Epicurious Entertained

Last week, I traveled to New York City with my co-workers to represent USA Pears at the second annual Epicurious Entertains NYC event. Let me tell you, Epicurious entertained!

Cristie, Lynsey, and I had a great time sampling pears for New York foodies, chefs, and kids. Consumers were able to taste fresh Comice, Bosc, Bartlett, and Starkrimson pears—for some, it was their first time to taste the varieties fresh from the tree!

On Friday, we watched legendary chef and cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey create dishes from her brand-new cookbook. She was followed up by Dorie Greenspan, who prepared her favorite recipes from her cookbook, Around My French Table.

On Saturday, we partied, danced, and snacked with kids! They sampled fresh pears, took home a ripe Bartlett in their pear packers, and decorated aprons on the roof deck. These kids loved pears!

We also huddled around the Epicurious kitchen to watch adorable Ella Knack, age 2, make gnocchi with her dad, Benjamin Knack, a Hell’s Kitchen star. She was quite the chef!

We had a great time sampling famous recipes and eating from some of New York’s best restaurants (in my humble opinion). Who doesn’t love a good slice of New York pizza?

Now, we’re excited to try YOUR recipes! If you haven’t entered our recipe contest, do it now! Visit the contest site for information on the different varieties of USA Pears, ins-pear-ation, and ripening tips. You could win a spa getaway for two to Oregon wine country!

Dishing Up Pear Excellence

regionalcontestwinnersandwinningdishes_sm1On Tuesday, the 2010 Pear Excellence regional finalists traveled to Vancouver, B.C. to prepare their pear dishes for a panel of judges and compete for the national title. Pear peelings flew and chef’s knives flashed as the five culinary students raced to demonstrate their mastery of the pear.

In the end, both the judges and the audience agreed: Stephanie Duong’s Spiced Pear Buckwheat Pancakes with Pear Caramel Sauce and Mascarpone Cream were a sweet success!

Stephanie took home the national grand prize of $5,000 and the People’s Choice Award—and her school, George Brown College, will receive $1,000. Congratulations, Stephanie!

Stephanie shares her recipe on Global TV.Representing Ontario, Stephanie competed against Kyle Mar, representing British Columbia; Cyril Roach, representing the Maritimes, Adam Cenaiko, from the Prairies region, and Norelle Donahue of Quebec.

Hungry for more? Click here to view photos of the winners, read the full press release, and check out the winning recipes.

Springtime Entertaining with USA Pears!

mache-post-4Remember that recipe Amy mentioned in her last post?  The one that combines sweet green Anjou pears with nutty mâche greens, with added flavor from ingredients like fresh tarragon, sliced fennel, and shaved Parmesan?  Well, USA Pears has teamed up with Epic Roots to develop this special salad, and we’re sure it will impress your family and friends at spring picnics and brunches.

If you’re wondering what exactly “mâche” is, you’re probably not alone.  Mâche (pronounced “mosh”) is a salad green that first became popular in Europe during the Renaissance period, where it was loved for its flavor, texture and color.  Today, our friends at Epic Roots grow their mâche in northern California, where the soil and climate is perfect for growing these tasty little green rosettes.

mache-post-2Not only will you find this special recipe on packages of Epic Roots Mâche now through mid-April, you’ll also notice a coupon for $1 off the purchase of 2 packages of any Epic Roots Mache Salad!  We hope you’ll try it – we’d love to hear how you like (and hopefully love) the tasty combination of fresh pears and fresh mâche!

This Weekend: Wine, Cheese & Pear Jubilee!

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If you’re going to be in the Willamette Valley this weekend, don’t miss the 7th Annual “Wine, Cheese & Pear Jubilee” at Willamette Valley Vineyards. You’ll have the chance to sample award-winning wines paired with local artisan cheeses and of course, Oregon grown pears! We’ll be there sampling ripe pears, so come on by and see us!

P.S. The $5 admission includes a free Riedel wine glass!

