Paradise pears are also known as faccia bella.
Paradise pears are also known as faccia bella.

Gail Thomas

THESE miniature golf-ball-size pears with blushed cheeks are also known as faccia bella. They usually start arriving in markets in January and are extremely versatile for both sweet and savoury applications.

1. Fresh

Serve on a cheese platter, an ideal match for a creamy blue-vein and a glass of sauternes.

2. Salad

Halve pears, scoop out the core, fill with soft cheese (blue, brie, creamy feta), top with pickled walnut and serve as a refreshing salad.

3. Pickled

Peel pears and gently poach for a few minutes in a spiced sugar and vinegar syrup, bottle and seal - perfect as an accompaniment for cold meats or a terrine.

4. Preserved

Peel pears and poach gently in a sugar syrup spiced with cinnamon and cloves. Place fruit in a jar, half fill with cooled syrup, top with brandy, stir to combine liquids and seal.

5. Tart

Peel, halve and core pears, and poach in a sugar syrup with some lemon rind until tender. Drain and cool. Cut puff pastry into rectangles or ''pear shapes'' slightly larger than the pear and place pear halves, flat side down, on pastry. Brush exposed pastry with egg wash and bake at 180C until pastry is puffed and golden. Serve hot with vanilla or fig ice-cream.

According to Connie Luca, V&R Fruit and Vegetable Market, 5 Pakington Street, Geelong West. Phone 5222 2522.