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Critique my menu, please? (Really need input on the roasted pear with blue cheese...)

We're doing beef rib roast, potatoes au gratin, roasted carrots and grilled asparagus as our "non-negotiables" but I've been tempted by roasted pear with blue cheese & walnuts with thyme (or I might go off the reservation and use rosemary instead) as another side, not a first course. (Negotiable, I may be leaning toward a first course after all now, need input.)

My dad is bringing a fantastically easy to drink Australian cabernet sauvignon (among others), Mitolo the Jester ('10, 94 rated) that I feel will be perfect with the pears, as well as the roast, of course. But please, tell me if I'm wrong about pears with beef. My gut tells me it's going to be good, but I'd definitely like any input from those of you who've tried the pear dish. (Oh, I'll probably do a few of the pears with goat cheese as my 15yo is not a blue fan yet.)

Which brings me to more roasted pears. I've decided to serve a roasted pear trifle (which will resemble no recipe ever when I'm done with it - I think I want to do a pear half on top of an amaretto-heavy trifle rather than in the trifle itself) but of course now I'm thinking it's kind of pear heavy for the entire menu.

Thoughts? I know you have 'em!

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  1. Wasn't it Julia Child who said that one shouldn't repeat an ingredient in a menu (other than flavoring ingredients)? I tend to agree that a major ingredient in one course shouldn't appear again in the meal. If pears have a starring role in dessert, then a pear side dish for the beef is inadvisable, especially considering that you already have planned three other side dishes.

    1. trust your 'heavy' instincts. this isn't Iron Chef requiring the same mystery ingredient in every course.

      I dunno about pear with beef, if paired they might seem like they ought to be stand alone flavors, or a rigged fight (hedge your bets).

      salad or dessert, I have no issues. and I'd consider offering a shared cheese plate alongside the roasted or salad pear (room-softened bit of aged Taleggio? double cream Camembert? can I tempt ya?).

      1. My instinctive reaction to roasted pear with blue cheese is that the pears will become excessively sweet and will lose the crisp texture that is so important to the pairing ... but I speak from no position of authority!

        1. Make your roasted pear with blue cheese either a starter or a dessert and don't repeat the pear.
          A Carbernet Sauvignon is feasible, but a sweetish white would fit the pear and cheese far better. I would suggest a Gew├╝rztraminer for the starter version or a Sauternes-like wine for the dessert version. Keep the red for the beef.

          1. A couple of years ago, I was in a restaurant in Spain, when every main course plate coming out of the kitchen had a poached pear on it. It didnt work on either of our plates and I'm sure it wasnt working on any other plate being served. So, on the basis of that experience, I'd recommmend keeping it well away from the roast beef.

            That said the pear, blue cheese, walnut combination is pretty much a classic starter which will work really well. Even better, IMO, would be to serve it as the dessert course.