Friday, September 23, 2011
I can’t get enough of the whole pear and cheese combo thing this time of year. I recently wrote about an easy, delicious salad that I make often. But one of my favorite mid morning snacks is a perfectly ripe pear with a small hunk of pecorino. Since it’s mostly fruit (and just a tiny bit of cheese) I can tell myself that it’s sort of like a healthy diet snack.
Last weekend we were up in Todi, had guests, and so I decided to fancy things up a bit. We had all been working hard in the garden. Actually it was Scott and Domenico who were working hard. But Jane had done a lot of laps. And I had....watched Jane do a lot of laps. So we all deserved a treat.
Luckily I had cheeses from all my favorite local sources. A wheel of sheep’s milk pecorino from Giuliani; a huge hunk of L’Intruso from Caseificio Montecristo, and a few mini scamorze from the store in Orte. Since our own tree had been picked clean of pears, I opened a jar of mostarda from Sesto Senso.
Mostarda is not mustard, in case you are wondering. It's a type of preserved fruit from Modena. Most mostarde that you see are a mix of unidentifiable candied fruits, floating in slightly spicy sugar syrup. They are often used as a condiment for boiled meats (although I managed to work them into a cocktail a while back)
The mostarda made by Sesto Senso is something else entirely. I met the folks from Sesto Senso at Taste last March. And it was actually their jars of glistening preserved pears that caught my attention. Although better known for their balsamic vinegar, I think these pears are their star product. Ripe but firm, they are preserved in a heavy, spicy syrup along with wild blueberries. Unlike most other mostarde, these chunks of fruit still taste very much like pears. Although you could eat them with just about anything, I can't think of a better combo than cheese.
A bite of cheese. A bite of pear. A bit more of each. And Scott and Domenico were soon refueled and on their way back to the orto to labor in the field. (yes, Jane and I just went back to the pool).