My best friend Ellen and I went when I was in New Zealand last year to the most wonderful place of all – a place filled with coffee and snacks and meals and all foods, sweet and savoury, hot and cold, mild and spicy.
That place – that glorious, beautiful place – was called the Auckland Food Show.
Now, I don’t put many things on my calendar. I am known to be slightly clueless by those that know me best. But this one has been on both of our calendars for a full year. You pay $28 NZD to get in, but once inside, there is more food than you could dream up – even in your most wildly hungry imagination!
I woke up earlier than usual and drove to Ellen’sOne of the beauties of the Food Show is that many of the stalls give you a free bag with your purchase (cute, cotton bags), and before long, we were sticking our brochures and goodies in the mandatory Proper’s Hand-Cooked Crisps bags – filled with the likes of Kumara Crisps, Cider Vinegar & Sea Salt Crisps, Smoked Paprika Crisps, and Parsnip Crisps. Mmmm. I love that they give you a free bag and a free chip clip when you buy at their stall. house. After traffic and finding a parking place, we walked in to the ASB Showgrounds by One Tree Hill, dazed and confused.
We NEEDED coffee.
Our fingers fumbled futilely through the pages of the Food Show Showguide, scouring from back to front to middle and sideways – all in the hopes of finding the word “coffee” jump out at us and direct us toward our only hope. What is food without being properly equipped to face the day, after all?
Luckily, between our four caffeine-deprived crossing eyes, we found the C’s on the Exhibitor Listings pages. And there was coffee. Coffex Coffee. We walked briskly through Hall 1, then Hall 2, past all of Hall 3, and we finally found the stand in the 4th and final hall. It was glorious. I’m sure that when Columbus caught sight of the New World, he felt the same way.
We worked backwards with our coffees in hand, eating and drinking nearly anything and everything set before us on stalls – and I took every brochure I could get my hands on. Ellen had to hold my coffee a few times as my hands got full and fuller.
One of the beauties of the Food Show is that many of the stalls give you a free bag with your purchase (cute, cotton bags), and before long, we were sticking our brochures and goodies in the mandatory Proper’s Hand-Cooked Crisps bags – filled with the likes of Kumara Crisps, Cider Vinegar & Sea Salt Crisps, Smoked Paprika Crisps, and Parsnip Crisps. Mmmm. I love that they give you a free bag and a free chip clip when you buy at their stall.
Most of the day was a blur (after all, we passed over 250 food stalls!), but I do have some favourites that I can remember distinctly. And so I give you my Top 10 Auckland Food Show Stalls of 2016, counting down to #1, plus some of our other favourites!
Number 10 – Little Island Coconut Creamery
Coconut is ethereal to me – like something the angels make in Heaven’s Kitchen while Gordon Ramsay is in Hell’s Kitchen. It’s so nutty and creamy and yummy. So, obviously, this was the stall I was most looking forward to.
We both had the coffee coconut milk, as well as the hot chocolate they made with their coconut milk. Although, the coffee coconut milk was quite as good as I thought it would be, it was still very good. The hot chocolate, however, was smooth and beautiful. Ellen is not always a fan of coconut and she loved it, so obviously, it had to make the top 10.
I would drink Little Island’s Coconut Hot Chocolate any day.
Number 9 – Fresh As
This stall was one of my favourites last year as well! They do these gourmet-looking desserts in little clear goblets for hundreds of people shoving in, while other stalls are far less impressive in presentation. It’s magnificent. Their products are, primarily, freeze-dried fruit, so today we enjoyed a yogurt topped with plum slices and two mandarin pieces. Last year, I remember having a raspberry powder in my dessert. I love the tart-ness in the berry products, and the mandarins tasted like candy to me. We did note that you need something creamy with them because you’re missing out on the juiciness of the fruit. They are also offering some spices as well that I didn’t notice last time.
The stall is beautifully decorated with colourful recipe cards hung up along the middle. Well done, Fresh As! You make me feel like a goddess.
Number 8 – Goodbuzz Beverage Co
I don’t know about you, but I do love a good kombucha. If you don’t know what it is, it’s a non-alcoholic, fermented drink filled to the brim with probiotics (good bacterias).
The people at this booth were fun, energetic, and obviously passionate about their product – and for good reason. This was different from other kombucha (booch, as they called it) – not quite so tart and sour, maybe? I like it. I like it a lot.
I like even more that they had a Cold Brew Coffee Kombucha. Ellen liked even even more that they had Feijoa Booch. I also tried Jade Dew Booch, which was once just green tea. All fantastic. To top it all off, their graphics and marketing is off the charts as well. Sucked me in like an oyster.
