Festive fare costs you less

By Leigh Van der Stoep

Pavlova- a Kiwi Christmas treat. Photo Steven McNicholl
Pavlova- a Kiwi Christmas treat. Photo Steven McNicholl

A traditional Christmas lunch could cost you less this year - as long as you go easy on the increasingly pricey wine.

The price of festive favourites such as turkey and ham is down nearly 3 per cent on last year: a size 5 turkey costs around $54 and an 8.5kg ham around $80.

According to Statistics New Zealand's consumer price index for the third quarter of this year, the cost of most food, particularly meat and poultry, is down.

The price of fruit and vegetables is down 1.1 per cent so you can enjoy summer favourites like cherries and strawberries for around $20/kg and $6/kg respectively.

Asparagus costs about $4/250g and new potatoes are $2.88/kg. The cream of the summer potato crop, Jersey Bennes from Oamaru, are selling for as little as $5.99/kg in some Auckland supermarkets.

In fact, the only types of food that have gone up over the past year are dairy products and alcohol - booze is up 6.1 per cent.

But it's not all bad news for wine-lovers. Most supermarkets have good wine sales on in the run-up to Christmas, so if you're quick you could pick up your celebratory bubbly for up to 25 per cent off the usual price.

Woolworths is advertising Lindauer sparkling sauvignon blanc for $9.99, marked down from $16.34, and Stoneleigh sauvignon blanc for $15.99, down from $23.50.

The Christmas favourite, a prepared plain pavlova, will set you back just over $11 - up 1.1 per cent on last year - and the cream $3.30 for 600ml. A store-bought Christmas fruit pudding will cost around $10.

But if all this sounds like more effort than it's worth, there's always the option of dining out.

Restaurants open on Christmas Day offer anything from a casual buffet for $36 a person to fine dining at $130 a person for a five-course meal.

While most restaurants are fully booked, Valentines buffet restaurant in Mt Eden had bookings available for Christmas lunch and dinner. Manager Matt Bao said diners could enjoy oysters and octopus for a starter; a main of ham, roast beef and turkey drumsticks; and chocolate mousse and lemon tarts for dessert. Lunch will cost $36 a person and dinner $66.

Barolo, an Italian silver-service restaurant at Auckland's Langham Hotel, is offering a five-course meal at $130 a person. On the menu is tartare of aged beef, white truffle foam, parmigiano and sage tempura for the first course, and antipasti of pickled eel or Robiola sheep's cheese tart.

For the third course there will be Lobster risotto with saffron oil and zucchini flowers or parsley tagliatelle with garlic and rosemary, veal sweetbread and chicken liver ragout. That is followed by a turkey and prosciutto roll or lamb cutlets, then Nutella cake or peach tarte tatin and green tea mousse for dessert. At both restaurants, drinks are extra.

While Christmas is a time to celebrate and relax with loved-ones, it is also notorious for family bickering and many restaurant wait staff report domestic incidents at tables.

But Bao said his restaurant had not experienced similar conflicts so far this year. Customers who frequent Valentines on Christmas Day were usually older couples, he said, happy to see the holiday through with a good meal.

- Herald on Sunday

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