The Last Bite — Winter’s Don’t-Miss Dish in Edible Santa Barbara Magazine
Want the Passion Fruit Pavlova recipe? Get it here.
Passion Fruit is one of Santa Barbara’s most abundant Farmers Market foods, and winter is the perfect time for it to brighten up your table with its tart, citrus-y flavor. Here at Bettina pizzeria in Montecito Country Mart, their Passion Fruit Pavlova dessert is available three-quarters of the year, including winter.
Owners Rachel Greenspan and Brendan Smith opened this Cal-Italian joint in 2018, after a catering stint in the Santa Ynez Valley and multiple eating trips to Italy. They became known for their fresh and inventive toppings and naturally leavened breads and pizza dough (they both used to work at the renowned Roberta’s Pizzeria in Brooklyn). And their zeal for farmers markets and local food means we all get to reap the delicious rewards.
Weekly market forays are the backbone of the restaurant’s ever-changing menu, and Head Chef Josh Pressman routinely fills about 14 crates of produce each time. “It’s super important to us, and it’s also difficult at a restaurant, committing to as much produce as possible from local markets,” Greenspan said. They create 2-3 market pizzas from this haul each month, and also offer classic pizzas that stay on the menu, along with unique starters, side dishes, salads and desserts. Where they can’t source ingredients locally, they stay as local as possible, and stick to California (like their California-grown San Marzano tomatoes for the sauce).
2020 was a hard year for restaurants, but Greenspan and Smith quickly switched their focus to the obvious, pizza to-go. This made it easier for folks to try this new neighborhood spot, and it was a success. The couple feels they’ve grown so much in the last 2 years from all that navigating, as well as from the wonderful surprise of receiving a Bib Gourmand rating from the Michelin Guide in late 2021. In the future, watch for more to-go options, new menu items, fun events and maybe even another space.
Passion Fruit Pavlova Recipe
Want the full recipe? Get and print it here.
To make the dish, beat 4 egg whites at medium speed, gradually streaming in 2 cups sugar. Once it gets glossy, stiff peaks, fold in 2 tablespoons each of cornstarch and apple cider vinegar. With a large cookie scooper, scoop out portions, placing them on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Bake for 1 hour in a 210 degree oven with the door cracked open (you want to bake it as dry as possible). It’s done when it’s completely set, hard on the outside, and slightly sticky. While it’s baking, make a simple syrup of water and sugar and add coriander seeds (1 cup of each). Simmer for 20 mins, then strain the seeds and set syrup aside for another use. Pan fry or deep fry the seeds in neutral oil for 3-5 minutes, place on paper towels to dry, and sprinkle with salt.
Beat 1 cup cream, 1/4 cup sour cream, some vanilla bean paste and powdered sugar until medium soft peaks form. With a paring knife, carefully cut a circle in the top of each pavlova and fill the inside with the whipped cream mixture. Cut 4 passion fruits in half, and scoop out the seeds onto the top of the whipped cream. Add the candied coriander seeds and drizzle with good olive oil.