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Taste of Auckland 18

HEADS UP FOODIES… TASTE OF AUCKLAND IS HERE!!!

November is the most exciting month of the year, for three reasons:
1. It is my birthday month;
2. It is starting to feel like summer; and
3. Taste of Auckland has arrived – woohoo!

2018 is a big year for Taste of Auckland presented by Electrolux as they are celebrating 10 years! This iconic food festival has helped launch brands, watch restaurants come and go, and of course, provide the public with an amazing event each year. 

Taste is also being held in a brand new location – occupying the entire space of Queen’s Wharf on the waterfront! I am in love with the new seaside location, as it is more spacious, and easier to get to. You could drive, but why not walk down from work or take public transport if you can?! 

On Thursday night, I attended my fifth Taste of Auckland, including the VIP Opening, where Taste presented the ‘Best in Taste Awards’, judged by Chand Sahrawat, Lachlan Colwill and Amanda Linnell. The winning dish was Xoong’s Ruakaka Kingfish Tartare. We then enjoyed drinks and canapes, followed by eating our way around the festival. 

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From left to right: Lachlan Colwill, Chand Sahrawat, Xoong’s executive chef Cameron Knox, Xoong owner David Dau, Farina owner Sergio Maglione, The Shucker Brothers’ owners Ana Schwarz and Geoff Tippett.

Held over four days (1-4 November), Taste of Auckland presented by Electrolux is ideal for those who love food, cooking and everything in between. In other words, it is the event for ultimate foodie heaven! Taste showcases some of Auckland’s best restaurants, all in pop up style at the festival, and each restaurant offers 3-4 dishes for you to try. Check out the restaurant menus hereTaste has their own festival currency, namely ‘Crowns’ ($1 = 1 crown). You use a Crown card to purchase food, drinks and experiences. Restaurant dishes cost between 6.50 and 14 crowns, while a restaurant’s ‘Icon Dish’ (limited availability) costs between 12 and 30 crowns. Crown cards are available for purchase at the entrance, and are also included in some of the ticket options. More about crowns and tickets here

Your ticket entry to Taste also includes trying new and existing food products from all over New Zealand, enjoying healthy products at the Good Taste Zone, watching your favourite chefs cooking in action (Electrolux Taste Theatre), cooking with some of New Zealand’s top chefs (Electrolux Chefs’ Secrets) and listening to live music while enjoying the sun and sea. 

Check out my highlights below at Taste of Auckland, including my favourite dishes, food stands and photos! Enjoy!

Restaurants at Taste

There are 12 restaurants featured this year, with four making a comeback: Baduzzi and Farina (both Italian), Paris Butter (French bistro), The Vodka Room (Russian-inspired).

Plus there are 8 new featured restaurants (very exciting), including: Culprit. (Modern Kiwi yum cha), Gerome (Greek-inspired), Little Bird Organics (Plant-based), Low Brow. (Contemporary fast/good food), Miann (Desserts), The Shucker Brothers (Seafood), The Smoko Room at The Sawmill Brewery (Meats) and Xoong (North-East Asian). Check out the restaurant menus here

From the 12 featured restaurants, I tried the following over three sessions: 

Baduzzi

Baduzzi is back this year serving ‘Food of the People’ – pasta, crayfish and the most divine handmade meatballs… which I highly recommend trying! Read more about Baduzzi here

Highlight of the night was Baduzzi’s Icon Dish: Wood-fired Karitane crayfish with Burro Provencal = 26 crowns

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With Baduzzi’s Executive Chef – Ben Bayly.
Do you see the resemblance?… We share the same last name!

We also tried Baduzzi’s Slow-cooked lamb meatballs with rosemary and Mamma D’s sauce = 12 crowns

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Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Little Bird Organics

I was so excited to hear that Little Bird Organics would be popping up at Taste this year. They are the festival’s first dedicated vegan eatery, and have a delicious and innovative menu. They will be trialing out four dishes which could potentially go on the menu of their new dinner offering at their Ponsonby Unbakery. The idea is to showcase seasonal organic bites, meals and desserts, paired with an all-natural wine list and organic cocktails menu. Can’t wait! Read more about Little Bird Unbakery here

HIGHLIGHT: Hemp Taco with BBQ cauliflower and fermented sriracha = 8 crowns

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Smoked Watermelon Sashimi with watercress, yuzu and miso = 12 crowns

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Kimchee Slider with Gochujang black bean pattie, melty ‘cheddar’, kimchi, cashew aioli, pickles, lettuce and coriander and on an activated charcoal bun = 10 crowns

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Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Paris Butter

Paris Butter serves French fare, and having not experienced their Duck Fat Fries, we ordered two lots of these, which were devoured in minutes! 

Fries “sarladais” – 
Duck fat fries, dried local mushrooms, parmesan and garlic = 10 crowns

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Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

The Shucker Brothers

What festival would be complete without oysters? Last year, there were none, so am excited that The Shucker Brothers will be featuring at Taste this year. They have brought their ocean-fresh oysters (freshly shucked to order) that are sourced locally from Clevedon, Mahurangi and Waiheke’s Te Matuku. Yum!

