Wellington plates up for big food festival
30 Jun 2011
Wellington on a Plate
5 - 21 August, 2011
The 'coolest little capital in the world' is proving that it’s also New Zealand’s hottest in the kitchen as Wellington plates up for its biggest ever food festival.
In just two years, Wellington on a Plate has become New Zealand’s premier culinary festival - and this year will feature 80 events involving more than 100 local restaurants.
The 2011 festival programme promises a menu of popular favourites and a range of fresh ingredients - aimed at highlighting the best of the Wellington region’s food and beverages, and the people behind the successful industry.
From the inaugural Wellington on a Plate in 2009, when 42 restaurants were involved and just 12 events were held, the festival has blossomed to become a major endorsement of the city’s 'culinary capital' reputation.
Central to the festival is DINE Wellington where 103 top eateries offer set lunch menus and special dinner deals with a focus on local food and wine matches.
Iconic restaurants like Logan Brown and Martin Bosley’s will feature special menus for the 17-day festival, as well as opening their kitchens for behind-the-scenes tours.
Other well-known establishments such as The Matterhorn, The Tasting Room, The White House, Dockside on Queens Wharf, Hippopotamus at the Museum Art Hotel, La Bella Italia in Petone, Maria Pia’s Trattoria and Simon Gault’s Pravda on Customhouse Quay will offer extraordinary dining deals during the festival.
Other festival highlights include the ‘Chocolate Lovers Degustation’ - a five-course Schoc chocolate tasting experience matched with Borthwick wines from Wairarapa.
Cupcakes and cocktails mix in a special offer at Martha’s Pantry and Liquid Winks - where people can learn the art of mixing cocktails at home, and how to bake and decorate cupcakes.
Well known New Zealand chef Ruth Pretty, whose catering business is based in the Kapiti region, is involved in three festival events including an afternoon tea safari to Wellington Zoo’s kitchen to discover the diverse dietary preferences of the animals.
Pretty will also judge ‘Wellington Bake Club 2011’ - where locals can compete in a bake-off that offers prizes up to NZ$4000.
Fashionable high tea
Glamour will be on the menu at the Museum Art Hotel when local designer Alexandra Owen stages a fashion show for those enjoying high tea in the stylish and recently revamped restaurant.
Blind Dining at Capitol Restaurant promises to be another unique experience as diners will be blindfolded while they enjoy a three-course meal with matched wines - designed to heighten taste, touch and smell and test culinary perception.
Culinary DIY enthusiasts can choose from hands-on pastry-making at Floriditas, the popular Cuba Street eatery or try making fresh pasta at WelTec.
There’s also a chance to learn kitchen secrets from top chefs in the inaugural Wellington Fisher & Paykel MasterClass which will feature local celebrity chefs including Desmond Harris (Logan Brown Restaurant and Martinborough Hotel), Alexa Johnston (author of What’s for pudding?) , Al Brown, Martin Bosley, and international guests - flamboyant Asian Chef Wan and Justin North (of Sydney restaurants Becasse and Etch).
Wellington's favourite food purveyors Moore Wilson Fresh will show off a food-themed ice sculpture that will take about three days to complete.
The popular store will also run workshops in olive oil and cheese making as well as a ‘Food Heroes’ day where the public can meet, sample and buy from leading Wellington food producers.
This year’s ‘Burger Wellington’ competition has attracted 50 entries, and the title will be hotly contended by last year’s winner - Lembas Café of Kapiti, creators of the ‘Lembastic’.
Five Kapiti Coast eateries are involved in the festival and there will be seven events in the area. A festival steam train will take passengers from Wellington to the Otaki Milk Station for a relaxed five-course lunch, and local tourist attraction Southwards Car Museum will stage a 1920s murder mystery evening.
The festival also offers the chance to sample indigenous foods like rewena bread with Cheeky Pipi chef Thomas Te Awa at two nights of ‘Kai Hakari’ feasting, featuring local beer, wine and Māori entertainers.
And chefs at Zealandia's Rata Cafe, in the inner city wildlife sanctuary, will lead people on a torchlight walk to discover traditional Māori ingredients in Tane’s Forest, then use their findings to cook up a three-course dinner.
Malaysia Kitchen’s night market in Opera House Lane will feature stalls offering tasty authentic Malaysian dishes.
Organisers say that now Wellington on a Plate is established as a must-do event on the city’s calendar, there’s been a chance to focus the ‘think local’ message.
Festival co-director Anna Nielson says the 2011 DINE Wellington menus read like a guide to what’s cooking in the region. "Think Parkvale Mushrooms, Zany Zeus, Kapiti and Kingsmeade cheese, Lavender’s Green - it’s a very tasty local line-up."
Wellington on a Plate is organised by the regional tourism organisation Positively Wellington Tourism and regional economic development agency Grow Wellington.
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