HEADS UP FOODIES… TASTE OF AUCKLAND IS HERE!!!
I am always incredibly excited when November rolls around, for three reasons:
1. It is my birthday month;
2. It is starting to feel like summer; and
3. Taste of Auckland has arrived – an event I look forward to every year!
Taste of Auckland is ideal for those who love food, cooking and everything in between. Like the Auckland Food Show (one of my other favourite events), it is ultimate foodie heaven.
Last night, I attended my fourth Taste of Auckland, in partnership with Electrolux, at Western Springs. Held over four days (16-19 November), Taste showcases some of Auckland’s best restaurants, all in pop up style at the festival (like Euro below). Each restaurant offers 3-4 dishes for you to try, costing between 8 and 22 crowns (the festival’s currency), and an ‘Icon dish’ (between 15 and 34 crowns). 1 crown = $1. More about crowns here.
1947 Eatery, Artwok, Baduzzi, Eat NZ Kitchen with The Cult Project, Euro, Miss Moonshines, Paris Butter, Saan, Tok Tok and Vodka Room are all part of the restaurant line up this year. Check out the restaurant menus here.
Your ticket entry to Taste also includes trying new and existing food products from all over New Zealand, watching your favourite chefs cooking in action, as part of the Electrolux Taste Theatre and lounging on sun chairs while listening to live music.
And most exciting of all, this year’s headliner chef is GEORGE CALOMBARIS. I am a huge fan of Masterchef Australia and George is my favourite judge. Maybe because we have the same name, maybe because he is just so damn cute! I met George last night and it was awesome, despite feeling extremely nervous and my hands were very sweaty! He was super friendly and happy to have a photo with me – yay!
Photo credit: Bunny Eats Design
Check out my highlights below of my night at Taste of Auckland, including my favourite dishes, food stands and photos! Enjoy!
Baduzzi serves ‘Food for the People’ – pasta, crayfish, antipasti and the most divine handmade meatballs… which of course I had to try!
Slow Cooked Te Mana Lamb Meatballs with Piadina flatbread and gremolata
We also tried their beautiful Half Karitane Crayfish, grilled and smoked over Totara.
Euro has an enticing menu, including squid, beef, lamb and one of three vegetarian dishes at the festival. We tried two out of the four, both of which we thoroughly enjoyed:
Goats curd stuffed zucchini flower with shaved zephyr courgettes and truffle honey
Icon Dish: Smoked Te Mana Lamb with wild wheat tabbouleh, labne and dukkah
The lamb was incredibly tender and paired with the tabbouleh, labne and dukkah, it was like a party in your mouth!
Paris Butter serves French fare, and while their Duck fat fries and Boeuf Bourguignon Taco were tempting, I tried their dessert!
Ferrero Roche, with cremeux, Aero chocolate, chocolate ganache, hazelnut praline and caramel ice cream
The lady at the counter said I wouldn’t be disappointed and she was right. The combination of chocolate, chocolate, more chocolate, hazelnut and caramel… well that is me in a nutshell. It was dreamy, creamy and gone in three mouthfuls!
Located in Ponsonby, Saan is a restaurant I have been dying to try for ages. They serve authentic Northern Thai cuisine, and luckily for me, are appearing at Taste of Auckland for the first time this year.
Long Phu Nim – crispy fried soft shell crab with pickled crab and coconut sauce, dill and coriander
The crispy soft shell crab was perfect – a must try at Taste! I also loved the fresh flavours and accompanying coconut sauce.
I recently dined at Tok Tok, a restaurant located in Takapuna, which serves South East Asian cuisine. I was wowed by their fresh and flavourful food and I am excited to re-visit to sample more of their dishes. Below is my favourite dish of the night:
Crispy Quarter Duck with orange, ginger, Vietnamese mint and spiced salt
The crispy quarter duck was juicy, and combined with the sweet orange and fresh herbs made for a very flavourful dish. I also loved the generous serving of duck. I could have easily ordered another two plates of this dish as it was so delicious. Highly recommend trying this dish at Taste of Auckland!
