I have been blessed to have been able to attend a lot of foodie events this year, but Taste of Auckland definitely tops the list. This is not my first visit, and it gets better and better each time so you never feel like you’re re-living the previous years. My friend and I were lucky enough to have decided to have gone to the Friday session; it was probably the only day that didn’t rain. As it is an outdoor event, the grass can quickly become a muddy disaster zone under those conditions and gumboots become a necessity.
The instant you walk through the entrance of the festival, you’re immediately filled with excitement as you drink in the sights of the many gazebos of various exhibitors showing off their goods. We were torn by all the opportunities and even though it was extremely hard to settle down and choose where we wanted to go first, it was important that we made a game plan and stuck to a logical route that ensured we had a chance to try everything.
The main reason for choosing a Friday evening was for Adriano Zumbo’s live demonstration in the Electolux theatre. I always buy his macarons every time I’m in Australia. The theatre was full to the brim with avid fans and we watched with intense fascination as he whipped up a bespoke dessert WHICH MY FRIEND MANAGED TO GET HER HANDS ON amidst an entire crowd of eager vultures.
Let that sink in, we obtained a dessert not from one of his stores, but straight from the hands of the master himself.
I present to you the All Black Sheep- chocolate mousse with hokey pokey, liquid jaffa centre and orange jam.
We were practically crying with happiness as we cradled the holy grail with love and reverence. And yes, it was absolutely amazing.
Of course, when Adriano Zumbo is one of the judges for the Best in Taste, we naturally had to ensure we got our hands on the winning festival dish: Crispy Hapuka Dry Red Curry- with fresh herbs, toasted cashews, ginger, pickled chilli (GF) from Tok Tok.
It was incredibly pungent in flavour with a hearty kick from the lemongrass and chilli. The moist and succulent fish was enclosed in a layer of crispy batter and tossed in ample amounts of finger-licking good curry. To be fair, we were already eyeing up that dish before we knew it was the winner, as well as the Beef Brisket Steamed Bun with Sriracha mayo, pickled cucumber, coriander (also from Tok Tok).
The best thing about Taste of Auckland is how interactive the event is. There’s plenty of entertainment to keep you occupied such as Food TV’s cupcake decorating station. Unfortunately, I’m not very creative so I stuck to the classic swirl with sprinkles.
The quality of the exhibitors are no joke. All your favourite restaurants and cafes will be on offer, as well as artisan products offering copious tasters for you to try. Help yourself to some coffee, salads, meat, and desserts to compliment the dishes you eat. I didn’t take many photos, but below is probably 1/100th of the samples on offer. My favourites had to be Macarons, Little Bird Unbakery, and My Food Bag and believe me, we ate our weight in free samples until we were about to burst.
Taste of Auckland is over now but it was incredibly fun and my friend and I were practically skipping with joy throughout the whole session. The exhibitors are super friendly and passionate about their products so you can easily strike up and become absorbed in a conversation with them. The live music with plenty of bean bags and rest stations make the festival a breeze to sit back and relax in, and I am already feeling impatient for next year’s event to come again.