Taste is a dream of a foodie event - restaurants have stands where they cook up three menu items each; the food is served in taster sized portions, not too small but small enough that you can try a few without overloading. The food is bought in crowns, the seemingly arbitrary plastic currency of the festival, which you have to purchase. There are also loads of stalls where producers are selling their wares for you to take.
Seriously Brownies is a company that sells deliciously dense brownies - you can buy them online and they come in delicious flavours like bronzed caramel and brandy cranberry.
The Fisher & Paykel Chef's kitchen has different chefs in each session so check the Taste website to see who'll you get - I watched Nici Wickes from the NZ Herald for a while, and she was pretty entertaining. It was also nice to sit down in the shade for a few minutes. ;-)
The Malaysia tent costs 4 crowns to get into but there are three food stalls inside and you then get to try their wares for no further cost, so that works out pretty well. They also have a stage kitchen, and when I went one of contestants from Masterchef Australia was cooking. You might have to queue for a while to get your food but it is all very yummy.
This gorgeous tempura filo prawn was my pick of the day for savoury dishes - from Soto, it was crisp and tasty on the outside, with various sauce options on top, and the prawn inside was succulent and everything you could want a prawn to be. It comes on a stick (which my photo obscures) so I guess this is the Taste of Auckland hotdog equivalent. ;-) But a billion times better...
The lovely lady in the Kenwood kitchen was dressed the part, and was very friendly and gave me a tip which will make my Mum's Kenwood work a bit better. Sometimes it pays to whinge a little about how new machines don't work so well... ;-)
The Fisher & Paykel kitchen is cool and shows off the latest appliances - I always love to drool over fancy fridges (cooler drawers! So the way of the future) plus they give everyone who visits a free teatowel. That's a good enough reason for me. Oh, and we also got offered some scrummy rum and raisin ice-cream tasters.
Monsoon Poon had some yummy offerings - the Vietnamese rolls were a Mr Cake favourite - as you'd expect Vietnamese rice paper rolls to taste but yummy with the chilli sauce, and a nice refreshing dish to suit the summery weather. I had the sago pudding with coconut cream and palm sugar syrup, which was delicious, and again, fabulously summery - the rich cream and sweet syrup complemented each other well, and the syrup was similar to golden syrup but with a deeper, richer flavour.
Late in the afternoon we got ourselves an ice-cream each from Kohu Road - mine (left, in case the hand doesn't give it away!) was strawberry, which was both rich and fresh, fruity delicious; Mr Cake chose golden syrup, which was sweet and good - but I liked mine better on such a hot day. ;-) Conveniently for him, he preferred his, though... Nice how that worked out for us.
Our last restaurant stop for the day was for dessert (not that we hadn't already had lots of sweets, but we had been saving these for last. On the left is the Valhrona pave, which is amazing - so dense and rich that I wish you good luck to eat it all yourself - lucky I had Mr Cake to help (that's not a bad thing, by the way!). The strawberry mousse was light and balanced it out a bit, and the strawberries themselves were sweet and a little bit boozy - again, a good match for the rich pave. The pannacotta was perfectly wobbly, and the rosewater flavour was distinctive, with crunchy pistachio praline on top to give some texture.
Mr Cake had this frozen cocktail from Schott - made with their cranberry syrup and vodka, it was a good cool-down device (did I mention it was quite hot?).
These people (I presume Arano as it was in front of their stall but it wasn't clear) had this clever idea for testing out a new flavour; if you liked the taster you put your plastic sample cup in the barrel on the left, and if it repulsed you you went with the barrel on the right. We looked at it pretty late in the day - more people liked it than didn't, but there were still quite a few cups in the "Bin it" barrel.
And what do you do if you get to the end of the day and have 2 crowns left? You buy a single, delicious piece of Turkish delight, of course! A great way to end the day...
If you're in Auckland and want to check it out for yourself you can pop along to Victoria Park - there are three sessions left: 12-4pm and 5.30-9.30pm today and 11.30am-4pm tomorrow. Tickets are $30 at the gate. www.tasteofauckland.co.nz