currently: listening to 80s music.
Taste of Auckland is a curious festival in general. I debated for the if I wanted to go and who I could go with, because Taste of Auckland is not a cheap place to visit. It requires a $25 entry fee (or $30 if you pay at the gate, and then requires more money on top of that if you want to buy an actual meal/serving/drink instead of living off lots of tiny taste testers. Most people who have gone before say it's not worth it most of the time, and then my close friends (majority students) can't really afford events like that.
But this year, I received a free pass to the event from some magazine, and pretty much decided at 5.15pm yesterday that I was going to go - even if it was for half an hour. I ended up staying till closing time.
I stupidly didn't take any pictures at the event except for 2 (if I consider myself a blogger, I should know better than this). But let me paint the picture... a beautiful, sunny Friday afternoon - it's not too warm but there's no cold Auckland breeze. Victoria Park has been divided by this great white fence, which encloses the greatest smells of food (mainly bacon) within it's gates. As you walk in past the entrance, all you see are white tent stalls, wine glasses, and happy eaters about.
It kinda feels like being at a classy farmers market with all these gourmet-like foods and drinks about.
When you first get in there, it's actually a bit overwhelming deciding where to start first. To one side of you there's pizza, to another side there's a whisky shop, in front of you is a liqueur stall... So you end up wandering aimlessly, just trying to see where you can find all the tasters (you won't find free tasters at the whisky shop though.)
I went to go find my friend Heath, who was working at one of the stalls with Hallertau - an Auckland craft brewery north-west of the city. Heath, who was lovely enough to offer me some quality Hallertau apple cider, ended up walking with me for a bit around the venue - mainly stopping at all the cider/beer stalls. And there are a lot of cider/beer stalls.
If you're like me and just enjoy trying loads of things and judging food on how it makes you feel, you'll like Taste of Auckland because there's opportunities to try lots of stuff. If you're like Heath, who's like a beer/cider craft expert that understands stuff like IBU, hops, smokiness and etc, you'll probably enjoy analysing Taste of Auckland. We tried all the sample flavours at different stalls - from common cider brands like Old Mout, to not-so-common breweries like Matson's or Crabbies.
Alcohol samples were plentiful and drinking many little glasses of various ciders does build up quickly. So following the ongoing scent of bacon, we searched out for meat. At Taste though, the range of hot food tasters were not as varied as the alcohol. Hellers and Silver Farm became the go-to for cuts of venison and bacon. And after visiting about 10 different alcohol booths, it's a welcomed bit of nibbles.
I parted with Heath just as my boyfriend finished work to arrive at Taste- which was great timing because it gave me an excuse to make a second round at all the stalls I visited before. Curious for the Whisky booth, we eventually put out $20 to get 20 crowns so we could purchase some treats. It came on a handy debit-like paywave card, so crowns could be deducted quickly. Most meals cost 8-12 crowns. Our first 4 were used on Darryl's whisky tasters.
It's not just food tasters at Taste, but there are demonstrations, kitchen appliance showcases, food sales, car giveaways (which led Darryl to sign up for two mailing lists) and even a booth for a travel company. It's fair to say that didn't really draw the crowds.
Because it was the fifth anniversary of the festival, Darryl and I got ourselves some cake (10 crowns), which I think was the closest I've ever been to a degustation meal. Tiny square strawberry cakes, strawberry fruit leather, creams and sherbert on this taster platter. Not at all filling I will admit, but it still was tasty.
And as we got to the last half hour of Taste, we struggled to find a savory plate worth 6 crowns (there is no crown refunds). We eventually settling on a scoop of Kapiti Ice Cream and two mini peach cupcakes from Petal, just as it closed on 9.30pm.
While Taste of Auckland isn't some food extravaganza, it is definitely worth visiting once if you're in Auckland. You won't be finding wild foods, but you'll probably discover brands and products you would have never considered before.
But to summarise Taste of Auckland in one sentence - the taste of Auckland is lots of alcohol, but the smell of bacon.