This year for Matariki we have written a menu around the 9 stars which make up the Matariki star cluster. Legend says that the 9 stars represent different children of the earth mother Papatuanuku and sky father, Ranginui. Both of them were divided over whether to separate and bring light and life to the earth. Tawhirimatea, the god of the winds, did not agree with his brother's actions. He thought that separating his parents was cruel. He was so angry he tore out his own eyes and threw them into the heavens where they have looked down on man ever since.
Nau mai e ngā hua e hora mai nei.
I ahu mai koutou i whakatipu a nuku,
i whakatipu a rangi.
Tāwhia ki a Rehua*, ka puta ki te whaiao, ki te ao mārama.
Kia whakairia ki runga, kia tina.
Tina! Hui e, taiki e!
We welcome the food before us
Food that’s been nurtured by Nuku (referring to Papatūānuku/Earth)
And nurtured by Rangi (referring to Ranginui/Sky)
Food gifted from Rehua and presented to the world of light.
Let it be elevated above so it has certainty
Maintain and is secure.
This year for matariki I've written a menu based around the 9 stars in the matariki star cluster each one connected to our natural world in a different way. Very proud of the team and a special thanks to Te Awa Johnson for passing on all your knowledge with us here at Hillside Kitchen.
Matariki is also a star in the Matariki star cluster. She represents hope, our connection to the environment, and the gathering of people. We've decided to gather all the suppliers I could and fit them into our snack course. It's the first thing our customers get and it's a fantastic story to start the journey.
Kiwi quinoa puffed crackers, smoked Zany Zeus yoghurt, pickled kaicycle celery, and a voudavon spice made with the dehydrated celery leaves
Pickled diakon, pickled mingiroa farm cavolo nero, fix and fogg peanut butter and nigella seed dressing
Fry bread with olives from two short dogs with a dipping sauce made of lewis farms strawberries they gifted us after covid19 lock down and lot eight olive oil.
Ururangi is connected to the winds. Māori have a deep connection with the winds having to rely on them to get to Aotearoa in the very beginning. Kites helped in many ways in understanding the winds and were usually made from ruapō or harakeke.
Smoked and aged butter made from Zany Zeus cream, our sourdough which has been in our owner Asher Bootes family for roughly 13 years!, and rēwena bread made with purple dawn Kumara and harakeke seeds. We started our rēwena last matariki for the first year of Feast Matariki and it was so good I didn't want to see it go.
Sometimes it's hard to fit a story into food. Little hints from the harakeke seeds, smoking the butter, and the aeration in the bread has helped this course fit into the narrative
This star represents spring and the rains that it brings. It was hard to embody spring in the middle of winter. I've always loved how water droplets form on nasturtium leaves and during the first rains of autumn the flush of mushrooms always brings excitement into our kitchen.
Sourdough tart shell, mushroom duxelle seasoned with a pine oil and preserved lemons (which I'm sure every chef has a plenty after covid-19 😂) topped with a little reduced pickled mushrooms liquid and nasturtiums and brassica flowers. Sprayed at the table with a mushroom, soy, and lemon consume. It’s become our restaurant manager Matt’s favorite course he loves making it rain!
Waitā is the star that's connected to everything that comes from the ocean. Now since we're vegetarian at Hillside, we're limited to using seaweeds but I like to pay a homage to fish by doing a play on a fish taco here.
Tempura fried cucumbers which we've salted, froze, and defrosted (I find this gives it an almost oyster flavour/texture), pickled wakame gathered by Awatoru , pickled red onions, an avocado and Nori puree, and a few coastal greens we gather from Wellingtons abundant coast line. All wrapped up in a tortilla made from popcorn kernels grown in the Hawkes Bay.
Waitī is one of the stars in the matariki cluster that is connected with fresh water sources and the food and life that comes from them. I’ve done a little play on a boil up as we’ve got a good excess to puha and watercress here in Wellington.
