It’s my birthday week and I’ll go to a bunch of awesome foodie events if I want to.
I love this shiz. Food, wine, good music and the best company. Yes please! My friends Coco and Livvy went with me to opening night tonight. Taste of Auckland started today at Victoria Park, Auckland City and boy what a treat. Coco is a seasoned Taste veteran like me and it was Livvy’s first time. We are all pretty adventurous eaters so it was fun to share our dishes. We arrived keen as beans, just after 5.30pm and stayed until the 9.30pm closing. I would recommend the full 4 hours to get a well paced walk through and a class or two of your choice. The weather was perfect with only a the tiniest hint of drizzle later in the evening. Not enough for us to head to shelter or pull out umbrellas.
From the 11 restaurants represented, we tried 9 dishes from 9 restaurants. Not bad, maybe with an extra person we could have made it to all 11 restaurants.
One of the first things we tasted was the sausage sizzle demonstration at the Fisher and Paykel kitchen. Just like at their Urbis steak station, you cook the meat yourself (to your liking) then pile on the sauces and garnish.
We ended the night by trying our luck at a fun booze sniffing / booze identification game. Livvy sped through it like champ with 5 out of 5. I passed, but failed at sniffing out Bacardi. Turns out I don’t know what Bacardi smells like, incorrectly calling it rum or Appletons.
Passing the quiz gave us tickets to The Mix cocktail class which included a cocktail made for us of our choice and we also got to keep cocktail that we make in class. Livvy ended up on stage which was fun in itself and took home a sweet Bombay Sapphire prize pack. I would recommend the booze sniffing game and class if cocktails are your thing.
Now, onto the dishes!
The wild deer from Kermedec Fine in the Viaduct was a fine plate of food. With native and earthy flavours like kowiniwini (a native potato) and fern curd (yup, actually blended up ferns), blackberry and malt soil, this was a creative and fun dish.Yes, soil is the new foam.
The slow roasted short rib from Molten in Mt Eden was tasty and beautifully cooked, though I was expecting it to be a lot punchier with promise of white anchovy.
The Duck Penang from The Commons in Takapuna was unexpected and quite incredible. Expecting a curry or something more rustic looking, this beautiful dish was nothing like that. The coconut crumbs melt on your tongue right on contact like sweet snow and the spices were lovely and warming rather than hot.
The Carrot Cake Snapper from The Commons was the highlight of the evening. The carrot puree sounds like baby food but this was anything but. You know the pained face and sound girls make when they see a cute kitten doing something amazingly cute, well that face and sound was made when eating this dish. I don’t usually get snapper, but this was beautifully cooked and the spiced beignet (deep fried doughnut) was out of this world. I was reluctant to share the beignet but I truly wanted my friends to taste how amazing it was. That’s real friendship.
The roasted lamb rump from Euro was fancy take on a traditional kiwi roast. The lamb was tender and scrummy and the bright green cube of pea and mint panacotta was a cool touch. The confit garlic and anchovy lended some punchy flavours.
The Salmone Bellavista from Toto Restaurant. The crayfish sauce made the russian salad decadent, though Livvy wasn’t so keen on cold food. We did point out that a salad general means cold.
Vivace’s Tomato & Mozzarella stuffed gnocchi was cheesy and delicious. Quite filling too.
Clooney’s Pecan creme brulee with Pedro xeminz (a Spanish white grape) and earl grey was easily my favourite dessert. Every mouthful was a delight from the crunchy sugar top to the smooth and creamy brulee to those white shards that melted in your mouth like candy floss. If there hadn’t been so many eyes and cameras, I would have licked this plate clean.
Dessert at The Commons was the Violet and Valrohna, a violet ice cream (yes, that’s flowers) with chocolate, almond and meringue that had cool contransting textures.
Hands down our favourite menu was from newcomer The Commons. We tried all 3 of their dishes and they were stunning.
Aucklanders, go to Taste. You won’t regret it. There are two sessions a day still to go on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I already made the decision to go just once this year, but saw friend who that had tickets for two nights. Swoon.