Although there are some similarities between the Estonian and French cuisine I believe one of the main common points found in both cooking traditions is the preference of seasonal ingredients. Cooking with fresh seasonally grown produce found in the local markets and fruit and vegetable stands makes the cooking process natural and effortless and the food flavoursome and healthy. In Estonia, compared to shopping for groceries in the supermarkets, farmers markets are becoming more and more popular, trendy even. However, the Sunday market tradition in France is famous for a reason and besides the obvious, shopping for fresh produce, it is also a great way to spend a relaxing yet productive Sunday morning.
In the words of Clotilde Dusoulier: Fall is the epitome of the transitional season in Paris. As the seasons change, different colors start popping up like mushrooms after the rain. It isn't noticeable on the streets of Paris, as the transition from summer to autumn is subtle and takes its time. Temperature drops slowly and the leaves, for most part, skip the parade of yellow-orange-red an start turning brown. However, at the market the change is visible. The vibrant display of the summer berries, figs, rhubarb and peaches is replaced by the warm earthy colors of pears, chestnuts, mushrooms and pumpkins. And as the days get shorter and nights colder, I start craving for warmth and spices. Dishes filling enough to stand alone without an entrée and desserts rich enough to make one serving feel just right. Keeping warm starts from the inside after all. One such a dessert is my spiced pear tartlet.
For me part of the charm with this particular recipe and what makes eating it afterwards that much more fulfilling is the poaching of the pears. There is something calming and so very enjoyable in mixing together all the wonderful spices and letting the aromatic mixture come to a sizzle. Poaching the pears will not only give them a deep warm flavour which in itself is the perfect companion to the sandy texture of the pear. It will also make the pears glisten after the spicy syrup has worked its magic. The combination of pears and chocolate is nothing new, however, the spicy warm sweetness of the poached pears with the smooth and decadent dark chocolate ganache on top of a buttery crust makes every mouthful as rich and satisfying as needed on a cold and rainy autumn day.