By Sally Prosser: Winters in the UAE brings a different kind of anticipation; we’re looking forward to months of beautiful, balmy weather and enjoying life outdoors. One of the nicest things is to move from chilly, sterile, air conditioned rooms and out into the fresh air to enjoy a meal. Breakfast on the balcony, dinner on the terrace or a picnic somewhere with a view. Even in a built up city like Dubai there are many open spaces that are just made for settling down on a comfortable rug with something to munch.
The lush green parks are the first obvious choice and on weekends you will witness the sight of enormous cooking pots, which would house a small child but are, in fact, mounded high with Biryani, being lowered over the railings to feed picnicking families. If you don’t fancy all the picnic prep, how do you ensure your al fresco meal is more Monet than Lowry (and not a soggy sandwich in sight)? Rest assured there are plenty of options.
Fortnum and Mason
Lavish outdoor meals have been known of from early Medieval hunting feasts and since then the wealthier French (who invented the word pique-nique) and English took picnic fare very seriously. Here in Dubai Fortnum and Mason, continue their tradition of supplying gourmet delights for outdoor eating (since 1707). In a modern and ingenious take on their famous wicker version they’ve created the portable hamperling made of recyclable paper, which unfolds to reveal printed placemats and napkins. Inside are the essentials for a classic afternoon tea including finger sandwiches (cucumber is an option), scones with clotted cream and jam, pastries and a cup of tea. Available in a solo potion or for two, this can be collected from their store in Downtown Dubai or delivered on request.www.fortnumandmason.com/stores/dubai
The Earl of Sandwich is credited with asking for meat between two slices of bread so he didn’t have to leave the gambling tables and ever since then British have taken sandwiches very seriously. Two fans cricket (another very British institution) set up a company called The Picnic Basket and offer an array of homemade style, freshly made sandwiches. Whether an egg, cress and grainy mustard sarnie, a Coronation chicken bloomer or falafels in a protein wrap take your fancy, Guy Potter will send you the menu and talk you through the options ensuring you order the right amount for your party. It will take a bit of forward planning as you need to order 48 hours in advance and with a minimum order (plus a refundable deposit for the picnic basket) this is best for a group gathering. However, the sandwiches, salads, drinks and snacks in one basket should feed 4-6 people, and is delivered in peak condition by refrigerated van.
www.picnicbasketme.com/Home or email Guy [email protected]
Popular independent café BookMunch has a range of sumptuous picnic baskets which includes a breakfast version and all have lots of choices for children from freshly cut fruit to pinwheel sandwiches (for little hands). They’ll lend you a picnic blanket and give complimentary passes if you are heading for Safa Park. The lunch basket contains a whole freshly baked baguette with a selection of cheese, nuts and pickles for a proper picnic. Different sizes of basket mean you can take lunch for two, or feed a family or more. www.bookmunchcafe.com/picnic-baskets
Take Away Picnic Options
Take away options are available from many cafes and one new place to try is Mitts & Trays at City Walk, founded by UAE’s first female Emirati Chef Patron Amna Al Hashemi. There are tempting looking sandwiches and salads on the menu but their signature Naked Victoria sandwich cake is what turned our heads as the crowning glory for an alfresco feast. Other favourites for freshly made take away sandwiches are Baker and Spice and S’wich.
Picnic on Wheels
If you fancy several modes of transport while you take in the fresh air, Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel & Towers will provide a picnic for two in a hamper (breakfast or lunch), bike hire, plus an hour’s abra ride. Watch the waters of the Creek lap in your wake as you munch. www.sheratondubaicreek.com
How about a picnic delivered to your doorstep?
Just remember to clear up afterwards. Happy picnicking!
[This story has been written exclusively for FoodeMag dxb. All images have been supplied.]
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