I haven’t always been food obsessed.
I “got into food” in my mid-twenties and Taste of Auckland was the first food festival I attended. A year before I started this (mostly) food blog, Mum and I bought tickets to the first ever Taste. We checked out a few cooking demonstrations and I tried beef tartare for the first time ever. I took photos for no real reason as I didn’t have social media or a blog. It was casual. Just something to do.
Nine years later, as I mentally prepare myself for next week’s festivities, I realise I’m am a die-hard fan girl. I’ve attended 8 years of Taste and I’m going to Taste of Auckland this year too. Twice. It helps that it’s usually around my birthday making my birthday month a bit more wonderful.
Running four days from 16 to 19 November, the six sessions of Taste of Auckland in partnership with Electrolux is essentially a build-your-own degustation with your choice of fine wine, beer, even cocktails. There are 10 restaurants this year, each with 3 dishes and bonus icon dish (limited numbers). There will be live entertainment, cooking demonstrations, countless artisan and food stalls, bars and villages, with something for everyone.
I love seeing all that is new and innovative each year at Taste and for those going to their very first Taste next week, here are my tips.
Tips for Taste of Auckland
- Session times are 4-4.5 hours long. Get there on time and/or go during the day/week to avoid crowds.
- Look for show specials and free tastings (yum).
- Expect to spend $40 to $70 per person depending on appetite (and budget). There are plenty of free samples so if on a tight budget, seek these out 🙂
- Have a squiz at the menu early so you can plan your evening, but be flexible enough to change your mind if something else looks better (or they run out). Each restaurant also has an icon dish which will be limited to 20-25 per session. If you have your eye on an icon dish, get there early to avoid missing out.
- Sharing with a friend means you can taste even more dishes.
- Wear sensible shoes. It’s a park and wet weather can turn some of the grounds into a soft ganache (circa 2014). A small umbrella would be wise too. Ladies, it shouldn’t need to be said, but apparently it’s not common sense: DO NOT WEAR STILETTOS. Previous events have featured gumboots, though the weather for this year looks promising.
- Bring a light jacket for the evening sessions.
- Bring a healthy appetite, a shopping bag if you like to shop and a camera or a fully charged phone for food pornography.
- Catch a bus or a taxi so you can enjoy the delicious tipple. Otherwise there is VIP parking next door for VIP ticket holders.
- Electrolux Chefs’ Secrets – Intimate cooking class with NZ’s leading chefs. An arrival cocktail, hands on cooking class, dishes to share, a wine match and dessert. Great inspiration for the home cook. First in first served and at 15 crowns, this is incredible value. Read my review last year’s class with Monique Fiso here.
- Gourmet Hangi – With a different chef per session, guest chefs will bring new flavours and their own vision to traditional Maori Hangi. This is a unique opportunity to try hangi by our country’s finest chefs. Servings are limited, price TBC. Schedule and menu here.
- Brew Street – a must for craft beer lovers, a village of boutique breweries such as Good George, Tuatara and Liberty Brewing.
- Electrolux Taste Theatre – hosted by food writer who made her start in food blogging Delany Mes, each session will feature 3 or 4 free demonstrations. Ones to circle are George Calombaris (MasterChef Australia), Lek Trirattanavatin (Saan), Dariush Lolaiy (Cazador), Simon Gault (Giraffe), Glen File (Baduzzi).
- and of course, all the food!
I’ve had a squiz at the menu and there are so many dishes that sound incredible. I couldn’t cut this down smaller than eight dishes but if my friends are happy to share, I think that over 2 sessions, I could knock off all of these.
Genie’s dream menu
- Tok Tok Spanner crab with seared scollop betel leaf – 10
- Saan Crispy fried soft shell crab with pickled crab and coconut sauce, dill and coriander – 12
- Baduzzi’s icon dish Half karitane crayfish grilled and smoked over totara – 22
- Miss Moonshine Spicy fried chicken with blue cheese sauce – 9
- EatNZ Kitchen with The Cult Project Fish and chip Kahawai sashimi, smoked fishbone glaze, buttermilk mash, potato skin cracker, pickled lemon – 12
- Euro Barbecued squid with heirloom tomato salad, chilli and pork crackling – 11
- Paris Butter Citrus cured salmon with parsnip yoghurt, coconut and lime gel, beetroot ice cream – 12
- Vodka Room Octopus confit with kefir butter beans, fermented heirloom tomatoes, pickled onions and croutons – 10
This mostly seafood feast (for one or two people) can be had for less than $100. Pretty good value! Note, my list is quite seafood heavy because I ADORE seafood. If seafood isn’t your thing, check out the menus here to make up your own mind.
Crowns and tickets
The festival currency is called a crown and 1 crown = 1 dollar. Festival currency can be loaded onto your Taste of Auckland card and these are used to make purchases. Don’t be shy about topping up as you can get a full refund on any unused credit. Cash, debit or credit cards accepted at any onsite Taste bank or roaming Crown seller dressed in pink. Cards can be used at more than one session.
I’ll leave you with photos from previous festivals. Enjoy.
This is not a sponsored post but the good folks at Taste of Auckland and Lemongrass Productions have provided tickets.