HIGHLIGHT: Trevally kokoda with chilli, lime, fresh coconut and nuoc cham = 12 crowns

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Freshly shucked oysters with mignonette or lemon = 12 crowns

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Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Farina

Italian restaurant Farina are making a comeback and have brought their wood-fired oven to create delicious dishes. Read more about Farina here

HIGHLIGHT: Spaghettoni Parmigiano E Gamberi [Spaghettoni pasta tossed in a parmigiano reggiano wheel, aromatic king prawn salsa] = 16 crowns

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Spaghettoni Alla Nerano [Spaghettoni pasta tossed in Parmigiano Reggiano wheel with zucchini, basil and black pepper] = 9 crowns

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Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Xoong

Xoong is Mount Eden’s newest restaurant serving North East Asian fare, with tastes inspired by Japanese, Chinese and Vietnamese dishes. Read more about Xoong here

Soft Shell Crab Gua Bao with Gochujang mayo and pickled shallots = 10 crowns

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Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Low Brow.

Low Brow. are currently creating a stir on Auckland’s foodie scene with their infamous free-range fried chicken…

Note I didn’t get a chance to try their dishes, but I can however recommend their
Free Range Fried Chicken which I have enjoyed previously at their restaurant! Served with ranch, original or hot spice = 8 crowns

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Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Miann

Last but not least is another exciting Another eatery popping up at Taste this year is Miann, the festival’s first eatery serving only desserts! I have been following Miann’s journey from the beginning and they make some outstanding desserts, plus I love their handmade chocolates and ice cream. Read more about Miann here and here.

Absolutely loved Miann’s Waffle with caramel bananas and chocolate = 8 crowns

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Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Beverages

You are truly spoilt for choice when it comes to the beverage choices at Taste, whether it be wine, spirits, beer and non-alcoholic drinks. Perfect to enjoy with your favourite restaurant dishes, or while lounging in a sun chair, listening to live music and enjoying the sunshine – bliss. Check out the beverage options available below:

Wine

Sip, swirl and savour these wine options at Taste of Auckland…

  • From Hawke’s Bay, Mission Estate – my favourite winery

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With Evo from Island Girl Blogger trying Mission Estate’s Fete Sparkling Cuvee

  • Also from Hawke’s Bay, Black Barn 
  • From Malborough, Sacred Hill – currently loving their Pinot Gris!
  • Also from Malborough, Churton, Mud House Wines, No.1 Family Cuvee Estate, te Pā Wines, Nautilus Estate, Tohu Wine and O:TU Wines
  • From Auckland, Villa Maria Winery
  • From Waiheke, Man O War
  • From Central Otago, Mount Michael Wines, Gibbston Valley and Rockburn Wines

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No1. Family Cuvee Estate

Spirits

Spirits available for tasting include Blush Gin (RRP $85) who are also selling Gin Slushies (yum!), Hidden World Gin ($80), Monkey 47 Gin (RRP $90) and Thomson Whiskey. 

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Radio Hauraki Craft Beer Trail

And, for all you beer lovers, there is a special area dedicated to beer, namely the ‘Radio Hauraki Craft Beer Trail’. Here, you can go on an adventure, and discover your favourite brew, while talking 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!

Other breweries present are Lakeman Brewing, Laughing Bones and Liberty Brewing, or hop over to the Pale Ale Bar with brews by Tuatara, Black Dog and Lagunitas. Also featured are New New New, RenaissanceHarrington’s Breweries, Funk Estate, Ultimate Brew Company, plus Te Aro are bringing their craft beer all the way from Wellington!

Electrolux Taste Theatre

This year, I didn’t have the chance to attend one of the free 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. If I were attending Taste every day, highlights  would include watching Megan May of Little Bird Organics on Friday afternoon, Nic Watt from Masu on Friday night, Sachie Nomura from Sachie’s Kitchen on Saturday afternoon and Josh Barlow from The Sugar Club on Saturday night. Full timetable here.

Electrolux Chefs’ Secrets

If you dream of cooking like a professional chef, then be sure to book into the Electrolux Chefs’ Secrets! It is a hands-on and intimate cooking class with some of New Zealand’s leading chefs – the line up this year includes Lesley Chandra (Sid at the French Cafe), Nobu Lee (Clooney), Jason Kim (Sidart), Gareth Stewart (Euro), Nishant Arora (Cassia), Dariush Lolaiy (Cazador), Man Mohan Singh (1947 Eatery) and Neil Brazier. You will learn cooking secrets and tips, before sitting down to enjoy the meal with a te Pā wine and a sweet treat. Tickets cost 15 crowns and are limited to 16 people per session. More about Electrolux Chefs’ Secrets here.  

