Grocery Shopping

I thought I would write a post with plenty of photos to illustrate how and where we go grocery shopping. What you need to know is that this is just how we CURRENTLY go grocery shopping. It will probably be different once we a) get a car, b) get settled into our real apartment and buy cooking utensils, and c) I start making meal plans for the week ahead like I used to in Rochester.

The closest grocery store to the NYU campus on Saadiyat Island is Spinneys (a supermarket chain throughout the Middle East that stocks primarily British imports). There are a couple of Spinneys in Abu Dhabi, but this one is a rather petite version on the grounds of the St. Regis hotel. It has everything we generally need, but it does not have room for many choices and everything is slightly more expensive than you would find elsewhere. I’ve been asking people here on campus where they do their grocery shopping and most answer Spinneys, but they do so guiltily. It’s not the best, but it is certainly the easiest.

There is a free shuttle bus that leaves campus everyday at 10am:


The girls are always excited to get their own seat and put on their seat belts, but that excitement lasts for about two minutes and then they are none too pleased to have to stay put, even for the seven minutes that the drive takes:


Once we arrive at the St. Regis (which is not just a hotel, but also has permanent residences – both apartments and villas – where many of Adele’s classmates at Cranleigh reside), we head across from the hotel lobby to the part of the complex known as The Collection. The Collection includes restaurants and nightclubs (in addition to what is offered within the hotel) such as Koi for sushi and Shakespeare and Co. for coffee and dessert, as well as salons, a pharmacy, retail outlets, etc.


Excuse the blurriness! This is what happens to the camera lens when it’s outside. OH THE HUMIDITY.

That lovely little lady holding hands with Adele is Helen, along with her mother Kate, who teaches music lessons for NYU. In Kate’s Ergo is five-month old Gillian, whose be-bonneted head you can see in the shuttle picture up top.



The avocados are usually pretty good at this particular location. I forget where they’re flown in from. That’s one of the major problems with grocery shopping in Abu Dhabi – nothing is grown here and so everything has to be imported. And you pay for it. But I just gotta have my avocados, man.


Nothing at this Spinneys is too weird, unlike the larger markets with their durian fruits and camel meat. But there are a few products that are new to us. I kept seeing juices with squash as an ingredient and thought, mm, that’s good. One of those new ways of getting your requisite veggies. But no, squash means concentrate, I guess. There’s also the shelf-stable milk:


I’m used to this from living in Germany, but it just rubs me the wrong way. We bought a four-pack, because it’s great to not have to schlep milk home all that often, but I swear it tastes different and not in a good way. Jeff calls it “nutty,” like an attribute of hard cheese, but I think it tastes like Lactaid milk (sorry, Becca – YUCK).


Fun potato chips. I haven’t tried them, but I’m sure they’re delicious.

Now THIS is a hilarious part of shopping in the UAE:


This is the super secret PORK ROOM. You have to ring a bell to be let in. It’s nice that they do stock pork products for all those bacon addicts out there (oh, btw, at restaurants, you only get beef or turkey bacon), but living without pork is not too difficult for me, though I sure do like breakfast sausage.

The shuttle back to NYU leaves the St. Regis at 11am. When we went for the first time, I was worried that one hour would not be enough time to shop (especially with two little children), but we blew through the whole store in about 20 minutes and then had 40 more to kill. That one time, we found a scale model of the St. Regis development to look at. Since then, I’ve discovered that I can make the girls run in circles for half an hour:



They’re perfectly happy, it doesn’t seem to bother anyone else, and they are tired and ready to nap after we get home.

Here we are heading back to the bus:


Again with the blurriness, because, yep, it’s humid outside.

One major problem with this way of grocery shopping is that we have to carry everything we’ve bought. Because it leaves at 10am, Jeff is usually working, so I’ve gone by myself with the kids. That’s a lot to wrangle. I suppose we could do the European thing and get just what we need for the day. But I’m not in that frame of mind (yet).

I have tried two other grocery stores so far. They are called Carrefour and Lulu’s and they are…wait for it…HYPERMARKETS. Yes, not just supermarkets, oh no, they are hypermarkets. Mad houses. But better for our needs. But in the city. So, yeah, we’ll see what happens after we get a car here. For now, we are making due with our little four-aisle Spinneys:



2 thoughts on “Grocery Shopping

  1. This is fascinating. I didn’t at all expect they would have any pork products there! They should have a secret potato chip room too – prawn cocktail can’t possibly be halal.

    • You should see what you have to do to buy alcohol. At this grocery store, you have to go downstairs into the parking garage and then back up via a special staircase into the liquor store. You have to pay cash, because you’re supposed to have a special license from the state to buy booze, but if you pay cash, they will turn their heads.

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