12 ridiculous food experiences at Visa WOAP
One of the best things about Visa WOAP is that you can slice it any way you want - there is something in the programme for all types of diners. If you prefer your food a little bit wild and adventurous, here are 12 of the most outrageous ways to tuck into this year's lineup (don't forget tickets for the festival events go on sale Mon 19 June):
1) Bite a buffalo
Ever looked at a buffalo and thought 'yep, I'd love to eat that'? Me either, but now you can! The Larder's owner and chef Jacob Brown is known for his super innovative food and use of unusual ingredients, so trust him to introduce us to the idea that buffalo is delicious. He's preparing it six ways for hungry punters this August.
2) Catch a flying sandwich
For the third year running, you can have your lunch and catch it too with the Cuban Air Raid. You buy your ticket, then are emailed the secret drop location on the day. Show up and look skyward for the most delicious dead drop - a Cubano sandwich full of ham, pork, mustard, cheese and pickles. I have personally scoffed three of these sammies and can proclaim them delicious.
3) Have a virtually delicious meal
The Thistle Inn was famously built in the same year that Te Tiriti o Waitangi was signed, and is a bit of a bastion of Wellington's pub scene. It's fitting that this marker of the past is thrusting diners into the future by combining VR technology with a damn good meal. Pop on your headset and explore the great lengths that some of our region's suppliers go to to nab the perfect product, then taste it for yourself at Virtual Dining.
4) Visit Melbourne and Shanghai
This year's programme features the Chef Collaboration series - there are seven of these partnerships between local eateries and guest chefs, with some super exciting international players visiting. Jenny Gao from Shanghai is teaming up with WBC for a Shanghaiese feast that promises to be spicy, and the very interesting Taranaki boy at large Ben Shewry is bringing a bit of his Melbourne restaurant Attica to Ortega Fish Shack.
5) Tuck into prison food
The idea of prison food may not be super appealing to you, but you need to check out Rimutaka Prison Gate to Plate. This amazing event sees prisoners receive culinary and hospitality training by mentor Martin Bosley, then serving an amazing course to lucky members of the public. You need to enter the ballot for a chance to attend the actual event, but this year there is a pop-up lunch shop in the CBD with fancy sammies and rolls designed and prepared by prisoners.
6) Eat 123 burgers
Burger Wellington is probably the part of Visa WOAP that generates the most hype and excitement among local Wellingtonians, and this year's lineup features a maaaaassive 123 burgers. Diners take this festival platform very seriously, so it's important to pull your weight and eat as many as possible so you can contribute to the discourse surrounding it.
7) Channel Bill English
Tinned spaghetti is surely a great marker of New Zealand dining, and its place in the panoply of haute Aotearoa cuisine was recently confirmed when Prime Minister Bill English topped a pizza with it straight from the can. If the Watties doesn't light your fire, head to Jano Bistro for their Dine Wellington menu, featuring a French-fine-dining makeover of this veritable icon of Kiwi kai.
8) Experience NZ's food culture
Speaking of New Zealand's food culture... remind me exactly what it is again? This year's festival theme challenges participating restaurants, food trucks and bars to explore 'food as part of New Zealand's culture', and they've taken this and run with it. Expect to tuck into plenty of lamb, kai moana, kūmara chips and hints of native ingredients such as horopito and kawakawa, plus throwbacks to childhood favourites.
9) Have a hāngī in the city
One of the coolest events celebrating Maori cuisine is the urban hāngī - participants can either get hands on for the full experience of digging, heating and preparing the hāngī pit, or just rock up in the evening for some kai from the earth. This'll be hangi as you've never had it before, thanks to the influence of Kai Time host Rewi Spraggon and some stellar local chefs.
10) Get toasted
Start your day right with a toasty treat at the crack of dawn. Toast is a pop-up (get it... pop-up?) every weekday morning during Visa WOAP from 7.30am, with different gourmet sweet and savoury toppings to choose from. Swing by the toast office before work and start your day right.
11) Train your truffle dog
If your dog isn't pulling its weight in the kitchen, it's time for that to change. Take your canine companion down to Frank Kitts Park and for just $2 you could begin your new career as a truffle purveyor. Find out about how to scope out the right trees for finding these rare and delicious fungi and how to train the ultimate sniffer, then get your dog busy finding the hidden truffle in the park.
12) Beat the beast
Muse Eatery & Bar is taking steak night to new heights this August with Beat the Beast - a three-course bovine extravaganza consisting entirely of steak. Three different cuts totalling 1kg will each be cooked using a different method, and served with different sides and condiments. It'd be a missed-steak not to get tickets for this event (I'm so sorry. You're all in for a world of pun).