Brent King with his kumara vodka. Photo / Sarah Ivey EXPAND

Brent King with his kumara vodka. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Among the wines and fare from fine-dining restaurants on offer at Taste of Auckland was a kumara vodka distilled in Dargaville.
The Purple Monkey Finger vodka, created by "Booze Baron" Brent King, is slightly sweeter than your average Russian vodka.
"Most vodkas these days are made with wheat or grain," said Mr King.
"The kumara brings more flavour."
It is the first time the family-run business has exhibited at Taste New Zealand, a foodie mecca that served 60,000 dishes to 20,000 visitors at the weekend.
Mr King started the business two years ago after experiments with home distilling produced the kumara spirit, which he describes as a cross between a tequila and a vodka.
"There's not a lot to do in Dargaville except play with kumaras and drink a lot," said Mr King.
The octopus carpaccio, served with orange, fennel and macadamia nuts, was another highlight on offer at the tent of Auckland restaurant Toto. Owner Nick O'Callaghan said the event, at Victoria Park in Central Auckland, had attracted a laid-back crowd who were interested in trying the latest of what the New Zealand food industry had to offer.
"It's all about getting your name out there, having fun and mixing with the industry."
At the Te Papa tent, visitors were able to give their tastebuds a break to paint a section of a life-size paint-by-numbers copy of one of the pieces featured in theEuropean Mastersexhibition, running until February.
"We have been busier than expected. The canvas is filling up fast," said assistant Johann Hutchison.
For Jan and John Glover, on holiday from England, a glass of the Mt Riley Pinot Gris was the highlight of their day at the show.
"We have had a lovely day, very enjoyable," said Mrs Glover.
By Katherine Irvine