18 November 2018Last updated

Dine out

Secret Squirrel’s top tips for great produce in Dubai

Better known as the founder of her immensely popular healthy food blog Secret Squirrel Food, Karen McLean gives us her pick of the best places in town for quality produce, as well as some fun festive foodie tips

6 Dec 2016 | 12:03 pm
  • Karen McLean, also known as Secret Squirrel Food

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  • Ripe Market in Zabeel Park is one of Karen's favourite spots for local food

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  • "The Deira Fish Market is always buzzing with activity"

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  • Karen loves that the Al Aweer Fruit and Vegetable market is open 24 hours, 7 days a week

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Where do you buy your groceries?
I love the Al Aweer Fruit and Vegetable market in Ras Al Khor. It’s open 24 hours, 7 days a week. The fruit and vegetables are sourced locally and it is very affordable. My favourite place to buy fish is from the Deira Fish Market – I love that place! It is always buzzing with activity and all the fish is locally sourced and caught daily. The best place to buy meat is from Prime Gourmet Meats in Gold & Diamond Park – it’s a specialised boutique butcher. The meat is always very good quality. For baking ingredients, Organics Foods and Café has a great range. All organic, which is a bonus!

Your favourite local food market in Dubai?
My favourite has to be Ripe Market in Zabeel Park. There are lots of delicious food stalls, and they cater for everyone’s taste.

Dubai’s best spot for coffee and cake?
I love Brew Café in Umm Suqeim. It is a tiny coffee shop on Jumeirah Beach Road and I adore the cosy feel of the café and the coffee is excellent. The baristas are very knowledgeable and I love the smell of coffee wafting through the air as you enter.

Where do you go for a relaxed breakfast?
My favourite is still Tom & Serg for breakfast. This café reminds of home in Melbourne. Fantastic coffee, great food and a lovely place to chill out with friends.

You want to impress visitors – where do you go?
I’d go to Zuma. The open kitchen, excellent staff, delicious mouth-watering food and beautiful interiors ensure a memorable dining experience.

Your top pick for a healthy meal in Dubai?
I love the Butternut Salad from Tashas Café. Roasted butternut served with oven-roasted tomatoes, pine nuts, avocado and feta cheese – it’s totally delicious.

Your favourite foodie event of the year?
The Dubai Food Festival of course! I look forward to it every year. It’s filled with many fun activities and I love experiencing new flavours.

What do you eat on Christmas day? Any healthy twists that you put on traditional dishes?
I always go back home to Melbourne for Christmas because it is about relaxing and spending time with family and friends. Our Christmas lunch is often outside because of the heat – I’ve never had a white Christmas before! We love a good barbecue and there is always roast turkey. If you want, make your festive feast healthier by steaming or grilling instead of frying, using less oil, including some vegetables and eating in moderation.