There are many flavours to this culinary beast, so Chris Tse, the official WOAP blogger and I sat down to chew the fat over a Dine Wellington menu (figuratively of course, 'cause there's no fat in special menus right?), to compare what’s caught our eye and combine tips.
We firstly chatted about what WOAP means to us, and it boiled down to this - the opportunity to be adventurous and try something new, while breaking bread with colleagues, family and friends. A good mission (excuse?) we thought.
The next mission was to carve the beast into manageable bites, so here we go:
Eateries across the region create set menus with a matching beverage, to showcase the capital’s culinary flavours and creativity. This year they are inspired by the theme ‘an element of surprise’, on which they will be judged for the coveted Festival Dish Award (previous winners include Muse Eatery & Bar and Logan Brown).
The Festival Dishes (mains) are available on their own during lunch (yay, no more scarfing two or three courses in an hour!) or with a multi-course dinner. If you’re lucky enough to have a long lunch, you can add dessert for $10 and go the whole hog (er, churro?).
Make bookings to get the dates/times you desire and don’t forget to share your images using #WellyOnaPlate.
These are one-off or limited-time events to showcase our culinary cleverness, or provoke thought. Most are ticketed, although there are a handful with free entry, like the Argentine Street Food Fiesta and the Salt Bar. There's two biggies on the first weekend to get us in the groove - Beervana and the New Zealand Chocolate Festival, and still plenty of others with tickets left. Here's a wee sample (talk about spoilt for choice!):
This is year two of Wellington’s mixologists ‘mesmerising us with creative cocktails and matching tapas’ - also with an 'element of surprise'. They must provide a cocktail too, which could be the same flavours or something a little different.
There will be signs around the venues telling you how many standard drinks are in their creations so you can make good choices.
For each drink you consume, zap over to CocktailWelly.com and score the creation out of 10 to help choose the winner. By scoring, you also go into a draw to win a Cocktail Wellington night out for you and five friends (need my number?).
Don’t forget to share your images using #CocktailWelly and drink safely.
Here's a wee reminder from last year to whet your whistle:
Eateries can also create a burger to ‘challenge our perception of what’s best between two buns’. Most also choose to match their burger to a Garage Project specialty beer. The new festival beers this year are an organic Kiwi pilsner (Hakituri), a balsamic and pomegranate saison (Persephone) and a sour cherry and cola nut dunkel (Lola).
For each burger or burger/beer match you enjoy, skip over to BurgerWelly.com and score it out of 10 to help pick the finalists. By scoring, you could also become a guest judge at the final cook-off (how cool is that?), and enjoy a burger experience courtesy of WOAP.
Food trucks are also entered in BurgerWelly this year and will move around the region so we all get to try them out (fun!).
And don’t forget to share your images using #BurgerWelly, and again, try to make bookings where possible.
A recap of the 2015 finalists to prime the palate:
Inside word from Chris – the Basque cauliflower burger is surprising, the Logan Brown duck burger delicious, and the Salty Pidgin fish burger is worth checking out.
More craft beer in the Dine dishes – Panhead blacktop oat stout cheesecake (Backbencher), Garage Project Aro Noir stout gravy poutine (Bethel Woods), Tuatara Dubbel-braised beef short rib (Little Beer Quarter), among others.
And some definite ‘elements of surprise’ – crispy pigs ears with black garlic followed by pig’s blood mousse with sweet pickled walnuts for dessert (Wellesley); pork belly and octopus together (Zibibbo); pork shoulder with apple crumble, blue cheese gelato and sage custard (Glasshouse Restaurant); and hokey pokey-cased Kapiti vanilla bean ice cream pie (Woodshed Beer and Smokehouse). Salivating yet?
A few more pics from last year to get you in the groove:
Burger Liquor's tipsy lamb
Cafe Polo's night market
Foxglove's choux burger
Little Beer Quarter's let's-do-brunch waffle burger
Learning about brewing with Hardie Boys
Maranui's vegan dessert
Portlander's licorice cheesecake
Ramen Shop's noodle burger
And finally, our insider tips for getting the best out of the festival:
Pick your own ‘theme’ for the year to help whittle down the options – Suburban? Most outrageous? Classic? Favourite eateries? New ones?
Spread your eats and drinks across the whole 12-28 August period to avoid WOAP fatigue (or just take leave for two weeks and have at it).
Decide the events first as they have specific dates, and build your schedule around them (there's no shame in being a spreadsheet nerd).
If you’re organising tickets for a group, nominate one person to book and pay so you’re automatically seated together, and reimburse among yourselves (max 10 tickets per booking).