Restaurants & Bars

Ontario (inc. Toronto)

Flemish Beauty Pears (or Poires William)

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Flemish Beauty Pears (or Poires William)

divirtual | Sep 14, 2003 09:49 PM

There's a sentimental value in this request ....

In the 1960s, my grandfather owned the house at the southwest corner of Beverly Street and Cecil Street (south of the U. of Toronto). It had a magnificent Flemish Beauty pear tree. These are pears that are green with a slight russet finish, that never go yellow. The flesh was sweet, with more complexity than an Anjou pear, and a firm but not crisp texture. In the fall, we could climb out the third floor window and use a bamboo pole with a net to pick the pears.

Alas, the block was charted for a Hydro development, and my grandfather sold the great house. When Hydro was stopped by the community, the property became part of Cityhome, and the house was divided into apartments. In the late 1970s, the tree was still there, I would take some friends from university to pick the pears. (The residents mistakenly waited for the pears to turn yellow)!

I didn't live in Toronto in the early 1980s, and when I returned, the tree was gone. At that point, however, I was lucky to be living uptown, and Sunkist Foods had the store on Woodbine Avenue, north of Steeles. In the fall, they would have Flemish Beauty pears for a few weeks, and we would buy baskets and baskets of them!

I'm now back downtown, and Sunkist Foods no longer operates the Woodbine store. I haven't seen a Flemish Beauty pear in many years. (Insert sobs, here!)

(1) Do any chowhounds know of stores that sell Flemish Beauty pears by the basket? We're now in the season for them, so I would make a destination run for them!

(2) Do chowhounds know of any orchards that grow Flemish beauty pears? In the late 1980s, it was still possible to find apple farms near Highway 7, but I think that those days are gone.

On a vacation to France in the early 1990s, we happened to stay with friends who had an apartment in Versailles. In October, we went to the Versailles farmer's market, and bought Poires Williams. These are soft, fragile pears dripping with syrup. They don't seem to be the type that would travel well -- maybe if they were wrapped individually like those Asian pears we now see in supermarkets -- but the French know how to eat! I would love to get some Poires Williams, as well, but they don't hold memories of my childhood like the Flemish Beauties.

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