Number 7 – Forty Thieves
We were soooo full by the time we got to the Forty Thieves stall in the “Made of Auckland” section in hall 3, but I am so glad we stopped for a couple samples! Ellen tried the Sunflower Cashew Spread with Chia Seeds while I marveled over the delectable taste of Cacao Hazelnut spread with toasted coconut. No refined sugar – just sweetened with honey. It’s like Nutella, but tastes even better to me. And it won’t make me sick! I will definitely be getting this in the future!
Number 6 – Hogarth Craft Chocolate
Like just about every other girl in the entire universe, Ellen and I love chocolate. Thus, we were delighted to find so many chocolate stalls this year at the Food Show! Of all of them (and there were some yummmmmm chocolates), this was our favourite.
The Gianduia Dark Hazelnut Chocolate made me swoon the most. But I definitely swooned at every chocolate the Hogarth booth put into my eager hands.
Number 5 – Angel Food Dairy-Free Products
For about a year now, I have really had to go lactose-free – which means very sad things for me. No Stoffer’s lasagna, no Pizza Hut, no freakin’ cheese enchiladas. Life is hard. What’s a girl like me to do?
Uh… go to the Food Show!!!
Angel Food has dairy-free alternatives for people like me, and they are all delicious – not like some of that junk that tries really hard to be an alternative (think SPAM for steak). They have both smoky and regular parmesan alternative (which is what I purchased today), a mozzarella alternative (which is served at Hell’s Pizza now), and a cheesey sauce. The people at this stand are so very nice and helpful. We’re so glad they figured out how to help us continue our love for Italian food.
Number 4 – Living Goodness Sauer Kraut
It’s quite hard to go wrong with sauer kraut (well, in my opinion, anyway – I crave it daily!). But I was extra excited about the six kraut products sold by Living Goodness. If I heard correctly, I think he said that they just started six months ago. They’re best seller in Sum Kum Kimchi, which was only a little bit spicy for me – which means anyone else can handle it. My favourite was the Super Superkraut with a mix of cabbage, kale, and seaweed. They have krauts (all with cabbage) with various mixes of beetroot, red cabbage, celeriac, carrots, juniper, caraway, and dill.
Number 3 – Coyo (Coconut Yogurt Alternative) www.coyo.com
Three on my list is Coyo, which is dairy-free, refined sugar-free yogurt and ice cream. I had the chocolate coconut yogurt alternative. It was so very creamy and delicious. THEN, I walked a bit further and saw that they had ICE CREAM! We had the pina colada flavor, which was epic. But, they also have tamarind & sticky date, acai & blueberry, mango & lime, raw chocolate, vanilla & nutmeg, as well as a natural flavor. I am looking forward to enjoying these products many, many times in my future in New Zealand.
Number 2- Pure Coco
Not only were the products here impressive, fairly traded, top quality, and delicious, but the people at the booth were some of my favourites at the entire Food Show. They were so knowledgeable and so passionate about the product and the work they do with a chief in Fiji villages. They poured Raw Cacao Nibs into my hands and it felt like it was my birthday. Then I got to try their Coconut Cacao Nibs – a combination of the raw and their Organic Coconut Nectar Syrup, I believe. Their primary product in their EVCPCO (organic extra virgin cold pressed coconut oil). They also have skin care, as well as coconut flour and coconut sugar (which Mark & I love). So excited about buying from Pure Coco in the future!
Number 1 – Crawlers
Oh. My. Goodness. I can not believe that this was my favourite stall of the day. Can you guess what it is by the name – Crawlers?
These guys (Dan & Matt) decided to forego an education and, instead, have set up an amazing company focused on creepy-crawlies. Insects. Yes, bugs. At the booth today, particularly crickets.
I’m just going to take this excerpt from their website, www.crawlers.co.nz, and stick it here for your daily dose of bug information:
“Edible insects have higher protein levels than beef, more iron than kale, and comparable levels of B1 and B2 found in Spirulina.” Other surprising information on their site includes the fact that crickets contain 1.6x more calcium than milk. And can you believe that cricket flour has 10 times more B12 than salmon! What??!!?
To say we were impressed and excited about this booth would be an understatement. We loved it so much that we brought cricket food home – Pistachio Chocolate Chip Cookies made with cricket flour (dairy and gluten free!) and cricket bliss balls. They have quite a cool line of candles and framed insects on their website as well.
There were many, many amazing stalls today at 2016 Auckland Food Show. The SpiceBoyz Telza sauce was another of my favourites, and I love Soul Organics Cold-Pressed Juices (especially the carrot/apple/ginger/lime/turmeric one). The mild garlic seed mix from Something To Crow About was really impressive, and I definitely want that in my pantry at all times from now on. St. Andrew’s Limes is something I’ll be looking out for as well. And the people at the True Honey Co. were stellar. Super excited to try their Manuka! And it’s always exciting to see Trade Aid & Loving Earth. They are both some of our all-time favourite brands.
All in all, it was an amazing day with my best friend. And we all know that there is nothing that people bond over quite like food.