Remember those pears we bought earlier in the week? Well, they were amazing: firm on the outside, with beautiful coloration, and, as Michelle put it, fondant on the inside, with not a trace of mealiness. In truth, we're not exactly sure what kind of pears they are, but if the illustrations in Alan Davidson's Fruit: A Connoisseur's Guide and Cookbook can be trusted (and I think they can), then they appear to be Williams pears. Too bad we don't have that distilling operation up and running, because they'd be probably be ideal for schnapps. What I am sure of, though, is that those pears were ideal with cheese. There was no question that they would be, so we organized a tiny, little pear & cheese soirée last night. We knew the cheeses had to live up to our pears, so we ran up to Yannick on Bernard and found exactly what we were looking for: a lait cru Vacherin, a wonderful little Comté, and, most importantly, because this was the cheese we were convinced would go best with the pears, a slice of their somewhat decadent Valdeon. Yannick is definitely the best place to go for those runny cheeses that must be at the peak of ripeness--like your St. Marcellins, your St. Feliciens, and your Vacherins--and our Vacherin was just that: perfectly ripe, absolutely irresistible. Comté is one of the great cheeses to have with apples, and that's exactly the way we had it, with slices of our cortlands, empires, and russets. But, as I've indicated, the highlight of the night was that combination of pear with the creaminess and pungency of that Valdeon, which currently ranks #1 on Michelle's list of blue cheeses. To add to the decadence of the occasion, we ate our meal on that apple and pear-covered table we photographed for our last post. We'd cleared a little bit of room because, between my 3-4 apples-a-day apple habit and Michelle's preserve-making, we've been making the apples disappear slowly, but the table was still very much covered with our harvest as we ate [see "the haul, pt. 2" in our "In Search Of..." post to get a sense of what I'm talking about]. It called to mind an outtake from Peter Greenaway's Drowning By Numbers, but, as Michelle pointed out, we were missing a dead swan or two, and possibly a pheasant. In fact, it was a fairly simple meal--cheese, fruit, bread, wine, a turnip potage, and a salad--but the setting and that magical pear and Valdeon combination (you can see them together in the picture above) gave it a certain splendor.
Pear season is a short one, take advantage of it while you can.
Eating your very own pear and cheese meal off an apple-and-pear-covered table is purely optional.
Yannick Fromagerie, 1218 Bernard W., (514) 279-9376
P.S. There's no reason to worry, or call the police, or anything, we've cleared off the dining room table since last night's dinner.