Toast was lucky enough to attend Al Brown's Burning Lamb festival with Moa Brewing Co. last weekend. Check out the highlights, including tips on staging your own late summer outdoor bash
The weather Gods were on Al Brown’s side last weekend, sending a small patch of sunny, warm weather to shine down on a rural corner in West Auckland for the Kiwi chef’s inaugural food, drink and arts festival, Burning Lamb.
Billed as a festival like no other, Burning Lamb didn’t disappoint. In fact, the food and above-and-beyond service was just as high as it is when dining in one of Brown’s famous eateries. Guests arrived mostly via coach, and were personally greeted at the entrance to a sun-dappled orchard by Al Brown himself. There we experienced bubbles and canapes like ceviche and tua tua fritters, while wandering through a magical wood, dotted with art installations and roaming musicians.
A quick stop at one of the many Moa bars – where beer and cider was displayed in old bathtubs filled with ice – before stopping at a chill-out zone with pub garden games like mini golf and pétanque. Next, on to a large art wall that was started by Dick Frizzel and added to by festival-goers throughout the day while eating fish tacos and drinking cocktails.
Later on, guests were directed through a huge hedge to discover a corral of lambs on spits above smoking charcoals, in an area amongst trees and fairy lights dotted with hay bales strewn with blankets. A DJ pumped out great tunes as roaming circus artists performed, while we sipped on wine and Moa beer and awaited dinner – the invitation for which came via a mobile text notification that said “dinner is served”. After some friendly and chatty queuing we were served cumin roasted lamb in fresh-made roti breads, fire-roasted king salmon and Brown’s lip-smackingly good salads. Al Brown and Moa have collaborated on a special Burning Lamb IPA, with finishing notes of mint that perfectly complemented the lamb.
As darkness fell, Brown thanked everyone for coming before welcoming us to a wooded dell, lit with colourful lights and neon installations, to watch Dave Dobbyn and friends while tucked up in blankets, as waiters wearing retro-style usher trays served pots of Kohu Road ice cream made with chermoya fruit picked from the orchard.
The coach-ride home was a festive affair, with doggie-bags of food and soft drinks, and happy festival-goers singing their way back to the city.
STEAL BURNING LAMB’S BEST IDEAS
Hosting your own late-summer outdoor gathering? Steal these great ideas from Al Brown’s Burning Lamb festival…
- Peg old straw hats to a piece of string tied between trees with a sign that says “Forgot your hat? Help yourself”.
- Source an old bathtub from a scrap yard or skip and fill it with ice and drinks – you can still get hold of Moa Burning Lamb IPA at select Liquorland stores nationwide, (RRP $7.99, 500ml).
- Fill your garden with hay bales overlaid with blankets for cheap and easy outdoor seating (and somewhere to snuggle when the sun goes down).
- Be a responsible host by making the food the main focus of the day, and flavour-match the meal to your drinks, such as Al Brown’s Roasted Shoulder with chimichurri and beer match.
- For an easy but super-cool dessert, buy small tubs of ice cream and serve them to your guests from a retro usher’s tray.