Key Points:

A Manhattan restaurant made famous by its appearance in the television series Sex and the City, underpays staff and shortchanges on tips, a lawsuit claims. Three former servers at Pastis, which featured in the last season of the show, and Balthazar, another famed New York restaurant, both owned by Keith McNally, are seeking damages.

Lawsuits against other hot New York restaurants - including ones owned by actor Robert De Niro, hip-hop producer and rapper Jay-Z and French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten - also allege workers were paid below the federal minimum wage of US$5.85 ($7.70) per hour, not paid overtime and unfairly had to give managers a portion of the tips, which most New York waiters rely on to earn a decent living.

The Pastis and Balthazar lawsuit said if a customer left without paying a bill that amount was deducted from the waiter's weekly wages, while $5 each shift was deducted to pay napkin folders. It said other staff were too fearful of losing their jobs to complain.

A glass too many?

Publicity releases do go on, but this one outdoes itself in linking the Winery Tour and its drawcards, whom it describes thus: "The award-winning sauvignon of New Zealand pop, Brooke Fraser, alongside two wonderful varietals, the bubbly Anika Moa and the complex herbaceous tones of Goldenhorse."

Allow us to say it's a bit cheesy - and no wonder, the nationwide tour is sponsored by Puhoi Valley cheeses. It's finally coming your way, with the Waiheke leg to be held next month at Isola winery.

For details

If you can't make it to the show, then Puhoi says get into picnic mode by using berries, rather than grapes and apples on your cheeseboard. They also recommend citrus and blue cheese or avocado and feta for a fresh salad.

Berry good

New Zealand's first blackcurrant festival will be held near Nelson on Sunday. The Sarau Festival takes its name from that which the region's German settlers once gave to the Upper Moutere Valley, a key blackcurrant growing area also known for its wine. For information

Fish bites

Regal Salmon has two new flavours of smoked salmon nibbles for summer entertaining. They are chilli and lime and salsa, both ideal as a snack or appetiser. Available at supermarkets, they retail for $10.75 for 200g.