Pear-shaped and proud

02 May 2017

Meet Marissa Bielawski, half of the driving force behind Western Australian artisan food business, Poach Pear.

WORDS: Jessica Zoiti

I’m unashamedly fond of ‘picking’. I’ll often pass on a sit down dinner in favour of an evening spent grazing on a wedge of aged cheddar, and perhaps a handful of cornichons, and maybe some olives if I feel like it. Generous chunks of baguette never go astray and of course; a silky smooth pate goes without saying.

But why stop at pate when your charcuterie horizons can be broadened to include terrine and rillettes? Good quality small goods such as these haven’t always been easy to buy but thanks to Perth-based couple Adam and Marissa Bielawski, that all changed some five years ago.

“Adam and I saw a need for really good quality entertaining foods that were easy for people to manage, to present and be proud to serve,” explains Marissa. “We felt there was a gap in the pate market – there weren’t many terrines out there and no rillettes, not any that were made locally, and so that’s really what lead to the creation of Poach Pear.”

Adam, a trained chef, set about filling the niche while at the same time satisfying his desire for rustic home-style food and fresh produce. Today, the business includes a range of pates, terrines and rillettes, plus condiments including the popular beetroot relish and onion jam, and pantry staples such as artisan baguette toasts, all made in the traditional French style.

Our first products were the Chicken Pate and also the Chicken and Pistachio, and Pork and Sage terrines, so they’re very traditional French-style products,” says Marissa.

“While our method of production is traditional – and that won’t ever change – the flavours we create are traditional with a modern twist.”

A good example of this is the new Potted Pig, a rustic rillette made from slow-cooked pork shoulder, jowl and neck meat, roughly chopped and then potted with the rich, natural stock which forms through the cooking process. Added to this are slow-roasted vegetables and herbs, then the meat is incased in a rich jelly. The resulting rillette is subtle and delicate.

Marissa explains Adam sources his ingredients locally (from West Australia) and grows all his own herbs. The team of cooks then make all the products by hand in small batches to ensure quality.

“We’re a West Australian small family business. A lot of care and integrity goes into every single product – we take nothing for granted,” she says. “We’re not mass produced. There’s a lot of care and attention and pride that goes into our business.”

If flavour is any indication of this quality and integrity, Poach Pear hits the mark. Their pates are silky smooth (we’re partial to the original chicken and the chicken and peppercorn pates), the rillettes all have a slow-cooked homely quality and the terrines are flavour-packed and mottled with fresh ingredients.

While the products are perfect accompaniments to a cheese and charcuterie board, Marissa is keen to encourage customers to think outside the square when using them.

“Lately I’ve been getting into the rillettes,” she admits. “For example, I’ll have the pork rillette in a yummy toastie with beautiful sourdough and cheese, or I’ll mix it through pasta.

“Yesterday my friend sent me a message saying he had pork rillette and some farmhouse terrine for breakfast, so we want to encourage people to see the products as being more versatile.

“We utilise the products beyond opening them up and putting them onto a cheese board – that’s still lovely, but you can do so much more with them.”

Currently in my home there’s a pot of the new Duck, Chicken and Porcini rillette on standby. I hadn’t considered it a choice for breakfast, but why not? The shredded strips of duck and chicken, combined with the rich flavour of porcini mushroom, would work perfectly with my morning omelette…

Images credit:Images © Jessica Wyld Photography and Styled Notion