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Kiwi Shake & Bake Brings a Taste of New Zealand to Boise

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While the "shake" in its name isn't underway quite yet, pending an influx of imported candies to mix with ice cream, the "bake" is already going full-tilt at New Zealand eatery Kiwi Shake & Bake. The restaurant had its soft opening Dec. 20 on the bottom floor of The Afton in Boise, and is already peddling a selection of signature New Zealand snacks and desserts, from savory steak-and-cheese pies to sweet-dotted "lolly cakes." Really though, from an American perspective, the foreign touch on the "bake" side of things all starts with thick-sliced homemade bread, which forms the bottom layer of an iconic dish called the "mousetrap."

Biting into a mousetrap is a bit like biting into kitchen sink stew, all scooped up onto a high-quality piece of toast. Day by day, you never know exactly what you're going to find topping a slice in Kiwi's light-flooded bakery case.

This mousetrap featured spaghetti, bacon and lots of melted cheese. - LEX NELSON
  • Lex Nelson
  • This mousetrap featured spaghetti, bacon and lots of melted cheese.
"I think that one even has a little spaghetti on it," the woman behind the counter said when BW stopped by, pointing to one of the confections.

She was right. A closer look at the heavily laden bread slice revealed spaghetti noodles (from a can, per New Zealand tradition) poking out from beneath a thick layer of melted cheese and a rasher of chopped bacon. It's a combination of textures that should be squirm-inducing, but somehow manages to be tasty instead—bacon and cheese is always a winning combination, and the soft spaghetti just ups the carb count, turning a single slice into a filling meal.

"It's a New Zealand farming thing," explained co-owner Chris Munro, adding with a grin that his favorite combination of toppings is spaghetti, cheese, pickles and bacon, though Kiwi also serves a sweet corn and mushroom mousetrap. Chris is a New Zealand native, and started Kiwi with his English wife, Katie. The idea was sparked years ago when they visited Boise and found a dearth of grab-and-go pies.



"I came over here three years in a row racing jetsprint boats at the fairgrounds in Wilder, and met a lot of people and just enjoyed the city and the people," Chris said. "And way back then we saw an opportunity. The fast food was pretty average, and pies are huge in New Zealand and Australia, and yeah, we thought we'd start a business."

LEX NELSON
  • Lex Nelson
Their right-hand man in the pie-making department is John Hackett, an award-winning New Zealand baker who has been in the business for 54 years. The Munros convinced him to retire to Boise, where he's been teaching them everything he knows about baking New Zealand's signature pastries in a commercial kitchen just off of State Street.

"We've got 22 recipes right now, flavors that we can put in the pies, but it's not limited," Kate said. "You can think of anything, whether it's, you know, hunting season and it's elk, you can make up a recipe and make basically a casserole and put it into a pie."

Hackett makes a beautiful crust. Flaky, multi-layered and golden brown, it was the perfect vehicle for the chunks of potato, broccoli, carrot and leek that filled the potato-leek pie on offer at Kiwi. Paired with a bowl of vegetable soup (a daily special) swimming with many of the same hearty ingredients, it made a meat-free meal to die for, although the pie filling could have used a dash more salt and pepper.

The Munros are planning a grand opening for Kiwi later this month, when they'll have a menu of candy-gilded milkshakes on offer. But before you stop by, you might want to check out this handy "immigrant's guide to Kiwi food" published in the New Zealand Herald. Mousetraps, lolly cakes and sausage rolls (another dish you'll find at Kiwi) all made the list.