It’s been scarcely six months since we arrived in the Pacific North West and it already feels “like home.” We moved at the beginning of the summer and the three of us have slowly eased into our new routines, school commitments, gathering with friends and neighbors, meals at home, cooking, baking, getting a feel for the abundance of food cultivated, foraged, and made by our locals.
More importantly, we feel a sense of belonging. We have also traveled around our new home, but this is the time of year we all yearn to be home and to spend time with our loved ones. We so much treasure these days. Strolling in our local market for groceries and for my daily meals, the last two weeks I have been filling my basket with one very small but gorgeous pear that is in season right now, Seckel. It’s said that “good things come in small packages;” this is certainly true for Seckel pears. Small, sweet, for many these are better known as “sugar pears.” Slowly drenched in red wine (a Merlot or any other red wine you like), along with cinnamon sticks, sugar and a couple of bay leaves (as the French in Bordeaux do), you will present to your loved ones one of the best-dressed desserts for the table, so visually appetizing and quite intriguing. Infused with red wine, poached pears go so well with vanilla ice cream, topped with a berry or two. I used blackberries, but could have used other berries equally well. The deep red (almost violet) color transforms these sweet pears into a velvety, breathtakingly gorgeous treat.
- 3 cups of red wine (I used Merlot)
- 1 cup graduated sugar
- ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 star anise
- 6 to 8 Seckel pears, peeled but stem left on
- In a saucepan large enough to hold the pears standing upright, combine the wine, sugar, vanilla bean, cinnamon, bay leaves, and star anise, mix well, stirring to dissolve the sugar, and bring to a low boil over medium heat. Add the pears, stems up, cover, and simmer, turning the pears occasionally so they cook evenly, until they are tender, 30 minutes.
- Let the pears cool. You may refrigerate for 24 hours in the syrup or serve. To serve, divide the pears among shallow bowls and spoon some of their syrup over them. You may garnish with berries or vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!