Another stand out dish at Tok Tok was their Crispy Pork Steamed Bun with apple cucumber kimchi.
I love kimchi, so this instantly caught my eye. It was insanely good, my expression was like this: 🤤🤤🤤
There are so many beverages to choose from at Taste of Auckland – you are spoilt for choice! These include: Wine (including Ara Wines, Sacred Hill, Mission Estate, Left Field, Man O War, Mount Michael Wines, No 1 Family Estate, Black Barn and many more), Whiskey (Glenfiddich and Monkey Shoulder), Bourbon (Batch 10), Gin (Curiosity Gin), plus cocktail stands featuring Famous Vodka and Cointreau.
We took part in a Cointreau Cocktail Masterclass (10 crowns) which includes a Cointreau drink. Definitely worth it as the cocktails are normally 12 crowns. We made a ‘Cointreau Fizz’, with basil, lime, cucumber, ice, Cointreau and soda water. It was so simple to make, and so delicious!
And, for all you beer lovers, there is a special area dedicated to beer, namely ‘Brew Street’. Here, you can discover your favourite brew and talk to the owners behind the brand. When it comes to beer, the simpler for me, the better. One of my favourite breweries was present – Good George – I love their lager, as it is a nice refreshing drink to accompany all the food!
Electrolux Taste Theatre
This year, I didn’t have the chance to attend one of the cooking masterclasses as part of the Electrolux Taste Theatre – mainly because I was too busy eating my way around the festival! This part of Taste showcases cooking demonstrations from some of New Zealand’s top chefs and food personalities, like Cameron Knox (Tok Tok), Simon Gault (Giraffe), Lek Trirattanavatin (Saan), Julia and Libby, Lauren Glucina (Ascension Kitchen) and Megan May (Little Bird Organics).
For fans of chef, restaurateur and Masterchef Australia co-judge George Calombaris, you can catch him live at the Electrolux Taste Theatre where he will be cooking up a storm on Saturday afternoon at 3pm and Saturday evening at 8.30pm. Check out the rest of the timetable here.
Ray McVinnie, George Calombaris, Amanda Linnell and the team from Miss Moonshines, the winners of ‘Best in Taste Awards’ at the Electrolux Taste Theatre
Food Stands / Tastings
Another great reason to visit Taste of Auckland is the food stands and tastings! For me, I love the opportunity to try and buy new and existing products, meet the owners behind all my favourite brands, and sample, sample, sample! Below is a list of my favourite products from last night (along with festival specials):
Petal Cupcakes – forever a favourite for their mouthwatering cupcakes. My favourites are their salted caramel and passionfruit – melt in your mouth! They also have a new flavour – Vegan Salted Caramel. I didn’t try one, but it looks delicious (see below). Cupcakes are $5 each.
Beekist – you will have probably recognised the Beekist brand at your local supermarket, who produce the most stunning tomatoes. I love their Yelo tomatoes! They are not selling their tomatoes at the festival, but they have loads of samples.
Culley’s Hot Sauces – my favourite hot sauce brand in Auckland. They also make delicious gluten free corn chips, spice mixes, and most recently, BBQ Sauces! I bought a bottle of their Chipotle and Honey BBQ sauce. Ah-mazing!
Festival special: $8 for 1 bottle of BBQ, Hot or Wings sauce
The Food Snob – if you are looking for products for your next platter party, then definitely check out The Food Snob. I love their huge green olives, stuffed bell peppers, Mediterranean medley and cheeses galore (try the haloumi!).
Festival special: 2 pottles for $5 (either their mixed olives, green olives or stuffed bell peppers or 2 cheeses for $15.
Puhoi Valley – selling their beautiful milks and cheeses. They were very generous with their tastings of cheese… we just kept coming back for more! Cheese available are Kawau Blue, Fresh Goats Cheese and Triple Cream Brie (my favourite) and milks – Belgian Chocolate, Colombian Espresso and Spiced White Chocolate (tastes just like chai!).
