Day 4: What I'm Eating and Drinking
How was your opening weekend of VWOAP? I already feel like I've eaten enough for the entire festival, and that's OK by me. Here's a brief recap of what I've enjoyed so far and what you should keep an eye out for.
What I've been eating and drinking
- My first official VWOAP meal on Friday was lunch at Kanteen, and oh boy what a first meal it was. Their festival dish of Pani Puri was divine: light, crispy wheat balls filled with potatoes, chickpeas and smoked yoghurt, served with a small jug of tamarind water to pour into each ball as you ate them. And then there was the burger: incredibly tender and juicy slabs of pork belly nestled in a soft pumpkin brioche bun with refreshing watercress and pickled apple slaw. It set a very high bar against which all subsequent burgers must be judged for the next two weeks! My dining companion was also thoroughly impressed: "Now this is why I started eating pork again."
- Oh, Hāpi Daze! The popular Garage Project brew is the inspiration for Bebemos' Hāpi Meal burger, which taps right into childhood nostalgia. As its name suggests, it all comes packaged in a box with fries, chicken nuggets and a toy. The burger – smashed BBQ pork patty, smoked bacon, Hāpi Daze-brined pickles and housemade American cheese – is juicy, well constructed and has a hint of spice to keep things interesting. When you've wolfed all that down you can have dessert – an ice cream cone with pineapple sauce.
Bebemos Burger Wellington
- The Cumulus Inc Takeover of Egmont Street Eatery was everything I'd hoped for and an excellent example of the spirit of collaboration and innovation that VWOAP encourages. We were dazzled by 11 dishes that covered nine years of Cumulus Inc's history, from past favourites to current menu staples. My favorites were the tuna tartare with crushed peas and velvety goat curd, the slow-roasted lamb shoulder, and the apple confit, which was like eating a slab of thickened apple sauce. Andrew McConnell and his team of visiting chefs looked right at home at Egmont Street Eatery, who as ever were excellent hosts. Andrew confessed that this was his first trip to New Zealand ever. Let's hope he doesn't leave it too long until his next.
- And finally, three cheers for Beervana! It was another fantastic event filled with curious and surprising beers. Some of the ones that hit the spot for me were Tiamana's super sour Meister, Duncan Brewing's Super Drape IPA, and New New New's Poppy.
What I've heard is a good time
I've been keeping an eye on social media (#WellyOnaPlate, #BurgerWelly, #VisaWOAP, #CocktailWelly) to see what has been gaining buzz and I've got to say – y'all sure are a hungry bunch!
- Instagrammer Titty Eats has already smashed 15 burgers as of Monday morning (he's aiming for 40) and his highest-rated so far are Beat Kitchen's Buckwheat Bulgogi Burger and Five & Dime's vegetarian Impossible Burger. Husk's crowd sourced Apocalyspe Now burger is also an early favourite.
- As for cocktails, Dragonfly's confectionary-inspired Tips and Lumps is getting rave reviews after just one weekend not just for its taste but also its presentation.
- It sounds like Logan Brown's Bank Vault Speakeasy was an excellently jazzy way to spend Sunday's wet afternoon with plenty of live music and delicious prohibition era-inspired eats and drinks. It's on every weekend during the festival, so dust off your flapper dress or your pair of Oxford bags and grab a ticket while you still can.
- One of my workmates has reported back from G and Tea at The Lobby Lounge in the InterContinental, saying that she and her friend had a lovely time enjoying gin punch, tea and coffee, and a very generous selection of savoury and sweet treats. This event is on every day during the festival – perfect if you need to escape the world for a couple of hours.
What's coming up
- The Toast Pop Up is here! Pop down to Midland Park every weekday morning from 7.30am during VWOAP for a slice or two of scrumptious gourmet toast to start your day right. There were some speed wobbles on day one (read: didn't open today), but day 2 with Best Ugly looks to be a tasty one. Check out my previous blog post for more details on Toast and other pop ups happening during VWOAP.
- I'm looking forward to working up a sweat at The Number of the Feast dinner at Shepherd this weekend, which promises to take heatseeking diners into the wicked realms of fire and spice. There are still tickets available for a handful of sittings, so get in on this if you're feeling hot, hot, hot.
- The Wellington Free Ambulance Fundraiser dinner is shaping up to be a great night out with a menu that celebrates the historic art deco building that houses St Johns Bar and Restaurant. Each of the five dishes will pay homage to an aspect of its history, from Wellington Free Ambulance founding chairman and former Wellington mayor Charles Norwood to General Motors, who gifted a fully equipped ambulance to the service in 1938. You'll also be doing your part to keep the service running by attending this event – $40 from each ticket goes straight to Wellington Free Ambulance.
- Remember: don't forget to rate your burgers, dishes and cocktails right here on the VWOAP website. Your scores help to determine the finalists who will compete for ultimate bragging rights at the Visa VWOAP! Festival Awards Evening. In fact, why don't you join me at the Awards? It'll be a night of nibbling on "odes to the finalists" dishes, sipping away on Garage Project bevvies or Wellington Wine Country Drops whilst hearing from all the finalists - and witnessing who takes top honors. Tickets only $75.