Plan your Welly On a Plate weekends
Okay, so you know you need to visit Wellington this August for Visa WOAP, but you're not quite sure what exactly to do. There are three weekends during the festival, which means there are three chances for out of town visitors to pack a whoooole lot of eating into a festival getaway. Here's how I would plan my festival weekend if funding and fullness were no issue...
Friday 11 - Sunday 13 Aug
Friday: Head to Beervana. It is mandatory for any beer fan or excited rookie to attend this event. There are hundreds upon hundreds of beers to choose from, served up by brewers from around Aotearoa and further afield, plus food matches from local restaurants to help line your stomach, live music, silent discos and so much more.
If you've got room, have a Burger Wellington after your session. Burgers and beers are natural friends, like tomato sauce and mustard. I've got my eye on a few including Basque, Five Boroughs, Husk and The Arborist, but there are literally 123 burgers to choose from so you won't struggle to find a favourite.
For dessert, grab a sweet gelato "hotdog" from Carrello del Gelato's Food Carnevale. End your evening with a Cocktail Wellington nightcap - perhaps a coffee negroni from Scopa or Matterhorn's honey and malted barley Urban Hive?
Saturday: Spend your morning on the Miramar Foodie Trail, starting at Bohemein Fresh Chocolates and visiting the suburb's array of suppliers and producers and ending with the famous Peninsula Platter at Coco at the Roxy. While you're there, settle in to dine your way through Hunt for the Wilderpeople with housemade hāngī and a local beer to wash it down.
For dinner, enjoy Waterfront Brewing Beer-Gustation at Dockside. This event is an awesome opportunity to go behind the scenes with brewer Dan Lord of Lord Almighty and make your own beer while enjoying five beer-matched courses.
Sunday: Head over the hill to A Pig of a Day - meet Longbush's free range pigs, learn about the tasty world of cured meats and tuck into a three-course banquet afterwards. A must-do for any pork fan.
For dinner, try the Mexican equivalent of hāngī, AKA barbacoa. La Boca Loca are serving up meat, tortillas, salsa and delicious sides utilising the traditional Mexican technique that inspired modern-day American BBQ.
Friday 18 - Sunday 20 August
Friday: Is there any meal more Kiwi than the pie? Sixes & Sevens is a deli famous in Wellington for their donuts, but their pie offering sounds amazing too. They'll be popping up from 11.30am-1.30pm every weekday and 10am–1pm every weekend day during the festival, so you can fit in a pie before lunch.
For lunch, immerse yourself in a digital dining experience. Virtual Dining will see you whipped around the Wellington region visiting suppliers without ever leaving the building, before returning to the Thistle Inn to taste the fruit of their labour.
For dinner, go British or go home. Field & Green are renowned for their European soul food, and are taking it even further with a special dinner at the British High Commissioner's residence, Homewood. Be sure to dress up - this will be one very elegant and delicious evening.
Saturday: Start your day right at the Meadow Fresh NZ Barista Championship. This two-day battle of the baristas sees the nation's best duelling for the top spot, with specialty coffee aplenty.
For lunch, stroll down to the luxurious InterContinental Wellington for G and Tea, which matches delicious sweet treats to the botanicals in the Lobby Lounge's eight-hour slow-dripped gin.
Pop by Noble Rot for Match wine bar from 4pm. This is basically Wellington Wine Country's massive cellar door in the city, with flights of exciting varietals from around the region and innovative food matches.
For dinner, tour the region with a food truck with a difference. Beats, Brews, Buses and Views will take you on a tiki tour around Wellington for dinner at Woodroyd Estate, with food by Beat Kitchen and an exclusive beer from Baylands Brewery.
Sunday: Spend your day in Kāpiti with Caught, Cut & Cooked to taste your way around the stunning region's kai from the earth and sea with a feast served on the banks of the Waikanae river.
For dinner, enjoy a retrospective of one of Wellington's most adored restaurants, Phoenician Cuisine. Held at Five & Dime, which is owned by the son of the couple behind Phoenician, there'll be a smorgasbord of Lebanese fare celebrating 20 years of Yola's delicious fare.
Friday 25 - Sunday 27 August
Friday: Elevate your breakfast at Toast. This pop-up toast bar in the city sees one sweet and one savoury toast designed by different local chefs and suppliers every day, but this isn't your average Vegemite on Vogels - think gourmet, seasonal and amazing.
Get your mouth watering with some tiny non-edible meals. Rose Young creates unreasonably adorable miniature food sculptures, and the free Exhibition of Tiny Portions explores the last few decades of Wellington's food scene in teensy form.
For lunch, Attica at the Shack is going to be one of the most exciting events in the festival. Melbourne food icon Ben Shewry, who trained under Ortega's Mark Limacher, is bringing his unique culinary viewpoint to Wellington for a long lunch. I reckon tickets to this will sell very quickly, so don't miss out.
Explore classic NZ kai with Artisan Dining House's Pūhā to Pav, which will reinvent some old-school Kiwi dishes in Maclean Fraser's typically elegant and creative way.
Saturday: Siggy's Pies are some of the finest I've ever had, and for the fourth year in a row Sprig & Fern is matching five pies to five brews. This year's pies utilise some Eastern flavours, which will doubtlessly pair beautifully with some refreshing beers.
See and taste the amazing work of one of the best in the cocktail game with ODDiTEAS, hosted by legendary mixologist Ray Letoa. Ray's cocktails are consistently tasty, challenging, bold and innovative, so I can't wait to see what sumptuous and bizarre combinations he's come up with this time.
For dinner, enjoy one of the exclusive set menus as part of Dine Wellington. I've got my eye on Capitol's half baby crayfish dish, Mr Go's Filipino take on a traditional boil up and Pōneke's porchetta with skordalia and WBC's kung-pao veal. Swing by The Library for some literature-themed cocktails to end your evening.
Sunday: Discover the most exciting Chinese flavours around Wellington and unearth a few hidden gems with Chinese Taste Trail. Get your walking shoes on and explore a few new spots that will probably become your new favourites.
For dinner, go nose to nail with the blokes behind Auckland's Cult Project, who are collaborating with local seafood-focused Whitebait restaurant on five thoughtful and interesting courses.