Festival special: Cheeses, $6 each, 2 for $10 or 3 for $15 + bag, Milks: $3 each or 2 for $5 (Retail price: Cheese about $9-$10, Milks $3.30).
Jenny’s Tamarind Chutney – one of my favourite NZ products and the most divine chutney you will ever eat. I love spreading it on pizza, adding it to my meals or just eating it out of the jar. This is a must try at Taste of Auckland! Here is a pizza recipe to get you drooling… Festival special: 2 jars for $20. (Retail price: $14 each)
Lalele Organic Gelato – owners Mulan and Nathan, make delicious hand crafted gelato, using organic ingredients, and they have many vegan options available. My all time favourite flavour is their mango sorbet which tastes like you’re eating the real thing. At Taste of Auckland, they have two new flavours – Kawakawa (a native NZ plant which is used for medicinal purposes and also makes a great tea) and Black Sesame. We loved the black sesame!!!
Kids scoop $5.
Soda Press Co – Grab a delicious soda drink (my favourite is their pink grapefruit) for $4, otherwise their big bottles are $15 each or 2 for $25. (Retail price: $16.75 per bottle)
Hogarth Chocolate – Nelson’s only chocolate manufacturer and one of the few in the country who make chocolate from bean to bar. Hogarth have won many awards for their chocolate, and after tasting it today, I can definitely see why! My favourite flavour is the Dark Giandua – could eat it all day!
Festival special: $10 for a block. (Retail price: $11.50 for a block).
The Collective – selling their most recent product – Labneh dips! They come in five different flavours: Capsicum Pesto, Moroccan Relish, Smoked Tomato, Sweet Chilli and Harissa (my new favourite). These new labneh yoghurt dips are perfect for dunking with crackers, spreading on crusty bread or Turkish pide, and something I tried earlier this week – stirred through spaghetti. YUM.
Cook and Nelson – an online food store which sells all things food, all things delicious. They sell my favourite maple syrup (Noble) and the most to die for McClures pickles.
Festival special: $15 for a jar of pickles, or $25 for two jars. (Retail price: $19.95 per jar).
Viberi Organic – if you love blackcurrants, then you will love Viberi. I recently discovered them at the NZ Fitness Expo a few weeks ago and am currently enjoying their blackcurrant powder in smoothies, crushing their freeze dried blackcurrants on my porridge and devouring their blackcurrants coated in chocolate – yum!
Festival special: 4 packets for $30, or prices as below.
Little Bird Unbakery – one of my favourite clean-eating eateries in Auckland, selling their raw desserts, wraps with salad and falafel, and food products. Plus, don’t leave without trying their macaroons – one of my favourite snacks!
And, finally, a sweet way to end a fabulous foodie night… a scoop (or three) of Duck Island Ice Cream.
I was so excited to see Duck Island Ice Cream at Taste of Auckland, as they have come up all the way from Hamilton. I tried their Cherry & Coconut, Peanut Butter and Peppermint – all delicious!
Festival special: $6 for one scoop (up to two flavours), $8 for a double scoop (up to three flavours), plus ice cream sandwiches and ice cream tacos!
All the details…
Taste of Auckland
Dates Thursday 16 to Sunday 19 November 2017
Times Friday (12pm to 4pm & 5.30pm to 10pm) Saturday (12pm to 4pm & 5.30pm to 9.30pm) and Sunday (12pm to 5pm)
Venue 731 Great North Road, Western Springs
Tickets Online ($17 for general admission, otherwise $32 at the entrance)
Parking Limited $5 parking at Western Springs (entrance at Western Springs Stadium on Old Mill Road), free road side parking, $5 direct shuttle from downtown to Western Springs, catch the 134 or 132 buses from Albert Street or Uber!
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This post is not sponsored, however the lovely people at Taste of Auckland, Lemongrass Productions and Sauce Shop PR provided my entry. All opinions are my own.