The New Zealander’s Pavlova
By Mary Swift-Swan
the west side of Alameda, on the eastern corner of Central,
is The New Zealander, Webster Street’s newest restaurant,
bringing a bit of down-under to the Bay Area. The building
was built in 1879, and became Croll’s in 1885. Windows
facing Webster and Central give it an open feeling. Maori
and Aboriginal artifacts are a large part of the decor. A
classic wooden bar is complemented by stained glass on the
ceiling and windows. It is a comfortable, kid- and
generally-friendly place for good food at a fair price.
the name promises, the six-month-old restaurant offers many
unique dishes from New Zealand. The menu temps diners with
down-under teas, crackers, cheddar cheese, vegemite, beer,
and a growing selection of NZ wines. They serve grass-fed
New Zealand meats, like an 8-oz. rib-eye steak with roasted
red potatoes and a salad for under $15. For a quick meal,
try mouth-watering NZ sausage roll or a Pub Pie, choosing
between ten fillings, served with an organic green salad for
under $10. And then there are New Zealand desserts.
When invited to share a recipe with Bay Crossings readers,
Chef Clive Hitchens offered a classic New Zealand dessert
that is very popular on their menu, New Zealand Pavlova. The
recipe originates from Edmond’s Sure to Rise, a pre-WWII
cookbook. “Back home, Edmond’s is what Betty Crocker was to
those in the States. There was a time when it was in every
kitchen. Our Pavlova tastes just like back home. The
technique is well proven. Like many of our meals offered at
The New Zealander, the recipes are simple. It is the
particular method that makes for a good product.”
New Zealand Pavlova
Prep & Cooking Time: 1-3/4 hr
Parts can be made ahead.
Make as a family pie or individual desserts. Serves 6-8.
Zealand Vanilla Cream
24 oz Heavy Cream
1/2 C Sugar
1/2 Vanilla Bean
1Tbl Vanilla Extract
NZ way to create a perfect Vanilla Cream is to start with a
cold bowl. Add a small amount of heavy cream, adding the
remaining cream to the mixer as a steady slow stream. Next,
pour in the vanilla extract followed by the sugar, also in a
slow stream. Allow the mixer to continue. Cut a vanilla bean
in half, then split it. Scrape in the soft powder from the
center of the vanilla bean into the cream. Put in a covered
container and chill until used.
water and sugar to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 5-10
minutes, stirring periodically until it thickens. Remove
from heat. Add frozen passion fruit puree for a simple fruit
syrup. Refrigerate until needed.
Baked NZ Pavlova Meringue
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Cookie tray and Parchment paper
Pastry cone and spatula
1 C Sugar
1 C Passion Fruit Puree
1/4 C Water
egg whites into a bowl. Add cream of tartar and vanilla
extract and start the mixer Pour in the sugar as a steady
stream while the mixer beats the eggs. Add a level
tablespoon of cornstarch. The other secret making New
Zealand Pavlova like no other is a small amount of malt
vinegar. It keeps the center moist with a nutty flavor and
no hint of vinegar.
1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar
1 Tbl Vanilla Extract
1 1/3C Sugar
1 Tbl Corn Starch
2 Tbl Arrowroot Powder
2 tsp Malt Vinegar
To bake, line the cookie sheet with
parchment paper. Fold a pastry cone down one third. Spatula
meringue into the pastry cone. Squeeze out individual rounds
of NZ Pavlova meringue, a few inches apart, or make one
large pie in the middle of the sheet. Individual servings
are fun to make, some spiky topped and some smooth.
in hot oven and immediately reduce the temperature to 225
degrees. Cook for 1hr 20 min. When done, tips will have just
a hint of golden brown and the white body will feel firm to
a gentle touch. Remove from heat to cool for 5 minutes
before assembling dessert. Cooling allows the crust to
become crunchy. NZ Pavlova meringues can be made ahead if
stored away from other foods being cooked.
note about working with kiwi fruit. First, make a slice at
the top of the fruit toward the center but not all the way
through. When the hard stem is encountered, cut around it.
Then take hold and twist the sliced top around. The sharp
pointed stem will unscrew out of the fruit, intact. Then
slice the bottom flat and the fuzzy outer covering off.
