The Basque Cheesecake, next to the pyramids of Egypt

Terrace of the Mena House Hotel in Cairo.
Terrace of the Mena House Hotel in Cairo.

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The famous Mena House Hotel in Cairo has just included in its restaurant menu one of the most internationally renowned Basque desserts, the Basque Cheesecake or, to put it another way, the cheesecake from the Donostia restaurant "La Viña". We have been able to see it for ourselves.

"La Viña" cheesecake.

F.E. Smith, Winston Churchill's closest friend, explained his insistence on staying at the UK Prime Minister's Mena House Hotel in these words: "Churchill is a man of simple tastes ... very easily satisfied with the best of everything".

If Churchill had stayed at the Mena House in Cairo these days and decided to eat in its restaurant facing the pyramids, among the fountains, gardens and palm trees, it is likely that he would have chosen our most famous cake in the world for dessert.

Desserts from the Mena House menu.
Desserts from the Mena House menu.

Cairo's Mena House

Set in the shadow of Cairo's pyramids (the Cheops pyramid rises seven hundred metres from the hotel) and amidst 16 hectares of lush jasmine-scented gardens, this stunning 520-room hotel, one of the most beautiful in Africa, constantly evokes its palatial origins and legendary history.

It has been home to leading 20th century personalities such as several Princes of Wales and Dukes of Windsor, General Montgomery, Winston Churchill, Roosevelt, Nixon, Sadat, Rezah Pahlavi, the Aga Khan and artists of the stature of Cecil B. DeMille, Frank Sinatra and Agatha Christie; famous actors and actresses, from Jane Fonda to Roger Moore, Charlton Heston, Chaplin and Omar Sharif. So, more than a hotel, when we speak of the Mena House, we speak of a legend.

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The cheesecake of "La Viña"

"I worked on my days off, reading cookbooks and doing a lot of tests. And that's how, after two years, I managed to come up with our cheesecake", explains Santiago Rivera, owner of La Viña.

The cake started to become known when national and international chefs began to make their own versions with the base of this recipe and to call them La Viña-style cheesecake. "I make pintxos, txuleta, monkfish... my gastronomic offer is different, but the cheesecake has triumphed," says Rivera. Chefs from all over Singapore, Japan and San Francisco, to give just a few examples, have taken this sweet, which has been a trend for some time now, as a reference.

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