After hours of grazing, drinking, and roaming our way through some of the finest Auckland had to offer, we were very impressed by the foray of delicacies brought to the fore. In a nutshell, it was what we expected- food stalls, wine reps, cooking shows and wine tastings. Here’s our blow by blow of what we loved.
Following a tasting which took us through the sub-regions and subsequent characteristics of the famous Malborough region, we managed to get a seat in on the Plumm Masterclass. For those unaware, Plumm stemware is the premier glassware manufacturer based out of Aussie. Our friends across the ditch surely know their stuff, Matt Skinner ran us through the 5 glasses you need when tasting wine, how glassware can make a serious difference to the taste of wine- all dependent on where the wine falls on your tongue, the shape of your tongue at the time, and the shape of the bowl in which the wine sits.
BMW Experience with Josh Emmett
As you all might know, Josh Emmett is a bit of a king in the dining biz down under. Openings like Rata and Ostro demonstrate his keen eye for food, and his role in Masterchef also highlights his talent. Josh ran us through some simple dishes on the BMW stage, letting us taste his simple four ingredient chocolate brownie at the end. Oh, we also got to sit down with him for 5 minutes, expect that interview so watch this space.
Best at Taste
Farina ran away with best at taste according to the judges. You literally had to fight your way to the front of their stall. Winning for their “perfectly formatted” dish, Valoriani Oven Pork Saltimbocca with Italian spicy greens provolone cheese, and cipriani mustard dressing. Depot took out second place for their Virgin Bloody Mary Oyster Shooters, described as small and perfectly formed, the shooter balanced the tomato and oyster flavours perfectly. I thought special mention should go to their oysters too. Always amazing- Depot really knows how to nail down their vinaigrette.
For starters, we loved the Scallop, Sweet, Sour & Salty with Tamarind & Chorizo Caramel, Avocado, Crème Fraiche, Rice Puffs from Harbourside Ocean Bar and Grill. The scallops were incredibly fresh, and perfectly pan-seared- some of the most succulent I’ve ever tasted. But the absolutely amazing part was the combination and finesse of the bits and pieces on top.
For something more substantial a Ravioli Piemontese – Beef & Spinach Ravioli with Burnt Butter, Sage & Veal Jus, Parmesan & Truffle Oil from Poderi Crisci. Hands down best ravioli, no wait- actually the best pasta, that I have had the fortune to try. The stuffing to pasta ratio was perfect, the pasta was light and fluffy, but the highlight has got to be how all the sauces married in perfect harmony.
For dessert we tried a Salted Caramel & Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sandwich from Bracu. This dish made me reminisce the days of primary school when my mum would make me peanut butter sandwiches. 10 points for creativity though, I’m an ice cream connoisseur and I have had a peanut butter ice cream before, but never with caramel and in a sandwich which was a winning composition.
Photo cred here
Pros and Cons of the whole event
- Your chance to meet and chat to with all your favourite celebrity chefs
- Live interactive demonstrations of elegant yet simple dishes to cook at home
- Relative to other food festivals, Taste of Auckland has the most complimentary tasters!
- Auckland’s top restaurants presenting their signature dishes for you to experience
- It’s not only “Taste” of Auckland but “Drink” of Auckland, with a big focus on local wine, beer, and cider, kept the inner alcoholic in me satisfied.
- Oyster fan’s heaven. Oysters here, oysters there, oysters everywhere! Freshly shucked too!
- A wide range of cheese and various local deli products that you can buy to take home and slowly enjoy
- Live music
- Raining cats and dogs, our nice shoes got completely caked in mud!
- For all the students and bohemians out there, be prepared to spend $50+ on top of the steep entry fee in order to eat more than just bite sized samples of cheese
- Even at $12-18 a pop, dishes are still relatively bite sized.
Photo cred here
Advice for next year:
- Put your heels away and swap them for gumboots. Forget about fashion, it’s all about food! (hopefully the sun is shining though)
- Get in early! That way you don’t have to park 3km away, don’t have to push against the crowds and most importantly of all, the popular dishes aren’t sold out yet!
- Bring some coins and cash to buy deli products to take home (some places only take cash)
All in all, it’s a pretty epic event. A massive operation. Prepare to spend a bit of dosh, and more importantly, prepare to EAT. There’s a lot on offer and a lot to drink so also maybe sort a sober driver. But go in empty stomached and thirsty because its an awesome day out, a great way to catch up with friends and get amongst the elite of NZ’s dining scene. Get amongst.
Co-author credit // Maggie Pan
Title image cred here