The big cheese ... literally

The king of cheese has arrived at Ponsonby Central's The Dairy - Parmigiano Reggiano. Containing 550 litres of milk, weighing 40kg and worth $2000, this one hails from Villa Aiola, and was cracked in spectacular fashion last Saturday. It's now available, so stock up for summer on this sharp, sweet, gritty beauty. $95.00/kg from The Dairy, Ponsonby Central. Ph (09) 972 2642.

* For a last minute Christmas gift or holiday indulgence, check out their wonderful range of cheese hampers too, from $75-$225.

Menu picks
Right now we're loving ...


• The bang bang chicken, jellyfish and cucumber with black vinegar and sesame chilli dressing at Ponsonby's Blue Breeze Inn. It'll kick your tastebuds into action.

• The best breakfast ever from Westmere's Catroux - quinoa bircher muesli with rhubarb and feijoa compote, toasted almond slivers and yoghurt packed full of fresh lime zest! Wholesome, cooling and delicious.

• Ponsonby Rd Bistro's confit duck with white beans, sausage, sage, chestnuts and cherry-cranberry relish wins most Christmassy dish of the week - chef Sarah Conway has such flair.

Tamarillo Chutney from Zarbo; Iamsauce from Countdown; Don Pepino pepper and eggplant spread from Farro Fresh. Photos / Supplied.
Tamarillo Chutney from Zarbo; Iamsauce from Countdown; Don Pepino pepper and eggplant spread from Farro Fresh. Photos / Supplied.

Take it to the bach

Seasonings to jazz up your fresh fish and left-over turkey:

• Tamarillo Chutney, $12.99, from Zarbo.

• Iamsauce, $9.99, from Countdown.

• Don Pepino pepper and eggplant spread, $6.49, from Farro Fresh.

Dine for free!
The Langham's Eight restaurant celebrates its third birthday with a free lunch or dinner for those with January birthdays, and three $333 gift vouchers to give away. Available from January 3-31, for details phone (09) 300 2924.

Holiday hit-list

• Inspiration for healthy summer eating,

Mea'ai Samoa: Recipes and Stories from the Heart of Polynesia

continues Robert Oliver's celebration of Polynesian food after the award-winning

Me'a Kai, The Food and Flavours of the South Pacific

. Beautiful stories, colourful images and traditional recipes make this an essential holiday companion. Look out for Viva columnist Michal McKay in the section on New Zealanders of Samoan descent.

• Cute and non-breakable, the new range of melamine plates and cups from Ginger are perfect for picnics, camping and bach living. Prices range from $7-$18, with the range available from Collected at Bloc and Spinz in Milford.

Summer Sundays
Spend your Sunday mornings with Viva food editor Nici Wickes who'll be spicing up the airways on NewstalkZB, talking food, gardening, DIY and more with her lively line-up of guests. 9am-noon, Sundays December 29, January 5 & 12.

In brief

• The Blue Breeze Inn is set to open a noodle bar in Ponsonby Central in January - watch this space.

• Shaky Isles has opened a cafe at Auckland International Airport, great news for those travelling over the break.

• Parnell is hosting a pre-Christmas cocktail competition, try them at bars such as 46&York and Shanghai Lil's and vote for your favourite at:

• NZ Festival of Tennis is upping the festival food ante, with pop-up restaurants from the likes of Best Ugly Bagels and The Grill by Sean Connolly. For tickets, see

Worth the drive
This week the newly renovated Waihi Beach Hotel Eatery & Store opens. Hip Group's Scott Brown and Jackie Grant (Ortolana, St Heliers Bistro, Takapuna Beach Cafe & Store etc) are involved. Say no more.