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Pop Life

August 13, 2016

Everybody needs a thrill – even if it’s for the briefest of moments – and pop-ups are perfect for delivering that rush. Visa Wellington On a Plate is never short on thrills, with plenty of pop-ups and special events springing up all over the city during the festival.

The Doughnut Pop-Up (12-28 August)

It’s back! Last year’s festival hit had people queuing up to an hour to get their hands on some seriously scrumptious doughy morsels. This year, the Doughnut Pop-Up has a new home at Moore Wilson’s Piazza and will be open every single day during the festival from 8am until sold out. The line-up of local bakeries includes Dusted and Delicious, Sixes and Sevens, Sweet Release, Beat Kitchen, Brezelmania and Egmont Street Eatery.

The doughnut is enjoying break-the-internet levels of hype right now – we’ve not seen such hysteria over a baked good since the cronut burst onto the scene. With bakers finding tantalising ways to reimagine the sweet treat, you’ll be spoiled for choice – if you’re bright and early, of course.

I’m not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination, so for me to successfully drag myself out of bed to line up for anything, even doughnuts, is a minor miracle. But there I was at the pop-up on day one of VWOAP at 7.40am with other eager Wellingtonians. Dusted and Delicious had two doughnuts on offer: plum soda and almond brittle, which was filled with a dreamy vanilla bean custard, and chocolate coconut rough with a cute toasted coconut chocolate stick. Early starts get a silver lining when breakfast is so decadent!

Match: Play With Your Food and Wine (12-28 August)

Also making a return to VWOAP is Match. Last year’s transformer truck/pop-up wine bar was very popular, but in the spirit of VWOAP the crew behind Match have chosen to do something different this year. They’ve partnered with new Wellington wine bar and restaurant Noble Rot, who will offer platters and set menus to go with the wines on offer.

More than eighty wines were tasted and vetted by Noble Rot’s award-winning sommelier Maciej Zimny, who has selected forty wines from 21 wineries to showcase during Match. Maciej has ensured that the list has broad range and balance with plenty to offer for both casual wine drinkers and connoisseurs. Several wineries are making their Match debut this year, including Dry River, Craggy Range and Te Kairanga. They join a great selection of wineries from Martinborough and the Wairarapa. “This is Wellington’s wine region. We’re your locals. Pop over to see us, or pop in to Match” says Sue McLeary of Wines from Martinborough.

This is a great chance to learn more about our local wines and to get an exclusive taste of some that aren’t easily available. Sue says people should embrace the theme of “play with your food and wine” and embark on a voyage of discovery. Grabbing a tasting flight of four wines and a platter is a great way to make the most of Match.

Match and Noble Rot will be open from midday to midnight, and a different winemaker will be behind the bar each day pouring drinks and on hand to talk about their wines. Bookings can be made for lunch, but not for dinner.

Gelissimo’s Five Flavours of Fun (12-28 August)

When I stepped into Gelissimo’s kitchen, I could smell pumpkin soup. Not entirely unusual for a kitchen – though I assumed it was the lingering aroma of someone’s lunch. Nope – a fresh pot of homemade soup was cooling, waiting to be made into gelato. As I would soon discover, this wasn’t even the strangest thing being concocted in this kitchen.

Graham Joe has been making gelato and sorbet for about six years. With a penchant for experimentation, Graham has collaborated with many of Wellington’s cafes and restaurants, helping them to turn their flavour ideas into reality. Many of these have never been made available to the public – until now.

For VWOAP, Graham will crack open his recipe books and reproduce some of these collaborations and other rare flavours for Gelissimo’s Five Flavours of Fun. More than 200 flavours will be on offer – about 40 are brand new, and about half are available in store to the public for the first time. These are one-offs, curiosities and exclusives, flavours designed to excite and surprise.

Gelissimo Five Flavours of Fun

You’ll receive a tasting platter of five flavours based on a theme (for example, the classic kiwi dinner, herbs and infusions, a chocolate best-of, vegan, gluten free, nuts… the list goes on). If none of the themed platters take your fancy, you can make up a platter of five flavours yourself.

Although Graham was still plotting and testing when I visited, he did have a few unorthodox creations for me to sample. Although fruit and vege gelati shouldn’t be a substitute for your five-plus-a-day, they certainly make for a fun way to eat your greens. Minted green pea gelato tastes much better than it sounds with a light and refreshing aftertaste, and the beetroot gelato, with its stunning deep colour, was earthy and paired well with the gorgonzola gelato, one of Gelissomo’s gold medal winners.

Graham’s a firm believer of making the most of fresh and local ingredients, so he’s worked with The Backbencher to create a Panhead Supercharger and preserved lemon gelato, which unsurprisingly packs a hoppy punch with a dry and bitter finish. The absolute stunner was a gelato made with Lot 8’s Cold-Pressed Yuzu Olive Oil. This was next-level luxurious – I could imagine eating this in front of a roaring fire, wrapped in a sheepskin rug while a harpist serenades me with something classical and fancy.

