The sweet heritage pear tree is laden with fruit. We don’t know what kind of pear it actually is but know it is some kind of sugar pear.
Most of the pear trees attract the usual marauders – mynahs, blackbirds, thrushes and starlings, but the sugar pear is a magnet to tuis, waxeyes, rosella, occasionally a dove and there was even a pukeko in the pear tree last week. Fantails and grey warblers zoom in melodiously, chasing insects, never pausing long enough for the photographer The chickens peck at the windfalls on the ground. The sheep stand doe-eyed at the fence waiting to be thrown a treat.
We leave the birds to it as there are too many of them and too many pears for us to eat. The sugar pears are tiny and we collect bags full, but you can only give so many away. Already the freezer has been filled with bags of stewed pears from the other trees. Pear muffins and pear cake grace the afternoon tea table.
My cousin and her husband are visiting from San Francisco. We are invited to a Cuzzies’ Dinner. I ask if I can bring anything. She suggests desert – for eight. Mmm, I think, “What about poached pears?” I do a trial run.
I take four of the biggest pears I can find, core then, peel then and put in a pot; cover them with water, add 1/4 cup of sugar, some stars of anise, a cinnamon stick and orange peel and cook until tender then leave them in the pot to cool.
We accompany the pears with ice cream, some of the cooking liquid and Kerr Farm Twenty Two 2010, aka Kerr Farm Sweet Summer Wine 2010. This is made from 90% Sauvignon Blanc and 10% Semillon from Jaison and Wendy Kerr’s vineyard in Kumeu, Auckland, the ‘Twenty Two’ in recognition of their 22nd vintage in 2010. It’s a sunshine gold in the glass with aromas of comb honey, tropical fruit and candied orange peel, then in the mouth the texture is silky with delicious dried tropical fruit flavours, hints of marmalade and a lovely clean refreshing finish. The fresh acidity really cuts through the nectar-like sweetness.
It seems to be a success, so poached pears are on the Cuzzies’ Dinner menu.
Alas not too many of the larger pears are left, but I take the ten biggest and pop them into the leftover poaching liquid with a little more water, lemon and orange juice and more orange peel. I cut back on the cinnamon and bulk up the star anise.
The tiny pears look so cute so I semi-core them to remove the pips. These little honeys get poached in a bottle of medium sweet Rosé with about half a cup of sugar and some rose petal syrup – although that was a waste as the rose petal taste didn’t come through.
I reduce the leftover poaching liquids and decide to add berries to the Rosé pot. Eek, it’s so tart, so I strain the fruit out and add more sugar to the liquid. It boils merrily away. When the consistency looks right I pour it off and let it cool. Ah, it’s turned into jam! Fortunately the orange/anise liquid is okay.
I take a bottle of Waimea Estate Late Harvest Riesling 2008 to accompany the pears. This Nelson wine is a good choice for eight people as it is a 750-ml bottle and so everyone will get more than a teaspoonful to taste. It’s also a good choice because it’s a lighter style of ‘sweet wine’ with lots of juicy sweet citrus and honeysuckle flavours with fresh acidity to balance the delectable sweet taste.
The pears go down a treat and because I take more than one each, we are able to finish the wine with a cracker topped with blue cheese, poaching liquid jam and a slice of pear. A great success, even if I say so myself, but not to be repeated until next year!
These are both current release wines at the respective vineyards
Kerr Farm Twenty Two 2010 is available from www.kerrfarmwine.co.nz. It comes in a 375-ml bottle, it has 10% alcohol, a screwcap closure and the listed price is $25.
Waimea Estate Late Harvest Riesling 2008, available from www.waimeaestates.co.nz, is $20 a bottle. It has 13% alcohol, a screwcap closure and was a gold medal winner at the Bragato Wine Awards 2012.