Here in Napa, the prickly pears have been ripe for about a month. As you know, I'm in love with these free gifts from the wild and I've been eating them daily. Of course, having hundreds of them waiting to be plucked right outside your door helps.
I had some friends over for dinner and we ate some prickly pears for dessert and my smarty-pants friend Pam said, "You know, in Mexico, I've only had these served ice cold." and when I thought about it, she was right. I serve them right from the cactus (sans prickles, natch) and then douse them with Sambuca Romana and scoop out the fruit with a spoon. Pam said when she buys them commercially, she just peels them. So I experimented and in fact, you can peel them when they've been chilled. If they're a little old and well-chilled, you can peel them very easily. So now I'm chilling them, peeling and then slicing before dressing them with either Sambuca or calvados. They're delcious with out the booze as well.