Sweet Vermouth Poached Pears

vermouthpoachSweet vermouth has really made a comeback thanks to the craft cocktail movement, and I am so glad it did. Without it, I’d have never tried a Manhattan and noticed the distinct and wonderful flavors that a good vermouth can lend, not to mention that I’d have never come up with the idea for this unique recipe. Pick up a bottle for making these poached pears and pour yourself a little over an ice cube to enjoy while you cook. You won’t be sorry.

Sweet Vermouth Poached Pears

Ingredients
3 cups good quality sweet vermouth, such as Carpano Antica
1 cup water
2 tablespoons honey
1 orange, peel only (use a vegetable peeler to cut several thin strips)
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
3 firm USA Pears, such as Bosc
Greek yogurt, for serving

Directions
In a medium saucepan, combine vermouth, water, honey, orange peel, and spices. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat. In the meantime, peel and halve the pears. Use a melon baller to scoop out the seeds. Transfer the pears to the simmering liquid, being certain they are submerged (cover with a piece of parchment paper if necessary). Reduce the heat slightly to keep the pears at a low bubble. Simmer the pears for 15-20 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Transfer the pears to a bowl, leaving the liquid behind, and cover them to keep warm. Increase the heat under the sauce to medium-high and bring to a low boil. Cook for approximately 15 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced to about ¾ cup. Pour the sauce through a fine mesh strainer and onto the still-warm pears. Serve immediately with Greek yogurt on the side.

Cheers to Wine and Pears

Last weekend, some of us here at Pear HQ drove out to the lovely valley of Hood River to sample pears at the Columbia Gorge Wine & Pear Fest. As you and I both know, pears and wine are BFFs. They’re meant for each other from the start: they even grow in the same area and climate.

We sampled Green and Red Anjou pears to eager attendees, teaching them how to “Check the Neck” for ripeness so that they can enjoy pears at their sweet and juicy peak at home. Whether they were drinking Pinot Gris or a red blend, hard cider or Syrah, wine aficionados agreed that pears and grapes are a match made in heaven. (Which is what some visitors call Hood River, not incidentally.)

Some of our pear growers joined us to sing the praises of their favorite fruit, even getting in on the action with some sweet (temporary) tattoos!

Thirsty for more? Check out our custom pear, wine, and cheese pairings!

Raise a Glass to the Pear!

With summer upon us, the pear trees in the Northwest are growing heavy with fruit to be harvested when the weather begins to turn cool again. I’m eagerly anticipating the new season’s crop—I can’t wait to sink my teeth into a brilliant red Starkrimson or a sweet, juicy Bartlett.

As we’re enjoying the last Green Anjou pears in the market, I thought it would be fun to bring you a few ways you can enjoy Oregon pears when they’re not in season. Hint: In liquid form.

Inventive vintners, distillers, and even soda makers across the Pacific Northwest have taken the unique, enticing flavor of the pear to create delicious beverages so you can enjoy pears year-round. Here are a few of my favorites:

Hoodsport Pear Wine
This wine, made from Washington pears, is light, crisp, and sweet. As the website suggests, it complements chicken, seafood, and white sauce pasta dishes. For a decadent yet light dessert, try poaching fresh pears in pear wine – it takes the flavor to a whole new level.

Clear Creek Distillery Pear Brandy
Clear Creek is world-renowned for this brandy. It is made from Bartlett pears grown in the Mid-Columbia region in Oregon. They also sell the brandy with the pear in the bottle—a truly impressive (and labor-intensive) feat.

Hot Lips Pear Soda
Comice pears give this pear soda a sweet, buttery flavor. Made from Oregon pears, Hot Lips soda is refreshing, light, and tasty. It makes an excellent float with a scoop or two of sorbet. Or add it to one of the above for a pear-fect cocktail!

Thirsty for more? Check out our cocktail guide and our pear beverage section for pear garnishes, recipes, and trade tips. Cheers!

Pears and Cheese

March seems to be the unofficial month of cheese. And as you know, pears and cheese happen to go together like peanut butter and jelly, like milk and Oreos, like…well, you get the picture.

We’ve been at three events in the month of March alone, sampling fresh pears along with a variety of Oregon cheeses. The Portland Boys and Girls Club held their annual Showcase of Wine and Cheese early this month, where we sliced succulent Taylor’s Gold pears, crisp Bosc pears, and juicy Anjous.

Mid-month, we traveled down to Willamette Valley Vineyards to slice up pears at their Wine, Pear & Cheese Jubilee, and last weekend, we went way down south to the famed Rogue Creamery for the Oregon Cheese Festival.

People had a great time sampling pears (the state fruit!) along with a variety of crumbly, creamy, rich and salty cheeses from around our lovely state. Are you hungry yet? Check out our website for ideas on how you can find your favorite pear and cheese pairings.

