Auckland Food Show 2015

The Auckland Food Show is a staple on my calendar, and is a truly fantastic way to discover new food and beverages on the scene. I typically join the throngs on the weekends, but this year, I decided to come on ‘Preview Day’. Preview Day falls on the Thursday, and costs more to attend ($40 vs $26), but for that, you get almost the whole place to yourself and up to four thousand other eager pundits.

One of the first things I noticed was the sheer number of exhibitors (there are around 300!). I am convinced The Auckland Food Show gets larger every year. This year, the theme appears to be gluten-free, paleo, dairy-free and whole foods. Whole foods definitely, though the rest has me somewhat bewildered. I’m on the taste bandwagon. If it taste great, I’m sold.

I was so pleased to see farmers markets represented, Howick Village Market (Saturdays 8am – 12:30pm) and Matakana Village Farmers Market (Saturdays 8am – 1pm). Howick Village Market stallholders were out in force. Coromandel and Franklin district tourism featured their region’s best.

The main drawcard for me this year were the three new faces on the iced treats front. Dr Feelgood handcrafts delicious dairy ice blocks from organic milk, with flavours such as salted caramel and apple, and raspberry, lime and coconut. Yum! I love their retro typography and packaging. Lalele Organics serve up the most beautifully vibrant organic gelato, sorbet, popolatos and cocolato (ice blocks). Check out their kiwifruit poplolatos. Stunning! They now have the tiniest store in Queens Street. Little Island ice-creams are based on coconut cream, and some great flavour combinations such as chocolate raspberry swirl and toasted coconut caramel.

I loved the pop-up eateries, including two vendors from the very cool Street Food Collective in Ponsonby. Debra and Jamie from Judge Bao (named after impeccable ancient Chinese judge, Bao Zheng) focus on hand-rolled baos. The texture of the bao was fab-ulous, just the right amount of chewiness and softness, served with Chinkiang vinegar braised pork. Delicious. The Pie Piper had a stunning display of old-fashioned American pies and treats.

Kumara must the vegetable of the show, – there was a display by Kaipara Kumara (also running a rivalry with beetroot for NZ’s favourite vegetable). Kumara, of course! And several vendors serving up kumara chips and kumara flavoured products (Blue Frog’s kumara muesli is seriously tasty!).

I wandered into Bluebells Cakery‘s Karla Goodwin demonstrating her recipes and best of all, how she ices her cakes. She is amazingly deft with a palate knife (could probably show professional plasterers a thing or two!) and makes it all look so easy. A few tips, – 1. Bake your cake the day before you ice it. Brush the base with syrup to keep it moist, then wrap in plastic and store in fridge until ready to ice. 2. Use a turntable. 3. Chill your cake in the fridge for 30 minutes between the crumb and final coat.
There are so many small batch producers of jams, chutneys, baked goods and beverages. It was great to see these F&B entrepreneurs talking to customers about their passion. Glenn from Elliot’s serves up his tasty kiwifruit juice blends with such humour and passion for digestive health. I was glad to see Rebekah from Hakanoa Hand-made and grabbed a bottle of her delicious ginger syrup, and also tried her new chai selections.

One of my favourite tastings has to be Fresh As, – their freeze-dried fruit segments and powders are one of the best ingredients to hit home baking. Their taste samples of vanilla cheesecake with berry jelly and fruit crumble and freeze-dried fruit pieces are unmissable.

There are so many discounted products and even free products (free parsnips and beetroot); bring a large carry bag (I brought a backpack) and cash for easy transactions. There is so much to see and experience, (including cooking demos in the Whirlpool Cooking Theatre and Kenwood Kitchen), new products to taste and buy, and kitchen gadgets and books to drool over.

The Auckland Food Show
Thursday 30 July – Sunday 2 August
ASB Showgrounds, Greenlane
Tickets: $28 adults, $15 children

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