Larger-than-life Dubai is not what you’d call a ‘normal’ place, thus isn’t the best place to do ‘normal’ things. By normal, we’re talking about everyday tasks such as filling up your own petrol tank (why try when there are people to do it for you?) and doing the weekly shop (Dubai has restaurants in spades).
Luckily, the latter of these seemingly menial tasks will be made a whole lot more interesting this week, thanks to the arrival of Jones the Grocer in the Al Manara area of Sheikh Zayed Road. For those unfamiliar with the Jones brand, the gourmet grocer originated in Australia before branching out to New Zealand, Singapore and the UAE.
Much to the annoyance of Dubai foodies, Jones first landed in Abu Dhabi in September 2008, where it became popular with everyone from expats to sheikhs. Not to be outdone by its southern neighbours, Dubai’s Jones will be the biggest in the UAE, measuring 600 sq m, and is set to open on July 7.
A big store with big ideas, Jones isn’t just aisle after aisle of foodstuffs. It boasts unique features such as a coffee and tea tasting area (the first of its kind outside Australia), where coffee is filtered through a Bunsen burner and a special ‘stove’ that heats water to the optimum temperature for each type of tea leaf. There will also be a dedicated cheese room, featuring exclusive cheeses and a huge truffle selection (including truffle products from oils to pastas to dressings). According to franchise owner Yunibm Siddiqui, 60 per cent of stock is privately labelled and cannot be found elsewhere in Dubai. Intrigued, we took a closer look at some of the exclusive products that will be filling shelves.
Jones the Grocer, Al Manara, Sheikh Zayed Road (next to Reem Al Bawadi), www.jonesthegrocer.com (04 346 6886)
Parkers Organic Drinks
Featuring a range of imaginative fruit flavours (apple juice, summer fruit with mango, raspberry and apple, blood orange juice, and plain old orange juice), this Australian drinks line prides itself on not using artificial preservatives, sugar or flavourings. And, as you’ll guess from the name, the juices are squeezed from organically certified fruit.
Dhs19 per bottle
Manuka is a form of monofloral honey, meaning that the bees that make it only harvest pollen from one kind of flower – in this instance, the flower of the manuka bush, which grows in New Zealand. As such, manuka is one of the purest honeys there is and boasts a distinctive, delicious flavour. It is also claimed to have antibacterial properties, and is often used to treat everything from sore throats and minor burns to stomach ulcers.
Prices from Dhs91
Kiwis: if there’s one thing they like more than reminding everyone that the Lord of the Rings trilogy was filmed in their home country, it’s healthy living. So it should come as no surprise that the elderflower used in these juices is hand-picked from the wild near the Southern Alps (the ones in New Zealand, we’re assuming).The elderflower is combined with artesian spring water from Canterbury and, hey presto, we have a new, healthy and unspeakably tasty drink to get us through the summer.
Dhs20 per bottle
This range of balsamic vinegar demonstrates just how versatile the condiment is. Varieties on offer from this Italian brand include cherry balsamic dressing (a perfect addition to salads and fruit), chestnut (great with dried fruit, mature cheeses, pastries, smoked meat and fish), juniper (red meat and game), and Emilian white dressing (ideal on fish and white meats, because the colour doesn’t stain the dishes).
Prices from Dhs63
Maggie Beer products
No, no – this had absolutely nothing to do with everyone’s favourite hop-based beverage, but a lot to do with Australian cook, restaurateur and food author Maggie Beer. To find out how to best utilise Maggie’s cookery products, check out her recipes and tips online (www.maggiebeer.com.au) – we like the sound of beef tagine with spiced pear paste.
Maggie Beer ginger chili sauce, Dhs48
More posh shops
Time Out take a closer look at the rest of the best gourmet grocers
Lafayette Gourmet: Tucked away inside stylish French boutique store Galeries Lafayette, which in turn is housed inside The Dubai Mall, this 13,106 sq m store stocks high-end groceries from around the world. As well as luxury goods, there’s a small restaurant that serves an impressive array of global cuisines, and the store also offers deliveries (www.rsd.ae), cooking classes and, for those of us who are as lazy as we are rich, a special service where a chef will come to your home to cook for you (call 04 339 9933 ext 2330).
Galleries Lafayette, The Dubai Mall (04 339 9933)
Milk & Honey: This low-key deli on The Palm stocks an array of gourmet products from Australia, including Preshafruit juices, Loving Earth muesli, Australian Harvest preserves, Passion Pasta sauces and Cape Grim mineral water (the purest mineral water on earth, apparently). There are also more mainstream (and decidedly less healthy) products such as Sugar Daddy’s cupcakes.
Milk & Honey, Shoreline Building 10, The Palm Jumeirah (04 432 8686)
Organic Foods & Café: The one-stop shop for anything organic, gluten-free and environmentally friendly – Organic Foods has outlets in The Dubai Mall and The Greens, as well as a quick and easy online shopping option, which offers packages such as fruit and vegetable baskets for two people, (Dhs200), four (Dhs350) or six (Dhs550).
Dining in at Jones: If the luxury products at Jones aren’t enough to encourage you to cook at home, then the store also features a 110-seater café, with an al-fresco seating area for the summer months. ‘We make nearly everything that you eat in our store,’ says franchise owner Yunibm Siddiqui. ‘This includes our burger buns, the wagyu patty, the mayonnaise and the ketchup, along with just about everything you see on the menu.’
Keep an eye on future issues of Time Out for a complete review