TNZ Pavlova together
Create with 6 individual Pavlova
1 pk Blackberries
1 pk Raspberries
with heaped tablespoon(s) of Vanilla Cream in the center of
the serving plate. Place berries evenly around the cream.
Next, place the baked Pavlova meringue on the base. Slip
kiwi slices partly under the NZ Pavlova. Spoon 2 tablespoons
Vanilla Cream, covering nearly half of the top, allowing it
to flow to the plate. Decorate the top with a mixture of
raspberries, blackberries, and slices of kiwi fruit. With a
bit more Vanilla Cream, add more fruit and top with small
flag of mint leaves. Lastly, drizzle Passion Fruit Coulee
over and around the pie on the plate and serve.
or passion fruit hot or iced tea, is excellent with this
delicious dessert. The New Zealand Pavlova, crunchy outside,
moist and slightly chewy on the inside, is truly unique. The
fragrant Vanilla Cream and bright colored fresh fruit add to
the sensory response to make it simply one of the best
desserts ever tasted. Who needs chocolate? By the time the
middle of an individual serving is reached, there is no
stopping until the last bit of Passion Fruit Coulee is
sopped up with the last bite of Pavlova. The small mint
leaves are a perfect touch to press between the teeth,
clearing the pallet.
This very special treat would be a grand
finale to any party, celebration, or even Easter feast.
Clive Hitchens was born in 1965 in New Zealand to Lee
and Raewyn Hitchens. Food was an early interest. At age 7,
he was making fudge and cakes; at 12, he began cooking
during summer breaks for his brother and others at the
family beach house. “Mum would do the shopping for the week,
load the freezer, and give me the menu. I cooked all the
dinners, including leg of lamb roasts and such. My exciting
time was Friday, when I got to use what was left in the
fridge and have fun making things.”
At 15, Chef Clive was working full time
washing dishes. At 17, he started participating in cooking
competitions. At 19, he won the young chef of the year and
at 24, won Chef of the Year in New Zealand. “These were
Magic box competitions, similar to the Iron Chef. I loved
that sort of competition.” When living and working in
Auckland, Chef Clive also attended the Technical Institute
for Professional Chefs for three years.
The next year he went to London,
representing New Zealand in a competition and to attend the
Westminster Technical Institute for two years. “Joining a
top catering company in London, I cooked in the Summer
Palace for the Queen Mum at Cartier, Prince Charles, and
Rothschild’s at the National Gallery, for Elton John, and
many more. It was really quite cool.”
In 1991, Clive visited the U.S. for the
first time with his brother, looking for their grandfather.
They traveled through 33 states in 2-1/2 months and finally
found him. It was fortunate, as he died later that year.
Harry Melchoir (Malqual) had been a WWII GI. “I loved what I
saw of America. All I saw here was opportunity. After being
in the U.S. for 11 years, I now think my grandfather was
part Native American, by his and my dad’s features and
coloring. I’d like to know more, but here you can’t focus on
the past. Life moves too fast. You either get on with it, or
you get left behind.” Without his grandfather’s name on his
father’s birth certificate, Chef Clive had to struggle, like
so many, to get his Green Card. When it came, he was very
happy to be legally working and living in America.
The New Zealander restaurant is a
family affair. Donna and Clive Hitchens met in Berkeley.
Clive was looking for a new partner for his business, CW
Catering. “I recognized true talent and ability in Donna
right away.” Donna joined Clive in catering and it wasn’t
long before they fell in love and married. After starting a
family, they augmented catering by offering a New Zealand
classic, minced meat “Pub Pie,” at local farmers’ markets. A
pub pie, to a New Zealander, is like a hot dog to an
American or taco to someone from Mexico. A pub pie is a
quick, everyday meal, eaten with hands and napkin. Pub pies
quickly became such a big hit at the markets that they
needed a restaurant to continue to grow. “When we became
pregnant, it was time to reach deeper. The restaurant gods
were smiling on us the day we found this location.”
The New Zealander is located at 1400
Webster St., Alameda. Call (510) 769-8555 for inquiries, or
visit www.thenewzealander.com and cwcatering.com.