Cafe chat: Ground courses
Whitebait lovers - keep Saturday, October 20, free. The brains behind the Wildfoods Festival are bringing whitebait to Christchurch for a one-day festival to pay homage to the fishy "white gold". The Great West Coast Whitebait Festival promises quirky, down-to-earth entertainment and food-focused fun, says Westland District Council marketing manager Sonya Matthews. The festival will be at Cranmer Square and the tiny silvery fish will very much be the star of the show - and be available in abundance. Early bird ticket $27 (limited to first 1000 sold), standard ticket $37 (till October 19), gate sale ticket $47 (on the day - assuming there are any left), children (13-17 yrs) $10, children 12 and under free. Seewhitebaitfestival.co.nz
Funding cook school
New Zealand School of Food and Wine founder Celia Hay may have left Christchurch for the moment but she hasn't stopped caring for the city. She is hosting another fundraising dinner in Auckland to raise money to take more groups of school pupils from the devastated eastern suburbs to Akaroa Harbour, for cooking lessons. Last year her dinners enabled 180 10-year-olds to visit the Duvauchelle Store and Cafe where the children made cookies, pizza and bread. Tomorrow night, organic artisan winemakers James Millton, of Millton Vineyard Gisborne, and Nick Mills, of Rippon Estate Wanaka, host the first dinner at Hay's new Auckland campus.
There is still time to have your say on who has the most courageous kai in the Monteith's Beer and Wild Food Challenge. Each dish must feature the wildest local ingredients available (anything not raised on a farm), be presented in a wild way, or use readily available wild ingredients such as venison, huhu grubs or shellfish. The Watershed's John Finlayson has created a dish of wallaby tail, wild rabbit and wild venison, Sharne Pollard at the Famous Grouse Hotel (Lincoln) has reinvented the ploughman's lunch with a variety of wild meats, and at the Running Bull Bar & Grill House, Donsang Lama is serving "Bambi's up in my Grill" - wild venison finished with "snake-bite" sauce. At the Thirsty Marriner in Sumner, Jessada Kornkaset is pairing venison with pears, and Irish chef Ruaire Murray has got the goat at the Pedal Pusher, and has curried it. See wildfoodmonteiths.co.nz for the participating restaurants but you only have until August 12 to text in your favourite dish. Every text receives a voucher for a free Monteiths beer.
Jenny Garing, of Lyttelton's Ground cafe and deli, is resuming her cooking classes at the Naval Point Club. Take your pick from Spice up your Winter (Aug 15), Malaysian Delights (Sep 12) or Sri Lankan cooking (Oct 3), $70 per person per course. Email email@example.com.
MasterChef New Zealand contestant Chris Turner, who works for the Christchurch City Council and made it through to the final 11 of the reality TV show, hasn't given up on his dream to study for a diplome de patisserie at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu in Wellington, although he's still $23,000 short of the tuition fees. Turner recently hosted a three- course fundraising feast for 44 guests and is planning more.
Chocoholics heading to Wellington for the New Zealand Chocolate Festival (Aug 24-26) will be able to make their own truffles at the Heilala Vanilla Chocolate Factory. With Swiss master chocolatier Rene 'Choco' Fellmann, in charge, visitors will have access to litres of chocolate ganache to mould into truffles and dip in cacao or ground nuts. Fellmann says: 'If chocolate is consumed in moderation, as a treat, it will never interfere with body shape but just give you a happy lifestyle." See chocolatefestival.co.nz for tickets.
Dine and wine
Saggio di vino's Cork & Fork menu has returned with a twist. Opt for two courses ($59) or three ($73), with a glass of Pegasus wine matched to each course and $5 from every dinner will be donated to the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust. Sun-Thurs during August. Ph: 379 4006.
The McCain Red Veggie Truck (a 1943 V8 Chev hot rod) and the "McCain Grower" will be at the Christchurch Farmers' Market at Riccarton House on Saturday as part of the Children's Food Festival, offering children a range of interactive learning activities that will teach them all about growing healthy vegetables. As part of the McCain School Veggie Patch programme, the team at Riccarton House have built planter boxes so primary school children can plant seedlings. Children also have the chance to host their own farmers' market stall on Saturday or craft stall at the Sunday Artisan Market.