The nation's largest culinary festival, Wellington On a Plate, returned for its tenth year in August. With an overarching 'party' theme, the festival's program featured over 140 flavour-packed events, special dining menus, burgers and craft cocktails.
The word of everyone's lips for 2018 was the overwhelming appearance of buns and patties; this year a record breaking 179 burgers made the Burger Wellington long-list, loaded with everything from puffed rice and chocolate gelato to cauliflower cheese and pulled duck.
But it was a smoked beef short rib creation that took home top honours at the festival's awards. The Brewed to the Bone burger from Wilson Barbecue was one of the most popular burgs of the three-week festival — not surprising given the hefty slab of meat that came between an Arobake bun with candied bacon and Zany Zeus boozy cheese sauce. The American-style low 'n' slow barbecue joint, which you can find perched at The Third Eye, claims that they sold close to 3000 burgers during the festival.
In runner up positions were Apache with the Kung Fu Chicken burger and Lucky's Breakfast for Dinner burger in third place.
Other winner of the festival included C.G.R Merchant & Co. for Best Cocktail and Field & Green who took out Best Festival Dish. The Party In Your Mouth! beverage comprised red grapefruit-infused rum with lime juice and sugar. It was accompanied by blinis with creamy Drunken Nanny goat's cheese, lemon and basil, or crunchy walnuts and balsamic. Field & Green's stuffed confit duck leg included Woody's Free Range Farm pancetta, duck fat hasselback potato and cabbage, with Ōtaki damson gravy.
The awards were partly based on public opinion and the judges scoring of service, presentation, use of local ingredients, beverage or tapas matching, relation to the festival theme and taste.