Falling for Pears
I have fallen in love with pears. Finding the perfect pear is a big treat as far as I’m concerned. If you haven’t already realized this, I have quite the love affair for good food. What is good food? No I’m not talking the good food versus bad food dilemma here; I’m talking about delicious food that is fresh (when possible), rich in flavor, and if it benefits my health then hey, I think I’ve struck gold!
Towards the end of August I discovered my new favorite place on earth, Holmberg Orchards. There is just something so fantastic about the branches hanging low along this Thames River Valley plot of land with ripe fruit just begging to be placed into your pick-your-own bag. They’re open daily and if at all possible, I choose to venture into the orchard to pluck a few Bartlett pears off the tree rather than to visit the produce section at the grocery store.
Once home with my bounty, I placed my pears into a brown paper bag and I waited for them to ripen up to perfection. The first bite was full of flavor and juiciness and suddenly, all my dreams of pear tarts and cake were washed away. These pears were too good to be buried beneath flour and sugar. I wanted to do something fun with a few of the pears and then it came to me, pear chips. I sliced them up thinly and tossed with just a splash of the juice from a lemon. I was then taunted by the sweet smell of pears for the next two hours while they caramelized in the oven.
These little chips can be stowed away for snacks or salad toppings. I have this hunch they could also serve as a wine snack alongside some cheese. You know, the way that apple pie can be paired with a nice cheddar? I have yet to experiment with this cheese-pear combination but while on the topic of wine I will also sing my praises for pear wine. Did I mention that Holmberg’s also has a winery? Can you see why I love this place so much?
Pear wine had me at hello, or rather, first tasting. One Saturday afternoon back in August I thought that my elation for the remainder of the afternoon had something to do with the 1pm wine tasting I had participated in but no, I really think it was because I was in love with this pear wine.
As soon as I turned twenty-one my mother offered me a tidbit of advice, she wrote “always put a few ice cubes in your wine” and stuck it in my wallet. While I often do follow this advice, pear wine is my exception. It is perfect, chilled and by itself.
Bartlett pears or another type of pear suitable for baking
Juice of one lemon
Preheat oven to 250 F. Thinly slice pear, if you own a mandolin now is the time to break it out. Toss chips with lemon juice. Lay chips flat on a parchment lined baking sheet. Make sure that the chips do not touch one another as they will caramelize and become sticky. Bake for about 2 hours, turning occasionally.