As the temperatures have begun to cool off in Abu Dhabi, people have started creeping out during daylight hours. This past Saturday we went to the brand new RipeMarket at The Collection on Saadiyat Island. The Saturday morning Ripe Market just opened one week prior in Abu Dhabi and I had heard that it was worth attending. However, coming from Washington DC, one of the major hubs of the true farmers’ market and local food movement, I admit that I was a little skeptical.
The Collection is a nice place for this market as it is a fairly large courtyard on the grounds of the St. Regis with a few other nice shops and restaurants. However, I am not sure why such an earthly event as a farmers market needs to be at the St. Regis. Considering how crowded it got so quickly, there are many other less-populated places on Saadiyat Island that could do with a little more buzz, and that would allow for the rising popularity of this market.
While there were many really great craftsmen, clothing designers and gourmet food sellers (honestly better than many markets that I have seen), the vegetable market was really the star of the show for me. Fresh organic, tomatoes, cucumbers, cauliflower, asparagus, arugula, celery, sweet potatoes, purple cabbage, sweet peppers, hot chilies….and the list could go on. All of it from local organic farmers.
I have shopped around at many of the major (and minor) supermarkets in the city, and have not come close to the great quality that is offered here at fairly reasonable prices. Customers were thrilled. Ripe’s lead grocer mentioned that they had sold out only two hours after the market opened last weekend, but today they had come much better prepared for the demand.
Abu Dhabi is so lacking in offerings of local organic markets that this event could easily double in size next weekend, and there would still crowds. Bloggers were out in a frenzy snapping photos, while Instagram and Twitter were jammed with #RipeMarket, and every variation of it, for hours on end. Hopefully all this attention will do us all some good and bring us more markets and more products like this in the near future!
So, instead of warming up that piece of cold take-away pizza that has been calling my name from the fridge, I made a nice salad from those vegetables that I bought (cucumbers, rocket, tomatoes, peppers, a little balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt, peper and a squeeze of lemon) .
And a slaw of super crispy red cabbage ( again with just a little balsalmic, extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper). The craziness of moving a home does not promote "eating your veggies", nor eating anything very healthy really... so as we are coming to the end of our two- month move, mom would be happy to see that this Ripe Market is feeding us well.