We run down some of the specialist food stores operating in Dubai and Abu Dhabi that offer produce that's a bit different from the usual supermarket fare.
In-store or online, gourmet ingredients no longer out of reach
While supermarkets and convenience stores certainly serve a purpose, food shopping in the UAE is rapidly becoming more diverse. Whether you are planning a dinner party that requires a certain gourmet ingredient, fancy doing your weekly shopping from the comfort of your sofa, or are intent on sourcing fruit and vegetables as locally as possible, we’ve rounded up a few options you may not have heard about.
Market & Platters
Market & Platters has only been open for a week or so and when I went in for a wander, the friendly manager was keen to stress that it was a work in progress. But from the looks of things, this could be a very welcome addition to Dubai Marina.
The light and airy, family-run store has a distinctly European feel, with a nice little deli section and shelves displaying good-quality olive oil, pasta, vinegar and coffee. There’s also a small, but attractive, fruit and vegetable -department.
I spotted a few loaves of what looked like proper bakery bread and you can also purchase plenty of cheese (including proper Greek feta). Best of all though, it stocks a fantastic array of fresh fish and seafood, which you can buy whole or filleted, as a ready-prepared tartare or in sushi form.
It’s early days for Market & Platters, but from what we think it might be on to a winner.
Market & Platters, Pinnacle Tower, Dubai Marina; email@example.com; 04 450 4466
Milk & Honey
Ever since 2009, residents of Palm Jumeirah have had easy access to the gourmet grocery store Milk & Honey. Earlier on this year, a second outlet opened in Emirates Hills, selling a carefully sourced range of products such as aged balsamic vinegar, French cheeses, freshly baked bread, good-quality tea and coffee, organic chocolate, oils and gluten/dairy/soy/yeast-free items.
While the stores already offer a home delivery service (subject to a minimum order; note that Milk & Honey is not cheap) and you can pay by credit card upon delivery, purchasing products is about to become even easier. In the next few weeks, it is due to launch an iPhone/iPad app which allows customers to place orders online in a hassle-free fashion. The service will be available throughout Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Milk & Honey, Palm Jumeirah, 04 432 8686; Emirates Hills, Town Centre 1, 04 435 6363; www.milkandhoney.ae
If you’ve got a thing for Valrhona chocolate but struggle to source it, have searched the supermarkets in vain for cornfed chicken or enjoy cooking with razor clams, quail or la ratte potatoes, then look no further than the fine food website Chez Charles.
The site was launched in early May by the French chef Greg Khellouf and the food enthusiast Charles Boghos with a view to supplying UAE residents with high-quality products and ingredients, sourced mainly from Europe and Australia, in a convenient manner.
Customers can simply place their online orders for various cheeses, poultry and meat (including rabbit and Barbary duck), difficult-to-find dry ingredients such as Pommery mustard, Panko breadcrumbs and Valrhona chocolate. Your bounty will then be delivered to your door 48 hours later. Chez Charles currently delivers throughout Dubai and will travel to Abu Dhabi if the order is large enough.
Visit www.chezcharles.ae or call 055 106 5745
Greenheart Organic Farms
Elena Kinane is the founder and owner of Greenheart Organic Farms, a company that manages a number of different UAE-based farms and then sells the freshly harvested organic produce to Dubai residents, via four designated collection points or through home delivery (minimum order Dh100).
All the produce on offer is chemical and pesticide-free. The farms practise bio diversity, crop rotation and companion planting, take steps to conserve water and energy whenever possible and use environmentally friendly packaging.
At the moment you can purchase mixed summer bags (Dh60) or boxes (Dh100) containing courgettes, cherry tomatoes, baby spinach, fennel, okra, beetroot, peppers, basil and more. As the weather cools, customers will be able to order items on an individual basis.
Greenheart has recently collaborated with N_K_D Pizza (www.nkdpizza.com) to create two pizzas and three salads featuring ingredients sourced directly from the farms.
A website and online ordering system is scheduled to launch next month, followed by a retail outlet in Arjan, Al Barsha 2, close to the Arabian Ranches roundabout.