Thank goodness the stars were aligned in our favour to move us back to Auckland, arriving just as spring loosens its grip on the country and all that is magnificent about this great city comes to life. To be honest, Auckland can be a bit wet and cold in the winter even though Aucklanders will vehemently deny this. The spring, summer and autumn however are blissful. Warm days, cooler nights and an abundance of fabulous events that make the most of the city. Taste of Auckland being one of my new favourites.
I was fortunate to be invited to the Taste of Auckland, Fisher and Paykel, Food Meets Design, opening event in the Social Kitchen Theatre last weekend to hobnob with designers and partake in canapés and cocktails. What better way to spend a Friday afternoon? Gone are the days of stark white kitchens as The Social Kitchen Theatre proved. The space was a mix of earthy wooden tones and lush green walls of herbs with slick black minimalist furniture. The perfect backdrop for Michael Meredith’s, of Meredith’s Restaurant in Mt Eden, expertly crafted, summer-inspired canapés. As a newby to Auckland, Michael Meredith’s name had been dropped as someone revolutionising the Auckland food scene. I was not disappointed!
The standouts were the Oyster Ice Cream and the Chicken and Marmite. The ice cream had the cool, velvety smooth texture of an oyster yet my palate was challenged by the richness of the cream and the undeniably salty taste of the sea. It was refreshing yet intense so the serving in a small oyster shell was the perfect amount to cleanse the palate. The Chicken and Marmite was the opposite. It was sweet, salty, crunchy and oily. It felt like eating pork crackling layered over triple goose fat cooked fries. Clearly this was not something for the cholesterol minded. In a dainty portion, however, it was a delectable morsel of flavour. The sweet marmite was a subtle aftertaste, which cut through the salty oiliness of the chicken skin. After this resume of food, I will be visiting his restaurant soon.
The Food Meets Design event had set my expectations high as I ventured out to explore the rest of what Taste had to offer. I was eager to visit Little Bird’s Unbakery and was blown away by the Raw Cacao and Raspberry Torte. The bite of cacao and tartness of raspberry balanced the rich and creamy texture without being overly sweet. It was divine. Another favourite was Miss Moonshine’s good, ol’ smokey beef short rib. The smell of which drew me over from afar. The meat was tender and full of smokey goodness. Their big smoker, parked next to their stall, was a welcome furnace to warm up by as night fell and temperatures dropped. As well as restaurant stands many food producers had come to hawk their wares. The most interesting of which was Down at the Farm’s natural manuka smoked salts. The salts are smoked with various NZ wild-picked herbs, lemon, garlic and chilli creating a much deeper, fuller flavour to the salt. I took home the Manuka Smoked Garlic Horopito Kawakawa Salt to try with flakey white fish, flat iron steaks or fresh tomato and buffalo mozzarella. Will keep you posted.
All in all, Taste of Auckland was a wonderful way to reintroduce myself to Auckland cuisine and see who is moving and shaking their good stuff for the crowds. Put it on your next year’s list of ‘to do’s’. I will.
Enjoy, savour and devour!