The Time is Ripe for Pears: Portland

Last week, we brought The Time is Ripe for Pears tour to our hometown, Portland! On Thursday, we were treated to an amazing luncheon at Castagna, where the food looked more like art. Take the starter, for example. We were presented with this of-the-earth ceramic bowl (which I secretly wanted to smuggle home in my purse – after licking it clean, of course).

The bowl contained drops of tangy yogurt, cubed Comice pear, and wisps of fennel. I was excited with this unusual starter, but it wasn’t done yet! Our server placed a box in the center of our table that contained little packets. Pear packets. No joke – they were made of dehydrated pear and filled with granola, and we were told to crumble them over our  yogurt. Gladly!

The meal continued on in a similarly jaw-dropping fashion. One of my favorite courses was this salad, for which you’ll see the recipe here very soon! I would encase this in glass and hang it on the wall of my cube.

Here’s a video of wizard chef Justin Woodward explaining how pears fit into his molecular, seasonal approach to delighting his customers:

The next day, we headed out to our local New Seasons Market, which we love for its friendly staff and amazing range and quality of goods, including, of course, pears. Right now, in the thick of pear season, they had eight varieties for sale!

Lunchtime shoppers loved the pears (and the impromptu ripening education):

We’re in Seattle this week for our last tour stop. If you’re near, join us this Friday between 4 and 6 p.m. at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese in Pike Place Market – we’ll be sampling three sweet and juicy varieties of USA Pears with expert-selected cheese pairings!

And don’t forget to enter our sweepstakes now! There’s just one week left in the sweeps, and YOU could win fresh pears or a trip for two to enjoy the culinary delights of one of these eight great cities! Click here to join!

The Time is Ripe for Pears: Miami

On our all-too-short tour stop in sunny Miami, we enjoyed friendly people, lots of great food, and of course, the sunshine! We dropped in at the Whole Foods Market in Coral Gables to sample ripe Bartlett, Starkrimson, and Bosc pears. Watch this fun video to see what our fans had to say about our pears:

In the evening, we went to Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink in the design district for a decadent spread: four courses of pear desserts! We were on a sugar high for hours. And it wasn’t an ordinary sugar kick – we were treated to dishes by renowned pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith, a fellow pear fanatic. Watch this video to learn how she uses pears in her dishes:

 

Hedy also shared the recipe for her Pear Panini with Membrillo and Manchego.

Inspired by Spain, this lavish dessert had the perfect balance of salty and sweet, with fleur de sel sprinkled over the fruity quince spread and sliced pears. Visit the Michael’s Genuine blog to get the recipe.

 

Before leaving Miami, I took a quick walk on the beach to soak up some sun. Here’s the gorgeous view from my hotel room!

Don’t forget to enter our Facebook sweepstakes—one lucky winner could be walking the same beach and enjoying delicious pear delicacies, too!

We’re halfway through our tour already, but we still have four great cities to visit. If you live in or near Philadelphia, Chicago, Seattle, or Portland, join us at an upcoming event to taste ripe pears and enter to win dinner for two!

The Time is Ripe for Pears: Atlanta

We headed down South last week to visit Atlanta, home of the CNN Center, the world’s largest aquarium (!), and TONS of streets named “Peachtree.” Unfortunately, we didn’t find a single Peartree Street, but we met lots of welcoming and friendly pear fans!

Watch this video to see how much Atlanta Kroger shoppers loved our pear-fectly ripe Bartlett, Starkrimson, and Bosc pears!

We also enjoyed a delicious meal at Ecco Restaurant, where Chef Craig Richards told us what he finds most interesting about pears. You’ll have to watch this clip to find out!

Chef Richards also shared his recipe for Pear and Buffalo Mozzarella Ravioli. Click here to see the entire recipe—believe me, you won’t want to overlook this! (Thanks to Broderick of Savory Exposure for the ravioli photo!)

To top off an excellent tour stop, we had lunch at Empire State South, where we started it off right with a few “put-ups”—Classic Tomato Chow Chow and this delicious Roasted Pear Butter. Spread on toasted sourdough, these preserves were sublime! The rest of the meal, from vanilla bean lemonade to a homemade chocolate chip cookie, were amazing as well. If you’re in the area, don’t miss this restaurant!

Visit our YouTube page to see videos from the rest of our trip, including another video of Chef Richards telling us why he loves pears.

Check us out on Facebook to see the latest from the road – and if you haven’t joined our sweepstakes yet, don’t miss out!

Follow us on Twitter and keep an eye out for the #ripepears hashtag, where you’ll see how we’re spreading the good pear word!

