The Monday Farmer’s Market Report: Asian Pears (paired with some sheep’s cheese while we’re at it)

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The heirlooms are still looming, losing their sweetness, getting kinda mealy, but I’m not letting go. I’m riding them until they’re gone for good or abominably bad. My enthusiasm for squash was quashed long ago. Greens are still good (spinach aside; everyone’s still a tad jittery about anything small, leafy, and green. I’m guessing even arugula’s suffering). Nectarines are twice their usual size; they must need longer on the tree to hit the required sweetness and they ain’t what they used to be, but I’ll keep buying those until they’re bad. They still slay the ones I grew up with as a kid.

But here’s one that’s having a grand old time: Asian Pears. Crisper than the more common varieties of pear and not quite as sweet, these things are lovely. Not too acidic, as much about texture and juiciness as anything, they pair perfectly with sheep’s cheese. Both my kids love to eat them together, a nice, earthy and mellow alternative to the sharp apple and cheddar snacks to come this fall. We’ve eaten them with the Spanish sheep cheese iadazibal so far this year, but manchego would be lovely too. (Iadazibal is mellower than manchego, so a more friendly match with early season Asian Pears; but Manchego will likely be a more appropriate match a month or so down the line).

I got my iadazibal from the awesome Cheese Store of Silverlake. You can also get it at Whole Foods. Manchego is available at most decent supermarkets in their fancy cheese section these days.

Other things to do with Asian Pears:
serve them with peanut butter, as you would apples.

chop them up and serve in salad. maybe along with some toasted pine nuts (toasted in a pan, that is).

slice thinly and have in a nice oozy brie panini.

—Hugh

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