WINE AND DINE AT THE WAIHEKE VINTAGE FESTIVAL
What better excuse to take to the water than to indulge your palate and soak up the island atmosphere at the nine-day Waiheke Vintage Festival. This new celebration of viticulture and culinary expertise begins on March 29, offering diverse delights including jazz performances, a farmers' market, a champagne breakfast, sculpture trails, degustations, masterclasses and, of course, a multitude of opportunities to relax over a glass of the island's best produce. The event takes place all over the island, with offerings from 17 wineries. Why not hire a beach-side bach and check out one or all of our picks below:
Grape Harvest and Foot Stomp Pick your own grapes and crush them into bottles of wine - then enjoy the fruits of your barrel-aged labour in a year's time. At Passage Rock, March 29-30 and April 5-6. $175 for three people.
An Evening of Waiheke Chardonnay Hosted by Sam Harrop, MW and John Hawkesby at The Oyster Inn. With these two at the helm, this evening promises to entertain and educate over fine food and chardonnay. April 2, 7pm, $120.
Hands On Winemaking Experience Learn to hand-press and taste-test fermenting juices while making your own bottle of wine. Batch Winery March 31 and April 4, $45.
Opera in the Cellar A degustation dinner celebrating Pavarotti at one of the finest wineries on the island, with each course designed to replicate the operatic style of arias and symphonies. Poderi Crisci, April 3, 6pm, $170.
• The Waiheke Vintage Festival runs March 29 until April 6. For more information and tickets see waihekevintagefestival.co.nz.
Spotted - old-school caramel popcorn popping up in stylish desserts around town. Try it on the sweet pie at Federal Delicatessen or in Fish Restaurant's icecream. Or do it yourself with the more-ish new salted caramel popcorn by Heston from Waitrose, available at Nosh.
A GOOD TIPPLE
Our friends at All Good Organics have introduced a range of tangy, sparkling sodas featuring organic ingredients, with fruit from family run farms and fair trade sugar in refreshing flavours like red grapefruit. Stocked at great cafes including Alleluya, Conch, the Waterview Coffee Project and Little King.
Loaf Handcrafted Breads supports charity Sweet Louise with their new offering of the same name, 50c from each sale supporting women with secondary breast cancer. $8.99 from selected food stores and supermarkets, see loaf.co.nz.
PUT IT ON THE LIST
Silver Fern Farms beef porterhouse steaks $19.95.
Lewis Road Creamery organic butter log $5.99.
Waitrose ciabatta bread mix, $3.99, from Nosh.
What we're loving around town ...
• Ora smoked salmon, celeriac, Granny Smith and horseradish. One of the many oh-so-fresh and delicious small plates at Orphan's Kitchen.
• The beetroot dessert from Milse - savoury, sweet, tart and divinely unusual.
• Freshly grilled spinach and cheese filled gozleme from the Auckland Night Markets. Look for the Turkish stall in Onehunga on Thursday nights. See aucklandnightmarket.co.nz.
A COLOUR POP
We're loving the new Nespresso Inissia, a cute, compact and exuberantly colourful machine. Available from Nespresso boutique in Newmarket, ph 0800 234579.