Meri Kirihimete


Hi there,

My friend Ally from Nigella Eats Everything ( shared with me a post about her first Christmas after she moved from the U.K. In addition she shared the most delicious dessert recipe. I know you will enjoy her posts. Ally’s recipes are always amazing, and she writes with a delightful sense of humor.

Panettone with Christmas cake ice cream

The Christmas of 2019 was slightly unusual. Disregarding what was about to disrupt the world a mere couple of weeks later, Christmas was still a moment of blissful ignorance, and we counted down the days to the wintery, festive break. 

However, it was my situation that year that was unusual. I had moved from the UK to New Zealand.

This was what I had to put up with in December.

I had arrived in Wellington in September, just as the blustery weather of a southern hemisphere winter was drawing to a close. As we made our way through what I’ve always known to be autumn, I grew increasingly disconcerted as the days grew longer, the sun warmer, and then in December, I was severely burnt while sitting on the beach.

Summer had arrived.

However, for such a summery, sunny country, there were a surprising number of wintery references to celebrate the holiday. Christmas cards showed picturesque snowy landscapes, Santa in a flurry of snowflakes, or even some holly and a robin. A neighbour’s front window was bedecked with reindeer moss, tartan bows and even an old-fashioned streetlamp like in Narnia. Hallmark had successfully trademarked Christmas.

This was my first Christmas away from my family in the UK. Usually, my parents, sister and I start the Bucks Fizz in the morning, maybe nibble some canapes as we open presents, devour an enormous lunch complete with turkey and Christmas pudding then crawl to the sofa for the Queen’s speech (this year, the King’s speech *sob*), Christmas telly and a snooze. 

The build-up is half the excitement – the twinkling lights in town, buying presents, the Christmas carols, and decorating the tree – so in 2019, celebrating without my family or the thick winter clothing and stodgy food, the Christmas spirit failed me. Instead, it was a summer holiday of sorts with good food and a different family of travelers.

Like the Kiwis themselves, a New Zealand Christmas is relaxed. There’s no right or wrong way to celebrate. At work, the phone rang with a chirpy rendition of ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ and, no, this wasn’t a seasonal choice; it had been the ringtone since I started in September. The British centerpiece of a turkey doesn’t make an appearance there, thank goodness, as can you imagine trying to cook one on the barbecue? Salmon, lamb, fresh salads, and sides of all the plentiful seasonal vegetables are the norm. Dessert is a light, fluffy pile of pavlova, cream, and seasonal berries – my colleague said that strawberries and blueberries always reminded her of Christmas, and I simply stared at her, incredulous. A Christmas tipple is sangria. So, you can understand my lack of Christmas cheer. It felt like June and Wimbledon should have been on TV.

What with the sun, the fruit, and the sangria, my Christmas was completely different. For one, it was hot, and we celebrated Christmas Eve outside in the garden as chicken wings sizzled on the barbecue. Blueberries were floating in our cocktail glasses, and on Christmas Day, we ate cold meats, potato salads, and a beast of a chocolate cake topped with fruit.

Thinking back, it was the first December I ate sweet, ripe strawberries and juicy apricots. For a Christmassy breakfast, I roasted the fruit in brown sugar and the kitchen smelled of caramel as they cooked and oozed juice; then I served them alongside thick slices of chocolate chip panettone with Christmas cake ice cream. Yes, ice cream at Christmas. The world had gone crazy.

Panettone with Christmas cake, ice cream, and roasted fruit

If getting hold of strawberries and apricots is just unrealistic, you can substitute the fruit for caramelized oranges. 

Serves 2

500g vanilla ice cream
250g Christmas cake, without the icing and marzipan
1 chocolate chip panettone, sliced into six thick pieces
5 apricots
A large handful of strawberries
1 tbsp brown sugar

  1. First, make the ice cream. Stir the vanilla ice cream to soften it, crumble the cake and mix them together. Dollop into a freezable container and freeze until firm.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C/395°F. Line a baking tray with baking paper and sprinkle with brown sugar. Slice the apricots and strawberries in half and place them cut side down into the sugar. Turn them cut side up and slide the tray into the oven. Roast the fruit for 15 minutes until the sugar melts and bubbles and the fruit is soft.
  3. When preparing to serve, lightly toast the panettone. Stack in bowls and top with scoops of ice cream, roasted fruit and a little icing sugar.

Blog: Nigella Eats Everything

Instagram: @allyeatseverything

I hope you have enjoyed meeting Ally and I know you will enjoy her special Christmas dessert. Thank you, Alley, for sharing with us your story and recipe.


  1. Definitely a different experience! It reminds me of my first Christmas in Singapore ☺️ of course I couldn’t feel any Christmas spirit 😅
    Pavlova, cream, and seasonal berries sounds delicious but this dessert is even better 😋 What an interesting combination 😉

  2. Sounds like a really fun experience! I had to laugh when your colleague said that strawberries and blueberries always reminded her of Christmas. Christmas always reminds me of WORK…and NEW YEAR EVE party had nothing to do with me…because I had to WORK. Your panettone with roasted fruits looks gorgeous and very christmasy!

  3. This was such a fun post. I’ve always wondered how Christmas is celebrated in the warm climes and this covers one of them. I chuckled at the line: “…my colleague said that strawberries and blueberries always reminded her of Christmas, and I simply stared at her, incredulous.” Lol. Great guest post from Ally. Thanks, Bernadette for the morning giggles. 🙂

  4. This had me smiling as I recalled my first Christmas in Spain with plenty of sunshine, barbeques on the beach and Santa’s guzzling beer. But, I still felt Christmassy as Spain tends to celebrate the original Christmas with nativity scenes and many religious holidays/fiestas through out the month. It is just not as commercialized which I liked. The dessert looks fabulous. Thanks.

  5. I loved this story Bernadette! I have always wondered what Christmas is like in the southern hemisphere! I had to smile many times, I’m sure it is quite hard to get used to! The dessert sounds amazing, thank you for sharing Ally!

Any comments or suggestions are appreciated. If you like this recipe, please give it to your friends.

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