Admittedly, the last two or three days in Cape Town haven’t yielded the best weather, so a change in tune was required when preparing dessert for a dinner party I had the other evening.
Poached pears are undoubtedly one of the most simplest desserts to make, and always come out looking completely glamorous, like they belong on the menu of a fabulous fine-dining establishment. Ensure you have 4 great quality pears that are fairly ripe, yet still have a firm crunch when you bite into them. The Co-Pilot won the award for Best Dinner Guest In The World, as he brought along the very last bottle of William Everson’s experimental Shiraz Dessert Wine 2007. I have it on good authority that due to the phenomenally positive reviews of this little gem, the dessert wine will be produced again, on a larger scale so that more of you wine freaks out there will be able to get your paws on this kind of Shiraz magic. The bush vine Shiraz grapes are not irrigated, which results in an almost pea-sized grape that’s smacking of concentrated Shiraz flavour. It rocks those typically dry Shiraz vibes, yet has a very Port-y nose. When it hits your palate, it’s a huge contradiction of dryness at the back of the palate & sticky red berry sweetness at the front. Heavenly, kittens. Heavenly!
You won’t find this dessert wine around for a while yet, so use 2 bottles of great quality Shiraz, like the Ataraxia Mountain Vineyards Serenity 2006. You’ll also need 1/2 a cup of sugar and a split vanilla pod. To serve, you can really go to town: home-made honeycomb ice cream (honeycomb is made by melting sugar to a caramel and stirring in bicarb), blue cheese mascarpone, or simple Chantilly cream. I served mine with vanilla mascarpone and gold sugar shards.
To poach the pears, pour the 2 bottles of Shiraz, sugar & the vanilla pod into a smallish saucepan – the pears need to be completely submersed in the wine, otherwise you’ll find yourself standing over them & turning them as they cook. Not glam at all, blue birds! Heat the wine and the vanilla pod to a simmer, while you carefully peel the pears. Make sure your strokes are even and the pears have a flat base, so they don’t topple over & sit nicely on your plate. Poach the pears in the wine for 20 minutes, then remove them and set aside. Bring the wine up to a boil and reduce down to a thick syrup. Cool this syrup completely, and then pour over your pears & leave in the fridge for at least 3 hours. If you can prepare this the night before, even better. The pears will soak up all that yummy flavour & take on a richer, darker hue. Serve warm if weather permitting, or at room temperature, drizzled with some of the syrup & accompanying garnish & your guests will forever sing your praises as a domestic god(dess) with some serious clout!