I dug deep for the words to explain what just happened on Friday evening - but they already exist in the exert - The only piece missing in the description is the thirst and passion that Monique has found to bring this to life and share it with all of us.....
" Hiakai. Adjective. Origin~Māori.
1. Hungry 2. Having a desire, need, craving for food.
Hiakai is a pop up series devoted to the exploration and development of Māori cooking techniques and ingredients. Māori were great innovators of food and land, developing their own style of earth cookery (hāngi) and successfully adapting plants and vegetables brought with from Hawaiki to the much colder environment of Aotearoa (New Zealand). Over several centuries, these methods have been passed down, refined and still feed the hiakai people of Aotearoa today. "
One tent, one table of 10, for 5 nights only. I had watched with unabashed envy as the first event was held in Canterbury - and seriously considered travelling for this meal. The next popup is in Blenheim and already sold out. There is a rising following, and since attending her first popup at Merediths over a year ago I can see why. Genie captured it here on her blog.
We were invited to watch the hangi being lifted - so in a fine mist of rain and knee depth mud - we were served a little ramekin of soup... A Māori dashi broth of smoked eel, mushroom, karengo (seaweed) and puha.
Sitting inside hearing the rain fall on the tent was 'almost' the most romantic setting, only almost because it was followed by a wave of guilt that the loveliest chef is standing outside cooking over an open fire with wayward smoke and rain alternately blasting her in the face. Very sure Monique is questioning her sanity, but the passion over-rides better judgement - a curse of all the best chefs.
These flax hang baskets are hand woven, by Monique and lined with rangiora leaves, both above and under the hangi food.
Hangi chicken thigh and chicken fat stuffing with ronga herbs, carrot and urenika potato.
Burnt sugar hangi pudding with pear and kaanga way (fermented corn) inspired anglaise, covered with the rangiora leaves and tied with harakeke instead of string.
Monique later made an appearance with the pot and anglaise and ladle to fulfil the 'more please' requests - of the entire room!!