Cheers!

A Pear in Provence

france

This month, while traveling through the Provence region of France, specifically the Côtes du Rhône wine region, I had the opportunity to taste magnificent food, delicate wines, and absorb the gourmet culture of the French countryside. There, the French have a particular way of enjoying life: fresh fruits and vegetables from open air markets, a healthy dose of wine, and a slower pace. The climate is perfect for growing Mediterranean fruits – warm, fairly dry, and sun-baked. Provençal wines are frequently paired with fruits grown in the region – pears, melons, apricots, etc. Pairing fruit with wine has been a worldwide tradition for centuries; pears, for instance, are a nice combination with red, white, or rosé wines, and are exceptionally pleasant matched with dessert wines.

In addition to the benefit for your palate, a moderate amount of wine has particular health benefits that complement the health benefits of pears. One such benefit is that wine is rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are protective agents that play roles in fending off different cancers, prevention of cardiovascular disease that leads to heart attack and stroke, and they likely have other yet-undiscovered benefits. Likewise, pears are rich in antioxidants, the antioxidant vitamin (vitamin C), and fiber – a heart-healthy component that helps clear the blood vessels. This is just one reason that fruits and moderate amounts of wine are components of the Mediterranean diet. Thus, one could say that combining pears with wine for dessert or an aperitif is part of a therapeutic diet. So go ahead, indulge in a creamy, ripe pear and perhaps a light-bodied wine, and enjoy life Provençal style. Bon appétit!

Celebrate Pears this Weekend – Fruit Loop Style!

fruit-loop-photos3The Hood River Valley is world renowned for growing incredible pears, and the members of the Hood River Fruit Loop are PROUD of it!  This weekend, September 19-20, is the official Pear Celebration where you can taste more than 18 varieties of pears, sample special pear desserts, drink pear cider and wine, tour pear orchards and more.  Check out the map and list of attractions at hoodriverfruitloop.com

Can’t make it to Hood River for the Pear Celebration this weekend? Never fear, because several of the Fruit Loop farms offer gifts by mail.  We’re talkin’ canned pears, pear butter, pear sauce, dried pears, pear wine, and gift boxes of fresh pears, of course!

Pearing Up with Good Day Oregon

The Good Day Oregon Van in front of Foster and Dobbs

andy-and-cameraman1

On February 4, Andy Carson hung out with us at Portland specialty cheese and wine shop Foster and Dobbs, and showed thousands of viewers a few of the marvelous things pears pair well with. Beginning at 4:30 a.m. (eek!), pears were featured on Fox 12’s Good Day Oregon. Here’s a recap of some of mouth-watering pairings created by Foster and Dobbs’ own Luan Schooler:

bosc-and-blue-cheeseBosc Pears + Rogue River Blue Cheese

If you’re a blue cheese lover and this is the first time you’re learning of Rogue River Blue…you’re welcome. Each exquisite wheel is hand wrapped in grape leaves that have been bathed in, drum roll please, pear brandy. This cheese tasted incredible with the sweetness and subtle spice of Bosc pears, even at 4:30 in the morning!

luan-making-fondueRed and Green Anjou + Swiss and Gruyere Fondue

Here’s a shot of Luan whipping up some fondue. She used Swiss Emmental and Appenzeller Gruyere, and added Clear Creek Distillery Pear Brandy (notice a pattern with the pear brandy?), Erath Pinot Gris, lemon juice, and nutmeg. I’m no stranger to fondue, and this was by far the best fondue I’ve ever tasted. I hope this wasn’t a top secret recipe, Luan!

goat-cheeseGreen Anjou + Cypress Grove Fromage Blanc

Folks, amongst all of this deliciousness, this was my favorite pairing of the day. Cypress Grove Fromage Blanc is every bit as fresh and creamy as the company’s website suggests, and this goat cheese went PEARfectly with a nice, ripe Green Anjou pear.

There were many pairings that fateful morning, but the last one I’ll share with you involves chocolate. Normally I tend to shy away from chocolate sauces that involve any sort of alcohol. I’m not really sure why, but it may have had something to do with too much liqueur chocolates at some point in my early adulthood. Anyway, this pairing changed all of that for me. Luan fed us a dark chocolate Cognac sauce by Robert Lambert, who is an award winning cookbook author and chef, paired with a crisp Bosc pear. Microwave this sauce for 10-15 seconds and serve with any variety of pears and you’ll be the hit of any party. Granted, I have only used this sauce at parties in which I am the host and only attendee, but I stand by my “hit of any party” statement and firmly believe it will work in traditional party-like situations in which there is more than one guest in attendance. Try it for yourself and find out!