WOAP (pronounced Whoa-app) is a two-week- / three-weekend-long festival showcasing the – quite frankly ridiculous – abundance of the Wellington region’s culinary scene.
Wellington really is the capital of cuisine.
With pop-up restaurants, kitchen takeovers, talks, tastings, cooking, curing and creating classes and special menus galore, WOAP is as eclectic as it is delicious.
The festival features hotly contested challenges: Burger Wellington and Cocktail Wellington, where bars, restaurants and cafés attempt to outdo each other with the most delicious, interesting, and innovative entries in a battle for the public vote to be crowned annual winner.
Burger Wellington sees more than 170 participating restaurants vying to deliver the best thing between two buns. Visit Mr Go’s, the Asian hawker-style restaurant on Taranaki Street for an Indian-style mutton bao; Egmont St Eatery will be contributing katsu fried chicken on a homemade milk bun, while over in Miramar, Coco at The Roxy’s burger includes coffee-glazed bacon and Malay sambal.
Equally innovative are the in-glass creations from bar wizards competing for the cocktail crown. Hot favourite is Ray Leota, also from Coco at the Roxy cinema. Ray’s previous winning creations include 2017’s Sonntag’s Journey: white bourbon aged in-house and fat-washed with a whole pig roasted by Ray, served with dry ice, earl grey and sweet vermouth. This year’s creation is a more tropical collaboration with Fortune Favours the Bold brewery, using their Pina Colada beer, toasted coconut syrup and rum. Visit Coco for theatre in a cocktail in a theatre.
Saturday night 🥂 @adamjmiddleton and I had the pleasure of trying a @wellyonaplate finalist @cocoattheroxy ✨🙌 AND I CAN SEE WHY 🤤 their cocktail is a marvellously modern remake of an old fashioned favourite, featuring fat-washed whisky enriched with maple, vanilla and orange. 🍊Accompanied by a spiced pulled pork slider with Roxy Cherry Karma Cola chilli chipotle sauce and Sina slaw 🍔 AND THE ENTREÈ was probably top five best meals of my life 🙌✨ Grilled scallops, sweetbreads, whipped celeriac, rosemary with burnt orange ash 👅😱 SUPERB! This dining makes me want to be a food critic 😭🤤
In between eating all of the things, there’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in Wellington’s famous craft beer world.
Beervana, held as part of the wider WOAP festival, is the unmissable extravaganza of everything brewed. A bacchanal of beer, Beervana features Wellington craft brewers (of which there are, of course, more than a few) many of whom are creating bespoke beers, especially for the festival.
From big players to backyard breweries, Beervana is a two-day celebration of hops, malts and all the other wild and wacky things that aficionados add to their brew these days.
For a taste of something a little less out there, visit Whistling Sisters, a recent addition to the Wellington craft beer scene. Their brand new brewery on Ghuznee street produces a range of ‘accessible’ craft beer – well-balanced and not to hoppy or weird. Try their limited release, the Rooty Toot Toot, brewed with ginger, turmeric, galangal and Himalayan rock salt.