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A brush with a new market and two ways with basil

May 22, 2011

PestoOrganic veg boxes, homemade jams and chutneys, fresh crusty bread and croissants and beautiful fairy cakes displayed and sold in a stylish way that the French do so well.  All this at the Dubai Garden Centre.

I’ll cut to the chase here.  In the the next installment of where to buy local, fresh, organic fruit and vegetables in the U.A.E., Bumble Box has arrived.  The brainchild of Sonia who has been working tirelessly to get something off the ground since the Nazwa farm shop closed, “I am a mother of three children,  I am passionate about this, I will work for free”.

Veg boxes

Bumble box has an exclusive contract with the Mazaraa organic farm in Abu Dhabi to supply the produce for their new box delivery scheme.  There are two sizes of veg box (small 80 AED and large 130 AED) crammed full of whatever is in season and they will deliver in certain areas too.

Sonia hopes to bridge the gap between the customer and the farmers so they can plan and grow in sufficient quantity the items there is demand for.  For instance we were only able to taste the melons, strawberries and passionfruit as there were not enough to buy, and they were sweet, juicy and delicious.  Hopefully with this partnership there will be greater supply next year.

Crumbs bread

Other stalls included Crumbs, a French bakery and cafe (located opposite on the Sheikh Zayed Road), who sold really good bread and pastries.  “The chef is French, the flour is French,” enthused the man on the stall in a very thick French accent.

Cooking ID were selling home-made preserves ranging from apricot jam to tapenade and some little chocolates too.  The chocolate was Belgian but the sellers were French   and so were the cooks.

Cooking ID

Finally Scrumptious – Anna who home-bakes with organic free-range eggs, had the most beautiful array of cupcakes.  A bit of a juxtaposition against the veg boxes as my friend Foodiva pointed out.  She was getting a lot of interest from the throng of Mothers with toddlers.

Cup cakes and macarons

I bought a large veg box because I wanted lots of tomatoes and it contained cherry, plum and beef toms.  I wish the Bumble Box market would sell loose goods too though.  One onion is not going to see me through the week and they didn’t have any eggs or laban for sale.

Having already bought basil at the Souk al Bahar market the day before and getting more of it in my veg box I had to do something quick.  Pesto was the obvious choice and I also made a salsa verde with lots of basil (although without anchovies as KP detests them).  This is such a versatile sauce which goes really well with grilled fish, steak or a dressing on salad.  I drizzled it over my organic tomatoes with some chopped spring onions.  The bunches of basil, put in a small vase of water, scent my house with spicy fragrance more beautiful than flowers.  No picture of the salsa verde as it was eaten so quickly – boom, boom.

Bread and pastries

Salsa Verde (I’m sure you have a pesto recipe but contact me if you don’t)

Ingredients – adjust the quantities of herbs to taste

big bunch of basil
half a bunch of mint
half a bunch of parsley
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of grain mustard
2-3 tablespoons of capers (rinsed)
extra-virgin olive oil
juice of half a lemon
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Method – Whizz all the ingredients except the oil and lemon juice together in a blender.  Slowly pour in about 6 tablespoons of oil and blend again to make a creamy emulsion.  Add lemon juice, taste and adjust seasoning.

Apologies to all who understood my dreadful pun – I couldn’t resist!

If you went to the market what did you think?  Love to hear where your favourite place to shop is if you are farther afield.

  1. May 22, 2011 10:02 am

    Spot on – not sure my review will be able to add anything more. Such a feel-good morning – can’t wait for the next one. Oh and those cup cakes are indeed scrumptious!

    • May 22, 2011 10:21 am

      It was good fun. I’m not sure if all those stalls will be there everytime? I did ask Sonia why she was launching at the end of the season and she said it gave them time to get their systems running smoothly before the full growing range becomes available in November. Very sensible.

    • May 22, 2011 10:21 am

      PS I think I have a bread obsession!

    • May 22, 2011 1:08 pm

      Thank you for such a lovely write up Sally and what beautiful photos! FooDiva I’m so pleased that you enjoyed your ‘Scrumptious’ cupcakes! Really great to meet you both and hope to see you there next Saturday too!

  2. May 22, 2011 10:10 am

    A true feast for all the senses 🙂 Will try to take some pics of our local soon.

    • May 22, 2011 10:22 am

      I’d love to see them Cindy.

  3. May 22, 2011 10:19 am

    What beautiful produce – your photos build a fabulous picture of the market.
    🙂 Mandy

  4. May 22, 2011 10:23 am

    It’s just a small market Mandy- and sadly indoors because of the heat (43 C now) but we have a growing choice of great produce available and for that I’m truly grateful.

  5. May 22, 2011 11:04 am

    Guys you in Dubai are inspirational! Great move

  6. May 22, 2011 12:42 pm

    Great post! Nice blog.
    It was a lovely event, can’t wait for next week Bumble Box market.


  7. May 22, 2011 4:39 pm

    I want a pesto recipe 🙂 The bread and cupcakes looks so yummy.
    btw, Bumble Box will sell weekly?

    • May 22, 2011 6:56 pm

      Twice weekly plus delivery. I’ll fish out that pesto recipe!

  8. May 22, 2011 4:42 pm

    What gorgeous breads and produce – beautiful photos!! Looks delicious!

  9. May 22, 2011 5:56 pm

    Looks like i missed quite a morning. I have to admit though, I do find 130 aed quite pricy for what i hear comes in those boxes! Does this also mean al mazaara will no longer be supplying their goods directly to the jlt area?

    • May 22, 2011 6:03 pm

      Mazaraa sent an email last week saying they were stopping the deliveries for the time being. It is difficult to compare prices when it comes as a box and it’s more expensive than non-organic local vegetables but much cheaper and a lot fresher than the imported organic items.

  10. Francine Spiering permalink
    May 23, 2011 3:37 pm

    Fabulous write-up, and again stunning photography. I missed the first Bumble Box market (came back from Europe night before), but thanks to your blog I get a good taste of it anyhow!

  11. May 26, 2011 7:39 am

    that’s it. I’m going this Saturday. I’ve been reading these reviews and seeing these tantalizing pictures of the market, and I’m DYING to go! If you’re there this time, let me know…I’m sure to be there first thing in the morning for my veggies (and a sneaky cupcake or two!)

  12. May 27, 2011 8:32 pm

    I got really excited about my bumble box but then I felt pressured into thinking of something creative to make with everything and now some of the veg have spoiled (and still sitting in my fridge sadly).

    Any suggestions with what I can do with purple sweet potatoes? I think that’s what they are.

    • May 27, 2011 11:17 pm

      Bake them with some spices (coriander, chilli) and put in a fritata – yum. I know what you mean – I have so many peppers languishing in my fridge – I just bought a bokashi and it does make you feel less bad about throwing things away!

      • May 28, 2011 2:12 pm

        or bake the Ube Cupcakes that wee scotch enjoyed at the bakefest.

  13. May 28, 2011 11:02 am

    Sally, what gorgeous photos! I’ve been letting out little squeals at each one, and a really big squeal when I saw the loaves in the second last pic. I wish I could slash loaves and have the bake so gorgeously!!

  14. May 28, 2011 5:45 pm

    What a great idea Abigail!


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