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Wednesday, 20 June 2018 10:29 pm

Peanut butter-stuffed, choc-dipped huhu grubs wriggling onto plates

Unique New Zealand ingredients used by Zealandia's Rata Cafe

UNIQUELY NEW ZEALAND: Some of the unique New Zealand Ingredients Rata Cafe is using in this years Wellington on a Plate.

ANYONE for peanut butter-filled, chocolate dipped huhu grubs?

Karori’s contribution to Wellington on Plate is this week being dished up at Zealandia’s Rata Café.

The café now use mainly Wellington suppliers, free-range chicken and pork, and only sustainable fish.

“It’s our new direction really, it’s just being more in line with the ecological side of the sanctuary”, head chef Mike Dennis says.

The Forest and Forage Degustation Beer Match evening on August 29 and 30 showcases the changes.

The seven-course dinner uses plants endemic to New Zealand, traditional Maori herbs, and sustainable fishing.

“What we’re trying to do is tell a story and make it more visually exciting and appealing for people, and give them a real opportunity to try different herbs and products that they’ve never tried before,” he says.

The third course of a wild rabbit sausage tells the story of one of the pests that has been eradicated from the sanctuary.

Chef Dennis picks some of the fresh ingredients for the dinner like kawakawa, horopito and lemonwood from a small garden onsite.

The dinner also offers an eighth course of peanut butter-filled, chocolate-dipped huhu grubs “for the brave”.

“Most people don’t want to look at a live animal and stick it in their mouth so what we’re doing is piping them full of peanut butter, and we’re dipping them in a Wellington Chocolate Factory chocolate, which is a local company that makes fair trade chocolate.

“You can either have it here, or take it home with you for when you’re feeling brave,” Chef Dennis says.

Beer blogger Neil Miller has matched each item on the degustation menu with a local beer.

Rata Cafe's Go Native Lamb Burger

GO NATIVE: The Go Native Lamb Burger features unique New Zealand produce such as pikopiko and horopito.

The café also has a special lunch menu during the event featuring the Go Native Lamb Burger, which Chef Dennis says he is proud of.

“We’re slow roasting it so it goes in the oven for about six hours, it comes out and it really melts in your mouth, kind of beautiful”, he says.

He says Wellington on a Plate is a great way for the out-of-town café to show that they can compete at this level.

Rata Café’s is participating in Wellington on a Plate for the second year.

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