Lucky diners were able to sample the best of locally made Italian-style smallgoods in specially created dishes recently at iconic Auckland restaurant Toto's.
Otello's, the brainchild of Kiwi-based Italians Luca Vasori and Paolo Delmonte, paired their artisan-cured meats with Toto's chef Sergio Maglione for their second Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy) culinary experience which challenges local chefs to come up with dishes using the company's products.
Guests paid $95 for a four-course meal which featured an antipasto platter, home-made ravioli with goat's cheese and truffle tossed with flavoursome Otello's guanciale in red wine sauce; a confit duck leg filled with wild boar sausage mince, served with soft polenta and morello cherry juice; and a dessert platter with chocolate salami, chiacchiere, Sicilian cannoli and gelato. Each course was matched with a top Italian wine.
Keep an eye out for more Giro d'Italia events over the next few months - the next will be in February or March at another Italian restaurant. Meanwhile, for information on where to find Otello's products or buy online.
If you enjoy good food, wine, music and the great outdoors then the annual Waiheke Olive & Artisan Food Festival is a must. A celebration of the best of what the island has to offer - think oysters, Viva-award-winning Dragonfired pizzas, icecream and, of course, olive oil - it is held at the pretty Rangihoua Estate. Take a blanket, find yourself some shade and settle back as you listen to music by the likes of Chocolate Fish and the Nairobi Trio. Sat 26-Sun 27 Nov, 11am-5pm, 1 Gordons Rd, Waiheke Island. $15, children under 12 free. For special ferry weekend deals go to SeaLink.
Put it on the list
We know Christmas is still over a month away, but why not treat yourself a little early with The Collective's Sticky Date Christmas Pud yoghurt. It's a decadent mix of dates, golden syrup and special spices. $5.99 from supermarkets and specialty food stores.
Located high above the glittering lights of Auckland, with spectacular views of the harbour and beyond, 'Moet Amongst the Stars' plans to be the red carpet party of the season - and you could be there. Guests will walk the red carpet on the evening of Friday December 2, drink Champagne and enjoy the best of entertainment as they celebrate and toast 2011.
Moet & Chandon and Viva are delighted to offer three lucky readers, plus a partner each, the chance to attend this fabulous event. To go in the draw to win, email your name, address, date of birth and contact phone number to firstname.lastname@example.org with "Moet & Chandon" in the subject line and the answer to this question: Which famous fashion photographer shot the 2011 Moet & Chandon advertising campaign, featuring Moet muse, the stunning Scarlett Johansson? Entries close November 28. Winners announced November 30. Entries must be over 18-years-of-age.
French in the city
Good news for inner city workers: French grocer and cafe La Boulange has opened on Lorne St. The blink and you'll miss it space - a small window just down from Gow Langsford Gallery - offers a selection of macarons, pastries, jams and delicious sandwich rolls, plus takeaway Supreme Coffee. It joins their two other Auckland locations, on Jervois Rd and inside The Department Store in Takapuna. 32 Lorne St, City, ph (09) 379 9833.
Looking for a cheap and delicious lunch? El Farro at the Elliott Stables, on Elliott St in the city, is selling their gourmet mussel pots with agria chips and mayo for just $10 at lunchtimes from Mondays to Fridays.
Foodie fans who visit Sydney regularly will know of Marque - the elegant Surry Hills restaurant owned and run by top chef Mark Best. One of only four Australian restaurants to make the coveted top 100 in the San Pellegrino World's Best Restaurants, it's renowned for pushing the boundaries with exquisite yet honest food. The foreword for Best's cookbook Marque ($79.99; Hardie Grant) is written by the owner of the world's top restaurant, Rene Redzepi of Copenhagan's Noma, and the words and photos are a feast in themselves. These are most definitely not recipes to whip up after a busy day at the office, rather works of art you create as an expression of your love for the lucky people who get to eat your offerings.
Matua Valley Wines is an integral part of West Auckland - after all they've been producing wine since 1974 - and now, just in time for summer, they've opened a new Cellar Door. Situated at the Waimauku winery's iconic Hunting Lodge, it celebrates the pioneering spirit of the brand. As cellar door manager Emma Leon explains, "It all started with a humble tin shed, and the first sauvignon blanc produced in New Zealand, and now Matua Valley is one of the country's most respected brands." With beautiful views of the surrounding vineyards and an inviting interior of warm wood panelling, this is definitely worth a visit. Plus, it's only a 20 minute drive from the CBD.
Open 10am-5pm daily. Waikoukou Valley Rd, Waimauku.
To market, to market
Building on the success of its annual Food & Wine Festival, Mangere Bridge Village has a new Boutique Farmers' Market running every Sunday from 9am till 1pm. Registrations of interest are invited from stallholders and should be sent to The Village Manager, email: email@example.com or ph (09) 636 7491.