USA Pears on the Menu in Dubai

Dubai is a growing tourist destination, with a seemingly constant stream of new hotels, restaurants, and shopping malls.  The Burj Khalifa just opened in January 2010: the tallest building in the world at 2,717 feet.  The new development surrounding the building contains 30,000 homes, nine hotels, 160 restaurants and the Dubai Mall (largest mall in the world – 1,200 stores!).

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With so many hotels and restaurants, the culinary opportunities are endless!  USA Pears recently became a proud member of The Emirates Culinary Guild, the association for professional chefs in the UAE, headquartered in Dubai.

in-the-kitchen2We recently invited chefs from the Guild to a training seminar in Dubai.  After a classroom-style introduction to our delicious USA Pears, we set the chefs loose in the kitchen to experiment and create their own culinary masterpieces.

USA Green and Red Anjou are the most common varieties in the Middle East in general, but Bartletts have been becoming more popular in the last few years, especially in the UAE.

prepThe chefs found out that USA Pears are a versatile ingredient – they came up with everything from salads to main courses and desserts.  So next time you’re out on the town in Dubai – or even closer to home – watch for pears on the menu.  Check out the Pears on the Menu page on our website to find a restaurant near you that features menu items starring pears!

Pearty Like It’s 2010

 

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In this season of gift-giving, I like to think of a nice, high quality cocktail as a small gift that I can give myself.  Now I’m not talking about cheap booze mixed with high fructose corn syrup, I’m talking about a quality spirit, fresh sqeezed or muddled fruit, and an unexpected touch, such as fresh herbs or a hint of spice.  A work of art that’s meant to be sipped and savored.      

pear-agon-recipe-finalWe have several excellent cocktail recipes that call for fresh pears, which were developed by mixologists across the country. 

We’ll even show you how to make super cool pear garnishes and give you ideas for food pairings.  In addition to this superb collection, we also like to keep an eye out for new cocktails.  Enter the latest Imbibe edition, which has a recipe on page 53:  the “Pear-agon.”  Developed by David Wolowidnyk of West(a popular restaurant and bar in Vancouver, B.C.), this cocktail calls for a ripe pear and pear liqueur…we can’t wait to try it! 

Happy New Year!

A Healthier Gift Worth Giving

gift-basket-1I love the holidays, but this year seems more stressful than past years. It’s getting down to the wire and I need a quick, thoughtful gift. I think I’ve got it – a personal gift from the heart that is useful, fun, and perfect for the new year! I’m a foodie at heart, so why not share my passion with all of the people I love?

Gift baskets have taken on a modern, fun twist in recent years. Here is my plan: take five flavorful and festive items, grab a basket or pretty bag, combine, and dress it up! My personalized gift looks like this: two or three comice, forelle, or red Bartlett pears, a fine wedge of cheese (I like bleu), a mini jar of jalapeno jelly, sesame crackers, and a bag of dried apricots, almonds, or walnuts. Try red and green pears for a festive centerpiece! The combination of items is purely enticing, and is one gift surely to be enjoyed through the end of the year; the bonus is that this gift doubles as a healthy appetizer or new year’s eve party dish! To save a few bucks I buy in bulk, and dress it up with tissue paper, ribbon, and fresh rosemary sprigs. But the best part of this gift is that it comes from the heart, full of things I want to share with my loved ones.gift-basket-2

Not into these items? Change it up to suit your personality; make it unique! Throw in your favorite kitchen tool, dried herbs, an apron, candle, bottle of wine, or a beloved book or recipe. If you love it, it’s sure to make your loved ones smile. Or if you’re drawing a blank, kitchen or finer food stores have varieties of fun items and delicacies to mix and match with pears as the festive focal point. For some ideas on foodie items to pair with pears, visit the pear, wine, and cheese pairing section of this website. Merry gifting and happy holidays!

Happy National Pear Month!

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December is officially National Pear Month, and here in the Pacific Northwest we’re celebrating!  Here are six things you can do to join in the fun:

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1.  This one’s obvious:  incorporate pears into your meals, snacks, desserts and beverages!  You’ll find plenty of inspiration here, or invent something and send me a photo (you might just win something).

