Plaisirs des protoplasms
Taking to the wine can be a way to discover a delightful restaurant. Charwood's is one of the few restaurants, it is worth pointing out from the outset, in the de facto dry Sheikh Zayed City that serves alcohol. The satellite city is just 15km from Lebanon Square, Mohandessin -- a district peppered that has sadly become passé propped up by its crystalline skyscrapers with transparent glass façades.
Sheikh Zayed City is the very nemesis of the old metropolises. Skyscrapers give way to villas of polished stone. It is a hard place to pin down. It acquired an air of exclusivity with the turn of the century. Gentrification may be on the horizon in some of Cairo's older suburbs, but Sheikh Zayed is not quite suburbia.
The original Charwood's was located in the heart of the district of Mohandessin, Giza. Old-fashioned and urbane, it was the eatery that carnivores converged on to rip apart and devour their ensanguined rare Australian rib-eye steak.
At Charwood's, Sheikh Zayed, Queen Tiye insisted on the love of the life of François-René de Chateaubriand, founder of Romanticism in French literature. She is somewhat infatuated with Napoleon's diplomatic aide who was descended from an old Breton aristocratic family. So it was for the meaty contender of the prime cut status, the Chateaubriand.
The steak, thick cut from the tenderloin was served with mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables -- broccoli, carrot, courgette and peas, I recall.
Queen Tiye decided that La Gourmandise, the famous French pastry and tea lounge was where we would have desert. La Gourmandise serves motley mouthwatering delicacies from sweet verrine to sushi and quiche to confectionery delights.
Sandwiched between the calm of the desert and the racket of the highway, Charwood's is a world away from its namesake on Gameat Al-Dowal Al-Arabiya.
Queen Tiye spotted a greying middle-aged man with what seemed to be slightly arthritic knees and a taste for mature vintages.
"Knock knees," snapped Queen Tiye and the Platinum Blonde, all flustered, was flabbergasted. One of the most absurd aspects of our outings is how exorbitantly expensive the mature vintages are in Egypt. Well, their callow counterparts are equally exorbitant price-wise. So after an ungainly fracas between Queen Tiye and the Platinum Blonde, we settled on Cape Bay.
A fine wine from South Africa will offer a far wider array of flavours and scents than anything that the standard Egyptian vineyards have to offer dipsomaniacs. But Cape Bay is a comely mixture of South African grapes and the one of the world's most ancient traditions of winemaking that of ancient Egypt.
Generalising about mature vintages is a mug's game. At any rate Queen Tiye pointed out poignantly that washing down Chateaubriand with a Cape Bay Merlot is one of the most sensually rewarding rites of consumption imaginable.
"You've gobbled down grilled chicken, so you'll be guzzling down some sort of white wine, I imagine," Queen Tiye snatched a glass of Merlot from the infuriated Platinum Blonde. "You might strike lucky and find a suitable white wine to your taste," Queen Tiye cracked her finger-popping snide remark before announcing that we are off to La Gourmandise.
Sheikh Zayed City