the Egyptian countryside.

Delicés feels much more like a family countryside kitchen than it does a restaurant.  It’s better to call ahead just to make sure the kitchen is open that day.  Your choice of food will be whatever Marie has decided to cook up that day.  Based on the evidence of a recent afternoon’s meal, I’m more than happy to leave what I’m going to eat up to Marie.  We had a delightful vegetable/barley soup, chicken drumsticks in an onion sauce, sautéed vegetables, a wholesome salad, creamy sliced potatoes au gratin, finished off by a selection of homemade desserts, including chocolate, lemon and apple pies.  For the kids she whipped up a simple but satisfying pasta that just about managed to keep their attention between the rest of the distractions the garden had to offer.

There’s a reason why Delicés has such a following among the French in Cairo—Pierre-André and Marie also run a catering service for the French embassy. They are still in the early stages of their operation, but ultimately they envision having evenings in the garden, entertaining guests with a fine meal and live music.  Should you happen to have a family member interested in learning to ride, there is a riding and show-jumping school on the same premises.

Delicés makes for a lovely countryside outing, and it is a great place to bring the kids.  If you have a hankering for a traditional French countryside meal, you no longer need to head to the airport. A trip to Sakkara will do just fine.

Details: Follow the road to the left past the Abu Sir pyramids, and you’ll see the parking lot on your left.  Call ahead to make a booking: 011 178 5464.  Three course meal: around LE100.  Catering is also available.

Valentine’s Day Menu:
Cream of carrot soup with ginger, cream of pea soup with mint, tomatoes cherry tatin,
followed by passion chicken and fillets of turkey with pears and ginger, and
topped off with cream puffs, moist chocolate and stewed strawberries with ginger.