Dispatches to Egypt
In the spring of 2020 Arpeggio BYOB’s business partners Mary Cullom and Chef Hamdy Khalil ventured to Hamdy’s homeland to research Egyptian street food coupled with generous portions of ancient history and culture. We hope you enjoy the journey, which we captured with the assistance of publicist Peter Breslow, documentarian Akhil Srivastava, freelance journalist Brian Freedman and social media maven Gloria Esposito. Join us as we checkout Chef Khalil’s hometown of Abbassa, Cairo’s massive wholesale fish and produce market, street food standouts, dining hotspots and dozens of historic temples, tombs and pyramids.
Episode 1 – Landed in Cairo!
After a 10 hour flight from JFK, we landed in Cairo and immediately hit El-Obour, the city’s massive commercial fish and produce market, to see first-hand the raw ingredients that we’ll be feasting on throughout our journey through Egypt.
Episode 2 – Food Friends & Hamdy’s Family
After arriving in Cairo, we visit Chef/Owner Hamdy Khalil’s friends and family in his hometown of Abbassa, which is a short drive from Cairo. After a tour of an incredible farmette and quality time with Hamdy’s extended family, we feasted on mouthwatering traditional Egyptian cuisine, which is always punctuated with a melange of incredible desserts and aromatic coffees and teas.
Episode 3 – Lucious Chicken and Spices in Luxor
We scored a behind-the-scenes tour of El Hussein Restaurant’s kitchen in Luxor, where we witnessed and then devoured some the best charcoal-grilled chicken on the planet. After dinner, we shopped the spice market so that we could return with a plethora of ingredients that Mary, Hamdy and their team weave into the cuisine at Arpeggio BYOB.
Episode 4 – Chowing Down in New Cairo
Cairo is an ancient, chaotic city with pandemonium at every turn. Tucked into the southeast corner of the city is an oasis named New Cairo, with a suburban feel and upscale restaurants, shops and neighborhoods. We ducked into one of Chef Hamdy Khalil’s favorite local breakfast spots, and started the day off right with a bounty of freshly baked breads, pastries and to-die-for Fool.
Episode 5 – Mayham and Molokhia
We dove deep into the center of Cairo to the Imbaba neighborhood, to experience the craziness and culinary excellence that is the infamous Kebdet El Prince restaurant (the locals call it El Brens) during a frantic Friday night. The vibrant sights, deafening sounds and sultry aromas from the chef’s Molokhia — a thick soup made from pureeing the leaves of the Jute plant, which is woven with freshly chopped, sizzling garlic — completely stole the show.
Episode 6 – Ancient History with a side of Succulent Striped Bass
After an invigorating camelback tour of The Great Pyramids of Giza, we swung over to the nearly 100 year-old Christo restaurant for an al-fresco lunch featuring a massive Mediterranean Striped Bass prepared three ways (crispy fried, charcoal grilled & tajine roasted), along with fresh Red Sea prawns, clams, octopus and some of the best baba ganoush and tahina on the planet.
Episode 7 – Searching for Street Cheese in Old Cairo
We strolled the backstreets of Old Cairo and found delectable Peasant Cheese aged with peppers. Mary, Brian and their guide Ahmed savored the soft “Egyptian Gouda” as they strolled the streets searching for culinary bliss.
Episode 8 – Butchering in Broad Daylight
We hit the Misr El Kadima neighborhood to visit an open-air market and caught a butcher breaking down a cow in the middle of the street. Please note: this video is not for the faint of heart, as Mary and Brian examine the bovine’s prime cuts, offal and intestines, which are used to produce Mombar sausages, a beloved culinary delicacy in Egypt.
Episode 9 – Coffee & Tea for Three
Mary Collum and Brian Freedman savor coffee and tea while learning about café culture in Cairo, from tour guide Ahmed.
Episode 10 – Falling for Fool
We fell in love with the ultimate Egyptian breakfast food — Fool — which served straight from a cart in Old Cairo, feathered neatly inside fresh, warm pita with roasted peppers on the side. The mashed, roasted fava beans in Fool delivered a slightly spicy and savory, ultra-soft mouthfeel, which literally stole our hearts at first bite. The neighborhood children that showed up to initiate us into their squad were almost as adorable as our traditional street breakfast was delicious.
Episode 11- Street Sausages Steal the Show!
We stumbled upon Cairo’s version of Philly cheesesteaks, from a street cart about a kilometer from the world-famous Egyptian Museum. We sucked down marginally spicy liver and sausage sandwiches that sell for about 30 cents apiece, on a street corner beside businessmen satisfying their late afternoon cravings.
Episode 12- Nubian Dreams
Arpeggio BYOB Egyptian Journeys
Check out Mary, Hamdy and the Camel Crew’s journey throughout Egypt.
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