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Pear of four 

Local fruit treats

The ancient blind Greek poet Homer said pears were the "fruit of the gods." Although its cousin the apple gets the fall press, pears are often preferred for their melting texture. Pears, which have been cultivated for 4,000 years, do not grow well from seed, and keeping alive the heritage cultivars such as Kieffer is a challenge. Kieffer pear trees are resistant to the fire blight that destroyed the majority of pear crops in the 19th century and are grown here in North Carolina. These pears sometimes appear in jams and jellies at roadside fruit stands, especially near Chapel Hill. Other locally grown cultivars to look for are Barlette; Seckle; and blight resistant varieties such as Moonglow and Magness.

In the grocery stores, expect to see the red and yellow Barlettes, Bosc, red and green Anjous, snack-sized Seckle, and the fat-looking Comice that doesn't have a, well, pear shape. Around town, look for these pear dishes:

• Chef Jim Alexander's extraordinary Red Anjou Pear Tart Tatin with Godiva Ice Cream at Zebra Restaurant & Wine Bar, 4521 Sharon Road.

• The cheese plate with thin slices of Barlette partnered with candied walnuts and a generous selection of Italian soft and hard cheeses at Arooji's Wine Room in SouthPark: 720 Governor Morrison Street.

• The densely luscious Barlette Pear Tart from Amelie's ... a French Bakery, 2424 North Davidson Street.

• The well composed salad of thinly sliced Bosc, arugula, gorgonzola, and caramelized walnuts at Tria Terra Restaurant Tapas and Bar, 7707 Pineville Matthews Road.

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