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2.  Decorate with fresh pears – they look beautiful in wreaths, centerpieces, garlands and more.  Follow the simple directions for one of our projects, or invent your own and send me another photo!

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3.  Make a gift basket using fresh pears for friends, family, coworkers, neighbors, the mailman, whoever.  Once again, we have instructions and inspiration here, and I don’t want to say it again but I will, INVENT YOUR OWN AND SEND ME A PHOTO!

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4.   Click here to receive our monthly e-newsletters.  They always have a fresh recipe and some sort of contest or drawing.  We know you like to win stuff.

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5.  We’ve taken the liberty of listing a few restaurants that feature pears on their menu here, but this time of year, you can find pears on most restaurant menus.  If you taste something good tell us about it and we’ll add it to our list!

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6.  For Oregon and Washington’s 1,600 pear growers, tending pear trees is a way of life.  Get to know some of the families who bring fresh pears from their trees to your table by clicking here.

Filling Your Kitchen with Love: The Joys of Home Preserving

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Memories…that’s what life is all about.  My mom told me that other day as I was headed out of town for a birthday weekend in Las Vegas.  It sounds funny, but I was reminded of some of the responses we received from our e-newsletter contest last month because really, whether you’re partying in Vegas or bonding with your family in the kitchen, the memories we make with each other stay with us our whole lives.

We asked our readers to tell us why they love preserving, (or why they would like to start) and were overwhelmed by the touching responses we received. 

Our winner, Amanda from Mississippi, said this:

bartlett-honey-butter3I grew up watching my mother and grandmother preserving fruits and vegetables. I remember going with them and picking the fruits and vegetables from our gardens and trees. I loved the way we would all go together and the closeness I felt toward both of them. When we came home I would help to clean the fruits and vegetables and sit at the table watching as they cleaned the jars, then boiled them. I also loved how wonderful the kitchen smelled, so warm, comforting and filled with love. I would carefully help them carry the jars to our basement where there was a big shelf made especially for the jars to sit on. The colors in the jars were so beautiful and almost looked like jewels. I did more to help as I grew older and when I became a mom and wife myself, the first thing I did was to plant a garden and preserve vegetables. My grandmother would come over and help as would my mother, bringing fruit and memories.

pear-cabinet1When my grandmother was gone, my mom would come over and I loved the memories of the three of us when I was a little girl. I lost my mom last December and this will be the first time I will not have her to help make preserves with me. I will  have my daughter though, who will be helping me for the first time. I will tell her all the stories of myself, my mother and grandmother and together we will make our own memories to add to them. Preserving to me means love, tradition and something special which binds us all together forever.”

We  had so many wonderful responses, it was hard to choose a winner so I sort of created a “runner-up.”  Maria from Michigan sent us this response:

“In our fast paced, stress-filled society, preserving the harvest becomes an opportunity to step back into a time when simple joys brought deep satisfaction and abundance that could be enjoyed by everyone in the family and with gifts to neighbors and friends as well.  As a young girl during WWII, I remember the excitement and patriotic joy of planting our Victory Gardens, delighting in the beauty of the harvest, and enjoying my special time with everyone in the family as we “put up” the wonderful fruits and vegetables we had raised in a variety of delectable recipes: jams, jellies, spiced fruits and relishes, sauces, and individual jeweled jars of tomatoes, peaches, pears, etc.  The garden offered us exercise, entertainment and good health.

photo-fNow as a 74 year old military widow remembering my past, I continue to look forward to the joy of the harvest and all the aromas and beauty of the harvest season.   I continue to enjoy the peaceful pleasure of the canning process and the satisfaction of viewing the collected assortment of homemade delicacies just waiting to be enjoyed during the coming Michigan winter or given as small gifts to my sons as additions to their holiday tables.  Preserving the harvest becomes a visit to happy memories of the past and anticipation of a delicious future.”

A big thank you to Amanda and Maria for sharing their special memories with us!  Amanda received a home preserving kit, and Maria will receive one of our Partridge in a Pear Tree ornaments, plus some other pear goodies.  Thanks to everyone who replied, and don’t forget to sign up to receive our e-newsletters – we love to reward our pear-loving readers!