10 reasons families should visit the Ripe Market at Al Barsha Pond ParkNovember 7, 2017
After over a decade in Dubai I feel fiercely protective over the city I now call home. One of its biggest criticisms I hear, both here and from abroad, is that the shopping is all big brands, in malls, and zero personality. And that’s simply not true. You just need to know where to look.
Finding the authentic, home-grown side of this metropolis is actually easier than you think, and Ripe Market is definitely at the epicentre of the action, and we’re happily in the season where weekends can be spent lounging on the grass, browsing the stalls, entertaining the kids and popping to food stands to try dishes from all over the world.
Never been to a Ripe Market? You don’t know what you’re missing.
Last Saturday we headed to Al Barsha Pond Park for a browse/shop/pony ride. Previously just open in the evenings, this Ripe market now opens from 10am to 8pm, so you can go to grab your morning coffee, enjoy lunch in the sun, or head over for the evening – or just stay all day, eating your way around the stands. Whenever you go, expect friendly faces, live music and good vibes.
Here are my highlights…
- Melt & More
I’ve fallen for this ice-cream truck in a big way – mainly because I’m trying to watch my calorie intake, and they sell ‘guilt-free treats’ like pure fruit Chilly Billy ice lollies (at less than 50 kcal), banana chips, salted caramel vegan ice cream, dairy-free chocolate milk, and fruit crisps, which Phoebe has gone mad for. Stock up on lunch box goodies while you’re there.
- All the coffee
While you might grab a cappuccino from a big brand on the way to work, this is your chance to try brews from independent coffee shops who really care about quality of your caffeine. New stand Boston Lane has a bricks and mortar store in Al Quoz’s The Courtyard, serving up toasties and desserts, and at Barsha you’ll be able to smell the scent of strong coffee drifting from this Instagrammable stand.
- And doughnuts
A bucket of doughtnuts. A bucket. DOH dishes up mini doughnuts with toppings of your choice (hello Nutella), and kids can watch them being fried. The smell is unreal. I also love that the guys encourage you to recycle the tubs, with a discount of AED5 for every bucket you bring back.
- Urban Nest
I could give my bank account a real battering in this new online store. And seeing the products in real life didn’t help! Think minimal accessories, Dutch designers, industrial (but not scary) light fixtures and more. My faves are the DIY air plant kits, which includes brass tubes and thread so you can make your own geometric wall planter or hanger. The botanical prints are stunning too. And the hammocks. I could go on…
- Fresh veggies
The original (and still best, in my book) reason to visit a Ripe Market is the chance to select and buy fresh organic veggies – nothing beats choosing the food that will end up in your salad or child’s lunch. Produce comes from a select number of regional farms who must comply with strict organic practices – then pass the taste test! It’s from the farm to your fork in a matter of days, travelling mere kilometres, not thousands of miles.
Ripe also has its own range of nourishing and superfood products that have been difficult to track down until now, with acai powder, smoothie mixes, almond butter, coconut sugar, local honey, cacoa nibs and more available to make eating healthy easier.
- Get your ohm on
I think most (okay, all) parents wish their kids were calmer at times, and meditation can be a surprisingly accessible and useful tool for those little monkey minds. At Ripe you’ll find a stand that does guided meditations for small groups so you as a family can truly understand the discipline, which can help with sleep and tantrums. There are also free yoga classes if you’re a thrifty downward facing dog.
- The Coconut Man
Why come up with a crazy company name when you’re just going to be known as ‘the coconut man’ anyway? These guys slice and serve the freshest coconuts in town so you can stay hydrated (while pretending you’re on holiday).
- Go vegan – without the hassle you’d expect
Thinking about going vegan, or just looking to find new ingredients and dishes? Ripe has a number of stands – and, more importantly, passionate foodies – who can offer advice and ideas. From noodles to brownies, seed butters to cookies, you can still indulge, while doing your bit for the planet (and your body).
- Meet animals up close
Phoebe’s absolute highlight of our trip to the market was meeting Blondie, a pony who she tentatively touched, then didn’t want to leave. I have the feeling that AED25 pony ride could be the beginning of an expensive hobby! Al Tamimi Stables is one of the city’s most respected and responsible animal centres, and their petting zoo is no exception, with well-cared for furry friends, well-informed staff and an education ethos that continues after you leave.
- Kids’ cinema
Come sunset, the park is transformed into a fairy-lit wonderland, and my highlight is the big screen, where children’s movies are shown. They can sit on the grass or commandeer picnic tables, while enjoying snacks and films like The Good Dinosaur and Despicable Me. The perfect end to a family weekend.
Ripe Market at Al Barsha Pond Park takes place every Saturday from 10am to 8pm. For more information, visit http://ripeme.com/the-ripe-markets/.