Peter (AKA Mr. Souvlaki for the Soul) is my flickr/blogging/photographer friend. We met in a flickr photography group years ago and have been chatting over email ever since. He's in Australia, I'm in NY, and neither of us ever had occasion to be in the same part of the world until recently. Despite this, we've had a regular, lovely dialogue over email for years, chatting about blogging, photography, seeking advice on client challenges, photography equipment and of course, gossiping and talking about nothing at all. Even though we never met in person, I felt a real friendship with him. When my son was born, he sent a beautiful baby blanket from Donna Hay's store, knowing what a huge fan of her I am. It was very touching to say the least. A few months ago his "day job" took him to New York. I've never had the experience of having a virtual friend become an in-person one and it could have been incredibly strange to meet face-to-face. But it wasn't - in fact - it was comforting to see that he's exactly the same person live as on email - and exactly who I expected him to be.
Fortunately he's been in town twice since and we've been able to have short visits each time. It's been fun getting to know him better. He does different work than I do, with a different approach and it's been nice learning from each other. I don't know that many photographers, and it's always wonderful to spend time with someone who shares the same passion.
Just after Christmas, Peter was in town and brought gifts not only for me, but also for my husband and son - so sweet. Mine was a copy of Donna Hay's latest. I could not wait to get my hands on it! There are so many simple, great recipes in there that I didn't know where to start. The poached pears grabbed me because they are winter-inspired and also because they are not poached in the typical wine, but rather in a vanilla syrup which preserves their color and makes them a beautiful white-on-white which is always such a nice, graphical aesthetic, isn't it. In fact, maybe it's because the cityscape is a snowy one but I've been loving all things white on white lately. It's soft and comforting, isn't it?
Thanks, Peter, for the book - I am really going to enjoy it!
Poached Pears ("Vanilla Pears") from Donna Hay's Fast Fresh Simple
2 cups water
1 cup caster (superfine) sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
4 firm brown pears, peeled, halved and cored
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream to serve
Place the water, sugar and vanilla bean and seeds in a deep frying pan over medium-high heat and bring to boil. Add pears and simmer for 3 minutes each side or until just tender. Serve with some of the poaching syrup and vanilla ice cream/whipped cream.