Producer Food Stands / Tastings

Another great reason to visit Taste of Auckland is the producer 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):

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! This year, Culley’s are celebrating Day of the Dead with their new limited edition sauce – only available for purchase at Taste

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Festival Specials: Day of the Dead sauce $10, 1 bottled sauce $8
(Retail price: Bottled Sauces $8)

Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Food Snob

If you are looking for products for your next platter party, then definitely check out Food Snob. I love their huge green olives, stuffed bell peppers, Mediterranean Medley, and cheeses galore… try the haloumi!

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Festival Specials: Any 2 cheeses and/or pottles for $10. Any 2 for $15 (Dutch Gouda, Cumin Gouda, French Camembert, French Brie)
(Retail prices: Pottles $5.90 each, Sheep Feta $6, Havarti $8, French Camembert $11)

Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Puhoi Valley

Selling their cheeses and yoghurt. They were very generous with their tastings of cheese… we just kept coming back for more! They have some new cheese available for purchase (launching at supermarkets next week) – love the Washed Rind!

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Festival Specials: Cheeses: 2 for $10, 3 for $14. Yoghurt: 2 tubs for $8, 3 tubs for $11. 
(Retail prices: Cheeses about $4.50-$10, Yoghurt $6).
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Little Bird Organics

One of my favourite clean-eating eateries in Auckland, who are selling their raw, vegan, gluten and dairy free sweet treats at Taste, as well as their food products – my favourites are their macaroons and their most recent release, Good Cookies!

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Festival Special: Buy 2 products, get 1 product free
(Retail prices: Good Cookies $6, Macaroons $11.75, Grawnola $17.90, Crackers $11.25)

Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Kaikoura Cheese

Owners Daniel and Sarah originally lived in Christchurch, but after the earthquakes, moved their family to Kaikoura. In 2011, they opened the award-winning Kaikoura Cheese and it has been a roaring success ever since… just check out the reviews! All of their cheeses are made with Jersey cow’s milk cheese…. mmmmm! Kaikoura Cheese is available at Sabato and The Dairy in Auckland. 

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Festival Special: 200g cheese for $12
(Retail price: Kaikoura Love and Fury, 
$26.50 for 200g)
Socials: Website / Facebook

Duck Island Ice Cream

I was so excited to see the return of Duck Island Ice Cream at Taste as I love their ice cream! I went three times to Taste and enjoyed the following flavours:
– Salted Chocolate Brownie (a winner in my books!)
– Coconut Passionfruit
– Strawberry & Beetroot Sorbet
– Coconut Caramel Sesame Praline with Peanuts (another winner!)
– Peppermint
– Ambrosia (complete with marshmallows and jelly!)

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Festival Special: $6 for one scoop (two flavours), $8 for two scoops (three flavours)
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Petal Cupcakes

Forever a favourite for their mouthwatering cupcakes. My favourites are their salted caramel and passionfruit – melt in your mouth!

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Festival Special: Cupcakes $5 each (which come in a cute Petal box)
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Pic’s Peanut Butter

Good news for all your peanut butter lovers out there because Pic’s Peanut Butter is debuting at Taste this year!

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Festival Special: 2 small jars $10, 1kg tub $15
(Retail prices: Small jar $6.50 each, 1kg tub $16, PB Slugs $5 for 6pk, Boysenberry Jelly $5)

Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Trade Aid

Trade Aid is a social enterprise helping talented people around the world improve their lives through fair trade. The company was founded in Christchurch in 1973, and today, Trade Aid is New Zealand’s largest fair trade coffee importer. They also produce fair trade chocolate, tea, nuts, seeds and baking products. I am a huge fan of their chocolate, which is available for tasting and purchase at Taste

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Festival Special: Chocolate, 3 blocks for $12
(Retail price: Chocolate $5 each)
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

Häagen-Dazs

This much-loved American ice cream brand launched in New Zealand last year and is already becoming popular among us Kiwis. Häagen-Dazs are selling small tubs of their ice cream at Taste, with flavours such as Belgian Chocolate, Dulce de Leche, Salted Caramel, Caramel Biscuit and Cream and Vanilla. 

Festival Special: Small tubs for $1 – such a steal!
Socials: Website / Instagram / Facebook

All the details…

Taste of Auckland
Dates Thursday 1 to Sunday 4 November 2018
Times Friday (12pm to 4pm & 5.30pm to 10pm) Saturday (12pm to 4pm & 5.30pm to 9.30pm) and Sunday (12pm to 5pm)
Venue Queens Wharf, 89 Quay Street, Auckland
Tickets Available on the day or via the Taste website – GA from $30, Premium $65 and VIP from $95. A new multi day pass with access to all six sessions is also available. By recycling crown currency cards and other fundraising measures, the festival aims to provide 4,000 lunches for kids in need via social enterprise Eat My Lunch.
Getting there Walk from work, Uber, take a bus or train, catch a ferry, or park in the nearby Downtown Parking Building or Britomart Car Park
Socials Website / Instagram / Facebook

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.

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