1.Place the water, wine, sugar and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan just large enough to hold the pears. Stir over medium heat, without boiling, until sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer. Remove rind from orange; cut rind into thin strips. Squeeze juice from the orange. Add the rind and juice to the pan.
2.Peel the pears, leaving a band of peel around the stalks. Remove the core from the base of the pears using an apple corer or small sharp knife. Place pears in the simmering syrup. Place a round of baking paper on the surface of the syrup. Simmer pears for about 5-10 minutes or until a knife can easily pierce the flesh of the pears. The time will vary depending on the ripeness of the pears. Remove from the heat; cool pears in the syrup.
3.Meanwhile to make sabayon; put the egg yolks into a medium stainless steel bowl which will comfortably fit over a saucepan. Beat the egg yolks with hand-held electric beaters until fluffy. Add the sugar gradually, beating for 5 minutes or until pale. Whisk in the wine and liqueur. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water – the base of the bowl should not touch the water. Beat the mixture until it is thick and fluffy and when beaters are lifted a ribbon of batter holds its shape. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and place it in a larger bowl of iced water to stop the cooking.
4.Serve the pears with the sabayon and almond bread.
The pears can be poached up to 8 hours ahead. The sabayon is best made just before serving. You can use Grand Marnier or Cointreau for the liqueur, or use orange juice. For a shortcut, serve warm pears with vanilla custard or ice-cream.Note