There are certain foods that I know I will have an affinity for even before I eat them. Sometimes this has little to do with taste, but perhaps colour, or the name. Or the relationships and associations I form between the particular food and a place or person. Like smoked salmon: the vibrant colour, the delicate way it can fold upon itself, like the soft whippings of cream, and whenever I think of smoked salmon I think of my mother in the kitchen of the house where I grew up.
Poached pears are also a food that seem to take on a separate meaning, more than the flavour they impart. Just say it: poached pear. It sounds so utterly luxurious, soft and feminine. The slight exhale as your lips move from poached to pear.
We poached pears on Monday night in leftover Ata Rangi Rosé, vanilla and cinnamon and brown sugar. Peeled pears, cut in half with a small hollow in the middle simmered lightly until a dusky pink. The rosé liquid tasted like a summer mulled wine: the caramel of brown sugar and the spice of cinnamon with the summery perfume of rosé.
To the leftover liquid I added an extra two tablespoons of brown sugar and boiled it down for nearly an hour. It becomes a dark purple colour, almost aubergine, and the spicy rosé flavour is quite pronounced. We used some of this syrup in gin and tonics. It really is quite delicious.
Poached pears make me think of Paris and gilt mirrors and dimmed light. I don’t really know why, but that’s all part of the attraction.
Poached Pears in Rosé
3/4 to a full 750ml bottle of good quality rosé
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla pod (or vanilla essence if you are slightly frugal in a student kitchen…)
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3-4 pears, peeled and halved with the pip bit scooped out
In a large pot place the rosé, water, cinnamon, sugar and vanilla. Bring to a gentle boil. Place the pears in the liquid and simmer for 10-15 minutes. (I added a few strawberries too in the last couple of minutes.) Turn off the heat and leave the pears to sit, until cool, in the liquid. They will continue to cook slightly and to absorb the flavour of the cooking juices.
Serve with warmed custard and a drizzling of the remaining juices, or with chocolate sauce.