Living in New Zealand, we are blessed to have beautiful seafood right at our doorstep. Oysters, scallops, kina, crayfish, mussels, scampi, salmon, tarakihi, eel… the list goes on! And this weekend (Auckland Anniversary), you can taste all your favourite seafood dishes, sample products, attend cooking demonstrations, and relax in the sunshine all at the ASB Auckland Seafood Festival (check out the view from the festival above!).
Thanks to Zomato, I attended the Seafood Festival today and had a great time! The sun was shining, the crowds were brimming (which I don’t mind as I love to people watch) and the seafood was abundant.
Check out my sea-foodie highlights below:
Clevedon Coast Oysters – 5/5
Clevedon Oysters – Half Shell Natural (6 for $10)
I have to admit, for a very long time, I wouldn’t go near an oyster. But after finally taking the plunge and trying them at Depot last year, I have never looked back! They are truly perfect in every way, plus they have many health benefits! Oysters were definitely at the top of my list for the seafood festival, and the ones from Clevedon Coast Oysters were an absolute steal – 6 half shells for $10!
They were surprisingly creamy (different to the ones at Depot), yet very delicious. I could have eaten a whole dozen or more!!! Washed down with an ice cold Heineken, they made for a perfect pre-lunch snack. Next on my oyster bucket list is learning how to shuck one – now that would be a great day out!
House of Dumplings – 5/5
From left-right, Smoked Gemfish Dumpling, Japanese Sake Salmon Dumpling and Paua, Mussel Squid Ink Dumpling ($2.50 each)
These creative and tasty dumplings are all handmade from scratch, by Wellington restaurant House of Dumplings. This was definitely my favourite stand of the day – the two ladies working there were welcoming and friendly and I didn’t have to wait long for the food. One dumpling that caught my eye was the black squid ink, filled with mussel and paua.
Having not seen this in Auckland before, I was super excited to try one. The flavour inside was sensational and I think it really caught the essence of the seafood festival in terms of creativity and taste! The other dumplings I tried were the smoked gemfish and sake salmon – both were full of flavour and again, something different and cooked perfectly. It was truly a win win! They also drizzled over two sauces, namely ‘Mum’s Sauce’ of tangy soy and ‘Chilli Oil’ with szechuan and peppercorn. Highly recommend the chilli oil as it has just the right amount of spice.
Overall, super happy with the dumplings and I cannot wait to go to Wellington to try more of their menu!
Snack Fresh – 3/5
Shrimp Summer Rolls ($7)
Summer rolls, I think, will always be a big hit at festivals. They are super fresh, easy to eat and are always made with yummy ingredients. We have summer rolls a lot, mostly at &Sushi in Newmarket, so we were super excited to find them at the seafood festival.
We ordered two prawn summer rolls and while they looked delicious, the majority of the filling was rice noodles – such a shame seeing as this is a seafood festival! Also, the only sauces available were chilli and soy. Usually summer rolls are paired with a nice Vietnamese dipping sauce, which in my view, brings out the flavour – but sadly not here.
However, we still ate them, but there were definitely better food choices at the festival.
Sanford Mussels – 5/5
Bowl of steamed green lipped mussels ($10)Sanford has been around for years – 150 years in fact, and a few of my extended family members used to work there, which meant being able to sample their delicious seafood!
Today at the festival, Sanford were serving mussels and salmon. Because I eat salmon every week, I was more interested in their mussels, which they were cooking in very large pots – the smell was amazing!
While the menu said ‘green lipped mussels in either butter or coconut curry’, we asked if we could have them au naturel – how they should be! They looked delicious and were very moorish.
I am positive that this was the only stand serving mussels (correct me if I am wrong), which made it that much more special. Mussels are super easy to cook at home and paired with garlic, white wine, salt and herbs, you have yourself one perfect dinner! If you are heading to the seafood festival, I highly recommend Sanford’s mussels!
Paella de la Rubia – 2/5
Seafood Paella (small for $10)
After wandering around the festival, I decided to settle on seafood paella for my main lunch. I was super excited as I recently holidayed in Spain and I made paella for the first time at home. The young girls managing the stand were super friendly, however I noticed there wasn’t much seafood going onto my plate – I quickly asked for a mussel and a prawn… I mean when you are paying $10, you should really be getting your money’s worth!
The paella itself tasted average, and there was only one prawn, one mussel and a few squid rings, which was very disappointing. It was basically just a bowl of rice, with sliced red pepper. I was really looking forward to it, but it didn’t live up to my expectations. This was my least favourite dish at the festival. Sadly, I wouldn’t seek out Paella de la Rubia again.
The Seafood Festival is on for another two days (day and night sessions) at Halsey Wharf in Wynyard Quarter, so head down for some delicious seafood and beautiful weather. I recommend wearing sunblock (as it was very hot), bringing a hat, water bottle and definitely your camera! Check out the website here, and if you want to purchase tickets, click here.