Fall means pears, and Saveur just posted a great guide to the most common varieties, accompanied (of course) by some lovely photos.
As Russ Parsons describes elsewhere (specifically, in his great book How to Pick a Peach), the first sign of pear season are “Bartletts, or summer, pears, and although they are the first fruit on the market, they are rarely the best.” For other varieties, including what to expect from an Anjou versus a Bosc versus a Comice, head to the Saveur tasting notes and, if you feel like hitting the kitchen, their favorite pear recipes.
Also, check out this post from the Oregon State University Extension on when to pick a pear from its tree and how to tell when it’s ready to eat. They’ve got some nice science-y stuff in the post, along with practical advice like the following:
How do you tell when a pear is ripened to perfection? “Hold the pear gently but firmly in the palm of your hand, as a baseball pitcher might hold the ball while studying signs from the catcher,” recommended [botany professor David] Sugar. “Apply the thumb of that same hand to the pear flesh just below the point where the stem joins the fruit. When the flesh beneath your thumb yields evenly to gentle pressure, it is time to eat your pear. If you have to push more than slightly, it is not ready yet.”
Finally, if you find yourself wanting to store pears past the end of the season, check out this nice info sheet (PDF) from Utah State University Extension on freezing and canning pears.
The Easter Bunny might want to be wary of foodies and locavores this year. As this recent piece from Lindsay Christians at madison.com suggests, “to many chefs, [bunnies make] the perfect Wisconsin protein. Rabbits are local, plentiful and a good source of lean, flavorful meat.” Check out the full article for suggestions on cooking with rabbit from several top area chefs including Francesco Mangano of Osteria Papavero; Andrew Lickel of Tornado Steak House; Tim Dahl of Nostrano; Nick Johnson, recently of 43 North; and Ben Hunter, a founding member of the Underground Food Collective. Though I haven’t had a chance to check it out myself, nor am I sure yet of its source, Christians reports that “Metcalfe’s Sentry stocks frozen, whole rabbits, skinned and dressed ($4.98/lb. for 1.5 to 2 lbs.).”
For more, check out this article and recipe for Italian-style braised rabbit with rosemary and mushrooms from David Tanis at The New York Times, these recipes at epicurious, and this step-by-step butchering guide from Saveur. (If dressing a bunny gets to be a bit overwhelming, College Humor has a handy tip for you.)
Saveur put out a call to a range of comic artists, asking them to “draw us a recipe.” To date, 17 have been posted, which you can check out here. The variety in tone, perspective, and style is really great. I laughed a bunch, and there even look to be some decent recipes. (I might have to make the spanakopita and the pasta e fagioli.) One of the comic’s intro blurbs said that they invited “a dozen” artists to submit and that they’d be running them throughout “the summer,” so I fear what’s been a weekly series since June may be coming to an end soon. As such, I decided to quit after I read half a dozen and save the rest for another day. But you shouldn’t wait; go check them out!