Top 10 VWOAP 2019 Highlights you absolutely need to know about
Ah, Wellington. Cast your mind back to August 11 years ago... The city could be described as dead. DEAD. Restaurants closed for the winter, the odd tumbleweed was flung down Taranaki St at 140km hour gusting winds and everyone left for Fiji.
Now in August, the sun is shining, the birds are singing and everyone’s flying here! (Well, that last one is true.) You hardy souls have embraced August with gusto and now it’s the busiest time in Wellington’s culinary calendar, thanks to the Festival that is Visa Wellington On a Plate.
So to kick things off for 2019, here’s a Top Ten round up of Festival goodness to get your taste-buds buzzing:
1. Feast your Senses
This year’s theme Feast for the Senses has spun restaurants into creative overdrive bringing you all sorts of challenging, interesting and delicious treats with events like Polynation at Highwater, Common Sense at The Larder, Bandersnack by Hillside and Shed 5’s The Wonderwall. Who knows what might happen as you experience touch, taste, sound, sight and smell in often unexpected ways.
2. International chefs come to Welly - cheaper than a plane ticket to L.A.!
It’s a star-studded line up for this year’s Chef Collaboration Series presented by Singapore Airlines with over TWENTY international and local chefs joining forces for once-in-a-lifetime culinary collaborations. They’re not going to Auckland (soz, AK), nor Melbourne or even Sydney! Just Wellington, right here, just for you. In the line-up we see the return of heavy-hitters from our own fair shores, such as Dave Verheul of ex-Matterhorn fame, now Lesa, in Melbourne, and collaborating with Floriditas for Back in the Neighbourhood, as well as Kim Wejendorp, head of the Amass Research Kitchen in Copenhagen, collab'ing with The Larder at the Visa Festival Hub for Amass Mergers with Miramar. Our hotels are playing host to many of the chefs with events at both Hippopotamus with Bob Pieichniczek also of Melbourne, and Cheong Liew of Adelaide at Chameleon. Tickets aren't likely to stick around for long, so be in very quick.
3. For the artsy types
Who said culinary festivals were just about the food? With events like the NZIFF’s showing of The Biggest Little Farm, and GP’s exhibition Garage Project: The Art of Beer you can have your arty cake and eat it too!
4. A literal food basket
Wellington regional produce is good. So good that our restaurants need look no further than the local government boundary lines to source all they need to surprise and delight diners of all dietary leanings. You’ll see many of these ingredients in this year’s Festival Dish line up, including popular Shoots NZ microgreens, Carrello del Gelato and Mushroom House mushrooms. We even featured some of these products in this year’s photo shoot for the Festival.
5. The fresh air will do you good
Don your walking shoes, throw on your coat and head out on the Chinese Secret Taste Trail. Or maybe the Kāpiti Artisan Walking Trail. Or how about a trip over the hill to the Orui Station Coastal Walk? Work off that lunch or walk up an appetite.
6. Is it 5 o'clock yet?
Hot off the back of our recent festival Highball, Wellington bars continue to show just why cocktails reign supreme in this fine city with creative and some damn delicious showings from the likes of eateries and bars, such as Burger Liquor with their Hard Lemonade Snow Cone, Waimea’s Popping to Grandma’s and Spring Kitchen’s Island Bay Sour. All cocktails are served with matching tapas, and there are also just-as-delicious non-alcoholic options brought to you by Seedlip.
7. Not just for grannies (and grannies-at-heart)
Like all pastimes, crochet has its moments of being a craft du jour, and Melbourne artist, Chili Philly, is proving that we’re on trend! No Way Crochet! is this year’s Festival exhibition, free for the whole family at Te Auaha on Dixon St. Pop along to see his colourful creations, and maybe even try on your own burger hat for size.
8. For the thinkers
9. And of course … the Burgers
We thought we'd reached peak burger in 2018 but turns out we were wrong! Garage Project presents Burger Wellington nirvana at this year’s Festival with over 230 burgers on offer (so many we couldn’t fit them into this year’s programme guide - check them out in this handy, downloadable PDF) including all of last year’s Burger Wellington finalists and ultimate winner, Wilson BBQ. For two weeks from 17-31 August, you can munch your way through vegan burgers, vegetarian burgers, seafood burgers, burgers with curly fries, sweet burgers... hungry yet?! Along with Festival favourites, Garage Project has released three new and exclusive beers for just for Visa Wellington On a Plate: Kuro, Golden Path and Weird Flex. And like all good culinary festivals, we encourage responsible burger consumption at all times!
10. Share the love
With so much on, Visa Welly On a Plate really has something for everyone. But the Festival wouldn’t be possible without the enthusiasm and dedication of our hard-working hospo scene. From restaurant owners to chefs, front of house teams, right through to dishwashers bringing you this year’s festival delights, it is a true team – nay, regional – effort. So, whether you’re a Festival veteran, or just dipping your toes in, please be respectful of the energy, time and care that goes into bringing you Visa Welly On a Plate this August. We'll love you for it.