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Alambicco - Balsamic Vinegar of Modena

The foodie lover's equivalent of a vintage Louis Vuitton handbag; a designer bottle of authentic 12-year-old balsamic vinegar from Modena. The pocket-sized bottle was dreamed up by car designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, the creative power behind VW's Golf. A must for special dinners.

Slow Food Fast's High Country Venison

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Created by Slow Food Fast using the latest "retorting" technology, these nifty packs of traditional lamb, veal and venison recipes are created by chef Jeremy Schmid. "These cuts would normally take 40 minutes to prepare and up to five hours to slowly braise," says SFF's Jamie Saker. We sampled the High Country Venison and were mightily impressed. Free from preservatives or hydrogenated fats, these meals reheat in minutes (those with concerns about the carcinogenic effects of microwaving food in plastic, should opt for the oven method).

Snowflake Muffin Pan

Just the thing to blow off winter blues: a six-cup silicon snowflake muffin pan. These don't need greasing and fold up for storage. Rebecca Erskine from Pantry Magic says the pans don't emit nasty odours. But can they replicate a complex snowflake? "They come out picture perfect," assures Erskine.

Toku Gourmet's Abalone Chutney

Abalone (paua) chutney has been used for more than 100 years by Taranaki Maori and this recipe has been passed down from the families of Kristin and Glen Katu. Using a mix of farmed and wild paua, and traditional herbs and spices, this gourmet condiment is an acquired taste. We tried it served with cheese and crackers, and it was sensational.

Chocolate Enrobed Figs

Hand selected, poached and lavishly coated with Belgium dark chocolate, these figs by Willabrand are melt-in-the-mouth perfection.

Brookfarm's Gluten-free Macadamia Muesli

As Brookfarm's Navona Uypenbogaardt says: "It doesn't have that awful sawdust and cardboard taste." Most gluten-free products are full of puff, but this muesli has 17 ingredients (loads of buckwheat and nuts). With top honours at the UK Great Taste Awards and Sydney Food Show, we think it's delicious. Not just for those on a gluten-restricted diet. Inquiries: ph 021 589 185 or

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Yarrows Salba Bread

The secret ingredient in this bread is Salba, a supergrain packed full of nutrients. Two slices of this bread and your daily nutritional needs are mostly sorted. We tasted the Low GI white bread with manuka honey and were pleasantly surprised at its texture and flavour. A welcome alternative for kids with high energy and plain tastes. Also ideal for those with Type 2 Diabetes, high cholesterol and anyone looking to lose weight.

Kohu Icecream

Don't be put off by the packaging, which is changing in the next couple of weeks, as you would be depriving yourself of a truly yummy experience. Made from only organic ingredients it's rich, creamy and flavoursome with no nasty chemical or furry aftertastes. Flavours include milk chocolate, vanilla, cookies'n'cream, dark chocolate, Espresso and green tea.

Lemon Juice Pouches

Forget the juicer and grab the convenience of packaged Keri Keri lemon juice. Lemon Fresh has devised a nifty pack containing the juice of five lemons, separately packaged in pouches. We tried it in a salad dressing and it was great.

Kato's Lite Hollandaise Sauce

From the large stable of Kato foods comes this low-fat hollandaise. With around 15 per cent less fat than normal hollandaise, it's a sensible choice. And after trying it on eggs Benedict, we agree the flavour is jolly good.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Val's Gluten-free Pizza Dough

Make your own pizza dough and never look back. www.pinecottage.co.nz

Julienne Cutter Set

From the reputable Triangle brand, this three-piece cutter set is a must for those obsessed with turning out professional-looking vegetables. Available at House of Knives.

Double Pagoda's Ginger Oil

This oil is superb, and completely free of artificial flavours and preservatives.

Poesy's bread and pizza sauce

From the owners of Havelock North's Pipi Cafe, these are 100 per cent natural. Supporters of local poets, Poesy include an original poem in every pack of bread.