Elegant Bosc pears and plump gifs are stained deep crimson when poached in spiced red wine.
Combine wine, water, sugar, cinnamon, peppercorns, honey, and vanilla bean in a large saucepan. Squeeze in lemon juice, using a strainer to catch seeds, and toss in one of the halves. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel pears carefully, leaving stems intact. Place in hot poaching liquid and cover with a lid slightly smaller than the pot to keep pears submerged.
Turn heat down to a bare simmer and poach pears for 20 to 30 minutes, or until tender (if the pears are not ripe, it could take up to an hour). Turn pears halfway through cooking time. Let cool slightly, then transfer pears to a bowl. Simmer poaching liquid until reduced by half
Cut figs in half and add to liquid cut side down. Keep heat at a simmer, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. (If using dried figs, poach until tender, 15 to 20 minutes.)
Carefully transfer figs cut side down to the bowl with the pears, and pour poaching liquid over all. Let cool and chill at least 4 hours, or overnight.
With a slotted spoon, remove fruit from liquid and place 1 pear and 2 fig halves on each plate. Reduce poaching liquid over medium heat until thick enough to coat a spoon. Serve hot or cold with the fruit. Accompany with a few cookies, whipped cream, or a sweet dessert cheese.
Left in its poaching liquid and tightly covered, poached fruit will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.