1Place peppercorns, star anise and cardamom in a mortar and crush lightly with a pestle.
2Combine juice, wine, lemon zest and juice, crushed spices, cinnamon stick and vanilla in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat and add pears. Simmer, covered, for 25 to 30 mins or until tender. Cool pears in syrup.
3Remove pears from syrup. Set aside. Strain syrup into a jug. Reserve half the syrup (see tip). Pour remaining syrup into a saucepan with sugar. Heat, stirring, until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 8 to 10 mins, until syrup thickens. Serve pears hot or cold with syrup.
The cooking time will depend on the size and ripeness of the pear. Any type of pear in season may be used in this recipe. Chill remaining syrup and top it with soda water for a refreshing drink, or drizzle it over fruit salad.
Photo: Bauer/Rob Shaw