Fruit, veg, honey and more fantastic food in Dubai
Ahead of the opening of new grocery initiative Maybury, Penelope Walsh takes a tour round Dubai’s new and existing gourmet offerings.
Since Dubai’s farmers’ markets have gone into hibernation to cool off over the hot summer months, gourmands can take heart in the fact that the food scene has expanded in recent years to include a growing number of high-profile, independently run grocery stores. There has been an increase in stores promising to provide a weekly shop in line with food ethics such as organic and local sourcing, as well as an expansion of gourmet grocery concepts, suggesting they are supplying a growing demand in the city. This year, Organic Food and Café expanded its empire with a goliath of a flagship store opening on Sheikh Zayed Road in February and another new branch set to open this month in the Village Mall in Jumeirah. Also boosting the grocery scene is Greenheart Heart Organic, which has now opened their farm shop in Barsha.
Joining the ranks of new grocery concepts in the city to compete with the global hypermarket chains is Maybury, set to open in Dubai Marina. The Dubai branch will be the first store of its kind, and the company is already planning UAE-wide expansion with sites in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah already under development. After the opening of the Maybury’s Dubai branch store was initially delayed by some six months, we were eager to learn more about what this new concept would involve and visited culinary director Allen Smith for a tour.
Separating itself from Dubai’s artisanal delis and organic farm shops, the Maybury’s concept, Allen Smith tells me, is to be a ‘neighbourhood shop’. As such, the store aims to offer convenience and accessibility for customers in their immediate Dubai Marina surrounds stocking a microcosm of the items needed in the weekly shop (even including toilet paper and corner shop confectionary). Despite the trend for locally sourced edibles that has swept the city of late, unfortunately for now, the Maybury, Allen Smith tells us, has struggled to source locally and opted to import most of the items on the shelves. The store does, however, have additional gourmet ideals and will stock a selection of premium imported items such as cheeses, olives oils and pasta. In addition to this the store will bake its own baguettes twice a day as well as ready-made items such as steak and kidney pie, seafood salad and desserts made on site in the kitchen upstairs.
Upstairs at this duplex store is perhaps the primary trump card. Here, customers will find a studio kitchen, where the Maybury is planning to hold cooking classes, demonstrations and tastings. For example, Allen explains: ‘We may hold a tasting of the different oils we’ve got in to the store’. Also on the upper level is Maybury’s café, which will serve Delfaro coffee as well as hot café food prepared in the kitchen. At the time of writing, the Maybury was projected to open at the end of August.
800 Meat Opened at the end of last year, the shop offers a selection of fine, fresh meat from Australia and Brazil, with a particular emphasis on beef. The store also offers prepared meat items such as burgers and kebab skewers. As the store’s name suggests, 800 Meat also offers a delivery service of their products. Also worth checking for premium meats such as Australian wagyu beef and New Zealand free-range beef is long-standing gourmet butchers Prime Gourmet on Sheikh Zayed Road (04 341 5445). Al Seef Building 3, Cluster U, JLT (800 6328).
Blue Planet Green People The concept of this small grocery store is dedicated to organic and natural products. Since opening, Blue Planet Green People has grown in strength, offering an organic vegetable box service and launching its first season of weekly farmers’ markets during the cooler months this year (which we hope to see return in the coming winter). The store is also involved in several social initiatives in Dubai, helping the city’s inhabitants to eat right, cook properly for their family and even learn how to garden. Al Seef 2, JLT, Dubai, (04 369 5209).
Down to Earth Organic The entirely organic grocery store sells a range of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, some of which are locally sourced and arrive in the shop weekly on Thursdays and Fridays. In addition to fresh items, the store also sells a varied and intriguing selection of organic products sure to excite experimental cooks, such as wild rice, coconut oil, Himalayan salt and gluten-free amarantha flour. It also offers an online delivery service (that is particularly easy to use via facebook). Some of Down to Earth Organic’s dry products are now also stocked by Waitrose and Spinneys. Sheikh Hamdan Complex, Opposite Union House, Jumeirah 1 (04 386 3391).
Greenheart Organic Farm Store In contrast to many of the organic companies in Dubai, Greenheart Organic not only sells fresh, organic, locally grown fruit and vegetables but also grows the produce itself at farms across the UAE. Opened in April this year, the company’s new farm shop in Barsha sells its fresh produce as and when it is ripe and ready for harvesting and is currently open on Saturdays, Mondays and Wednesdays. The store also sells the company’s fresh Nabulsi cheese, made from its farm in Ras Al Khaimah and sold in recyclable glass packs. The Light Building, Al Barsha 2 (056 640 7060).
Markets and Platters This gourmet deli in Dubai Marina may be bijou but it stocks a luxurious selection of edible products from around the world. Here you can find premium oils, breads and recently introduced Kaviari caviar. Most notable, however, is the selection of cheeses, fresh seafood and fish and sushi made in- house. Shipments of fish arrive on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and typically include items such as organic Scottish salmon, haddock and mackerel from France and red snapper from the UAE. Pinnacle Tower, Dubai Marina (04 450 4466).
Milk and Honey The gourmet supermarket-cum-deli sells a selection of everyday and must-have food items, such as fresh produce, dairy and breads, but as far as possible choosing to sell premium items. Bread and pastries are baked daily and supplied by French bakery Pascal Tepper, the cheese room offers a tasting facility and has speciality items from around the world. Fresh produce is sourced locally and the shop also stocks a number of organic ranges. Town Centre, Emirates Hills (04 435 6363). Other location: Shoreline 10, Palm Jumeirah (04 432 8686).
Organic Food and Café The organic supermarket sells an entirely organic selection of everyday home items from bread and vegetables to cheese. The company also sells a number of locally sourced fresh items and hungry shoppers can take a break at the in-store café. Sheikh Zayed Road (04 338 2822). Other location: The Greens (04 361 7974).
Ripe Store Ripe prides itself on supplying fresh organic fruit and vegetables, sourced from local farmers and also delivered via a box system. Last year, the company also launched this small store, where customers will find a selection of local and organic produce, in addition to items such as locally made Italian cheeses and locally roasted coffee. Al Manara, Umm Suqeim 2 (04 370 0441).
Launched in April this year, online gourmet deli FoodAvantgarde delivers to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The online store sells a selection of artisanal products sourced from Spain, many of which come from small, family-run businesses that have not previously export outside of the country. Items to add to your basket include olive oil, vinegar, pasta, paella and risotto rice as well as Spanish-style preserved vegetables and seafood. www.foodavantgarde.ae (04 360 5125).