Next stop: Miami!

The Time is Ripe for Pears: New York

Well, we turned the Big Apple into the Big Pear for a few days! We had a great visit to New York City – we ate delicious food, shared ins-pear-ation with shoppers, and visited some of Manhattan’s most famous neighborhoods.

At PUBLIC Restaurant, Chef Brad Farmerie shared the pear love – watch this video to hear what he thinks about pears!

(Visit our YouTube page for another fun outtake with Chef Brad.)

We also served up fresh pears at the Whole Foods Market in Tribeca, where shoppers raved about the sweet and juicy Bartletts.

On our way back to the hotel, we stopped by Ground Zero, home to a new memorial – and one very hardy pear tree! Unfortunately, tickets were sold out for the day, but we snapped a photo of the new buildings in progress.

 

Chef Brad also shared his recipe for Maple Poached Pears. He says, “These spicy poached pears have become a staple on PUBLIC’s menu year after year during pear season and beyond, as it is also a great way to preserve pears after the season has passed. The bright beautiful red color and the sweet/sour/spicy combination marry well with the pear’s texture and flavor to enhance a wide variety of dishes—used in salads with blue cheese and toasted nuts or with seared foie gras and salty bacon. I think our current incarnation, Black Pudding Waffles with Spicy Poached Pears and Whipped Foie Gras Butter, is potentially the most decadently delicious breakfast item I have ever tasted. Feel free to stop by the restaurant to find out!”

Ingredients
2 ½ cinnamon sticks
2 ½ star anise
¼ of a red chili pepper
2 bottles affordable red wine
½ lemongrass stem, lightly crushed with the back of the knife
2 cups light brown sugar
½ thumb fresh ginger, peeled and roughly sliced
½ cup sugar
5 Anjou USA Pears, peeled

Directions
In a large pot combine all of the ingredients except the pears and bring to a boil. This will cook off the alcohol and give the pears a more nuanced flavor.

Add the pears and bring the ingredients back to boiling. Make a cartouche by using parchment paper cut to the size of your sauce pan and cover the pears. Lower the heat and cook until a knife slides in and out of the pear easily (time varies based on ripeness of the pears and cooking temperature).

Take the pot off the heat and cool the pears in the liquid. Refrigerate the pears in the liquid until you are ready to use.

Stay tuned for more – we’re headed to Atlanta later this week! And don’t forget to join our sweepstakes on Facebook, where you could win a trip for two to one of eight U.S. cities – or a box of fresh pears to your doorstep!

The Time is Ripe for Pears: Boston!

Hello from Boston!

We’re having a great time exploring the city and sharing pear recipes and ripening info (not to mention delicious pears!) with fellow pear fans on The Time is Ripe for Pears Tour. Here’s a quick glance at what we’ve seen so far:

First stop: the Chelsea Market Basket, where we sampled perfectly ripe Starkrimson pears. They were a hit with shoppers of all ages!

Next, we went to Faneuil Hall, where we lunched on lobster rolls (and remarked that they would have been better with pears).

We also ventured out to Edward Everett Square in South Boston to snap a photo with this giant pear statue! Perry, our Anjou Pear, was quite happy to find a relative clear across the country.

Check out this video to see what shoppers thought of our sweet and juicy Starkrimson pears!

We also visited Rialto Restaurant and Bar, where we were treated to a delicious pear dish courtesy of Chef Jody Adams. This autumn salad will be featured on Rialto’s menu (although with apples), but you can re-create it in your kitchen, too!

Autumn Concorde Pear Salad with Crinkle Cress, Baylee Hazen Blue, Walnuts and Moscato Dressing

Ingredients
Moscato Vinaigrette
1 cup moscato vinegar
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 shallot, minced
3 cups olive oil
Salt and pepper
Salad
4 Concorde USA Pears
1 small celery root, peeled
2 each endive
1 cup fennel
2 cups crinkle cress
⅓ cup Baylee Hazen blue cheese
⅓ cup toasted walnuts
½ cup moscato vinaigrette
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
For vinaigrette: Whisk together the vinegar, mustard and shallot. Continue whisking and slowly pour in the oil. Season with salt and pepper.

For salad: Shave the pears, celery root and fennel on a mandoline. Slice the endive in half and cut each half in a quarter inch thick slices on bias. Crumble the blue cheese with your hands. Mix all with the remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.

Don’t forget to join us on Facebook, where you can enter our sweepstakes to win fresh pears or a trip for two to one of our eight tour stops!

