Place the saffron, sugar and salt in a small mortar and pestle. Grind them together into a powder. Add ¼ cup of freshly boiled hot water to the ground saffron-sugar mix and let it steep for about 15 minutes.
If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, place the saffron, sugar and salt in a bowl and rub the mix with the tips of your fingers to crush the saffron threads against the sugar and salt granules. Add ¼ cup of freshly boiled hot water to the ground saffron-sugar mix and let it steep for about 15 minutes.
Place the saffron water and all the ingredients (except pears) in a saucepan. Make sure the saucepan is large enough for the pears to fit snugly in there, with just enough wiggle room for the pears to submerge in the poaching liquid at an angle as well.
Bring the liquid to a simmer while stirring to make sure the honey is dissolved.
When the liquid comes to a simmer, peel the pears and then lower them into the poaching liquid.
Let the pears poach in the liquid on medium-low heat (simmering) for 20 - 25 minutes, but rotate the pears every 5 minutes to ensure they poach evenly on all sides, including the tops of the pears.
When the pears have been poached, keep them upright in the poaching liquid, and remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the pears to cool down in the poaching liquid.
I prefer to serve poached pears chilled, but they can be served at room temperature as well.
Before serving, remove the pears from the poaching liquid and leave them on a plate, covered with plastic wrap.
Strain the poaching liquid to remove the orange peel and cardamom. Return the syrup to the saucepan and heat it and bring it to a simmer. Simmer for a few minutes until the liquid thickens slightly into a syrup. The cooking time depends on how much liquid is left, so keep an eye on it. If the syrup is too thick, add a little water to thin it out.
Serve the pears on a serving plate, and brush them a little with the syrup to make the pears look shiny (optional).
Pour a little syrup over individual pears, and serve with some whipped mascarpone cheese or whipped cream, flavored with some orange extract (optional) and pistachios (optional).