This post is brought to you by the IFBC, the second in a series of three posts about my attendance at this years’ conference. Pear Crisp is a delicious change of pace from the typical apple dessert, and a tasty way to showcase one of summer’s underrated fruits.
I sometimes feel like pears are overlooked and underrated (not unlike how I feel about myself some days). Summer seems to be all about berries or peaches. I usually think of pears more as a fall fruit, but these days, once school starts, everything becomes pumpkin-spiced until Christmas, and then it’s all peppermint till the beginning of the year. California Pears are available beginning in July, and depending on the variety, will be available through November.
While in Sacramento, one of the optional excursions I chose to attend (well, the only one, since I didn’t arrive until Thursday afternoon, so I missed those trips, and I wasn’t feeling up to wine-tasting at 9 o’clock in the morning!) was a trip through the Sacramento Delta area. And let me tell you, my photos do NOT do justice to how utterly gorgeous this area is.
(That’s obviously taken from the bus–Apologies for the reflections in the window)
I wish I had taken more pictures while we were on the bus–I did not know this, but the delta is comprised of several islands, all surrounded by the Sacramento or San Joaquin rivers. I think I could maybe get Jay to move to this area, some day, if I pushed hard enough. Quaint river towns, surrounded by farms and orchards. If I could go back and explore some of those small towns, I would in a heartbeat. It’s funny–City girl though I am, I’m not completely unfamiliar with farmland. Growing up in Cincinnati, all you had to do was drive 20 minutes outside the city and you were in farm country. At least, that’s how it was when I was a kid–It’s not so much the case anymore, thanks to urban sprawl. Even now, if I took a 10-minute walk west, I’d be on someone’s land (we live close to the edge of town). But the farms and orchards around the Sacramento Delta just screamed old Americana farmland to me. What I picture in my head whenever I hear the song “California Stars.” Anyway…Let’s just say I became smitten with the area.
We spent the first part of the morning with Rich Collins at California Endive Farms, learning all about that particular vegetable (it’s pronounced on-deev, for your information; en-dive is something completely different!). When we were done there, we headed through the delta, and to Stillwater Orchards.
Stillwater Orchards is owned by the Elliot family, and has been since the 1860’s. In addition to pears, they also grow cherries, apples and kiwi. While we were there, Bartlett pears were being harvested:
There were other varieties we saw as well:
I did not see my favorite variety, the Stark Crimson, but I’ll be looking for them in stores.
In addition to the tour of the orchard and watching the harvest (they had workers picking pears by hand, climbing up and down ladders), both California Endive and California Pears provided us with an amazing outdoor lunch, in the shade of a 100+-year-old sycamore tree:
Bad food blogger that I am, I dug into a smoky, grilled endive salad, and pulled pork sandwich with pears and Brie before taking a photo. For dessert, a delicious pear crisp was provided. And as Stillwater Orchards was kind enough to send us away with a bag of Bartlett Pears, I decided I’d make a Pear Crisp once I got home. That, and it was requested by a friend, though she loves pears enough, I could’ve made anything with them and she’d’ve been okay with it.
But I agreed, Pear Crisp sounded tasty, especially since I was still craving it after having it at our outdoor lunch at Stillwater Orchards.
I’d said then that the only thing that would’ve made the dessert better was a scoop of vanilla ice cream, so that’s what I served this with:
And it was absolutely perfect. Thanks to my bout with strep throat last week, my pears were a bit overripe, but they were still SO sweet and delicious. I have seriously never before had pears that tasted so buttery and FRESH. I kid you not, I’ll probably have dreams about those pears.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Toss the pears with the 2 Tbsp. sugar, and place in the bottom of an 8x8-inch square baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the oats, flour, dark brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cut in the butter using 2 knives or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Add the pecans, stirring to combine. Sprinkle over top of the pears. Bake the crisp for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is browned, and the pears are bubbly. Allow to cool 10 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream if desired. *You may need up to 4 Tbsp. sugar, depending on the sweetness of your pears.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Toss the pears with the 2 Tbsp. sugar, and place in the bottom of an 8x8-inch square baking dish.
In a small bowl, combine the oats, flour, dark brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cut in the butter using 2 knives or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Add the pecans, stirring to combine. Sprinkle over top of the pears.
Bake the crisp for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is browned, and the pears are bubbly. Allow to cool 10 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream if desired.
*You may need up to 4 Tbsp. sugar, depending on the sweetness of your pears.
DISCLOSURE: I was provided a discounted rate by the IFBC in exchange for writing at least three posts about my experiences during the conference. All thoughts and opinions are my own.