Culinary Flair with the Pear

Photo Credit: Jon Pesochin, www.jonbenjamin.ca

Last Friday, breakfast disguised as dessert and dessert stole from salad. The three finalists of our third annual U.S. culinary student competition heated up the kitchen with their creativity, taking home newfound fame and fortune thanks to their flair with the pear.

Chaz O’Neill’s Pomegranate Pear Stuffed Toast combined the naturally sweet flavors of (real) maple syrup, pear, and pomegranate in a dessert that looked like breakfast. Chaz, who hails from New England, prepared for the contest like a true student of cuisine, packing his secret ingredient—maple syrup from a local sugar shack—carefully in his suitcase. He was understandably nervous, then, when his luggage was lost in transit.

Luckily, he received his suitcase (with maple syrup bottle intact) just two hours before he had to begin prepping his dish for the panel of prestigious foodservice judges.

Michelle Soto of West Linn, OR, created a savory dish that could be fit for dessert or an appetizer. Her Savory Pear Basil Mini-Cheesecakes intrigued the judges, who remarked that the dish enlivened the popular salad combo.

Our third finalist, Jacqui Wou of Santa Barbara, CA, went all out with her entry, preparing not only a dish, but an entire meal: meat, vegetable, fruit and starch. Her Perfectly “Peared” Lamb was beautiful and pear was indeed perfectly poached, said the judges.

Visit our website to view the recipes and results, including the winner of the People’s Choice award!

Liquid Pear-fection

USA Pears Hong Kong Drink Recipe Contest

The winners have been announced for this year’s USA Pear drink recipe contest in Hong Kong, and the results are refreshing!  The amateur mixologists are challenged to create an original, non-alcoholic drink recipe featuring USA Pears, for a chance to win gift cards to their supermarket of choice.

For more USA Pear drink recipes, have a look at the winners from last year’s contest in Hong Kong, as well as the beverage recipe page on usapears.org.  You can also check out our pear-fect pear cocktails.

Here’s the recipe for this year’s winner for “Most Delicious Anjou Pear Drink.”

USA Pears Hong Kong Drink Recipe ContestWinning drink:  “Fanaticism Anjou”

Ingredients

½ of one Green or Red Anjou pear
2 slices ginger
100ml wheat grass juice
Ice
Cold water

Directions 

1) Peel, core, and slice the Anjou pears and ginger into small pieces

2) Mix ginger and water in a blender to slushy consistency, then strain.

3) Return the liquid strained from the ginger and water mixture to the blender; add Anjou pear, wheat grass juice, and ice. Blend.

4) Stir and pour.  Serve and enjoy!

Celebrating CNY with Flying Colors!

Taiwan Coloring Contest

In honor of Chinese New Year, I thought we’d visit one of our Asian markets this week.  We recently held a coloring contest in Taiwan.  Sounds simple enough, right?  I know I participated in many a contest at my local grocery store growing up, for every holiday – even taking home 3rd place and $10 prize one year for my bunny and Easter egg masterpiece.  But Taiwan’s dense population (meaning, there’s a lot of people living in a relatively small amount of land) turned into 10,000 entries!

Art professors and local artists judged the contest and announced 106 winners.  At first glance, you might not realize that each entry started with the same coloring sheet—so you can see that we received some very customized and creative entries!

Don’t forget to pick up some Red Anjou pears for the year of the rabbit – remember that red is a very auspicious color in Chinese culture!

Taiwan Coloring Contest Entries

GONG XI FA CAI

恭禧發財

Chinese New Year Poster 2011

Say Cheeeeeese!!!

Pear Cheese

As promised, Russia is back to work after the extended New Year holidays, and the results of the USA Pear photo contest are in!  If you remember our holiday photo contest in Colombia last year, it’s always interesting to see what people come up with and how they get creative.

Here is my personal favorite, which just so happens to also be the grand prize winner!  Prizes included a netbook computer, iPods, and free pears.

Bosc Heart

Here are a few other memorable entries, and you can view the top 20 finalists here.

Pear-Snow

Pears - Guitar

Pear Wedding

National Pear Month

It’s National Pear Month! There aren’t any streamers or noisemakers in our office, unfortunately, but I started celebrating early today with a juicy, sweet Concorde pear.

Every day this month, Lynsey, Cristie and I will be tweeting and posting to Facebook – be sure to visit our page for décor ideas, new recipes, and pear fun facts. Every Thursday in the month of December is Trivia Thursday on our Facebook page. Winners will have the chance to receive a box of fresh pears!

Check back daily for lots of fresh ins-pear-ation! And snack on some pears!