Growing up in the PNW, I've always kind of taken for granted the bounty that we enjoy that grows locally. From apples, onions, strawberries, and even hops, we are very fortunate that our climate allows for such abundance. Even though we were terribly poor growing up, we ate locally because thats what lined the produce departments in nearly every store in our small town. While I've always loved all this, I've never really sat down and really looked in to this local fare with a deeper lens so a new series has sprung! My local grocery store happened to be running a special on all NW grown pears so I decided this would be a great time to try them all. It's still pretty early in the season so I have to admit that they really haven't hit their prime yet but I love pears pretty much all the time. I haven't quite worked out exactly how I'm going to play with all these pears but it'll be a fun experiment.
I wanted the first round to be a cheese pairing (because I still have ridiculous amounts of cheese in my fridge and OOPS, I bought more!) and I randomly just chose the Comice. After doing a bit of research, I realized I picked the perfect pear for that sort of thing. Comice was first propagated in the 1800's around Angers, France. It's widely known as the sweetest, juiciest pear and it is what a lot of people see as the pinnacle of a perfect pear! Comice has an Oregon connection in that often the Comice will have a red spot and that is known as a sport. It's a spontaneous transformation that happens in some fruit trees and the red sport was first discovered in Medford, OR. Due to the juiciness of the Comice, they are aren't the best for cooking applications but are perfect for slicing and eating fresh! To find the perfect pear, apply gentle pressure to the neck of the pear and if it has some give it should be ready to go. They can be found readily for most of the year but their season is from September to March.
Now, on to the pearing! (bare with me, I've wanted to do that this entire post)
Le Pico: This little nugget of goaty goodness was exactly what my mouth had been craving lately. I nearly ate the entire quarter I cut, barely leaving any for Ben to taste. This was my favorite with the Comice because while the pear was on the under ripe side, this cheese brought out it's natural sweetness. French cheese + French pear = perfection in my book.
Landaff: This raw, cows milk cheese is based off traditional Welsh cheese and is always a favorite for me. I loved the combo with the Comice because it brought out those earth and cellar notes. It had such a familiar taste that I just couldn't put my finger on and it's been driving me crazy thinking about it.
Zamorano: This raw, sheep milk cheese is similar to Manchego. A bit more of a burnt caramel flavor and more tongue tingling effects. Honestly, my only notes on this were that sheep cheese is pretty much fantastic with everything. There, I said it.
Fouette: This is a personal favorite and I will take it over cream cheese any day. It's whipped Breton milk with guerande salt from France. This was heavenly with the Comice because the creaminess offset the sweetness but still held a slight tang at the end.
Bayley Hazen: I really wish that the pear would have been a little bit more ripe for this pairing. It was still delicious and funky with the sharpness of the blue off setting the sweetness of the pear but I feel like the contrast would have been top notch with a little more sweetness.
Ashbrook: Ben's thought on this one really takes it. This was his favorite and he said, "The pear is like a toothbrush that cleans your mouth from the yummy, gooeyness of the cheese." He may not have the professional words for it but he gets a palate cleanse when it comes along!
Have you tried a Comice? What did you eat with it? Any other cheese that you love to pair with this pear? I WANT TO KNOW!
A Certified Cheese Professional living the cheesy life.