Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Wellington Wine, Food and Craft Beer Festival

The third Wellington Wine, Food and Craft Beer Festival was held last weekend. This year, the festival moved venues and expanded to include a focus on locally produced craft beer. Waitangi Park is better suited for this festival than last year's Frank Kitts Park, offering a more space and a less cluttered layout. A calendar shift from autumn to summer also made for more pleasant weather. Inside, there were fewer food vendors but more space at each stand. More seating, sheltered tents, picnic blankets and bar areas made it more comfortable to come and go in between snacks and drinks.

We arrived for the Saturday evening session and joined the long queue for entry. Although everyone had already purchased tickets, it took a full 15 minutes of waiting until an organiser finally opened all four entry points to speed up the process, rather than insisting on everyone waiting to shuffle into just one lane. Apart from this slow start, this year's festival was far better organised and more streamlined than last year's event.

As Round the Bays was a mere twelve hours away, I chose Doris plum cider from Good George Brewing for my one and only drink. It was a great choice and I've found a new cider to enjoy.

So, onto the food. It was great to have each vendor's menus and prices printed on an A5 leaflet, meaning time spent in queues was for ordering and collecting food rather than deciding what to purchase.We started with Moroccan spiced calamari and a Rattle Ya Daggs lamb rump burger with beetroot chutney and feta and rocket pesto from The Crab Shack. Both were excellent and well worth the wait. The venison kofta pita with tabouleh and cucumber mint yoghurt from Foxglove was also very good, especially when topped with their house made barbeque sauce. Preventing tabouleh from escaping out of a pita pocket proved to be quite challenging; it's not a first date food. The bao burgers on soft steamed buns from Arborist Rooftop Bar were in hot demand. The chicken, chilli and garlic burgers had sold out by the time we ordered so we tried pulled pork, honey and ginger instead.

For dessert, we had a salted caramel rum cookie (gluten free, so it must be good for you) from Sweet Release Cakes and Treats, then finished with an incredibly decadent white chocolate buttercream doughnut muffin (vegan, so it must be even better for you). Who knew doughnut muffins were a) a thing and b) so good? Oh my!

A big huge MASSIVE thank you to Sweet Release for the tickets to this event. It's good to see the festival getting better each year. I'm looking forward to seeing how it evolves in 2017.

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