Taro that has been poached, cold smoked, and dressed in an onion weed and chilli oil, fresh watercress and puha, a dusting of snow made from yoghurt, mint, and horseradish. Poured at the table is a roasted vegetable broth that we steep dried wakame and all the watercress and puha stems that we get leftover from picking down.
Tupuānuku is the star that's connected to everything that grows in the soil. This is our main course at Hillside and it was one of the easier courses to design as so many veges from this time of year come from the soil.
Celeriac terrine sitting atop an onion jam and garden hollandaise, crispy Kiwi quinoa and shaved black truffles garnished with parsley. Served with sides of a root vegetable piccalilli and a foraged salad dressed in a burnt corn husk vinaigrette.
She's made up from everything that makes earth, be it the people, fruit, veges, trees, mountains, rivers, and oceans. She isn't a star of the matariki star cluster but her role in Maori culture and the story of matariki can't be ignored.
This is our cheese course at Hillside and it's one of 2 optional course as part of our 7 course menu. With these extra 2 courses I wanted to tell the story of the creation of matariki and earth.
Rye sourdough crumpet started with our mother starter, butter, quince jam, Mount Eliza farmhouse cheddar, Kumara skin powder, and honey from Awatoru
I tried to use a lot of different ingredients from all walks of life to show thanks for all that she has given us.
Tupuārangi is connected to everything from the sky. Here we've used the berries from the bushes and fruits from the trees. I've also made it look like the matariki star cluster to tell the story of Tāwhirimātea. He got very upset that his parents Papatūānuku and Ranginui separated he tore his eye out, crushed it, and threw it into the sky. I originally had it looking like an eye but our ice cream machine decided to act up and we've had to adapt.
Grapefruit segments, apple kombucha granita, blueberry and juniper gel, cracked pepper. A little palate cleanser that separates our menu from savoury to sweets.
Ranginui is the sky father. When him and Papatūānuku separated it made room for light between them and created life.
This is our pre dessert on our seven course at Hillside. I've worked at alot of places that had a "cloud" dessert and figured its about time I had a crack at it.
Poached feijoas in a lemon verbena syrup, spongecake both fresh and dehydrated, and a foam made from the leftover jarring syrup and Otis oat milk, with some fennel growing in garden to top it off. Thanks to my mum for the feijoas!
The star that's connected to those that have died in the past year. It's a pretty heavy subject to match to food. So I figure if there was one way to go out, it would be death by chocolate.
Chocolate and porcini fondant, chocolate and walnut soil, chocolate and tofu mousse, Blackberry puree, porcini powder
This is the wishing star of the matariki star cluster. I originally wanted to make fortune cookies to play with this idea and upon my research realized the traditional Japanese fortune cookie was miso based, so I took that and ran with it.
These are our petit 4's and I serve it with Mū Tōrere a traditional Maori board game.
Popcorn miso and oatmeal cookie, chocolate and hokey pokey pieces, and apple kombucha pat de fuits.
It's been a great menu to share with you all. I don't normally share the whole menu as I don't like sharing photos every day, but I hope you've enjoyed seeing what we've done for this fabulous time of year.
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Words and images by Kaitaki Collective member - Max Gordy - Chef at Hillside Kitchen @hillside_nz
I'm originally from America and moved to New Zealand when I was 15. I’ve spent the majority of my adult life cooking in various establishments all around Wellington. I've always been fascinated with Māori culture and many native cultures around the world. This led me to travel to South America to further explore how cultures have adapted from their indigenous people. I'm an avid forager and love to show people how to use what is around them. Zero waste is something I strive for, as I believe it is an obvious mentality we should all be focused on. I love New Zealand food and it's producers and I try to meet more and more at every opportunity. I'm quite loud and love having a good laugh. I have plans to open a restaurant of my own soon and would love the opportunity to build my reputation further. I've also got a few collaboration dinners in the works as well and love meeting people with a passion for food and sharing that.