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Get the party started with a visit to the ice factory

July 24, 2015

Stocking the cooler - Modern Ice Factory Dubai - mycustardpie.comHaving a group of friends over for a gathering or dinner, one thing is always on our list – ‘buy ice’. Dubai temperatures mean that a large cool box (in Australian an ‘esky’, in New Zealand a ‘chilly bin’) is filled with chipped ice and a load of beers and soft drinks. Drinkable ice is needed in copious measures for long drinks, cocktails and cooling things down. You can buy a bag or two at the supermarket or visit the ice factory which is my favoured option.

It feels like a mini-adventure driving up to the Modern Ice Factory (which looks far from it). Round the corner from the Oasis Centre Mall and gleaming BMW dealership this is a little bit of ‘old Dubai’ operating in the same way for decades. On a Friday morning there is often someone in a 4 wheel drive ahead of you in the queue. When it’s your turn you reverse up the steep concrete ramp and place an order in pidgin English. There is ‘machine ice’ or ‘block ice’ which comes in an enormous block or crushed for cooling purposes only and ‘drinking ice’  or ‘tube ice’ which is suitable for consumption in cubes housed in smaller packets. It’s the same type that you buy in the supermarket but cheaper when you go direct.

Machine ice comes along a chute, out of a hole in the wall onto an elevated platform and one man puts it through a crusher which whines loudly like a chain saw into a sack below (old rice sacks). The sacks are dropped down to from the platform. An older man always loads it into your car and does the deal. Last time I was there I had a bit of a chat (fragmented words and sign language) and found out that his name is Nixamiti (excuse the spelling) from Jaipur in India. He has six children and has been in the same job for 25 years. Do say hello if you visit.

What to do with ice

  1. Fill your cool box or ice bucket with crushed ice or ice cubes to keep drinks cool. If you want to cool things down quickly, a combination of half ice and half water will do it quicker than all ice. If you are doing this with wine, make sure you take it out when it’s reached the right temperature. A quick guide to wine serving temperatures here.
  2. Put into a long tall cocktail or shake one over ice. Here are two simple gin cocktail ideas to get you started.
  3. If you don’t have a pool that’s chilled in the summer (you have to live in the Middle East to understand this), buy some of the huge ice blocks of machine ice. Float them into the pool for evening swimming parties (they will disappear too rapidly if you do this in the day – although can be fun for a children’s party).
  4. I’m tempted to say ‘make an ice sculpture’ – but only if you have thermal gloves and a chain saw or chisel and a lot of patience! These are incredibly popular in Dubai and often the centrepiece of a display or entrance – which is quite bizarre given our summer temperatures.  Apparently you can order one of these from Modern Ice too (they deliver).
  5. Have a power blender (such as a Vitamix)? Make instant sorbet by adding juice, a sweetener and ice cubes and giving a quick whizz.

I’m one of those people who ask for room temperature water and hate masses of ice in drinks (bars make drinks look bigger by filling them with crazy amounts). I’ll make an exception for ice in cocktails – who wants a warm G & T? Not me. Are you an ice-fiend or a chilly mortal like me. Any cool ice ideas (sorry)? Please let me know in the comments….

  1. July 25, 2015 4:01 am

    What a cool thing to have!

  2. July 25, 2015 6:56 am

    Very neat story; thanks for sharing!

  3. July 25, 2015 9:30 am

    Being a chilly mortal, I agree with you less-is-more in the ice department most of the time, but there are exceptions to every rule. We aren’t as warm as you (I know how spoiled we are, thank you) but I do ice many of my beverages through our +38C (+100F) days. Love the thought of an ice factory. I grew up among ice caves in the Northern Appalachian Mountains, fascinating places.

  4. July 25, 2015 11:50 am

    Shwaya shwaya…I love it, I find myself saying that so often, it’s ingrained in my brain!
    I remember oil drums and baths filled with ice for parties all those years ago 🙂

  5. July 25, 2015 12:03 pm

    Completely understand what you mean about the ice blocks in the pool – we did that when we lived in Mauritius.
    Have a beautiful weekend Sally.
    🙂 Mandy xo

  6. July 25, 2015 3:42 pm

    I remember directing TV commercials in Madrid where there were dustbins full of ice and beers all around the studio…this was before the “dry” studios of PC that now are the rule:)

  7. July 25, 2015 6:17 pm

    Wow, thanks for posting that Sally, it was really interesting. Didn’t know that about the pools. I’m usually happy the pool is warm while I’m here in Cyprus, but I am guessing it gets beyond warm there.

  8. July 25, 2015 6:31 pm

    This is fascinating! I love the idea of throwing ice in the pool – though it’s definitely not something I’ve ever experienced a need for!! 😉

  9. July 26, 2015 9:50 am

    Agree – room temperature water to drink (with 1-2 ice cubes if it’s coming out hot in summer so it get to a normal room temp and not Brisbane summer room temp) and definitely ice in a G&T.

  10. July 26, 2015 10:09 am

    How awesome is this! An ice factory – swish! 😀 Oh to live somewhere warm enough where ice is needed in such quantities! A fascinating post, thanks for sharing 🙂

  11. July 26, 2015 1:31 pm

    I dint realise there was another Modern Ice Factory on Sheikh Zayed Road. I used to frequent the one next to the old Strand Cinema in Karama (do you know where that was?) when I used to be a Promoter for an energy drink. Another girl and I drove an SUV around town and handed out drinks to the public so we needed to fill a couple of boxes with ice before we did the rounds. Ha! You brought back some good memories Sally 🙂

  12. July 26, 2015 1:40 pm

    I could dive into ice this moment! lol

  13. July 26, 2015 5:19 pm

    What a fun peek into quirky Old Dubai. I wish I would have thought of the ice in the pool thing when I still lived there!

  14. July 27, 2015 10:45 am

    I’m with Nancy’s comment above, memories still linger of the ice factory in Karama, that’s still running strong after all these year. We used to stock up on ice from there when I was younger. 🙂

  15. krysiajj permalink
    July 27, 2015 11:33 am

    Love this! Didn’t know it was there and will definitely check it out for future parties 🙂

  16. ramblingtart permalink
    July 27, 2015 2:01 pm

    I greatly dislike heaps of ice in my drinks. Seems like such a waste of space that COULD be filled by the drink I ordered. 🙂 This is very cool, though. 🙂

  17. July 27, 2015 10:01 pm

    When I first moved here nearly 30 years ago from Florida I recall being served G&Ts, soft drinks and other drinks meant to be cool without ice and feeling a real fusspot when I asked for ice. Which, in a household setting was often either frosted over cubes, possibly years old, or nonexistent. Even though I am frequently chilly (I am wearing hiking socks and a cowl-necked jumper now, in July) I can’t do without my daily iced matcha tea. You can take the girl out of Florida… Anyway, very interesting piece, Sally.

  18. July 29, 2015 9:41 am

    I never have ice in my drinks and this past summer when it was so hot I put grapes into the freezer to use for our wine. The grapes are still there! As for making an ice sculpture, I don’t think I would have the patience 🙂

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