The dish: Let it sow

By Nici Wickes

Michael Meredith (left) visiting his local school's garden. Photo / Supplied
Michael Meredith (left) visiting his local school's garden. Photo / Supplied

Bookings are now open for the inaugural Feast for the Future on November 12. On this one night, more than 26 top restaurants are helping establish gardens and kitchens in primary schools by donating a portion of their takings on the night to the Garden to Table Trust. This takes its lead from Stephanie's Kitchen Garden in Australia, a programme set up by chef Stephanie Alexander, which aims to teach children to "grow, harvest, prepare and share" food. Last year Alexander visited some of the schools in Auckland involved in the New Zealand project and was impressed with their achievements in such a short time.

Chefs from the participating restaurants are gearing up for the night and the wonderful Michael Meredith has already visited his local school's garden for inspiration. "I was so impressed with the garden at Owairaka Primary School. They have a great garden of broadbeans, beetroot and even miners lettuce, which is usually quite hard to find. There were also lots of edible flowers which I like to incorporate in the dishes at Merediths - radishes that have been left to flower, for example, have an amazing flavour."

Another chef who is passionate about being involved with Feast for the Future is Tom Hishon, a young chef at Clooney. Having grown up with parents who always maintained a generous vegetable garden he puts his love for food and cooking down to those early days of being told to go and pick tomatoes, snowpeas or whatever was in season, from the garden. "I was able to see from a young age, 4 or 5 I think, where food came from and how it could be turned into an amazing meal. That's where it starts and for kids who can witness that, it's a massive step towards looking at food not as fuel, but as a lifestyle, passion and possibly a career." To book at any of the participating restaurants visit the site above.

Book it

There is a veritable feast of words about to unfold on Waiheke Island this weekend. From Friday the ever-popular annual Words on a Small Island Waiheke Book Festival kicks off with a great mix of events in interesting venues all over the island. At Artworks you can hear award-winning author Lloyd Jones in conversation with Finlay Macdonald or stake out a deck chair at Owhanake Barn and enjoy being read to while sipping wine and eating strawberries and French crepes (Saturday). Sunday lunch at Mudbrick Vineyard Restaurant will feature a sumptuous menu and you will be entertained by Peta Mathias who talks about her latest book Beat Till Stiff - her take on men - and Michael Smythe, author of fascinating New Zealand by Design, who reveals the secrets of New Zealand-designed products from gumboots to Crown Lynn.

And if you've ever wanted to visit Waiheke's chic boutique seaside hotel, The Boatshed (a favourite with international celebrities) - here's your chance. The festival's finale is a High Tea & Bubbles event on Sunday afternoon at the Boatshed and will include a reading by Laurence Fearnley from her award winning fiction The Hut Builder.

Dates: Fri Nov 4-Sun Nov 6. Go online to book.

Blind date

How often have you heard the expression "presentation is everything, we eat with our eyes first"? Well, for three nights (November 13, 14 and 20), Euro will be tossing this theory aside and offering a blind tasting menu - literally. Simon Gault and the Euro team are fundraising for the charitable organisation CBM, a group which focuses on supporting and educating children living with disability and poverty in some of the world's poorest countries.

Guests will be blindfolded as they enter the restaurant and then enjoy a three-course menu specifically designed to heighten the senses of taste, texture and smell. This is one night where presentation will not be everything. To book, go to the website. Tickets are $150 per person, which includes a three-course meal with matching wine for each course, and a $50 donation to the charity.

VIP Viva

The coffee on everyone's lips at the moment is Nespresso - thanks to the opening of their new coffee boutique in Newmarket and the launch of the new Lattissima+ coffee machine. With an innovative "one-touch" milk solution, the Nespresso Lattissima+ has a revolutionary milk-frothing technology which combines with a fast heating system to deliver an excellent coffee. It is also simple to use and clean. It comes in four colours and is valued at $699. To find out more ph 0800 234 579.

Viva is delighted to have one Lattissima+ machine to give away to a lucky reader. To go in the draw visit, follow the prompts on screen and enter this week's keyword "Nespresso". Entries close November 7. Winner announced November 9.

- NZ Herald

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