Taste of Auckland 2019
Here we are once again and this is my 4th time attending this amazing foodie event, we had been here in 2015, 2016, 2017, we missed last year and now. During the past visits it was in Western Springs this time around it’s in a much more compact location, in The Cloud. Western Springs was a good venue, but it was huge, so when it was there you will do a lot of walking to get from one place to another, this time around, every stall is within arm’s reach plus you got an amazing view of the Harbour.
Like mentioned the venue was smaller but there are still at least 40 pop-up restaurants & bars, an artisan market full of local producers across New Zealand plus some live music and to top it all up a special appearance by Godfather of modern cooking himself, the British culinary legend Marco Pierre White.
Like the past the event started on a Thursday and finishes off on a Sunday, we usually visit on the first day but was quite tied during those days so this time we visited on its last day. Also, during the past events we did ordered food on the pop-up restaurants but this time although we wanted to, we can’t because of the number of freebies that came out on that day. Almost all stalls were very generous on their freebies you will get out of the event quite full, like having a degustation buffet. This year for me was better as well as my daughter is now 19 so she can enjoy the liquor, beer and wine tasting with me 🙂
So, what made us full? Well here you go. We started with Hotel Grand Windsor we indulged in Auckland’s leading High Tea experience. Where we sampled everything in their High Tea menu twice, going in and then going out of the premises. We tried different savouries like the cured salmon, arancini; sandwiches like chicken walnut celery, ham and cheese dijonnaise, egg mayo parsley; warm sweets like buttermilk scones, clotted cream with strawberry and rose preserve; then the sweet treats like citrus sour cream cup cake, geranium truffle pops, black forest verrine, lemon curd tartlet meringue and elderflower custard profiteroles. That is a $49.00 value for free, how can you top that. They were also generous in giving things, so it was a nice way to start our visit.
After that we went to try some Blush gin which totally redefined how I look at gin. I hated this before but after trying blush, it was a totally different experience. Here we tried the Blush Rhubarb Gin and Blush Boysenberry Gin in slushy form as well, on its own as well as mixed with Thai Ginger Ale tonic and Royal Botanic Tonic. This is one of the refreshing gins you will ever try. Just at this stall me and my daughter already had 4 shots of gin, happy days.
We then tried Forty Thieves nut butters like the Hazelnut crunch, Salted Macadamia with Maple and Vanilla, Almond butter, Cashew Butter and Peanut butter. It was just a really good product, I specially loved the Salted Macadamia with Maple and Vanilla. No bread I think was offered so you can taste the nut butters on its pure form. We moved on to Uncle Dunkles chilli sauces where there are five flavours you can try, served with some chips.
Next stop was Azzuro Groves where they showcased balsamic vinegars, there were bread to dip on their vinegars but what’s more interesting is the strawberry meringue and custard drizzled with this amazing concoction. At first, I was thinking would this combination work? Vinegar on a dessert, but it was an eye-opening experience, it sorts of opened a new complex flavour on a dessert. I quite did not get what type of vinegar was added but I guess it would be the Balsamic Fragola with strawberry.
Up next was Good Chow NZ which specializes in dried seafood, Asian sauces, dried meat and other premium condiments. We were given some crackers topped with Dried NZ Black Foot Paua mixture and as an Asian this was one of the best food I tried this year, very tasty, filled with umami and the depth of flavour was amazing, there is a lot going on in that bite we had.
We then moved on to La Petit Chocolat where we tried some of their chocolate bars then on to the Tea Curator where we tried four different teas to wash down what we already had at this point. Straight after that we tried this amazing biltong from Illy Bites, we tried the normal ones and the chilli ones and both were amazing, its dried but it’s not tough and it was still juicy. It was one of the best biltongs I ever tried, and I think a lot will agree since it was sold out in the first hour of that day.
Then another chocolate tasting this time with Green and Black, another generous booth where they let us try everything and in large blocks. Mint, Orange Almond, Salted Caramel and 70% Cocoa. They were all dark chocolate, but you won’t feel like it’s a dark chocolate, it was creamy and smooth. We also got to try their nutty chocolates which I even liked more, it’s more like a snacking chocolate, very dangerous 🙂 as it was light and easy to eat, very nice.
Beside them was this Lone Bee which specializes in Sparkling Honey Mead, it was a sophisticated type of mead, very nice, refreshing and surprisingly delicious. Two thumbs up for this unique drink. Then on to another unique food, something I haven’t tried before, bugs. Yes, we are not in Thailand we are in New Zealand trying them from Eat Crawlers where they specialize in edible bugs, like tarantulas, ants, scorpions, locust, grasshoppers and crickets. We did have a chance to try Peri Peri crickets, at first, I was grossed out, I guess anyone would but after having that one small bite, it tasted normal, like a toasted small shrimp, was cool to have them here, truly a unique experience.
On to the next stall which was Dr Oetker where they serve Ristorante Royale Pizza where we got to try Ristorante Pizza Hawaii. Yes, it is a frozen boxed pizza but trust me it tasted better than some fast food pizzas. Nice crispy crust with a generous topping, this is frozen pizza done right. I think we had an equivalent of two full slices here. After pizza we had some coffee from Bethells Beanz where we got the attention because of this barista creation and yes it was a free coffee and it’s a nice one not just the looks but the taste as well. These guys are based on Bethells and they roast their coffee in small batches and frequently, that means as a customer you will have freshly roasted coffee every time.
Then we saw this queue on the taco stall, by Lucky Taco where they sell anything under the Taco world, taco kits, sauces, salt, marinated meats and everything you need to make a taco. We tried their chicken and beef tacos served with salsa verde and salsa roja. Freshly cooked as you order (for free) and it was tasty, has a nice kick to it!
Next up was this Greenlea butcher stall where we tried some grilled lamb served with bean sprouts and marinated enoki mushrooms, their stall is one of the most sought after one and like Lucky Taco is was freshly cooked. And to top all things up we had this Little Beauties dried fruits and we got to try their Boysenberries and Golden Kiwi Fruit, it was a really nice way to cleanse the palate after that grilled lamb. We loved that dried kiwi fruit, it packs a lot of flavour.
After that we passed by this Avo Tree stall, at this stage we were quite full, but I won’t let this avocado shop pass by. They serve three different types of avocado on toast, the dukkha and chilli oil, sauerkraut and I forgot what’s the other one. I loved the dukkha and chilli oil and went for seconds on this one.
We did manage to try some liquor and a lot of different dried meats from different stalls. Like I said there are more restaurants outside which we like to try but at this stage there was no more room, so honestly an entrance is enough.
It was a good day, sun was out, food was good, it was another success for Taste of Auckland. It was just last week, now I can’t wait for Taste of Auckland 2020.
More pictures of the event