Salt Bar (17-20 August)

The thirst is real! The Garage Project crew return to VWOAP and Prefab Hall with Salt Bar. If last year’s Milk Bar was anything to go by, this is bound to be another hit. Garage Project’s Jos Ruffell says he’s excited to be back at Prefab Hall, and to be back at VWOAP for the fourth year.

Salty food is beer’s best friend, and Garage Project hope to tease out food and beer matches that will allow people to experiment with salt-forward beers and refreshing ales.

Garage Project classics like Umami Monster, White Mischief, and Cabbages and Kings will be available along with two brand-new brews making their debut at Salt Bar: Pineapple Luau (a pineapple, chilli and Hawaiian bamboo jade salt gose) and Dubbel Zout (a salty liquorice stout). Also up for grabs will be two takes on the everyone’s favourite salty cocktail the margarita, featuring Garage Project beers White Trash and Fringe Fruits, which will be turned into a frozen cucumber, fingerlime and mint sour slushy.

The salt theme will give Prefab plenty of room to play when it comes to the food, and the menu will highlight all the different ways salt can be used in cooking. There will even be salt-themed entertainment, which I’ve been told will make sense when you see it.

Georgia’s Canteen (22-26 August)

Georgia’s Canteen is a collaboration between ParrotDog, Burger Liquor and the crew behind Georgia Espresso Bar. They’ll take over re.SPACE Gallery (176 Victoria Street) for five nights of cheap and cheerful winter soul food. It’s an extension of Georgia’s youth development initiative, which aims to enhance talent in Wellington’s hospitality sector by providing first-time employment to high school-aged young people. About 22 young people have been employed at the two Georgia espresso bars (the first of which was launched at last year’s VWOAP), and many of them have been placed in long-term jobs at Wellington cafes and restaurants as a result of their training and experience.

The canteen will serve up a selection of American school canteen-inspired eats by Burger Liquor, ParrotDog beers and coffee-based desserts by Georgia Espresso Bar. Some of the treats on offer include brisket sausage rolls with bourbon BBQ sauce, corn chowder, ribs, four-cheese mac n’ cheese, and doughnuts. Get your feed on and contribute to a good cause: all proceeds from the pop-up go towards Georgia’s youth development program.

Field & Green’s Dak Bungalow (26-28 August)

Over the final VWOAP weekend, Field & Green (runner-up of Cuisine’s Best New Metropolitan Restaurant Award 2016) will turn their Wakefield Street restaurant space into Dak Bungalow, a pop-up homage to Anglo-Indian cuisine created for British travelers in 1840s India.

Dak bungalows were British-owned government buildings erected along the postal route. They were also used as guesthouses for British travelers to stay at on their journeys through India. Indian chefs would re-interpret local dishes to suit the travelers’ palettes, reducing the amount of spice they would typically use and making the most of vegetables (like cauliflower and cabbage) that the British introduced to India. This influence went both ways – some aristocratic Indians adapted English recipes to suit their tastes.

Field & Green Dak Bungalow

Chef Laura Greenfield has assembled a flexible menu featuring dishes that can be eaten at any time of the day or night. Whether it’s masala omelette, kedgeree, a whole roasted cauliflower (which truly is a sight to behold) or saffron and cardamom ice cream, diners can pop in between 10am and 10pm and put together a meal of authentic and flavourful dishes.

The Field & Green ethos of “European soul food” will still be present in their takes on these rustic, comforting dishes. Laura, along with co-owner Raechal Ferguson, did plenty of research to narrow down the list of authentic dishes for the Dak Bungalow menu. Laura says that spices and tastes of Indian food are exciting to cook, and these days they’re familiar to most people so the menu will feel familiar and not too challenging. There will be plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, and homemade chapatti to mop up all those delicious curries and sauces.

The beverages on offer will also be representative of what accompanied these bungalow meals – from gin and tonics to an Indian Pale Ale brewed by Garage Project especially for this event. Ritual Tea Company will also contribute some special blends, including a classic Darjeeling, and lemongrass and ginger.

Also keep an eye out for these other blink-and-you’ll-miss-them pop-ups:

    • The Argentine Street Food Fiesta has churros. Need I say more?
    • Each of the six nights of Nam D’s Pop-Up Hawker Stall will feature the cuisine of a different region in Vietnam.
    • MKR alumni Dai and Dal present their pop-up restaurant Mint. The first night has sold out so they’ve added an extra date on Friday 26 August.
    • The Wellington Food Truck Rally will be rolling in to a neighborhood near you during VWOAP. Check out the schedule on the website.
    • Golding’s Free Dive and Leeds Street Bakery are teaming up to bring you the pastry pop-up Pie and Pinot on the last day of the fest.